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Vanishing Acts: A Science Fiction Anthology Paperback – July 6, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (July 6, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312869614
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312869618
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,501,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Ellen Datlow has a fine reputation as an editor of original anthologies, both solo (Little Deaths, Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers) and with Terri Windling (their adult fairy-tale series includes Black Heart, Ivory Bones). With Windling she also edits the annual reprint volume The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror. This collection, fifteen stories and one poem, is unusual in that the pieces are a mix of originals and reprints.

The central theme is that of endangered species: plant and animal, human and alien, real and imagined. The seven pieces that stand out include all four reprints. Bruce McAllister's "The Girl Who Loved Animals" and Karen Joy Fowler's "Faded Roses" are both set in near futures bereft of most of the mammal species we love. Both cultures try different solutions. Both stories are unbearably sad. Also poignant but uplifting in its theme of the redemptive power of music is Suzy McKee Charnas's "Listening to Brahms." M. Shayne Bell's "The Thing About Benny" is a more dispassionate examination of the practical impact of reduced biodiversity, and Mark W. Tiedemann gives us a cautionary tale of difference--and possibilities wrenched from our grasp. Interestingly, it is the oldest piece in the book, Avram Davison's "Now Let Us Sleep," that perhaps comes closest to mirroring third-millennial angst, cynicism, and despair. The last story, however, is the utterly delightful "Seventy-two Letters," a new novella from Ted Chiang, that allows the reader to close the book feeling hopeful about the perpetual self-renewal of life. --Luc Duplessis --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Long-time fiction editor of Omni and editor (with Terri Windling) of the annual Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, Datlow is one of the most respected anthologists of speculative fiction. Here she assembles a diverse and thoughtful array of 16 stories written around the theme of endangered speciesAbe they human or animal, mythical or alien. In her introduction Datlow writes, "The stories that most influence me are the gentle persuaders... those that are so engrossing and well-told that the reader doesn't realize they've been poleaxed until the story is done." That philosophy is borne out by such compelling works as Suzy McKee Charnas's "Listening to Brahms," where the last remaining humans find themselves preserved as "living history" by a race of benevolent and all-too imitative aliens. In "The Girl Who Loved Animals" by Bruce McAllister, a retarded girl's determination to carry a gorilla fetus to term becomes a powerful story about motherhood. Refusing to be exploited, Nature fights back in Paul J. McAuley's "The Rift" and Brian Stableford's "Tenebrio." David Schow's dark little "Blessed Event" and M. Shayne Bell's "The Things About Benny" lend a bit of humor to the proceedings. Karen Joy Fowler's marvelously subtle "Faded Roses" evokes a world of sadness in a single scene, while Avram Davidson's "Now Let Us Sleep" tells the woeful tale of alien Yahoos with biting, Swiftian skill. The stories here range from good to unforgettable, and constantly ask readers to question the value and fate of vulnerable species, as well as the true differences between man and animal, human and alien. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Richard Guion on July 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think this anthology is worth picking up for Ted Chiang's "72 Letters" all by itself. All of Chiang's stories are superb, and this one is set in an alternate Victorian age turned sideways by the use of Golems in their society. Since the name on a Golem's forehead describes its function, scientists in this age study names to analyze their meaning and power. If you like fantasy that is well thought out and sticks to its own rules, this is for you. Besides Chiang's alternative history tale, I liked Paul J. McAuley's "The Rift", about a hike down into uncharted pre-historic territory. I was a little bit alarmed about buying an anthology with 4 reprinted stories, but they are all good reads, especially Suzy McKee Charnas' "Listening To Brahms", about a group of astronauts who become the sole survivors of Earth and are saved from by extinction by copycat lizard aliens. As the book jacket proclaims, this really is one of the best anthologies of 2000.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Edward Alexander Gerster VINE VOICE on August 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
Ellen Datlow has this incredible knack for putting together anthologies of science fiction, fantasy and horror of the highest caliber. If you missed VANISHING ACTS when it first came out in hardcover, you should definitely pick up a copy of this new trade paperback edition. Thematically intriguing, I found many new perspectives on endangered species, a subject near and dear to my heart. Suzy McKee Charnas's "Listening to Brahms" was one of my favorite stories from the old OMNI Magazine, and the new original stories by Ian McDowell, Brian Stableford, Joe Haldeman and others are all works of exceptional quality. The inclusion of Avram Davidson's "Now Let Us Sleep" from 1957 gives a very short blast from the past which is quite memorable. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By "carlmcfarland" on May 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
While some of the original stories in this volume are weaker than I'd like to see, the longest piece alone is worth the price of admission. "Seventy-Two Letters" by Ted Chiang is another magnificent creation from one of the sharpest and least prolific writers in SF today. Every story he writes is a gem, and this one, a kabbalistic steampunk allegory for the Human Genome Project, is no exception. Other very worthwhile stories include "Links" by Mark W. Tiedemann and "The Thing About Benny" by M. Shayne Bell, and the reprints by Suzy McKee Charnas, Bruce McAllister, and Avram Davidson are great too. But that novella alone makes this book worth your attention.
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