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Tales of Old Earth [Paperback]

Michael Swanwick , Bruce Sterling
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 20 2001
From pure fantasy to hard science fiction, this finely crafted offering by one of the greatest science fiction writers of his generation promises to stretch readers' minds far beyond ordinary limits. Nineteen tales from Michael Swanwick's best short fiction of the past decade are gathered here for the first time, including the 1999 Hugo Award-nominated "Radiant Doors" and "Wild Minds" and this year's winning story, "The Very Pulse of the Machine." The collection also features "The Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O," written especially for this volume.

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Winner of the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, and Theodore Sturgeon Awards, Michael Swanwick is one of science fiction's best authors and a master of short fiction. Tales of Old Earth collects 19 of his acclaimed stories, including one ("The Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O") that is original to this volume.

"The Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O" is a mythic, Zelazny-tinged tale of time-transcending, world-hopping humans, monsters, and gods. In the Hugo Award winner "The Very Pulse of the Machine," the stranded surviving member of a Jupiter mission may have discovered the secret of the moon Io--or may be going mad. In "The Dead," the corporate mania for profit reaches a shocking nadir of exploitation. "Mother Grasshopper" explores a planet that might be the weirdest ever to appear in science fiction (a huge claim, but true). In the World Fantasy Award winner "Radio Waves," a peculiar science-fictional ghost in a strange and frightening afterlife recovers his memory, and regrets it.

Tales of Old Earth has one minor but potentially annoying problem: it doesn't give copyright information for the individual stories, so you can't see where, or when, they first appeared. Other books by Michael Swanwick include the novels In the Drift, Vacuum Flowers, Griffin's Egg, Stations of the Tide (a Nebula Award winner), and The Iron Dragon's Daughter (a New York Times Notable Book); and the collections Gravity's Angels and A Geography of Unknown Lands. --Cynthia Ward --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A stunning collection from one of science fiction's very best writers. Pay in blood, if necessary, but don't miss these stories."
—Nancy Kress

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5.0 out of 5 stars Some of the Best Michael Swanwick Stories. April 15 2003
Contents of this collection can probably still be found on the Amazon site and elsewhere, but here they come again, with additional information.
A User's Guide to Michael Swanwick by Bruce Sterling (foreword).
'The Very Pulse of the Machine' (short story) Asimov's Feb 1998.
'The Dead' (short story) Starlight 1, ed. by Patrick Nielsen Hayden, 1996.
'Scherzo with Tyrannosaur' (short story) Asimov's Jul 1999.
'Ancient Engines' (short story) Asimov's Feb 1999.
'North of Diddy-Wah-Diddy' (novelette) Killing Me Softly, ed. Gardner Dozois, 1995.
'The Mask' (short story) Asimov's Apr 1994.
'Mother Grasshopper' (short story) A Geography of Unknown Lands, 1997.
'Riding the Giganotosaur' (short story) Asimov's Oct/Nov 1999.
'Wild Minds' (short story) Asimov's May 1998.
'The Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O' (short story).
'Microcosmic Dog' (shory story) Science Fiction Age Nov 1998.
'In Concert' (short story) Asimov's Sep 1992.
'Radiant Doors' (short story) Asimov's Sep 1998.
'Ice Age' (short story) Amazing Jan 1984.
'Walking Out' (short story) Asimov's Feb 1995.
'The Changeling's Tale' (short story) Asimov's Jan 1994.
'Midnight Express' (short story) Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers, ed. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, 1998.
'The Wisdom of Old Earth' (short story) Asimov's Dec 1997.
'Radio Waves' (short story) Omni Win 1995.
There are quite a number of stories here that have either won an award or were at least nominated. Scherzo with Tyrannosaur is a 2000 Hugo winner. And The Very Pulse of the Machine is likewise a Hugo winner, but of the year 1999. All those awards merely state the obvious: Read these tales.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible March 11 2003
This collection of short stories is among the best ever written. Deeply profound, thoughtful and literary tales, these stories remind me of Franz Kafka and Philip K. Dick at their best. Swanwick utilizes science fiction in the exact way science fiction should be utilized: as a realistic and cautionary window into the future. His favorite themes include: The dangers of unfettered capitalism and emergence of corporate slave-labor; science and medical technology run amok; the nature of death, the soul, and the afterlife; and time travel and the complications involved in altering the past. He also seems to have an obsession with dinosaurs. If these themes sound like a recipe for intellectual and thoughtful literature, you are correct. Swanwick is able to convey fascinating philosophical concepts through his fiction, and does so with a clear and lucid style. Unlike some modern authors, Michael Swanwick does not try to experiment with an overly abstract or poetic style, and does not play tricks with the reader in an attempt to create a "new" style of writing prose. Swanwick sticks with a basic writing style, and invokes pioneering literary concepts through the actual content of his stories. This is mystical-realist literature at its best - realistic style and execution, combined with far-out mystical concepts.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The body of work of a true Master Dec 3 2000
Michael Swanwick's latest collection 'Tales of Old Earth' is masterful. The collection of stories ranges from Hard SF to the so-called Hard Fantasy (don't ask me to explain it). There are Hugo and World Fantasy Award Winners and numerous stories that were nominated for major awards.
It's unfortunate that Michael Swanwick isn't widely-recognized as the writer that he is. His work is consistently head-and-shoulders above the average work being turned out in the genre. But he writes predominantly short fiction, and short fiction never has, and never will be, recognized by the masses.
This is one of the best story collections I've ever read. There isn't a 'dog' in the bunch. Every story jumps out at the reader with its vibrancy. Michael Swanwick is a wordsmith of unparalleled talent. I have no doubt that he's the best writer of the current generation. I highly recommend this collection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A collection worthy of Borges Aug. 1 2000
This is one of the finest SF collections in years, a generous gathering of Michael Swanwick's superb, rich, dense, sardonic, and allusive stories. Each of these 19 tales is like a gem: concentrated, many-faceted, crafted with tremendous skill. Of particular note: "The Wisdom of Old Earth", "The Very Pulse of the Machine", "The Changeling's Tale", and "Mother Grasshopper".
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent for the "Not-so-Dedicated" July 11 2000
By A Customer
This book is a good collection of short stories for the aspiring SF reader. However, for the more serious that read such books as the Foundation series or Dune, it is in all respects, a book that grasped me for a select few stories.
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