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Tesseracts Ten
edited by Robert Charles Wilson and Edo van Belkom
Edge, 312 pages

Robert Charles Wilson
Robert Charles Wilson was born in California and moved to Canada at the age of nine. From his first novel, A Hidden Place (1986), through to his latest, he has written a number of entertaining books. They include Darwinia (1998), Memory Wire (1987), Gypsies (1989), The Divide (1990), A Bridge of Years (1991), The Harvest (1992) and Mysterium (1994) -- the latter winning the Philip K. Dick Award. Most reviewers compare his work to that of Clifford Simak.

Robert Charles Wilson Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Spin
SF Site Review: Spin
SF Site Review: Bios
SF Site Review: The Chronoliths
SF Site Review: The Perseids and Other Stories
SF Site Review: Bios
SF Site Review: Bios
SF Site Review: Darwinia

Edo van Belkom
Edo van Belkom made an auspicious debut in the speculative fiction field when his first short story sale, "Baseball Memories" was an Aurora Award nominee and reprinted in Year's Best Horror Stories XX, edited by the late Karl Edward Wagner. Since that first sale in 1990, he has sold more than 100 other stories of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mystery to such magazines as: Palace Corbie, Parsec, Storyteller, Haunts, On Spec and RPM. His work has also appeared in several anthologies. His first novel, Wyrm Wolf, published in 1995, was a Locus bestseller and a finalist for the 1995 First Novel Bram Stoker Award presented by the Horror Writers Association. Born in Toronto in 1962, van Belkom graduated from York University with an honors degree in Creative Writing. He then worked as a daily newspaper sports and police reporter for five years before becoming a full-time freelance writer in 1992.

Edo van Belkom Website

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Jakob Schmidt

Tesseracts Ten This is my first Tesseracts anthology, so I don't know how it compares to the previous volumes. Tesseracts Ten presents a broad range of fantastic short fiction, from classic interplanetary science fiction to a mainstream story that has only slightly fantastic overtones ("Phantom Love" by René Beaulieu). If the fact that this anthology was co-edited by Robert Charles Wilson leads you to expect lots of Hard SF content, you may be disappointed. Nevertheless, Wilson's interest in sociological questions, as discernible in The Chronoliths or Spin, obviously had some impact on the selection of the stories: a good portion of the entries deals with more or less underprivileged people who try to escape their drab lifestyle.

The volume opens with an alternate-history story by Scott Mackay, set in a Wellsian 1910, that turns out to be a meditation on the visionary power of science fiction. Even though nostalgic, it manages to critically interrogate the nostalgia it summons, and thereby provides a worthy opening for a good anthology.

Among the following stories, the best and most interesting entries tend to be the ones which stroll farthest from classical science fiction territory. "Blackbird Shuffle," by Greg Bechtel, for example, is a symbolist fantasy set in contemporary times that perfectly blends stylistic experiment and suspense. "Closing Time" by Matthew Johnston is a beautiful and funny little Borgian fantasy about the art of cooking, even though it is slightly marred by a final twist that is not as surprising as it strives to be. Victoria Fisher delivers an interesting variation on the ghost story with "Buttons," which is set in the years immediately after the French revolution and metaphorically explores the notion that history doesn't wait for individuals to catch up. "The Undoing" by Sarah Totton is also among the highlights of this collection: a near-future story that is so blatantly a metaphor for the current political situation that it would probably be annoying if it weren't for the fact that it is also such a dark and haunting piece of fiction.

The weaker entries tend to be the ones that stick more closely to the established formulas of science fiction. The entries by Stephanie Bedwell-Grime, Michéle Laframboise and Matthew Hughes have classical SF settings (like Mars or a space station). All three try a little too hard to be funny, and have final twists which aren't too original. Consequently, they are entertaining, but pretty forgettable. Thanks to some surreal imagery, the stories by Yvonne Pronovost and Mark Dachuk, two other entries firmly situated on the SF end of the spectrum, are a little more successful, but both are drawn out in the beginning and have an abrupt ending. The stories by Allen Moore and the second featured story by Scott Mackay ("The Girl from Ipanema") explore the concept of AI, and while both seem promising, they turn out to be pretty conventional fare in the end. Then there's Wendy Warrings story, which is basically a variation on Fahrenheit 451, and while it is well written, it has little new to say.

Two other memorable entries are Susan Forests "Angel of Death," which, like "The Undoing," is very obviously a political metaphor, but at the same time a good and refreshingly action-oriented read. And "Summer Silk" by Rhea Rose deserves a mention for being a mean, darkly humorous horror story that makes no excuses.

Overall, there's a lot of "good" and even a little "great" in here. If you're interested in a broad range of fantastic literature (or speculative fiction, as the editors of Tesseracts put it), you won't go wrong with this volume. If you're looking for science fiction in the stricter sense, however, you might be disappointed.

Copyright © 2007 Jakob Schmidt

Jakob writes and translates reviews, essays and short stories, most of them for the German magazine Alien Contact ( and its publishing house Shayol. That's in his spare time, which luckily still makes up the bulk of his days.

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