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The model for short story collaborationsAug. 7 2011
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This is one of the best short story collections I've ever read, and definitely the best collection of collaborations among different writers. Gardner Dozois is a legendary editor who has written excellent solo fiction, but this book collected all of his collaborative stories published before 1990. He most frequently collaborated with Jack Dann and Michael Swanwick, often as three-way collaborations, but there are also excellent collaborations with Jack Haldeman and Susan Casper. Each writer also provides some anecdotes about the creation of these collaborations that are almost as interesting as the stories themselves.
Among my favorite stories are "Touring", wherein Elvis, Buddy Holly, and Janis Joplin find themselves in a weird, Twilight Zoneish version of the afterlife. The story captures the bleakness and dreary monotony of touring backwater towns far from home, where the only joy comes during performances, however fleeting. In "The Gods of Mars" the first manned mission to the red planet encounters a Mars unlike anything shown in satellite or rover photographs, and questions about the nature of consensus reality arise. Perhaps the most impressive story is "Down Among the Dead Men" by Dozois and Dann, in which a Jewish man in a Nazi death camp discovers that one of his fellow prisoners is a vampire. In the hands of lesser writers this story could have gone badly wrong and trivialized a serious subject, but the writing is word perfect and devastating. It succeeds both as a literal vampire story and as a metaphor for what people can be forced to become to survive in horrific circumstances. "Time Bride" is another disturbing story in which the future invention of a viewer that allows communication with people in the past leads to a new form of psychological abuse. The story is infuriating because the abuser doesn't even perceive the abuse while he proceeds to ruin a young girl's life. However, there is a satisfying twist at the end. In "Playing the Game" a boy finds that his ability to travel through alternate realities has a definite down side. With the exception of two weaker stories, most of the 14 stories are absolutely riveting.
I could not put this book down and continued thinking about several stories for days afterward. I've rarely read a collection that was this entertaining and thought provoking. The best collaborations manage to capture each writer's strengths and none of their weaknesses, and this book is a perfect example of how to do it right. Although this book is long out-of-print, several of these stories have appeared in two later books, both of which are in print. These are STRANGE DAYS, a large retrospective of Gardner Dozois' solo and collaborative stories, and THE FICTION FACTORY, which collects several of Jack Dann's collaborative stories. Check them out.
Slow Dancing Through TimeMarch 10 2001
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This is a collection of 14 stories in the sci fi/semi-weird genre. For some reason, I couldn't stop reading although I'm still not sure if I enjoyed every story. One story called "Touring" puts Buddy Holly, Elvis and Janis Joplin together in a fantasy which reminded me of Rod Serling's work or the old "Outer Limits" TV show. There's an Afterword to each story written by the main collaborator, Gardner Dozois. This is definitely a unique collection by some award winning authors.