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The Pure Product Paperback – August 14, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Nebula Award winner John Kessel is one of the best short-SF writers of the 1990s. His stories are intelligent, literate, sometimes metafictional, often black-humored. They can be as hard and piercing as a rapier, yet they always have a tang of insightful compassion. The seventeen stories in The Pure Product examine human nature, destiny, and identity through alternate history, quantum universes, relativity, and time travel; through omnipotent beings and alien cultures; and through memory manipulation and role reversals. "Invaders" juxtaposes the Spanish conquest of the Incas with an equally devastating near-future alien invasion. In "Animals," humans have been turned into pets for powerful and inscrutable beings, and one man's encounter with a human who has never lived under alien control has unexpected and dangerous consequences. In "Hearts Do Not in Eyes Shine," an estranged couple seeks to rescue their relationship by regaining trust through selective memory erasure--but one of the lovers may have lied about undergoing the procedure.

Nine of The Pure Product's seventeen stories previously appeared in Meeting in Infinity; two stories appear for the first time in The Pure Product. --Cynthia Ward

From Library Journal

Kessel (Corrupting Dr. Nice, LJ 12/96) collects 15 previously published (1980-96) short stories and two poems, plus one play. A 16th story, "Gulliver at Home," is original to this book. These stories range from the alternate history of his 1980 story, "Herman Melville: Space Opera Virtuoso," to 1995's "Some Like It Cold," in which a time traveler returns to 1962 Los Angeles to rescue Marilyn Monroe from her suicide. "Not Responsible! Park and Lock It!" offers a satirical look at obsessive driving and the herd mentality as people drive endlessly in their cars on the westbound highway, never getting farther than the same mile marker. Highly recommended for larger sf short story collections.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (August 14, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312866801
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312866808
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,316,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A Customer on April 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Superb collection from this brilliant "speculative fiction" writer, author of the delightful CORRUPTING DR. NICE. Too bad amazon.com used the Kirkus review, which was the ONLY negative review I read of Kessel's work.
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Format: Paperback
This volume was originally intended to be a reprint of Kessel's Arkham House collection "Meeting in Infinity". In its final form, however, it includes only nine stories from that earlier volume. Instead, The Pure Product, in Kessel's words, "is a collection of stories that do not exist as portions of either Freedom Beach or Good News from Outer Space." Thus we are presented with seven previously uncollected tales, one dramatic adaptation, one new story, and two poems.
The most intriguing stories in The Pure Product here are those which deal with alternate realities. Readers are first treated to a short biography of 1930s science fiction writer Herman Melville ("Herman Melville: Space Opera Virtuoso"). In "The Franchise", Fidel Castro and George Bush play baseball, not politics, but nevertheless find themselves engaged in battle. Finally, Kessel presents a bittersweet meeting between his own father and H. G. Wells in "Buffalo".
Of course, The Pure Product contains examples of Kessel's trademark humor and wit. Entries such as "The Einstein Express" (wherein the protagonist learns about relativity firsthand), and "Man" (a story about a homeowner with a unique "pest" in his basement) will raise smiles. Also included is the hilarious "Faustfeathers", a play in two acts which can be described, as the title suggests, as Dr. Faustus meets the Marx Brothers.
These lighthearted pieces are balanced by some with darker premises. Thus, we have the philosophical "Buddha Nostril Bird" and "Animals", as well as the Bradbury-like "The Lecturer". "Not responsible! Park it and Lock it!
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