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April 1999
 
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Editor's Recommendations - April 1999
by Gordon Van Gelder

If your reading this magazine indicates you have even the slightest interest in short fiction (I'll take that bet), then you should know that 1998 was an extraordinarily good year for story collections. A few highlights:

Last Summer at Mars Hill by Elizabeth Hand (HarperPrism) assembles an even dozen tales, stories with "heart and also sharp little teeth," as Tappan King cannily said when he bought the first.

Paul J. McAuley's The Invisible Country (Avon Eos) offers up nine stories decidedly SF with lots of sharp smart edges.

Likewise, Nancy Kress's Beaker's Dozen (Tor) showcase the work of one of the finest extrapolators in the field with thirteen stories. Kress's stories see far.

Fans of old-time SF will welcome First Contacts: The Essential Murray Leinster (NESFA Press). Some of these stories creaked with age, and I regretted the absence of "The Runaway Skyscraper" from the book, but still this collection is an excellent way to see why Leinster was known as the Dean of SF.

The Cleft and Other Tales (Tor) brings together more than thirty years' worth of Gahan Wilson's odd fantasies. It's very nice to see this collection.

Joyce Carol Oates's The Collector of Hearts (Dutton) gathers more than two dozen dark stories from the past five years, including some from relatively obscure publications.

Burning Sky by Rachel Pollack (Cambrian Publications, P.O. Box 112170, Campbell, CA 95011) is available only in a small-press hardcover edition that deserves wider attention. Pollack mixes folklore, myth, and wit into wise concoctions.

Steven Utley once told me he tried writing to fit the genre magazines, but only felt comfortable when he decided just to write whatever he felt like writing. It's no surprise thenthat Ghost Seas (Ticonderoga Publications, P.O. Box 407, Nedlands, Western Australia 6009) rambles through the fields of fiction.

On the other hand, Paul Di Filippo continues to stake out his own literary territory by gathering up material he finds strewn throughout those fields of fiction (and culture). Lost Pages (Four Walls Eight Windows) collects nine stories that couldn't be mistaken for anyone else's work.

The Perfect Host (North Atlantic Books) is the fifth volume of Theodore Sturgeon's complete stories and in addition to masterpieces like "The Martian and the Moron" and "The Hurkle Is a Happy Beast," it also contains two unpublished pieces that are well worth reading.

However, with all due respect and then some, none of these books comes close to reaching the heights attained by The Avram Davidson Treasury, edited by Robert Silverberg and Grania Davis (Tor). This book's a terrific tribute to a tremendous talent. Go now. Read. Enjoy. Marvel.

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