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The downstairs room,: And other speculative fiction Hardcover – January 1, 1968


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 215 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1st edition (1968)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0006BVCQE
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,897,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in 1928, Kate Wilhelm the author of more than thirty novels including Where Late the Sweet Bird Sang and The Unbidden Truth. Her work has been adapted for TV and film and translated into twenty languages. She has been awarded the Prix Apollo, Kurd Lasswitz, Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards. In 2003, she was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Her short fiction appeared in landmark anthologies such as Again Dangerous Visions, Orbit, The Penguin Book of Modern Fantasy by Women, and The Norton Book of Science Fiction. A cofounder of the Clarion Writers' Workhops, she continues to host monthly writing workshops in Eugene, Oregon.

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Format: Hardcover
By the late 60s Kate Wilhelm’s SF moved from generally uninspiring pulp (à la the collection The Mile-Long Spaceship) to psychologically taught and emotive mood pieces exploring the almost existential malaise of daily existence and the disturbing effects of “programmed” lives (especially the housewife). The fourteen short-stories in The Downstairs Room and Other Speculative Fiction (1968) (the term “speculative fiction” was coined by Judith Merril in the 60s) comprise a snapshot of Wilhelm’s best New Wave work. It should be noted that not all are SF.

Although some are less engaging than others, her harrowing portrayal of starlets subjected to endless psychological torments at the whims of their viewers in ”Baby, You Were Great” (1967) (Nebula nominated) and the evocative tapestry of daydreams, scenes of monkey experimentation, tests on a mentally disabled child and convicts, arrayed against the backdrop of a slowly decaying relationship in “The Planners” (1968) (Nebula winner) will appeal to all fans of New Wave SF. Also, if you enjoyed her Hugo-winning/Nebula-nominated novel Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (1976) I recommend tracking down some of her late 60s short stories.

Recommended for fans of literary SF and speculative fiction willing to ponder, willing to allow the uncanny moods to seep in, willing to feel the movements of the dreams….

Brief Plot Summary/Analysis (mainly for the SF stories) (*spoilers*)

“Unbirthday Party” (1968) 3.5/5 (Good): A very “New Wave” psychologically tense whirlwind of a story… Wellman has the sensation of being on the wrong floor–”although visually there was very little that was not familiar” (1)–and arrives at a room filled with people celebrating.
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