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Strangers and Beggars Paperback – July 20, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Fairwood Press, Inc (July 20, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0966818458
  • ISBN-13: 978-0966818451
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,411,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Love gets sealed with the sacrifice of a finger, monsters roam high school hallways and invisible dwarves function as angels of death on a city bus: the fantastical intertwines with the quotidian in James Van Pelt's Strangers and Beggars. The 17 stories, divided into four sections (Teaching, Love, Death, Time), contemplate modern dystopias, offering, in the words of Bruce Holland Rogers's introduction, stories of "things gone very wrong" that still manage to feel uplifting not "new maps of hell... [but] new maps out of hell..
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Foreboding stories rarely have upbeat endings, but Van Pelt's do. Edgy and usually creepy, they characteristically let a little light flicker at the end of their dark trajectories because Van Pelt thinks that people can, though they may not, solve their problems. When a teacher is finally caught by the immense spider that no one will remove from her classroom, she begins seeing her new situation as an opening to transcendence. When a businessman of the future doffs the "specs" that keep him perpetually tapped into the markets long enough for a tete-a-tete with his fiancee, he broaches, albeit unawares, the possibility that he can overcome his "infodiction." When Van Pelt re-presents Wells' Time Machine from the point of view of the Eloi girl who becomes attached to the time traveler, he leaves her figuring out how the Eloi can protect themselves from the Morlocks. A refreshingly optimistic bunch of sf-inflected horror tales, all seductive or at least charming, with a futuristic baseball yarn as a delightful comic capper. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By E. Tobler on September 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
Short stories are snapshots. Snapshots often reveal a truth that a formal photograph cannot. The seventeen snapshots in this collection are divided into sections (Teaching, Love, Death, Time) but they all feature the same thing: touching characters in extraordinary and true circumstances.
No matter how odd the situation, the reader can connect with the character; under the nonsensical lies plain truths we can all understand. Don't fit into your surroundings? Don't despair; neither do many of the people you'll meet in these stories.
Take Miss Hathaway. She has a problem with a spider in her classroom and when she's directed to take care of it herself, she does, but in an altogether unexpected manner. Demi has the ability to sense the life-force of insects, but even better, she can channel that energy. Yet, nothing ever goes how one expects it to--good for readers, heartbreaking for Demi.
The death dwarves have even bigger problems. They're just trying to do their job, which is to bring death to the masses. Our Intrepid Hero John Minor gets in the way. What's he thinking? Another man trying to do his job is Pierce. That job involves recording the voices of the past. He's recording something he shouldn't be, and just can't stop himself.
Ever have a neighbor who doesn't want to adhere to the covenants of the community? You're already familiar with Gary then, who seems determined to paint his house black. Owen doesn't like this at all, though his wife keeps going over there...
Have you ever sacrificed something near and dear for love? Ever dared to speak forbidden words? Relied on a sixth sense during a baseball game? Have you crouched atop your desk at work while sharks circle? Of course you have.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
Simply put, "Strangers and Beggars" is one of the best short story collections I've ever read.
Sixteen of the seventeen stories kept me riveted from start to finish. Though the stories cover a wide variety of themes, settings, and characters, they share a solid foundation of Mr. Van Pelt's great writing and vivid imagination. If you enjoy the book even half as much as I did, you'll have gotten more than your money's worth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By techmannn on January 31, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of this collection of short stories. it is worth pointing out that some stories are "sci-fi," others are more fantasy genre and yet others are neither of those. That is not a criticism -- I was happy to read all of them. The author has a knack for writing memorable characters in worlds that seem to have gone in some way topsy-turvy. The stories could almost have been written in a previous decade (for me they read like the 1970's) but the stories were written more recently. Again that's not a criticism but if you are looking for 21st Century "gore and action type sci-fi," you wont find it here.
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More About the Author

James Van Pelt teaches high school English in western Colorado. He has been publishing fiction since 1990, with numerous appearances in most of the major science fiction and fantasy magazines, including , Talebones, Realms of Fantasy, Analog, Asimov's, Weird Tales, SCIFI.COM, and many anthologies, including several "year's best" collections. His first collection of stories, Strangers and Beggars was released in 2002, and was recognized as a Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association. His second collection, The Last of the O-Forms and Other Stories, which includes the Nebula finalist title story, was released in August 2005 and was a finalist for the Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award. His novel, Summer of the Apocalypse was released November, 2006. The Radio Magician and Other Stories appeared in September of 2009 and received the Colorado Book Award in 2010. His newest collection, Flying in the Heart of the Lafayette Escadrille, appeared in November, 2012.