From Publishers Weekly
The 22 stories and two essays in this collection by bestseller Anderson (Star Wars: Jedi Search
) showcase his competence at shorter length. The idea of landscapes informs his SF tales in particular. In "Music Played on the Strings of Time," parallel timestream hoppers exploit slight differences in place as they seek new music by established artists or successful drug therapies. The artificial ecosystems of "Prisons" keeps the hell of a planet undergoing terraforming at bay. In the postapocalyptic world of "Rest in Peace," civilization has disappeared, along with humanity. In his fantasy stories, Anderson lets loose with humor and fun. In "Frog Kiss," a man kisses a lot of frogs while trying to find members of the enchanted royal family, while in "Special Makeup," a mysterious makeup artist goes to extremes to prepare an unwitting actor for his role as a werewolf. Marring the author's readable style and capable plots are one-dimensional characters and a lack of surprises, but his many fans will find much to enjoy. (Mar.)
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Anderson's prolific output of sf best-sellers, including several Star Wars and Dune titles (the latter with Brian Herbert), hasn't reduced his output of high-quality short stories, as this collection demonstrates. Its 22 selections, which include 7 departures into fantasy and 2 essays highlighting Anderson's love of the outdoors, attest his wide-ranging interests and genius for technological flights of fancy. The first 5 tales focus on Alternitech, a company that exploits alternate time lines by unearthing and profiting from artists and drug therapies unknown in the default time line; in one, for example, an aspiring songwriter is unnerved to discover that he became successful in a parallel universe--and then committed suicide. "Job Qualifications" eavesdrops on a political candidate who tailors his public image by mining the experiences of his many clones. In "Frog Kiss," a man has to kiss a lot of frogs to locate missing members of a royal family. A generous variety of themes and settings should please existing Anderson devotees while also providing a warm welcome for new fans. Carl HaysCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved