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Dan Weiss
Black Plankton Press, 122 pages

Dan Weiss
Dan Weiss' other work includes Diplodiners, Bop Squared and Snugglarea. He also edits and publishes The Rejected Quarterly, a journal for quality literature previously rejected at least 5 times (fiction submissions must be accompanied by rejection slips). Weiss lives in rural California and works as an elementary school teacher. He has also worked in a bank, in casinos, and has driven a taxi.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Mood Shifts
Black Plankton Press

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

Dan Weiss' view of the future is not like most people's. That's a good thing actually, because if we all pictured it his way, it might come to be. And I don't think any of us wants that. Who wants to wake up to a world where access to big bucks determines the length and quality of our lives? Come to think of it...

Asher Archer's daughter wants desperately not to grow up. True, the technology to keep her young is there; she can remain five years old indefinitely, but it's going to require a mighty effort on Archer's part to obtain the extra time. First, he's going to have to get them back from a rival company after an extremely hostile takeover that has taken him far away. Fortunately -- or maybe, unfortunately -- a mysterious face from his past has returned to lend a hand.

Weiss' vision is a wild and not so wonderful world to live in. Much depends on the company who keeps you. This one factor controls where a person lives, what work they do, what they eat -- every aspect of their lives. And, as Archer learns the hard way, which company you end up with is often not a matter of choice.

But, in this future world, there is much to wonder at. The landscapes, creatures, and people Archer encounters on his quest range from the delightful to the unsettling to the utterly blasé. At times, his day-to-day survival seems eerily parallel to our own lives, a bit too close to be entirely comfortable reading. That is one of the hallmarks of Weiss' work; the circumstances are both outlandish and familiar, making it seem all too possible.

Sewerelf is an entertaining story, though not as strong as Weiss' previous novel, Mood Shifts. The same themes appear, the commentary is as insightful, the images just as disturbing, but the book seems caught between the desire to fit into the "young adult" category and the larger science fiction/fantasy adult market. A cover illustration targeted at an adolescent audience may discourage some older readers; a shame considering the unique and probing nature of Weiss' fiction.

Is it a perfect novel? Far from it. Is it a worthwhile read? Definitely.

In an era where corporations outgrow the countries that "contain" them and the wealth of private individuals surpasses that of many nations, it is easy to imagine a time when companies, not governments, are the ruling powers of our lives. Seeing the brutal pragmatism enterprises employ to improve their bottom line, the idea of being controlled in such a way should frighten anybody. And looking around us at the cold realities of life is enough to make anyone long for the time when the adult world was just a hazy notion we had yet to even wonder about.

Maybe we would all be better off if we remained children... Then again, the same forces are acting on us regardless of how aware we are of the truth. Maybe, as Weiss' tales point out, we never do get beyond that innocent stage, and, just maybe, it makes no difference in the end.

Copyright © 2001 Lisa DuMond

In between reviews, articles, and interviews, Lisa DuMond writes science fiction and humour. DARKERS, her latest novel, was published in August 2000 by Hard Shell Word Factory. She has also written for BOOKPAGE and PUBLISHERS WEEKLY. Her articles and short stories are all over the map. You can check out Lisa and her work at her website hikeeba!.

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