This is a very unique collection of short stories built around a theme created by Staven-Elliot Altman. Some important writers such as Harry Turtledove, Kit Reed, Tananarive Due, and William F. Nolan, along with plenty of up-and-comers in speculative fiction and horror, have done great things with Altman's backdrop – a disease called Depriver Syndrome in which the sufferers are prohibited by law from touching other people. This is surely an allegory for AIDS and other real-life epidemics in which the innocent sufferers have been made into hateful outcasts by social ignorance and paranoia. With the exception of Janet Asimov's corny and hyperbolic sci-fi contribution (which also breaks the continuity built by the editors), the stories here are uniformly stirring and haunting, as the writers explore different aspects of the disease and its effects, both personal and social. Interestingly, only a few tackle the crushing loneliness a Depriver would feel during a lifetime of not being allowed to touch other people. Many of the stories explore the widespread paranoia that could result in an under-informed and discriminatory society, surely based on the AIDS crisis. Meanwhile several of the most stirring stories look at non-Deprivers who wish to contract the syndrome for anti-establishmentarian thrills or for personal fulfillment. There are also a few stories about Deprivers spreading their disease on purpose, as a means of revenge or extortion, revealing many uncomfortable aspects of human nature. This is a great collection of short stories that really live up to the haunting and disturbing theme created by Altman. [~doomsdayer520~]
What a cool book! The world of Deprivers Syndrome is 100% believable, and the stories that Altman and Merla have collected here are all page-turners. The possibilites for this are endless... I hope that someone takes advantage of it! I'd love to read more. Anyone who likes the X-Files should pick up this book asap. Lots of fun!