Is Anybody Out There? Mass Market Paperback – Jun 1 2010
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About the Author
Jack Dann is a multiple award winning author who has written or edited over 60 books, including the groundbreaking novels "Junction", "Starhiker", "The Man Who Melted", "The Memory Cathedral" -- which is an international bestseller, the Civil War novel "The Silent", and "Bad Medicine", which has been compared to the works of Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson and called "the best road novel since the Easy Rider days."
Dann's work has been compared to Jorge Luis Borges, Roald Dahl, Lewis Carroll, Castaneda, J. G. Ballard, Mark Twain, and Philip K. Dick. Philip K. Dick, author of the stories from which the films "Blade Runner" and "Total Recall" were made, wrote that "Junction is where Ursula Le Guin's "Lathe of Heaven" and Tony Boucher's 'The Quest for Saint Aquin' meet...and yet it's an entirely new novel.... I may very well be basing some of my future work on Junction." Best-selling author Marion Zimmer Bradley called "Starhiker" "a superb book... it will not give up all its delights, all its perfections, on one reading."
"Library Journal" has called Dann ."..a true poet who can create pictures with a few perfect words." Roger Zelazny thought he was a reality magician and "Best Sellers" has said that "Jack Dann is a mind-warlock whose magicks will confound, disorient, shock, and delight." The "Washington Post Book World" compared his novel "The Man Who Melted" with Ingmar Bergman's film "The Seventh Seal".
His short stories have appeared in "Omni" and "Playboy" and other major magazines and anthologies. He is the editor of the anthology "Wandering Stars", one of the most acclaimed American anthologies of the 1970's, and several other well-known anthologies such as "More Wandering Stars". "Wandering Stars" and "More Wandering Stars" have just been reprinted in the U.S. Dann also edits the multi-volume "Magic Tales" series with Gardner Dozois and is a consulting editor TOR Books.
He is a recipient of the Nebula Award, the Australian Aurealis Award (twice), the Ditmar Award (three times), the World Fantasy Award, and the Premios GilgamEs de Narrativa Fantastica award. Dann has also been honoured by the Mark Twain Society (Esteemed Knight).
"High Steel", a novel co-authored with Jack C. Haldeman II, was published in 1993. Critic John Clute called it "a predator...a cat with blazing eyes gorging on the good meat of genre. It is most highly recommended." A sequel entitled "Ghost Dance" is in progress.
Dann's major historical novel about Leonardo da Vinci -- entitled "The Memory Cathedral" -- was first published in December 1995 to rave reviews. It has been published in 10 languages to date. It won the Australian Aurealis Award in 1997, was #1 on The Age bestseller list, and a story based on the novel was awarded the Nebula Award. "The Memory Cathedral" was also shortlisted for the Audio Book of the Year, which was part of the 1998 Braille & Talking Book Library Awards.
Morgan Llwelyn called "The Memory Cathedral" "a book to cherish, a validation of the novelist's art and fully worthy of its extraordinary subject." The "San Francisco Chronicle" called it "a grand accomplishment," "Kirkus Reviews" thought it was "An impressive accomplishment," and "True Review" said, "Read this important novel, be challenged by it; you literally haven't seen anything like it."
Dann's next novel "The Silent" was chosen by "Library Journal" as one of their 'Hot Picks.' "Library Journal" wrote: "This is narrative storytelling at its best -- so highly charged emotionally as to constitute a kind of poetry from hell. Most emphatically recommended." Auhor Peter Straub said, "This tale of America's greatest trauma is full of mystery, wonder, and the kind of narrative inventiveness that makes other novelists want to hide under the bed." And "The Australian" called it "an extraordinary achievement."
His contemporary road novel "Bad Medicine" (titled "Counting Coup" in the U.S.) has been called "a vivid and compelling vision-quest through the dark back roads and blue highways of the American soul."
Dann is also the co-editor (with Janeen Webb) of the groundbreaking Australian anthology "Dreaming Down-Under", which Peter Goldsworthy has called "the biggest, boldest, most controversial collection of original fiction ever published in Australia." It has won Australia's Ditmar Award and is the first Australian book ever to win the prestigious World Fantasy Award.
Dann is also the author of the retrospective short story collection "Jubilee: the Essential Jack Dann". "The West Australian" said it was "Sometimes frightening, sometimes funny, erudite, inventive, beautifully written and always intriguing. "Jubilee" is a celebration of the talent of a remarkable storyteller."
