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Chains of the Sea: Three Original Novellas of Science Fiction Hardcover – 1973
The 1970's are a period of creative ferment in the field of science fiction, and the three young men whose original novellas are included in this book are among the most highly regarded of the newer writers. All three belong unarguably to the literary generation of the 1970's. Aside from one story by Dozois that appeared in 1966, none of their work saw print professionally before 1970. They are still young. . . . Yet they are no novices; as evidence of this volume shows, their writing is skillful, evocative, thoughtful, occasionally profound. "And Us, Too, I Guess," by Geo. Alec Effinger, "Chains of the Sea," by Gardner R. Dozois, and "The Shrine of Sebastian," by Gordon Eklund, are published here for the first time any-where. Despite the relative sparseness of their output to date, Effinger, Dozois, and Eklund have all been spoken of as potential winners of science fiction's highest awards for literary achievement. This book is a showcase for their talents, and the high quality of these three short novels will provide great reading pleasure and excitement.
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Top Customer Reviews
Effinger, George Alec: "And Us, Too, I Guess", while written for this anthology, also appears in Effinger's collection IRRATIONAL NUMBERS. The viewpoint alternates between the 1st person narrative of Dr. Davis, a scientist, and the 3rd person narrative of Paul Moran, a factory worker.
Davis seeks to rebuild his career yet again after the latest of a series of catastrophes. In his own mind, at least, he's not responsible for any of the troubles that have befallen him - and in his secret heart, he admits that he enjoys disaster, if he can sit back and watch. Moran, on the other hand, would claim only one disaster - his unhappy marriage - but might be honest enough to admit his own contribution to the problem.
They seem to be a study in contrasts, save for the two points they have in common: dissatisfaction with their lots in life, and a passion for raising mollies (a breed of tropical fish). On the morning the story opens, both Davis and Moran find that all their pets have died in the night, with no visible cause of death. Upon seeking replacements, the hobbyists learn gradually that *all* mollies everywhere appear to have died that same night. Then a few days later, another species - an obscure fungus - is found extinct, and an ominous pattern of tragedy begins to unfold.
Dozois, Gardner R.: "Chains of the Sea", which also appears in Dozois' collection THE VISIBLE MAN, is an SF story of the day aliens "invaded" Earth, and the story of a kid who retains the ability to see "the Other People" long after his friends have forgotten them. (They share the Earth, but in ways that most humans can't perceive, and that even the AIs who *really* run human civilization aren't really aware of - at first.)
The story alternates between 3rd-person views of the aliens' arrival, and of Tommy's problems. The alien landings thread is mostly to do with the AIs' handling of the issue. They've never bothered to inform their "owners" that they communicate almost instantaneously when they wish, with no regard to their "owners'" political disagreements. Tommy's thread ties up with this because the Other People, like the AIs and human governments, are preoccupied with the aliens' arrival.
The title is a metaphor from a story-within-the-story, made up by Tommy during his after-school games. Tommy himself is caught between his abusive father, the uncaring school system, and the mysterious activities of the Other People. "He knew now why Steve had said the dragon couldn't get away. It lived in the sea, so it couldn't get away by going up onto the land - that was impossible. It had to stay in the sea, it was restricted by that, it was chained by the sea..."
Alone of the trio, "Chains of the Sea" suffers from sub par copyediting, in the form of occasional spelling mistakes, and botched grammar during a flashback. Otherwise, it's an excellent story, my favourite of the three. For instance, the media near one of the landing sites gives it continuous coverage, even though they have nothing to say, and an attempted media blackout causes far more trouble than the initial coverage - including a rash of lawsuits. The only telltale sign of its 1973 composition date is a simile, describing distorted time perception "like 33 records played at 78 RPM".
Eklund, Gordon: "The Shrine of Sebastian", set far in the future, opens with a few paragraphs of quotation from a manuscript being written within the story: THE BOOK OF MAN, a work that the robot Andrew hopes will rival the Bible in time to come. His less-than-objective opinion is that it's at least an equal, containing neither fiction nor parable but what actually happened millennia ago when Sebastian spake of his vision unto the people of Earth, guiding them to the great spaceships bound for a new world. As the story progresses, the reader can draw his or her own conclusions about the accuracy of Andrew's assessment of his work.
In one sense, the story is linear, beginning on the day of Pope Maria's death, leaving her downtrodden husband Julian with two legacies: the title of Pope, and a command to bury her at the shrine of Sebastian. Why did such an arrogant, self-satisfied woman want to be laid to rest at the heart of a heretical movement? (The reader, of course, has additional mysteries to ponder, picking up clues on the state of this far future world from evidence in the story - no heavy-handed exposition. In fact, the story avoids exposition to the point that the reader may be left floundering through the unsavory incidents that befall Andrew and Julian. I greatly prefer the thread following Andrew's better-organized viewpoint to that following Julian's.)