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The Resurrection Man's Legacy and Other Stories
Dale Bailey
Golden Gryphon Press, 332 pages

The Resurrection Man's Legacy And Other Stories
Dale Bailey
Dale Bailey received degrees in Literature from the University of Tennessee and teaches at Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, North Carolina. His first novel, The Fallen, is a tale of supernatural horror that has been compared to the early work of Stephen King.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Story Excerpt: The Anencephalic Fields

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Charlene Brusso

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It's quite possible that Dale Bailey's name won't ring any more bells in your brain than it did in mine, at first. The credits on the copyright page list nearly everything here as having previously appeared The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, most during the editorship of Kristine Kathryn Rusch. If that still doesn't strike a chord in your memory, all the better, because then you've got some interesting reading ahead.

Beyond the positively incandescent praises of Barry Malzberg's introduction, there aren't a lot of fireworks to be found here. In fact, Bailey's style has a distinctly, even purposefully, old-fashioned feel which grows even clearer with his penchant for deceptively quiet rural settings and thoughtful, sometimes elegiac, prose. Much of the tension in his stories radiates from the uneasy relationship between parent and child. The title story provides a good example of all of the above.

In "The Resurrection Man's Legacy", a fatherless boy copes with the unwelcome gift of a "simulated person" to fill the emotional gap left by his parents' deaths. Though the moody writing is effective, the story shifts uneasily between a baseball piece and one of Isaac Asimov's better robot stories and never really manages to balance the two. Likewise, "Death and Suffrage," but it drifts to an inconclusive ending, never really resolving the main issues raised by its blackly comic premise of the dead rising to vote in a close presidential election.

Zombies of a different sort -- brainless bodies grown to provide organs for transplant -- create the grisly ambiance of "The Anencephalic Fields". Bailey frames the piece with a gritty coming-of-age story which infuses it with a strangely intriguing Deliverance-meets-Michael-Crichton-with-a-touch-of-Roger-Corman air.

With its dark-touched souls and small-town setting, "Quinn's Way" strongly echoes the setting and tone of Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes. "Home Burial" is a sinister little ghost story about a young farm wife obsessed with the loss of her stillborn child. "Touched" is a striking story about a retarded child with the ability to resurrect the dead, and the terrible choice he makes in order to win his distant mother's love.

"Swamp eat anything, give it enough time, my daddy used to say" is the wonderfully evocative opening to "The Census Taker", an eerie tale about a bayou town which has managed to hide from time, and the outside world, for over a century. Likewise, "Cockroach" is an effectively creepy saga of obsession and psychological horror about the invasiveness and uncertainty of pregnancy, though it's a little bit too long.

Less successful is the one-note "Exodus," a science fiction piece which introduces an intriguing situation -- overpopulation of the earth by seniors who grow older and older, supported by the young -- but doesn't do much with it. The slow-moving "Sheep's Clothing", about an assassin hired to commit murder by technological proxy, is likewise more satisfying in premise than execution.

On the other hand "In Green's Dominion" -- the collection's closing story -- seduces the reader completely with its slow-building tension. The story itself -- about an elderly female college professor who regrets her empty life -- grips tighter with every flashback even as the disturbing passion she ran from long ago creeps closer and closer.

Bailey's strengths include his command of mood and setting, and his equally deft manner with dialogue and dialect. Possibly because of this, his fantasy seems more successful than his science fiction. Readers who feel the influence of Ray Bradbury on Bailey's fiction will find their questions confirmed in the author's afterward. Like Bradbury, Bailey is a solid, deliberate storyteller, and even the least of his stories still has plenty to recommend it.

Copyright © 2004 Charlene Brusso

Charlene's sixth grade teacher told her she would burn her eyes out before she was 30 if she kept reading and writing so much. Fortunately he was wrong. Her work has also appeared in Aboriginal SF, Amazing Stories, Dark Regions, MZB's Fantasy Magazine, and other genre magazines.


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