"The Fifth Head of Cerberus" by Gene Wolfe, making his eleventh appearance in the series, well deserves its marquee placement, as it is the longest a"The Fifth Head of Cerberus" by Gene Wolfe, making his eleventh appearance in the series, well deserves its marquee placement, as it is the longest and best story of the lot. Just creepy enough to maintain the reader's engagement. The rest are hit-and-miss, though my favorites were "A Kingdom by the Sea" by Gardner R. Dozois, "Christlings" by Albert Teichner, the fanciful "Dorg" by R. A. Lafferty, and the oddly-titled "The Fusion Bomb" by Kate Wilhelm, the only author to have appeared in every installment of the series to date....more
A fairly average collection of 70s sci-fi, there's nothing here that really stands out, hence the lack of award winners despite the several nominationA fairly average collection of 70s sci-fi, there's nothing here that really stands out, hence the lack of award winners despite the several nominations. "A Cold Dark Night with Snow" is at least interestingly ambiguous in its presentation, and the expected twist in "Fame," which went unnominated, was not the readily predictable option, but the rest are largely the standard SF anthology fare....more
This was my first foray into Ligotti's work, being the only one I could find in the aftermarket, though his work has long been recommended to me by seThis was my first foray into Ligotti's work, being the only one I could find in the aftermarket, though his work has long been recommended to me by several people. On the whole, I found it enjoyable, though I don't think it quite lived up to the hype—however, it should be duly noted that this was not among the volumes being hyped.
This collection struck me as a very solid entry in the world of short weird fiction, much in the tradition of all the classic Weird Tales authors, though somewhat modernized. This particular collection, however, struck me as deliberately anachronistic: written in the 21st century, it reads like the early 1960s as they might have existed in areas that were still experiencing the late 1940s. This worked just fine, since the whole genre generally retains a patina of outdatedness, and did from its very inception, yet for whatever reason it threw me a bit.
Fans of dystopian literature should find much to enjoy here as well, as a number of the stories seems to be set in a particular milieu which implies a thinly-described land of bureaucratic nightmares redolent of Kafka, though with less a flavor of despair than of a low-grade, vaguely Lovecraftian malignancy. So, while this only gets three stars for "I like it," I will continue to seek the more highly lauded volumes in the hope that they better deserve the praise....more
This was my introduction to Vonnegut, and I'd say it was a good one. I've read quite a bit of 20th century short fiction, so it's hard to surprise meThis was my introduction to Vonnegut, and I'd say it was a good one. I've read quite a bit of 20th century short fiction, so it's hard to surprise me since the genre is given to certain formulaic tropes, but this one managed to do so if for no other reason that the twist at the end of several stories went in a completely different direction than I expected. I suppose this is a hallmark of what people call Vonnegut's inimitable style.
It's hard to really pick favorites here, as the quality of the stories was really very consistent—nothing had that seemingly inevitable flavor of filler so common to anthologies—but some of the one's that I suspect will stick with me longer than others were the opener, "Confido;" "F U B A R," a word that should be used more often IMHO; the rather lengthy "Ed Luby's Key Club," which ends nowhere near where I expected; and the chillingly clever title story. Considerably less impressive were the now somewhat obvious Soviet tale "The Petrified Ants" and "The Good Explainer," for which I did know the ending by the third page, the only time that happened in this book....more