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Things Will Never Be the Same: A Howard Waldrop Reader: Selected Short Fiction 1980-2005 Paperback – March 1, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
The 16 stories in this retrospective volume from World Fantasy Award–winner Waldrop tend to be more sober and less zany than those in his previous collection, Heart of Whitenesse (2005). Highlights include "The Lions Are Asleep This Night," a touching alternate history of a would-be playwright set in Africa; "French Scenes," in which Francophiles make movies using computers; and "Household Words or the Powers That Be," a tale Dickens fans are sure to love. Less successful are the obvious "Heirs of the Perisphere," with its Disneyesque characters, and the dated "Flying Saucer Rock and Roll," which was probably more funny when it was first published in 1985. Blurbs from Lucius Shepard, George R.R. Martin, Cory Doctorow and Connie Willis should give a boost. (Apr.)
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Howard Waldrop is a "National Treasure. The resident Weird Mind of his generation, he writes like a honky-tonk angel." -- Book World "Washington Post" --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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But then there's the sheer otherness of the bulk of his stories: a thirteen-year-old African boy obsessed with writing a history play; secret agent Kit Marlowe, dispatched to terminate the sorcerer John Faust; an obsessed American director using CGI to create a French New Wave art film starring himself; a wily sheriff vs. H.G. Wells' Martian invaders in 1898 Texas; Mickey, Donald, and Goofy at the end of time; and have you heard the one about the three Romans and a centaur? ("The only way I'll write a fantasy story is as if it were happening to truck drivers," says the author.)
Science fiction, Waldrop keeps reminding us, is a great way not to make money: he points to "US" (included here), the shorter, better version of an idea that Philip Roth ran with in the later novel THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA, as Exhibit A in a long career of one-of-a-kind, Hugo- and Nebula-nominated, perennial best-of-the-year-anthology stories that hardly anyone seems to know about.
You should get to know them. You'll be glad you did.
The author: Lots of very good (if not always great) stories in here. Waldrop is always imaginative, and he researches the heck out of the backgrounds.
The book: This is as well constructed a book as I ever find anymore. Sewn in signatures, not something you often see, even in hardcover. It even has a ribbon bookmark! You never see that.
The book: Did I really pay $45.00 for this book? Don't drink and order from Amazon at the same time.
The stories themselves are more "fiction" than "science fiction," and while I'm not a fanatic about categories and the like, I was a little disappointed in the science content of the stories. I like to read about alternate realities, imagined technologies, speculative fiction about future technology, etc. and there wasn't a lot of that in these stories.
I guess the title says it all. It's decent science fiction, light on the science.
is occasionally tangential to one I inhabit. I am proud to have read all [I
think] of Waldrop's oeuvre. I have met Howard. No one writes like him. No
one thinks like him. Once you've read "The Ugly Chickens," you'll never think of zoology in the same way; you'll recall the rock-n-roll of the 50s
and 60s. Drive-ins. DQ girls on roller skates. This is a fine selection.
There are many things I love (of Howard's) that aren't here. Like Marxism
in the 19th Century. Like "Custer's Last Jump." Like the Labours of
Hercules. That's OK. You'll want them once you've read this. As they
useta say "collect 'em all."
Howard, I love you.
"If Philip K. Dick is our homegrown Borges (as Ursula K. Le Guin once said), then Waldrop is our own very American magic-realist, as imaginative and playful as early Garcia Marquez or, better yet, Italo Calvino" so wrote Michael Dirda in the March 18th Washington Post Book World.
Your life is not complete until you own this book!