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Robert Reed
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March 2002, 25 pages

Robert Reed
Robert Reed was born, raised and currently is the only SWFA member living in Nebraska. He was the gold-prize winner in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest in 1986 for his story "Mudpuppies" (under the pen-name Robert Touzalin). His first two novels, The Leeshore and The Hormone Jungle, appeared in 1987. These were followed by Black Milk (1990), Down the Bright Way (1991), The Remarkables (1992), Beyond the Veil of Stars (1994), An Exaltation of Larks (1995), and Beneath the Gated Sky (1997). He is also a writer of a great deal of short fiction, including the recent "Marrow," one of Locus's selections for the top 10 stories of 1997. His short fiction has twice been nominated for the Hugo Award. He has had numerous short stories published in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and other major magazines. Reed has also been working for several years on a science fiction thriller which he likens to "Jurassic Park meets Dances With Wolves."

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Marrow
SF Site Review: The Dragons of Springplace
SF Site Review: An Exaltation of Larks
Review: Marrow
Usenet Discussion: Marrow

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Peter D. Tillman

I find Robert Reed most interesting for his short fiction. With "Coelacanths" (in the March 2002 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction), he's trembling on the edge of greatness. Let's see if I can convey why I think so, without spoiling the story for you.

"Coelacanths" is written in four parallel strands -- difficult enough at novel-length, and I would have thought near-impossible in 25 pages. It's a far-future tale of humanity triumphant -- a wonderful update of James Blish's classic "Surface Tension" and The Seedling Stars. Think of scaling, and of Clarke's Law. Think of human nature, changeless over the millennia, past and future....

A sample:

"Mish is pretty, and her beauty is the sort that will only grow as she becomes a woman. Her face is narrow and serious. Her eyes watch everything. She wears flowing dresses and jewelled sandals, and she goes everywhere with a clouded leopard named Mr. Stuff-and-Nonsense."
Young Able has just discovered something unpleasant about Mish, whom he'd hoped might become his first girl-friend: "I don't like you very much."
Mish is taken by surprise. Probably no other boy has said those awful words to her, and she doesn't know how to react, except to sputter ugly little sounds as she turns, looking back over the edge of the world..."
I like this story a lot. Really, I can't say more, but do seek it out, and recharge your sense of wonder. And look for "Coelacanths" on next year's award ballots. Bravo!

As for the rest of the issue, there is a good (if dark) future-Alzheimer's story by Maureen McHugh, and a new episode in Albert Crowley's neat future history, when Ulan Bator will rule the world... Plus interesting shorts from Jim Kelly and Carol Emshwiller. Check it out.

Minor SPOILER Alert

"Coelacanths" isn't flawless -- the naked narrator is a bit much, and the story reads like an extract from a work in progress -- which could itself be great. Hope, hope. Reed's novels to date have ranged from minor to interesting failures... In my opinion, of course.

Copyright © 2002 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 .

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