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Questionable Practices: Stories Paperback – March 11, 2014


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Small Beer Press (March 11, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1618730754
  • ISBN-13: 978-1618730756
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,002,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Reviews for Eileen Gunn’s stories:

"Corporate satire and Kafkaesque metamorphoses gleefully collide."
Seattle Times

"Without Eileen Gunn, life as we know it would be so dull we wouldn’t recognize it. Among the five or six North Americans currently able to write short stories, she has not written anywhere near enough."
—Ursula K. Le Guin

“Reading this book is like getting to wear the eyeballs of a madwoman in your own sockets for a day. Nothing’s going to look the same.”
—Warren Ellis

“Gunn’s stories are like perfect little bullets, or maybe firecrackers. When you read Gunn, you remember that short fiction can be spare, beautiful, and deadly.”
—Kelly Link

“Eileen Gunn can’t make herself write enough fiction. Encourage her by reading this right away.”
—Bruce Sterling

“Fresh, unusual perspectives on ordinary life.”
Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Eileen Gunn is the author of the story collection Stable Strategies and Others and the co-editor of The WisCon Chronicles Two. Her fiction has received the Nebula Award and the (Japanese) Sense of Gender Award. She is the editor/publisher of the late Infinite Matrix. She lives in Seattle, WA.

More About the Author

Eileen Gunn is the author of the story collection Stable Strategies and Others and the co-editor of The WisCon Chronicles Two. Her fiction has received the Nebula Award in the US the and Sense of Gender Award in Japan, and been nominated for the Hugo, Philip K. Dick, and World Fantasy awards and short-listed for the James Tiptree, Jr. award. She is the editor/publisher of the late Infinite Matrix webzine and served for twenty-two years on the board of directors of the Clarion West Writers Workshop.

Recent Gunn stories available free online include 'Zeppelin City' (with Michael Swanwick), 'The Steampunk Quartet', and 'The Trains that Climb the Winter Tree,' (also written with Michael Swanwick) on Tor.com. Other stories are available on her website at www.EileenGunn.com.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By P. Salus on February 26, 2014
Format: Paperback
I love Eileen Gunn. Even my wife knows I love Eileen Gunn. Eileen Gunn has only one flaw: she writes even more slowly than Howard Waldrop, to whom she once introduced me.

Eileen also collaborates: with Swanwick, with Rucker, ...

But she is always balancing on the knife-edge borderland between fantasy and the harsh reality some of you (certainly not she nor I) live in.

There are sixteen stories and a poem here. The first involves the Sasquatch; the second, the Golem; we later encounter Ada Lovelace and Waldrop's 'Day of the Cooters.' Oh, yes, and other entities in other places. The Joyce Kilmer Service Area on the Jersey Turnpike and Zeppelin City and a WWII battlefield in the Pacific. Or I think so. I'll have to ask Rabbi Judah.
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Format: Paperback
As first appeared at workadayreads.com

Reading Eileen Gunn's latest collection of short fiction, Questionable Practices (Small Beer Press, 2014), is like buying a grab bag full of fireworks, having a few beers and then lighting fuses...and with each fuse, you have no idea what to expect. Launch. Color. Bang! It's all here in an extraordinary display of virtuosity and craftsmanship. This collection is a perfect example of what contemporary speculative fiction should be, and Gunn is fearless as she leads us through the captivating landscape of her imagination.

(Spoiler Alert!)

The three strongest pieces in this collection are "Up the Fire Road, " "Chop Wood, Carry Water," and "Phantom Pain." In "Up the Fire Road," Gunn speaks through the voices of Christy and Andrea: lovers and friends. The story begins during a cross-country skiing trip on Mt. Baker where the two find themselves tired and hungry and running out of daylight. They are befriended and given shelter by a sasquatch named Mickey, and after spending the night in the Mickey's cave, a love triangle develops with Mickey at its core. After several enjoyable days in the cave, Andrea becomes ill and thinks she may be pregnant. As Andrea and Christy prepare to leave, Mickey mentions that she may also be pregnant. (Yes, Mickey, the sasquatch, manifests itself in both genders.) Andrea believes that she's carrying Mickey's baby, and Mickey thinks she may be carrying Christy's baby. After Christy and Andrea leave the cave, Christy tries to generate some profitable press from the experience (as anyone could be expected to do), only to be embarrassed by the News of the World headline: "He fathered a bigfoot baby...and became a deadbeat dad.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By earbrass on April 18, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Eileen Gunn is a master of the genre. She knows how to create great stories and the quality of her writing is on par with the past masters, like Fredric Brown, Jack Vance, Robert Sheckley, William Gibson, Ursula K. Leguin, et al. You cannot go wrong.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Titling a collection "Questionable Practices" is just asking for it.

I, however, am a kind reviewer not given to snarky comments. I will not sacrifice accuracy for cheap sarcasm.

It is a clever title, though. Would that all the stories were clever or funny.

The two original works here, "Chop Wood, Carry Water" and "Phantom Pain", are good. The first story is a retelling of the story of Rabbi Loew's golem in Praha (Prague). It has gentle wit and sorrow as the golem relates his story, an account of the centuries since he was created, and how he hasn't always been able to fulfill his task of protecting the local Jews. There's no humor in the second story. It's the sometimes clinical, but moving, account of a wounded American soldier in the Pacific Theater of World War Two. As he crawls to safety, he has visions of his future life. The pain he will experience in that life is not only from an amputated limb but lost loved ones as well.

"Up the Fire Road" is a funny, if ultimately inconsequential, story about a couple that finds a Sasquatch who casts its sexual glamour on them. "Speak, Geek" is a short-short story, one of those science fiction pieces first published in Nature. Its life in the corporate world, but some of the workers are dog-human and cat-human chimeras. It goes past "funnier than you would think" into "funny".

I even liked "Thought Experiment" even though I generally hate it when any Baby Boomer mentions Woodstock in any way. It's a time travel farce.

There are a lot of collaborations here, mostly with Michael Swanwick. In "'Shed That Guilt! Double Your Productivity Overnight!'", Mr. Swanwick offers a unique service to Ms. Gunn.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. Bunker VINE VOICE on May 4, 2014
Format: Paperback
Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in return for a review.
Second full disclosure: I gave up on this book about halfway through.

This collection contains stories (and one poem) authored or co-authored by Eileen Gunn. Gunn's co-author for 7 of the pieces is Michael Swanwick, and for 2 others it is Rudy Rucker. Four stories are by Gunn alone.

For me this collection ultimately died of anemia; there was too little blood in its veins. Despite some fine writing on a sentence-by-sentence basis, I found the stories to be neither energetic plot-driven entertainment nor complex and thoughtful literary works. And neither did any of them (that I read) present any interesting or original speculative-fiction ideas.

Some notes on selected stories, starting (as the book does) with the ones written by Gunn alone:

"Up the Fire Road" is a rather hippy-ish story; one that I might have considered a charming example of its historical period if I'd read it in an anthology from the early 70s. There's some pot-smoking, some casual sex, a lot of "going with the flow," and a talking Sasquatch who seems to have a somewhat hallucinatory effect on people. It's typical of the collection in being mildly entertaining, but nothing more than that.

"Chop Wood, Carry Water" is the collection's closest approach to a story of some substance. It's told from the point of view of the 16th century Golem of Prague, and is effectively written in a melancholy tone. But the story never goes anywhere; the protagonist ponders the meaning of his life without ever having any interesting thoughts, and has some mild adventures in which nothing much is at stake.
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