From Publishers Weekly
Compassion and a sly sense of humor shape the insight-filled fiction that makes up this collection from Hugo- and Nebula-winner Emshwiller (Report to the Men's Club
). Skirting the border between fantasy and SF, the 12 stories, all published since 2002, feature broadly drawn characters and situations that give them the universality of fables. "Boys," one of several explorations of the theme of war, is narrated by a nameless young man who, like all boys his age, is snatched from his town by men to become a soldier. "The Library," "The Assassin or Being the Loved One" and "My General" all till the same ground, depicting men as instinctively drawn to war and women as inherently nurturing and forgiving of the boys they raise to become men. Emshwiller presents the intransigence of the sexes as both tragic and comic, especially in "Coo People" and other stories of love-smitten aliens seducing human lovers with wildly unpredictable results. Lyrical and resonant, these tales will appeal to lovers of fiction with a speculative edge. (May)
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Emshwiller's strange, often sad, and beautiful stories linger, unfolding long after reading them. Several in this collection are war stories, including one in which the "Boys" are all caught up in the game of war, while the women lead regular lives and finally take matters in hand, and "My General," in which a woman takes, as she often has before, a prisoner to help her in the fields and this time talks to and falls in love with him. Emshwiller often writes about encounters with the other: in "Gliders Though They Be," an infiltrator from a people who can't glide goes among gliders to cut their stubby wings. "I Live with You, but You Don't Know It," adopts the point of view of an intruder into the life of a woman who has become invisible, drab, and silent. The collection closes with a speech, given at the writers' gathering WisCon, about writing and why Emshwiller writes war stories as she does, that affords a chatty, personable look the inspiration and thought behind the stories. Regina SchroederCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved