From Publishers Weekly
The same antic spirit that imbued Vukcevich's mystery novel The Man of Maybe Half-a-Dozen Faces moves playfully through this first collection of fantastic fiction, whose 33 helium-filled stories achieve just the right absurdist lift to escape the gravity of their themes. "By the Time We Get to Uranus" offers a peculiarly affecting take on terminal illness: the afflicted grow buoyant spacesuits that force them to leave loved ones behind. The mysteries of parenthood manifest amusingly in "Poop," about a couple who discover that their newborn's diaper fills variously with birds, mice and symphonic music. Though deceptively simple in their pared-down style, the vignettes show meticulous care in the crafting of oddball metaphors to express the moods of their estranged spouses, exasperated lovers, competitive children and disgruntled employees. The willingness with which the author's characters accept the incongruity of their situations often yields profoundly moving insights into the human condition. In the poignant title tale, for example, a man does not find it at all strange that a lover from decades past has summoned him to a simulated moon landscape at a theme park, reflecting that the meaning of life really is "nothing more than a couple of people huddling close for comfort in a cold universe." Inventive and entertaining, these stories yield more emotional truth than much comparatively realistic fiction. (Aug.)Forecast: With blurbs from Damon Knight, Kate Wilhelm and Jeffrey Ford, this collection is a quality item that should benefit from good word of mouth.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
A man pulls the sweater his girlfriend made him over his head and nearly gets lost inside it. Rescued from the arctic ice, the dying Victor (Frankenstein) tells a story that leaves little doubt that the monster is James Joyce or Stephen Dedalus or Finn (again). Tim saves the world from a comet by having his family put paper bags over their heads. What? What?! What?!! Calm down. This is just the world according to Ray Vukcevich, sf-ish enough to get him into the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
but also resembling the fantastic milieus of Gogol, Kafka, and Looney Toons. Whether you cotton to it depends on how you feel about cartoons made of words and prisons made of logic: Are you afraid or amused? Actually, either reaction works for appreciating Vukcevich's outlandish virtuosity. Sf fans with long memories will note Vukcevich's deadpan delivery and jokey-creepy aura, recall the wonder-workings of Fredric Brown (see From These Ashes
[BKL Ap 15 01]), and smile. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
"...Ray Vukcevich is a very slick writer, an authentic sprinter in an era of milers and all-out stayers.... " -- The New York Review of Science Fiction
"...a first-rate collection." -- Jeffrey Ford, author of The Beyond
"...a master of radical recombinations.... It would be...a great mistake to ignore the extraordinary talent of Ray Vukcevich." -- Faren Miller, Locus
"...funny, savage stories, all flint and steel, scraps of flannel, pratfalls and prideful weirdness, sparks falling away into darkness." -- James Sallis, author of Ghost of a Flea
"...resembling the fantastic milieus of Gogol, Kafka, and Looney Toons." -- Booklist, July 2001
"There is no other planet like planet Ray." -- Nina Kiriki Hoffman, author of Past the Size of Dreaming
"defy categorization by genre...will delight those who appreciated the risks Don DeLillo took in Ratner's Star." -- The Hartford Courant
About the Author
Ray Vukcevich lives on the coast of Oregon and works at the University of Oregon. He is the author of the novel, The Man With Maybe Half-a-Dozen Faces, and his short stories have appeared in Hobart, F&SF, Year's Best SF, Scifiction, The Infinite Matriz, Strange Horizons, and more.