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The Law & the Heart: Speculative Stories to Bend the Mind and Soul Paperback – May 12, 2014
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
"The stories here are formally ingenious, even startling, and at the same time full of heart; the combination is brilliant and delightful. More please!" - Kim Stanley Robinson, author of 2312 and Shaman: A Novel of the Ice Age. "Spare us the lawyer jokes - here is a collection of stories from a writer who can navigate around the quiddities of the law and still plumb the tumultuous depths of human emotion. Ken Schneyer extrapolates the future of our legal systems with the dexterity of an Asimov putting his robots through their paces and yet in these (lucky) thirteen stories you will meet people just like you who live lives you would never have imagined. The Law & The Heart is a witty, moving calling card from a writer you'll want to see again soon." - James Patrick Kelly, Hugo, Nebula and Locus Award winner
About the Author
Kenneth Schneyer forgot he wanted to be a writer for 25 years, until he was ambushed by a gang of plot bunnies in 2006. Since then, he has sold stories to many science fiction and fantasy magazines and anthologies, several of which can be found on Amazon. His novella "Selected Program Notes from the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer" has been nominated for a 2014 Nebula Award and a Theodore Sturgeon Award for best short science fiction. Ken attended the Clarion Writers Workshop at UCSD in 2009, and joined the Cambridge Science Fiction Workshop in 2010. Mostly he writes science fiction and fantasy, but he's been known to write crime stories, poetry, and anything else that strikes his fancy. He was a theater major at Wesleyan and briefly a semiprofessional actor before attending law school at the University of Michigan. He teaches legal studies and humanities at Johnson & Wales University, and has published numerous articles on the constitutive rhetoric of legal texts. Born in Detroit, he now lives in Rhode Island with one singer, one dancer, one actor, and something striped and fanged that he sometimes glimpses out of the corner of his eye. He's interested in astronomy, history, politics, philosophy, presidential trivia, brain science, and practically everything else. He cooks better than most people you know.
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Top customer reviews
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In the first section, “The Law”, all of these stories deal with legal matters and how decisions made now can forever change the future. The fallacy of going to the past to try and change the future may give us insight on why the Civil War happens, but it ultimately shows that you cannot change the past without extreme consequences. Other laws, based on future medicine and technology, may not work the way we expect them to either.
I particularly loved the EULA for our Body… I knew that I forgot to read something before I was born… Darn!
The second section, “The Heart”, is obviously geared more toward futuristic stories that show us love, relationships, and how even in the future your heart will be conflicted. This section left me with two burning questions: If someone you loved lost twenty years of their memory and no longer knew you or loved you… could you let them walk away without fighting? Also could you kill a child (directly or indirectly) who trusts you in order to save other lives?
The third section combines the two: “The Law and the Heart.” There are only two stories in this section: One asks if you can betray your planet over your heart, and the other walks us through a future where medicine has given us extended lives while at the same time the law has taken our freedoms.
All three sections combined how love and law both change and remain the same… the outside coverings may be different, but the motivations are ultimately the same. Though I received this book free in exchange for an honest review, I am very impressed with the author and will most likely read additional books of his in the future.
The stories in The Law section didn't capture my interest. The author is an attorney and writes from experience. He obviously knows the law and has found a few odd corners to look around. He also seems to think like a lawyer, in a structured and ordered way. Some of these stories even take the form of legal documents, which describe by implication a state of affairs in the world. This is skillfully done. I think my problem stems from the fact that I work in a building full of lawyers and don't enjoy being reminded of their presence. A group of these stories together has a similar effect. I believe I would enjoy them more if they were spaced across several anthologies along with stories from other authors. (I have a similar reaction to Robert Reed's Greatship stories--best taken in moderation.)
The stories in the last two sections had a different effect. They convinced me that the author writes with greater sensitivity and nuance than evidenced by The Law stories. My three favorites are from these sections. I'll say a little about each:
"The Orpheus Fountain" is a moving exploration of what it means to be close to someone. It is hard to believe the author's claim that it began as a response to a writing exercise. If you have ever lost someone you love, or lost the love of someone, it will touch you. It belongs in one of the Best of the Year collections.
In "Hear the Enemy, My Daughter" the main character strives to understand an alien race which is at war with humans. Key to understanding the alien Sheshash is puzzling out the relationship between their two-member fighting pairs. One is a three-meter giant and the other is a half-meter dwarf. They fight with incredible coordination and recklessness. Understanding is possible, but comes at a cost.
"Tenure Track" is another story constructed out of documents. Although I grew a little weary of this format while reading The Law stories, it really works here. A set of letters and receipts traces the lives of a husband and wife. One receives a medical treatment to greatly prolong life. The other is unable to benefit from the effects of the treatment. And their lives go on.
I enjoyed this collection, in spite of my original impression. I suspect that attorneys or attorney aficionados will enjoy it more. The later stories should be accessible to and appreciated by a wider audience. And, of course, "The Orpheus Fountain" is a gem.
*Disclosure: The publisher offered me a free Kindle version of the book with the understanding that I would write a review after reading it. There was no attempt to sway my opinion or request that my review be favorable. I have no other connection with the publisher or the author. My opinion is my own.
Most recent customer reviews
This is a great collection of stories. The stories were thought-provoking and believable.Read more