THE FACES OF FANTASY
by Patti Perret
In 1984, photoessayist Patti Perret and (the now vanished) Bluejay Press released a collection of photographs entitled Faces of Science Fiction. The book instantly became a collector's item and used for autographs at science fiction conventions. Twelve years later, Tor has come out with Perret's companion volume, The Face of Fantasy.
Perret's book is filled with a random assortment of more than 100 modern fantasy authors. Each author received one page in which to describe who they are, their philosophy, or anything else that seemed appropriate. Although it is nice to hear from the authors about themselves in their own words, it might have been nice to have a little more editorial content, especially, for instance, in the case of Edward Whittemore whose page simply reads, "Edward Whittemore passed away."
Most of the images in the book are nice and clean, if not particularly imaginative. One jarring exception is Perret's blurry time exposure of Joel Rosenberg which makes him look like he moved when the picture was taken and Perret only had the single shot. Since there is no explanation for the selection of this picture, the reader is left wondering why such a poor photograph was used, assuming the purpose of the book is to permit fans to see what their favorite author looks like.
Perret fails to provide an explanation for her selection of authors, either. Did she chose certain authors because she happened to have pictures of them lying around? Because those were the authors who responded to a questionnaire? Because these are the authors Perret, herself, reads? No criteria is given for the sometimes strange selection.
The pictures also appear to be arranged at random. They are not in alphabetical order or chronological order. While this is not a tremendous drawback, sorting the pictures in a logical manner would do away with the need for the index at the end of the book.
However, for all its drawbacks, The Faces of Fantasy, is a fun book to have, providing pictures of more than 100 fantasy authors from Lynn Abbey to Jane Yolen. And, of course, it makes a great place to keep all those autographs.
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