A Thousand Deaths: George Alec Effinger
A Thousand Deaths is an anthology of science fiction short stories and one novella, most of which have previously appeared in a variety of SF magazines including but not limited to: Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and The Twilight Zone Magazine. The author relates his tales with a skilled hand and a fine vocabulary.
Most of the works in this anthology are related, at least in the sense that they tend to share the same main character – otherwise they have little or nothing to do with one another. The author’s somewhat quirky style injects the main character into a variety of non-sequential, non-related tales, some of which also include the author and several other of his characters. As long as you don’t expect the stories to make sense when taken as a whole, they are an interesting read as singles.
The anthology consists of 7 stories and one novella:
- The Wolves of Memory
An interesting, well written tale that introduces the reader to one incarnation of the main character – Sandor Courane. This story is so different from the remaining 7 that it can be disconcerting when you begin to read the others. This one seemed to have a “Heinlein-esque” flavor to it, in the vein of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
- Fatal Disk Error
At first glance, this appears to be a continuation of the first story, but it isn’t… really.
- In the Wings
This tale is told from the point of view of the various characters who inhabit Mr. Effinger’s various stories – I’d probably have put this one first in the book and saved The Wolves of Memory for last. Once you’ve read this, you’re pretty well aware of the theme of the anthology.
- From The Desk Of
Your computer is your friend…. Really.
- The Wicked Old Witch
Stalled car… gingerbread house… Wicked Old Witch. I kept really hoping to be surprised here.
- Mango Red Goes to War
The Devil is in the details.
- The Thing From the Slush
A somewhat oddly executed story about the dangers of turning down stories for publication.
The future wants your stories. Now.
The book deserves a PG rating for disturbing imagery and situations, primarily in The Wolves of Memory.
This compilation of tales makes for nice light reading, with the exception of The Wolves of Memory. While I consider it to be the best read in the anthology, it’s also quite long, and as noted before, quite different than the other tales.
I enjoyed reading nearly all of the stories in this book, and can recommend them. I must say that my personal preference is to read fiction where the author (or his alter-ego) features somewhat less prominently, but on rare occasions it can be fun.
Hardcover: 343 pages
Publisher: Golden Gryphon Press (June 1, 2007)
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