As part of its "Bibliographies of Modern Authors Series", The Borgo Press has published an annotated bibliography and guide entitled "The Work of Jack Dann". An updated seco
Marty Halpern lives in San Jose, CA.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Fermi's Paradox for those of you who don't know it states simply: The apparent size and age of the universe suggest that many technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilizations ought to exist.
However, this hypothesis seems inconsistent with the lack of observational evidence to support it (Wikipedia).
Before I launch into my review, I should say that I attended the premiere panel launch for this book at ReaderCon21 earlier this summer. I had the extreme pleasure in speaking with Marty Halpern, Paul Di Filippo, Yves Maynard (and yes my son is now taking French so he can read some of your other work for himself!), and my old friend James Morrow.
I found Marty to be gracious with his time, and his discussion on what he and co-editor Nick Gevers went through to bring this marvelous collection to our book stores was both daunting and rewarding. Paul Di Filippo was exactly as I expected him to be--passionate, funny and a brilliant speaker. Yves Maynard, with his quiet intensity was an absolute joy to speak to and Jim--with his flair for the dramatic, was the perfect choice not only for the panel, but also as the final author in the anthology.
The group of shorts in this tome reflect both the flavor and intrigue of the simple question: Are we alone in the universe?
A few author highlights, as I could go on for pages...and I'd rather you spend the time reading the anthology rather than a long-winded review!
Paul McAuley kicks off his take on the Paradox with Enrico Fermi himself engaged in a discussion of this very question. An overview of the paradox and theories surrounding the question of ETs sets the stage beautifully for the reader.
The writer-meeting-his-own-alien-creation story by Yves Meynard is a wonderful take on man's desire to know answers, and the less-than-satisfying results knowing brings.
The wonderfully fun Report from the Field by Mike Resnick and Lezli Robyn is a kooky alien Dan Rather type story with an extra terrestrial's take on Earth and all that is humankind.
Paul Di Filippo's Galaxy of Mirrors is a tale spun with good humor and in grandiose style about the fate of two hapless lovers and their encounter with the World Thinker.
Graffiti in the Library of Babel by David Langford is a great first contact story about aliens who try to get our earthly attention by communicating to us via our own historical records.
The paranormal mystery of Kristine Kathryn Rusch's The Dark Man tale is a neat take on a "what if" story. Think along the lines of Scully actually finding PROOF that Mulder's conspiracy theories were spot on.
The final tale in this collection, James Morrow's The Vampires of Paradox is an investigative piece on paradoxes themselves. Twisted logic and mind-bending questions are asked and the answers that arise are told in a way that Jim pulls off brilliantly.
Overall, this is a marvelous collection of stories, some I've touched on, others just as intriguing and entertaining, and leaves the reader with one final paradox: How many different ways are there to ask Is Anybody Out There?
Paul McAuley starts things off well with an introduction for those not in the know about the Fermi Paradox with a grand overview and a bit of history and known theories. The paradox boils down to "Where are they?" The Universe is so big and that old if there is intelligent life out there why haven't they found us or we found them yet? Quite an intriguing idea for writers to sink their teeth into. This is ground that has been trod on before, but certainly never with such a diverse covering of new, established, and often fringe theories.
Mike Resnick & Lezli Robyn, "Report From the Field" A very quirky tale done in field report style from an alien determining if Earth is ready for inclusion in Galactic Community.
This story had me chortling left and right like few other writer can do and the only funny story in the bunch. In many ways humor is more difficult to relay in written form than something dramatic or action oriented. Resnick and Robyn excel at the funny asides as well as the satirical while this particular alien sees us at an skewed angle from viewing our television, movies, and documentaries trying to make sense of what they selected. There are perfect examples of humanity's absurd and violent side, which make me question our place in the cosmos and the fact that if there is life out there we'd probably just screw up first contact.
Jay Lake's "Permanent Fatal Errors" takes us on a space voyage with a crew of altered human immortals who are guinea pigs for longer interstellar missions. Only who among the crew actually wants to achieve the objectives of this mission?
Told from the point of view of the lowest member of the crew who sees himself as a baby next to the rest of the very old and intelligent crew as he tries to make his way through their murky machinations. An astrological anomaly confounds the crew and a conspiracy is afoot, but just who is doing what? Lake certainly shows his suspenseful flair as there is something out there. And it wants to be found. The story definitely felt unfinished though, but some nice turns more than kept my attention.
David Langford's "Graffiti in the Library of Babel" is a most unusual first contact story. Someone or something has been marking up an important world database with odd notations. What do they want?
