Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $4.57 shipping
+ $5.56 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Blue Kansas Sky Hardcover – November 1, 2000
Discover collectible copies of the books you love
Explore rare and antiquarian books from independent booksellers around the world. Learn more on AbeBooks.com.
Blue Kansas Sky collects four powerful and beautifully written novellas (one previously unpublished) by one of science fiction's best writers, Michael Bishop, winner of the Nebula Award, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and the Locus Award.
The opening story is "Blue Kansas Sky," which is original to this volume, and may or may not be fantasy. The story line alternates between the coming-of-age of Sonny Peacock, fatherless child of the '50s and '60s, and the redemption of his ex-inmate uncle, Rory Peacock. Set in 1988, the World Fantasy Award-nominated "Apartheid, Superstrings, and Mordecai Thubana" examines South Africa's brutal institutionalized racism through the lens of a white Afrikaner who becomes a quantum-mechanical invisible man to members of his own race. In the Hugo and Sturgeon Award finalist "Cri de Coeur," three Earthly starships travel to the Epsilon Eridani star system, with disastrous results. In the Hugo and Nebula Award finalist "Death and Designation among the Asadi," an anthropologist comes to the planet BoskVeld to study an inexplicable alien race; he may be the first to unlock their secrets, or he may be going mad--or both. --Cynthia Ward
This volume brings four novellas by one of the pillars of literary sf in the 1970s and 1980s back in print. "Blue Kansas Sky" is an sf take on growing up in the Bible Belt. "Apartheid, Superstrings, and Mordecai Thubana" deals with South Africa under the bad old regime. "Cri de Coeur" is a classic insider versus outsider tale, and "Death and Designation among the Asadi" is one of the foundation stones of anthropological sf as well as of Bishop's career. Their appeal is definitely greatest to literary sf readers or scholars, but since most of them have disappeared into the bibliographical olla podrida that is the fate of most short sf, Golden Gryphon deserves favor for fishing them out so that they can reappear on the sf shelves. Unfortunately, James Morrow's introduction tells much more about him than about the stories, so go straight to them. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Optimism positively suffuses the title story, a Bildungsroman featuring one Sonny Peacock, a young man who comes to understand his place in the world through the almost shadowy presence in his life of his ex-con uncle, Rory Peacock. Although warned off by his mother, who blames Rory for her husband's death, Sonny is drawn to his uncle, who enters the story looking like an accident waiting to happen. That no "accident" occurs is testament to the human capacity for change; that Sonny learns so much about life from his neer do well uncle is both ironic and touching. Taut and intellectually satisfying, "Blue Kansas Sky" contains several uplifting messages about redemption and human nature. Yet, Sonny's essential optimism is in constant danger of being eroded, and the story's ending is a heartbreaker.
The story most like it in the collection is former Hugo finalist, "Cri de Cour," which examines the nature of bigotry and the power of the powerless. It is the tale of star traveler Abel Gwiazada, and his son Dean, who was born with Down's syndrome. For Abel and most of the crew, Dean is easily lovable, a veritable repository for the positive emotions for those one board. Yet, to crewman Kazimierz Mikol, he is a freak. Mikol's presence provokes much tension, and much exposition about the nature of parental choice in an age where gene technology may make conditions like Dean's obsolete. Even though Mikol grows to love and accept Dean as the others already do, the novella ends on mixed note, as the travelers are forced to deal with a disaster that nearly renders their long journey meaningless.
The remaining stories (both Nebula Award finalists) are far darker, dealing with the nature of prejudice and the power of obsession, describing two personal journeys into the very heart of darkness. "Apartheid, Superstrings, and Mordecai Thubana" is essentially a science fictional play on books like BLACK LIKE ME and Ralph Ellison's INVISIBLE MAN. The latter is especially pertinent, in that the main character, a white man, is rendered invisible, and thus given a special insight into the plight of the black man in South Africa. Even though it is obvious that the character has seen the light, his personal epiphany is essentially meaningless against a backdrop of institutionalized racism. "Death and Designation Among the Asadi" is also about a journey of understanding, but one which proves impossible to complete. Here, Bishop plays with the theory of the observed being acted on by the observer, but deftly turns the tables, as the observer is slowly driven mad by his inability to understand the alien race he studies. Seemingly about institutionalized alienation, it really is more about the arrogance of human beings in assuming their mindsets are universal.
So, we have optimism, but optimism tempered by reality. We see closed minds opening, but also minds that shut down when reality intrudes. True, Bishop is an optimist, but this doesn't prevent him from being simultaneously tough minded, intelligent, skeptical, and morally aware. The magic is in the careful balance he strikes in his writing, tempered by his fiction's two essential ingredients: his clear, strong, trustworthy voice, and the obvious compassion he feels for his creations.
"Blue Kansas Sky" is a moving story of a young boy in 1950s small-town America, who struggles between his love for an uncle just released from prison and loyalty to his mother (who blames the man for her husband's death). Bishop incorporated many details from his own childhood to make this tale come alive. There's no science fiction here at all - just an engaging tale, extremely well written. Michael Bishop is adept at incorporating fresh words and unexpected turns of phrase without making the reader scramble for a thesaurus.
In "Apartheid, Superstrings, and Mordecai Thurbana," a well-to-do Afrikaner "ghosts" in and out of reality after a freak auto accident and is forced to watch as the security police interrogate two black laborers - one who plays around with cosmic string theory as a hobby; another who receives pirate radio broadcasts courtesy of a metal plate in his skull. This story is very difficult to get through - not because it is poorly written (indeed, just the opposite); but because it captures in chilling detail the horrors of the old Apartheid system.
"Cri de Coeur" (Cry from the Heart) tells the story of a man who must cope with the responsibilities, and revel in the joys, of raising a son with Down's Syndrome aboard a generational starship seeking to colonize another star system.
"Death and Designation among the Asadi" deals with a human anthropologist living in the wilds of an alien planet, struggling to understand the enigmatic rituals of its lion-maned hominids - without losing his sanity. [After reading this story I asked the author what I should do if I didn't fully understand it - read it again, or embrace the mystery? His answer: "Death and Designation" is my Solaris (a novel by Stanislaw Lem). Real aliens, Lem implies, defy comprehension because they ARE alien. On the other hand, you could read my novel Transfigurations, which incorporates the novella, and which more than one critic badmouthed for explaining rather than embracing the original mystery. They may have done so with some justice.]
Blue Kansas Sky is a wonderful collection of stories that I heartily recommend. It's published by Golden Gryphon Press (a small firm specializing in anthologies).
This is a collection for fantasists, for realists, for anyone who enjoys one of our best unsung writers at his very best.