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The Last Harbor The Last Harbor by George Foy
reviewed by Victoria Strauss
To all appearances, John Slocum is a success: a high-level executive with mega-corporation XCorp Multimedia, in charge of developing 3-D interactive shows for the Flash, the sense-enveloping virtual reality environment that provides the ubiquitous background for millions of lives. He has all the perks of wealth and privilege, including a gorgeous home and a perfect family. He's also, like so many others of his kind, addicted to Flash, and spends nearly every waking hour with a face-sucker (VR mask) on, viewing 3-D dramas as he goes about the ordinary business of his life.

J. J. by William Sanders
reviewed by Rich Horton
One woman, once a NASA scientist working on a Mars mission, is trapped in a mental institution, desperately trying to find a reason or a cure for the terrible dreams that trouble her. Another woman faces a shootout with several men in an abandoned New Mexico town, decades after a nuclear war destroyed civilization -- and she too faces terrible dreams which have driven her lover away. A third woman has turned to drink, amid the ruins of her SF writing career and the ravages of her own terrible nightmares. Mysteriously, these 3 women, from three different worlds, find themselves together, facing dangers and the threats of mysterious human-like but invulnerable beings who can chase them from world to world.

The Serpent's Tale The Serpent's Tale edited by Gregory McNamee
reviewed by Georges T. Dodds
Snakes, in Western culture, have tended to be portrayed in a less than favourable light: tool of the devil in Genesis, ungrateful and nasty in European folk tales, engine of suicide for Cleopatra, etc... Besides the fact that snakes are fascinating animals in terms of their adaptation to environments as dissimilar as sea and desert, as well as with respect to their physiology, it is not in every culture that they are the pariahs we take them to be. If nothing else, this collection of 50 accounts of snakes gleaned from all over the world, should open one's eyes to the wide range of snake-human relationships which have existed across the world and through time.

 Vox: SF For Your Ears Vox: SF For Your Ears
a column by Scott Danielson
Scott Danielson is looking at audio SF -- on tape, on CD, on whatever. This time out, he tells us about the audio version of one of his favourite novels, Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash. He also has some short reviews of audio titles from Dean Koontz and Stephen King.

Nebula Awards Showcase 2001 Nebula Awards Showcase 2001 edited by Robert Silverberg
reviewed by Jayme Lynn Blaschke
This collection is as accurate -- or inaccurate -- a snapshot of the state of the speculative fiction during one brief moment of time as it is possible to get. It's certainly not perfect, and future volumes would benefit from the elimination of marginal non-fiction in favour of more deserving runners-up. Even so, it remains a collection of top-notch writing on the whole, and deserves a place on every serious bookshelf as essential reading.

Babylon 5.1: Televison Reviews Babylon 5.1
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
Rick offers his notes on what to watch in October along with his view of the Star Trek: Enterprise episode, "Broken Bow" by Rick Berman and Brannon Bragga.

Cosmonaut Keep Cosmonaut Keep by Ken MacLeod
reviewed by Peter D. Tillman
Like most of his books, this novel is told in two alternating timelines. By far the most interesting story-strand is set on the planet Mingulay, in a complex society of humans, saurs, krakens and other sentients. This first volume in a new series comes to an adequate resolution, with plenty of hooks to prime you for the next installment. MacLeod's writing just keeps getting better, with intelligent politics, amazing inventions and a spectacular new universe-playground. Highly recommended.

After Magic After Magic by Bruce Boston
reviewed by Trent Walters
It begins with Stephan, a magician in search of perfecting his magic through spiritual highs, journeying further and further into the Far East. Meanwhile, back at the British séance, Madame Tutoni of the Tarot and of the other world has been waiting for her tidal powers to fluctuate beyond the occasional parlour trick of pulling strange cards out of the ether. Both wish to plumb the depths of their trade. And so opportunity knocked...

Nekropolis Nekropolis by Maureen F. McHugh
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
The author tackles the touchy subject of life in a fundamentalist theocracy. Gender bias, genetic bias, and ancient traditions combine for a society that leaves little room for personal preference, and no chance of forgiveness. Hariba, at the young age of 26, has seen her life and future shattered by her brother's illegal actions. Her lesser-of-two-evils choice is to submit docilely to a form of slavery that will comprise the rest of her life.

The Storm of Heaven The Storm of Heaven by Thomas Harlan
reviewed by William Thompson
Some thought lost by the end of Shadow of Ararat or Gate of Fire miraculously reemerge, whereas others will find in this volume that "God has fixed the length of [their] life."  Maxian reaches a shocking conclusion (if somewhat glibly recognized), Alexander is loose with an army in Magna Gothica, former enemies put aside their differences, and Thyatis has survived, though without any memory of past events.  Former comrades now find themselves locked in deadly combat and, as before, little appears entirely as it seems.

Dislocated Fictions Dislocated Fictions
a column by Gabriel Chouinard
Gabriel Chouinard's column is dedicated to exposing the risk-takers working in SF and fantasy. He calls them the Next Wave, in a nod to the obvious influences that the New Wave writers had upon them. To quote Gabe:
"Life is about fantasy. Fantasy is about life. It is a come hither, go yon relationship at best. At worst, it is a recipe for confusion and circular logic, a futile grasping for what is real and what is not; what is possible and what is not ... It is memory and extrapolation all balled into one babbling voice inside our heads, clambering for attention. It is what makes us all a bit schizophrenic."

Meet Me in the Moon Room Meet Me in the Moon Room by Ray Vukcevich
reviewed by Georges T. Dodds
For all their strangeness, the 33 stoires of this collection are witty, funny, and ultimately about ordinary people, their relationships, their idiosyncrasies (and there are some pretty weird ones of those) -- basically they are explorations of the human condition in a place that just happens to not be the real world. Any story synopsis would hardly capture what makes them tick like Salvador Dali's watch.

Second Looks

Tempter Tempter by Nancy A. Collins
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
At the heart of this dark tale is ex-celebrity Alex Rossiter. Since Rossiter's career as a rock star fizzled out he's been determined to overcome his one-hit wonder status and make it big again. This time he's decided to start his comeback in the Crescent City -- probably not the ideal place for a musician who's made a fondness for drugs and alcohol into a lifestyle. But, it does make Rossiter the ideal target for an impatient demon searching for someone with some serious weaknesses, someone who's looking for an easy road to the top.

First Novels

House of Leaves House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
reviewed by William Thompson
A challenging, at times brilliant, often frustrating and equally rewarding novel, it is a work that must be viewed as a sum of its parts, if for no other reason than that any review implicitly plays into the scientific notion of quantification. While the book in many ways defies the idea that '...the universe adds up,' any explication necessary to a description of the novel is certain to fall into the very misapprehensions that the book itself intentionally represents and refutes.

The Abulon Dance The Abulon Dance by Caro Soles
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
The people of Merculian are not like most of us. On their planet the dominant sentient species is comprised entirely of hermaphrodites -- true hermaphrodites, capable of impregnating any other Merculian. If this concept is a bit difficult to wrap your mind around, imagine the reactions of the other races they meet throughout the galaxy. Perhaps these encounters would be slightly easier if the group the aliens were facing was not the extremely emotional, often histrionic members of the Merculian National Dance Company.

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