August 15, 2004

From the End of the Twentieth Century by John M. Ford

cover artFord is a joy. His writing style is spare and yet pleasingly euphonious. He isn't slotted in to any particular genre either with novels in SF, fantasy, historical (well, some would argue that The Dragon Waiting is fantasy, but it feels like a historical to me), even a spy novel. While the stories in this book are nearly all identifiably SF or fantasy, Ford's ideas and execution are so much his own that they feel like something that needs its own category. It's been a while since I finished the book (there's a theme you'll be hearing a lot in these pages as I catch up on some neglected reviews!), but some of the stories in this collection have stuck with me; in particular:

  • "1952 Monon Freightyard Blues" in which a space travelling story seeker (Singularity Sky anyone?) profoundly impacts the life of a young hobo.
  • "Mandalay" and "Intersections" which are both set in a quantum alternate reality theme park gone wrong. The first is about people trying to find their way back to their home fiction. The second is in an alternate WWII.
  • "Walkaway Clause", a sort of insurance-mystery romance space-opera.
  • "Preflash" which I'd already read, though it wasn't in either of the places the book credits it as having been published. It's about photography and prescience and death and death's opposite.
  • "Riding the Hammer", a Liavek story set along the train line from Liavek to Saltigos.

There are a couple of essays about his writing that shine a brighter light on the proceedings. And finally a bunch of verse (mostly songs), including several farcical pieces written as Christmas presents for friends that defy categorization.

As if the content wasn't enough to recommend it, there's also the fact that NESFA Press really knows how to put together a book that is a pleasure to handle and read.

Posted by jeffy at August 15, 2004 08:16 PM