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Dragon's Island and Other Stories (Five Star Speculative Fiction Series) Hardcover – August, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
The two stories and short novel in this so-so collection from Hugo winner Williamson focus on genetic engineering. The title work, a novella dating to 1951, sets up what appears to be a battle to the death between humans and superior mutants, but ends with a realization that the mutants embody the best of humanity. Unfortunately, the writing hasn't aged well. Williamson has serious things to say, but his hysterical, ultra-pulpish way he develops his plot doesn't allow for much reflection. The writing is much more restrained in "Stepson to Creation," published as a novelette in 1977, but employed more successfully the following year as a section of the novel Brother to Demons, Brother to Gods. When superior mutants segregate ordinary humans into reservations, the humans naturally resent the discrimination. In the more polished and complex tale, "Guinevere for Everybody," a nerdy corporate troubleshooter is taken aback to discover that a branch of his company is producing vending machines that sell beautiful female clones. The lure of cheap, guilt-free sex is never spelled out the story was first published in 1954 but Williamson balances its suggestion nicely with the conscious control of sober, adult responsibility. He also zings the reader with a neat, darkly humorous and technically prescient conclusion.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
The short story "Guinevere for Everybody" isn't much; it barely touches on genetic engineering, taking place in the near future (the near future from when it was written that is [1950's]), where people can buy a spouse that is essentially perfect in appearance, but with a twist that is revealed at the end. - two stars (**).
The novella "Stepson to Creation" is actually the first quarter of a novel (Brother to Demons, Brother to Gods) that was written in parts in the 1970's: it is pretty good, but obviously incomplete - four stars (****).
The novel "Dragon's Island" is fairly good, but marred by early pulpish writing. To show emotion, for example, all of the characters are described as always "whispering huskily". The plot is that a scientist (Dane) is investigating the creator of genetic engineering, since the scientist was a friend of the Dane's father, but the scientist was apparently lost in the jungle. While following his investigations, Dane is confronted by a private investigator who claims the father of genetic engineering is creating monsters, which are meant to replace humanity with "Homo Excellens". The investigator gives the Dane an ultimatum: join us or die. Dane can't make up his mind, and before he can, he is kidnapped by the enemy, and now must decide how to proceed. A decent plot is somewhat mitigated by primitive writing - 3 stars (***).