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Near + Far Paperback – September 19, 2012

4.8 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

The thematic elements in these stories are married beautifully with Rambo's distinct, visceral writing that subtly courts the reader in preparation for the gut punch of raw emotion. These stories are speculative fiction at its best, where the fantastical is mirrored in the reality of human (and non-human) life.  -Tee Tate, Litstack

It's a clever conceit quite nicely executed, and absolutely impossible to carry over to e-book format. All of this clever design would be pointless if the stories were no good -- fortunately, Cat Rambo is a great storyteller....If you want some really excellent stories, get the e-book. If you also want a physical object to warm the heart of any print-book collector, go for the paper version. Either way, you won't be disappointed.
-Don Sakers, Asimov's

If you've read Cat Rambo before, you'll know what to expect: her prose is smooth as a dream but often hides an incredibly sharp, emotive edge. At times, she gives more depth to a character in a handful of pages than many novelists manage in hundreds. Thematically, there's a lot of depth here too, but the author has a light touch with this, making most of these stories the kind you'll want to read, let simmer for a while, and re-read.
-Stephen Raets

In "Porcelain," a multiverse story in miniature, you have perhaps the most finely crafted piece of the collection. The shock of regret that I did not publish this was very keen: this is Cat Rambo at her best....Great collection. Very worth your time and treasure to get a copy.
-Wendy Delmater, Abyss & Apex

From the Author

I'm tremendously proud of Near + Far, which holds some of my finest science fiction stories, including "The Mermaids Singing, Each to Each," "Long Enough and Just So Long," and "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain." 
I did the book in tete-beche (aka Ace Double) format in order to split the book between near future and far future stories as well as to pay homage to one of my favorite formats, and between that and the fabulous interior illustrations and two covers, what emerged was a true work of art. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did writing and assembling the stories.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Hydra House (September 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0984830146
  • ISBN-13: 978-0984830145
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,617,708 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm not a huge fan of the short fiction form, which I feel often gets used to tell a synopsis of a story that really wants to be longer. I don't often see short stories that really need to be the length they are... that not only need to be short, but that take perfect advantage of their brevity to deliver their artistic payloads.

So it was astonishing to watch Cat Rambo knock it out of the park, over and over again, in every story in this collection. There's not a piece here that isn't served by its length, that I thought 'I really wish this had been long enough to explicate this, or flesh out that, or give me time to live with this.' They were like exquisite little artisanal chocolates: a pop of amazing flavor and then done, leaving you unwilling to read anything else so you could savor all the commingled flavors.

I'm sure there are many good authors writing SF/F short fiction today. I'm not sure there are many good short fiction authors working in the field today. Rambo's the real deal. If you want amazing shorts, wild, imaginative, poignant, beautiful, horrible, affecting, and above all amazing -shorts-, exactly perfect at their length, you owe it to yourself to have a look at her work.

Fair warning: they'll linger long after you read them, good and spooky both.
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Format: Paperback
The thing about reading a short story collection by one author is you will either get bored by their repetitive style and themes or surprised by the breadth of their ability and imagination. Near + Far deliciously falls into the later. It has the clever set up of having near-future science fiction stories in one half of it (the near side), and then flip it over for far-future stories. Cool! Such a fun read, with so many different types of story from a decidedly non cyber-punk take on virtual reality to slapstick space opera. Highly recommended!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The difficulty with this review will be not to gush too much...well-told short stories are potent magic and Cat Rambo's a magician.

If you have an affinity for speculative works, fantasy with sorcerers and mermaids, science fiction with new gizmos, other worlds and aliens, this collection will enchant.

Perhaps it's time to go on a short story binge. If you appreciate short stories by Aimee Bender, Ryan Boudinot, Joyce Carol Oates, Karen Joy Fowler, Carol Emshwiller, Octavia Butler, Rebecca Brown or Julia Slavin, try these too.

Standouts from the collection include: "Seeking Nothing," "RealFur" (transgenic living fur coats, eerie and memorable as Margaret Atwood's ChickieNobs in "Oryx and Crake"), "Surrogates" (Insanity Chip!), and "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain" (a Nebula Award nominee).

A note of caution: With themes of alienation, loneliness, miscommunication, and disconnection many of these stories are sad draughts.

Pairs well with: "[ { EYES LIKE SKY AND COAL AND MOONLIGHT } ] by Rambo, Cat (AUTHOR) Aug-01-2009 [ Hardcover ]," "The Surgeon's Tale" with Jeff Vandermeer, "Bloodchild and Other Stories" by Octavia Butler and the ineffable "Lightspeed Magazine, February 2014.
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Format: Paperback
Before reading Near+Far, I had only heard Cat Rambo's work in audio form as there have been numerous Escape Pod episodes featuring her stories. In fact, if after reading this review you are still wondering whether this collection is to your taste, I highly recommend listening to these stories. The ones from this collection available from Escape Pod are in chronological order: Kalakkak's Cousins, The Mermaids Singing, Each to Each, Angry Rose's Lament, and A Querulous Flute of Bone. They're not just a good taste of Rambo's writing, they're also great stories and well worth your time. These were the stories I already knew, but in Near+Far I discovered a collection filled with wonderful stories and even if there were a few that didn't work so well for me, the majority of them were a treat.

The introduction and story notes added by the author after each entry added real value to the collection, explaining something of a story's origin and history. I found the looks behind the scenes these notes gave and the ideas and themes the author departed from fascinating. I appreciated that the notes were appended to the stories instead of printed as an introduction to them, leaving the reader to discover the stories and their themes on her own, instead of trying to identify the author's intent while reading. Returning themes touched upon by Rambo are themes of gender, identity, love, the need for emotional and physical connection, marital problems, and issues of addiction. These are all sensitive subjects and Rambo gives them due care in handling them.

For some reason I enjoyed the stories included in the Far section of the collection more than those of the Near, though I liked most of those as well.
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