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Visitations
Jack Dann
Five Star, 255 pages

Visitations
Jack Dann
Jack Dann was born in Johnson City, New York, in 1945. He received his BA from Binghamton University in 1967. He has taught at Cornell University and Broome Community College, and has run an advertising agency. He still retains big business links as a director of a New York insurance company. He is perhaps best known for his short fiction, which has appeared in Omni, Playboy, Asimov's SF and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and for his anthologies, including the multi-volume Magic Tales fantasy series with Gardner Dozois from Ace. Jack Dann is also a consulting editor for Tor Books. His work has resulted in him being a finalist for the Nebula Award eleven times and a World Fantasy Award finalist three times.

Jack Dann Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Silent

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

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According to Five Star's publicity information, Visitations is the first collection of Jack Dann's short fiction in more than two decades. This claim completely ignores the collection Jubilee, published in Australia in 2001 and reprinted by Tor Books as recently as January of this year. However, the individual stories contained in Visitations, which range from being published from 1972 ("I'm With You in Rockland") to 2001 ("Ting-a-Ling") do not appear in Jubilee, and marketing hype aside, do present an addition to Dann's oeuvre for those who may not have seen these stories in their original appearances.

In addition to spanning nearly three decades of publication history, the stories collected in Visitations also span the gamut of the genre, from the quasi-Medieval fairy tale setting of "The Glass Casket" to the alternative historical Renaissance setting of "Vapors." Other stories are set in contemporary times, although with fantastic elements, such as Stephen Neshoma's attendance at his own funeral in "Reunion," or the alternate history "Ting-a-Ling" which has Marilyn Monroe and James Dean cruising the hills around Hollywood.

A theme which seems to run through many of the stories, included in Visitations, is one of loneliness and disassociation. Neshoma in "Reunion" feels as if he has been ostracized by his family, and only learns that he may have been wrong at his funeral, from which he goes in search of further redemption. In "Night Visions," Dann examines a man on a solo drive as he repeatedly considers purposefully crashing his car. "Blind Eye" explores a man who is detached from reality in a manner which makes him unsure if he murdered his own wife.

Dann brings a strong literary inclination to all of his stories and most of them work well, with the possible exception of the short-almost-vignette story, "A Cold Day in the Mesozoic." This is an example of an idea which Dann had and could have taken much further than he did. Instead, he merely posits the set up and abandons it, leaving the reader wondering about the point.

Dann began publishing in 1970 and has numerous novels, stories and anthologies to his credit. Despite his long and prolific career, he is not one of the better known or most widely read authors. The stories collected in Visitations, however, serve as an excellent introduction to Dann's work and should inspire readers to track down his other works, from the masterful The Memory Cathedral to The Man Who Melted. For those who wish to seek more of his short fiction, fortunately, Tor has recently published Jubilee which does not overlap with Visitations.

Copyright © 2003 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a four-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings (DAW Books, January, February and March, 2003). In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is heavily involved in convention running and publishes the fanzine Argentus.


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