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The John Varley Reader Paperback – September 7, 2004


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The short story is to science fiction what the "7 single was to rock: the most perfect yet the most mercilessly demanding form. My life experience of John Varley's stories has been that great majority of them are quite literally unforgettable." William Gibson

About the Author

John Varley is the author of the Gaean Trilogy (Titan, Wizard, and Demon), Steel Beach, The Golden Globe, Red Thunder, and Mammoth. He has won both the Nebula and Hugo Awards for his work.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 532 pages
  • Publisher: Ace; First Edition edition (September 7, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441011950
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441011957
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #630,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
5 star
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4 star
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1 star
4%
See all 25 customer reviews
John Varley fans will have already read the first thirteen stories in this book.
Doug D. Eigsti
This is a collection of his best short stuff with the author's fascinating intros and comments for each story.
M. L. Whitlock
Some of my favorite fiction are john varley short stories, and these are some of the best.
Elhosots

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Doug D. Eigsti on November 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
Varley exploded on the Science Fiction scene in 1974 with the first story in this book, "Picnic on Nearside," and quickly became one of the best loved writers of the 1970s because of his stories. His career as a novelist came later, and if he had only managed to produce these eighteen stories, his place in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame would be assured.

John Varley fans will have already read the first thirteen stories in this book. The last five have never been seen in a Varley collection before, and if you ask me they alone are worth the price of the book. But what about those disenfranchised readers who have somehow managed to miss the Science Fiction of John Varley? Is this the "best of?" Well, owing to Varley's high overall quality, a "best of" collection would necessarily be a weighty tome indeed. The John Varley Reader is a good representative sampling of his short fiction. In it you will find nine stories from Varley's signature Eight Worlds series. (Picnic on Nearside, Overdrawn at the Memory Bank, Gotta Sing Gotta Dance, The Barbie Murders, The Phantom of Kansas, Beatnik Bayou, Tango Charlie and Foxtrot Romeo, Options, and The Bellman.)

The independent stories in this collection are among the best Science Fiction has to offer: "Air Raid" is a time travel shocker that was later expanded into the fantastic, witty, fun novel Millennium, and a lackluster film of the same name.. "The Persistence of Vision," "Press Enter," and "The Pusher," are all multiple award winners. If you haven't yet read them, buy this book just for that reason. They are that good. These stories are also prime reasons why Varley is so highly regarded in the field.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By H. J. Spivack VINE VOICE on November 8, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ever hear a band, read a book or see a film where the singer/writer/director seems to have done their best work before you found them? Bruce Springsteen is a good example. Play any of his music before and then after The River and you'd have a hard time proving their the same artist.

Having said that, John Varley remains one of my favorite authors and I have high hope he's going to knock my socks off again. The John Varley Reader did that but I'd read most of it before. I want a new Gaea, Louise Baltimore, Cirocco Jones! I want Titanides, symbs and the Eight Worlds! I just haven't gotten it in awhile.

But when I was...John Varley remains one of my favorite authors.

I first read his Gaea trilogy and was bowled over by how fantastic the story was. His Living World (Gaea) and Cirrocco Jones are two characters that I've revisited many times over the years. I've reread the trilogy no less than a half dozen times.

After reading his short story collections (Persistence of Vision and Blue Champagne) I decided that the Eight Worlds was pretty amazing and his short stories as fun and tight as they come. After 5 years of searching every bookstore, I found The Ophiuchi Hotline and it became my favorite book of all time. Man, but that boy could write!

Millenium kicked but was tonally different. Great book, can't stop reading it when I start, but I guess that was the morph from the Varley then and the Varley now. I know in the autobiographical parts of the Reader, it seems like things did change for him at that point. Superheroes, a collection of short stories by other people about (what else) superheroes was fun, but it was not a true Varley novel.

Recent years have brought some disappointments for me.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By David Hood VINE VOICE on January 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
As someone who had only read the novels of John Varley, excepting one short story, which happened to be the last story in this collection, The Bellman, I came to it with fresh eyes and no fog of nostalgia from reading the stories when they were new.

Not only are the stories solid, we also get some brief autobiography and background of the stories containing such interesting info as Varley rates a car as one of the best places he's lived(during Woodstock), his first novel didn't get published, but his first short story, which is contained in this collection, did, he does not like writers groups and showing his work for criticism and generally does not rewrite his work.

Not only do the stories, particularly the 8-worlds and the Anna-Louise Bach stories, have the wow factor one expects from the field, they also make you think. Particularly the 8-worlds stories where gender changing, body changing and age changing is fast, easy and ubiquitious. What happens to gender roles and how people relate when your friend shows up at your door tomorrow as the opposite sex?

One problem of story collections is that it can be a little much to read nothing but short bites of the same author, to badly mix a metaphor, but this collection gets it right despite a moderate length by mixing the stories of his various milieus up. At the end you will be sated with Varley, but not fed up.

Highly recommended, as are his Gaea trilogy.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By N. Foster on October 17, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love John Varley and have all his short story collections. I only decided to buy this because there were 4 new stories that I had not read. I'm so glad I did. His introductions to each story are so interesting, that even if there were no new stories I would want this book.
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