Simon Bisson (sbisson) wrote,
Simon Bisson

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A Monday Morning "Finished The Book (No, That One!)" Review: Frankensteins And Foreign Devils

(It's been a while since the last one of these, sorry - been a little busy)

Walter Jon Williams is hugely under-rated. Perhaps best known for his early cyberpunk works, he's been a consistent performer, delivering intelligent and powerful works - including the wonderful Metropolitan, perhaps the only truly urban fantasy.

Frankensteins and Foreign Devils is a collection of his shorter works. Some you may have seen in magazines and collections, others will be new to you. Another NESFA collection, you'll find the usual eclectic mix of Williams fiction. Sone works are long, novella length pieces. "Solip:System" is a coda to Hardwired, following the lives of Reno has he tears down the Orbitals from within, storming on the wings of Black Mind. Others include a Chinese fantasy, "Broadway Johnny"and a story set in Fred Saberhagen's Swords universe. If you're a fan of the early Wild Cards stories, then you'll enjoy the archeological underpinings of the series in "Bag Lady", where Williams beta tests the ideas that went to build one of the most influential shred world series of the '80s.

The stand out story has to be the wonderful "Wall, Stone, Craft". Like Paul Di Filippo's A Year In The Linear City, this gentle alternate history is also a meditation on the roots of science fiction. In a world where the lives of Mary Shelley and Lord Byron are very different from the stories we know, what kind of Frankenstein will we have? Other alternate histories in the book include "Red Elvis", where a protest singing southern musician changes the world, and "Foreign Devils", which lands H.G. Wells' Martians in a China in the thick of the Boxer Rebellions.

All excellent works, and a collection that stands head and shoulders above many other single author anthologies.
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