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Daydreams Undertaken
Stephen L. Antczak
Marietta Publishing, 188 pages

George Jeanty
Daydreams Undertaken
Stephen L. Antczak
Born 20/07/1966 in Salem, MA, Stephen L. Antczak grew up in South Florida where, besides dodging the local reptilian fauna, he was an avid reader of comic books, Encyclopedia Brown, Tom Swift, and the Heinlein juveniles. A creative writing class at the Univ. of Florida, under Smith Kirkpatrick, led him to expand his writing to short fiction. Singer for the punk rock band Officer Friendly, he also co-published (with author James C. Bassett) a punk-influenced sci-fi 'zine: Science Fiction Randomly. Antczak has sold some 35 odd stories since his first sale of "Rise and Fall" to the original anthology Newer York. The Twilight Zone genre tale "Reality," made the Preliminary Ballot for the Stoker Award. Antczak had two screenplays optioned in 2001, and had a treatment for a comedy sci-fi series optioned in 2002. He is also developing an original werewolf/superhero comic book called Nightwolf, with artist Georges Jeanty. In 2003, Antczak co-wrote the award-winning short film No Witness, which was based on his own short story of the same name. He also co-wrote and co-starred in the feature-length movie Twisted Issues, which was hailed by critics as one of the "25 Must-See Underground Movies of the 1980s." He also directed the Atlanta debut of the play A Girl's Guide to Chaos, which garnered excellent reviews and sold out every performance. His novel God Drug is due out in 2004 from Marietta Publishing. Daydreams Undertaken, from the same publisher, collects fifteen short works of which 11 have been previously published. Antczak lives in Atlanta with his extremely supportive girlfriend, Suzi, and their six pets.

E-texts: "Imitation Process Cheese Food Substitute for Love"
Marietta Publishing

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Georges T. Dodds

Daydreams Undertaken collects 15 tales, inspired or whose dénouement was worked out through the author's daydreaming. An introduction to each tale tells of just which aspect of the particular story required this semi-conscious consultation with the Muses. The lead story, "Reality" first published in Adventures in the Twilight Zone (1995) is a lovely tale, which on one level asks the question whether reality is an absolute or simply a human construct, and on another whether art can create an alternate reality. The tales "Virtual Day," and "Way Down" again ably explore the line between absolute and perceived reality, in this case virtual reality, in the context of vampires, and post-apocalyptic street gangs, respectively.

Stephen L. Antczak also likes to reuse old SF-fantasy tropes but add a new twist such as in the amusing tale of chivalry "Be My Hero," the tale of alien abduction "Space Aliens Ate My Head," The Martian Chronicles-inspired "The Mars Trip," and the perhaps less well refurbished "The Monster Lab." However, throughout the tales, Antczak show a good sense of humour, which attains it's pinnacle in the tales of a misguided housekeeper-robot turned awkward super-hero crime fighter ("Captain Asimov," and "Captain Asimov Saves the Day"). A cross between Gallagher Plus' creation "Joe" (see Henry Kuttner's The Proud Robot) and a three-Asimov-laws-abiding robot with a couple of cracked PCBs: the great "Captain Asimov" -- cape and all -- saves the world from, amongst others, a killer war-bot apparently masquerading as an innocent automatic street-sweeper.

Some tales present a somewhat more metaphysical bent, with astral travel ("Nail in the Coffin"), a faster-than-light alternate universe serving as a well of souls to our world ("The Other Side of Light"), and a somewhat more convoluted (à la Zelazny) tale of godhead in a grim future ("The Deity Effect"). These, particularly the latter, aren't the best Daydreams Undertaken has to offer, but then they're also of a genre I'm not personally particularly enamoured with.

In general, the tales in Daydreams Undertaken are well put together, entertaining, and even thought-provoking at times. However, in his attempt to teach an old dog (or jaded plot) new tricks the author on occasion seems to let another's voice or theme -- be it that of Serling, Bradbury or Asimov -- direct his writing, resulting more in an homage or parody than his own voice. Nonetheless, Stephen Antczak is clearly capable of fine work, and so you might want to pick up a copy of Daydreams Undertaken before he's fully "discovered" and such a book becomes an unaffordable convention book room "rarity."

Copyright © 2004 Georges T. Dodds

Georges Dodds is a research scientist in vegetable crop physiology, who for close to 25 years has read and collected close to 2000 titles of predominantly pre-1950 science-fiction and fantasy, both in English and French. He writes columns on early imaginative literature for WARP, the newsletter/fanzine of the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association and maintains a site reflecting his tastes in imaginative literature.

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