An intelligence has downloaded our history and science and are trying to communicate with us through it. This reminded me a lot of a Robert J. Sawyer story in the making with some very nice dialogue. I couldn't connect with any character though, but the situation grabbed me from the first page as the character tries to write back somehow.
In Kristine Kathryn Rusch's "The Dark Man" a shadow shaped like a man shows up every decade or so on the steps of a very old Cathedral in Italy.
Rusch's background as a mystery writer shines through this tale told in a very different tact than the rest as an investigative reporter takes on paranormal events to find out the truth behind them, but she has finally found a case she can't explain away as a hoax. Rusch takes the idea of a classic conspiracy and twists it into Sci-Fi spectacularly. This was my second favorite story of the bunch.
Pat Cadigan, "The Taste of Night" delves into the mental contact aspects of alien communication with people supposedly suffering mental illness and one of my favorite disorders synesthesia. If you don't know what synesthesia is than go read the wiki as I'd love to see more stories working it in.
Synesthesia causes the senses to get crossed and people associate colors with certain numbers, words, or even days of the week. What if people who had this ability were able to be contacted by aliens? Would we believe them or just call them mad? A really well done story all around. Wonderful psychology angle questions the sanity of people and how we could be missing something right in front of us.
Ian Watson's "A Waterfall of Lights" again takes the tact of alien contact through our minds, but gives it a good twist.
If there are aliens they could have died out millions of years ago, but what if they left a legacy behind that was still out there? What would they look like? A surprisingly good story from a writer new to me despite having been around for decades. The story is very similar to the work Robert Charles Wilson has been doing with his Spin books, which is probably why I like it so much. The ending was left hanging quite a bit, but watch out for those eyes.
James Morrow, "The Vampires of Paradox" put us in present times with a religious order that is keeping a terrible event at bay by contemplating logic paradoxes along the lines of "if a tree falls in the woods with no one around does it make a sound?" The paradoxes mentioned are further reaching though and even more mind-bending.
No one does philosophical conundrums as well as Morrow and his stripes are still more than up to the task but ends up feeling a bit of heavy handed at times. Still it fits the given setting and style. Morrow is still a master of short fiction and this was by far the strongest story of the lot and was rightly chosen to end the anthology. The inclusion of this story along makes the book worth picking up. This could also be seen as the best paradox lecture you've ever attended. I could definitely see it being referenced in some logic classes.
Is Anybody Out There? is great cross section of Fermi Paradox ideas packed with wonder. Wonders of science. Of confounding mysteries. Of what could be's. Of what should be that is well worth dipping into. A few stories left me indifferent or just plain lost, but the Morrow, Rusch, and Watson's stories more than make this volume worth grabbing.
There are several stories in here that feel as though they're surreal just for the sake of being surreal. There are others that try to be both interesting concept pieces and good stories, and only sort-of succeed (admittedly a tough line to ride in a short story, but it's possible). Thankfully there are a few that show what can really be done with the combination of concept, plot, and character, such as James Morrow's "The Vampires of Paradox", David Langford's "Graffiti in the Library of Babel," and Kristine Kathryn Rusch's "The Dark Man."
Overall my feeling on this one is kind of "meh".
[NOTE: review book provided by publisher]
A husband and wife laying outside on a clear night talk about aliens. Among the husband's speculations are that aliens home in on a psychological signal given off by one person alone. That is why sightings are always in rural areas, and never in the city. The aliens could be here already, but out of phase with humanity.
A moderately-famous writer penned a series of stories about a human and his alien sidekick. In a dream, or delusion, the alien comes to life and tells him the truth about the universe. An alien scout is sent to Earth to offer it membership in the Galactic Community. Watching some electromagnetic transmissions, he/she/it is horrified by the state of present-day Earth society. Aliens can show up in the strangest places; inside a brown dwarf star, inside the human eye and as parasitic blobs that attach themselves to humans, and seem to thrive on human philosophical paradoxes. Throughout the galaxy, various alien species are uplifted to sentience seemingly in the blink of an eye.
Mankind has a hard enough time communicating with non-human intelligence here on Earth, so how is Man supposed to recognize a message from an alien intelligence? Aliens might also show themselves through graffiti-like tags in e-books in a supposedly invulnerable digital library. In present-day Rome, a humanoid figure all in black appears at a certain spot, with absolute regularity, about every ten and a half years. Perhaps it is an alien out of phase with humanity. A homeless woman can't escape the feeling that one of her six physical senses has disappeared.
These are not just SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) stories. They do a very good job of showing that aliens can appear almost anywhere. They will keep the reader entertained, and are really worth reading.