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Stable Strategies and Others
Eileen Gunn
Tachyon Publications, 206 pages

Stable Strategies and Others
Eileen Gunn
Eileen Gunn is a short-story writer and the editor/publisher of the web site The Infinite Matrix (http://www.infinitematrix.net). Her stories, "Stable Strategies for Middle Management" and "Computer Friendly," were nominated for the Hugo Award. She has an extensive background in high-tech advertising, and, in the mid-80s was Director of Advertising and Sales Promotion at Microsoft Corporation. Originally from Boston, she has lived most recently in New York and San Francisco, and is now a resident of Seattle.

Eileen Gunn Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Peter D. Tillman

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Eileen Gunn is surely one of SF's least-prolific good writers, having published all of eleven stories since her debut in 1978. Fortunately, all of the stories in the collection are worthwhile, and some are brilliant -- such as the title story, "Stable Strategies for Middle Management" (a 1988 Hugo nominee), a novel view of the role of bioengineering in future corporate life, guaranteed to bring a smile. Then there's "Green Fire," co-written with Michael Swanwick, Andy Duncan, and Pat Murphy, which is just terrific: a WWII pulp burlesque, starring Isaac Asimov and Bob Heinlein, and featuring Tesla super-science, topless pirates, giant plesiosaurs, a kraken -- and a special guest appearance by Lord Quetzalcoatl! Great stuff. SF's best-ever 4-author story!

Her third "A" story, "Nirvana High" (with Leslie What), makes its first appearance here. The special-ed students at Cobain High have, well, special talents, and Gunn's sfnal look at high-school life ranks right up there with Suzy McKee Charnas' "Boobs" and Sharon Farber's "The Nostalginauts" (as by S.N. Dyer). A top-notch story.

"Computer Friendly", a 1990 Hugo nominee, features 9-yr old Elizabeth "Lizardbreath", and how she saved her friends online and learned to spit. Cool, nerdy stuff, if a bit dated now.

And her first sale, "What Are Friends For?" (1978) is still a crackerjack -- I'd never seen it, and I'll bet you'll like it, too. Gunn notes that her check for $51.63, from Ted White's Amazing, "came in someone else's SASE, with their name crossed out and mine scrawled in... I had hit the big time."

And there's more! Bottom line: 11 stories, 5 "A"s, 6 "B"s -- plus an "ideologically labile" recipe, and cool little Gunnophile goodies from William Gibson, Michael Swanwick, and Howard Waldrop. "Open [the book] and be dazzled! -- James Patrick Kelly's blurb, with a coverful of other nice blurbs, from Ursula K. Le Guin, Cory Doctorow, Connie Willis, and many more.

So, you owe it to yourself to check out Eileen Gunn's neat stories. As Michael Swanwick sings,

"Hooray for Eileen and her bully machine...
She's graced with a runcible style...
Lets all celebrate
Before it's too late...
Eileen! -- and her bully machine."
PLUS, she's the only SF writer known to have worked both as a cucumber-waxer AND as a flack for Bill Gates....

Copyright © 2004 Peter D. Tillman

Pete Tillman has been reading SF for better than 40 years now. He reviews SF -- and other books -- for Usenet, "Under the Covers", Infinity-Plus, Dark Planet, and SF Site. He's a mineral exploration geologist based in Arizona. More of his reviews are posted at www.silcom.com/~manatee/reviewer.html#tillman .


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