Books by Byron Preiss

FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 1, 2006

"If this collection spawns annual volumes, they'll need to be more representative and timely—or carry a different title."
This grab-bag, scattershot selection might appeal to fans of contemporary comics but won't win converts or satisfy the curious. Read full book review >
THE BEST CHILDREN'S BOOKS IN THE WORLD by Byron Preiss
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 1996

The Best Children's Books In The World ($29.95; Nov. 1996; 320 pp.; 0-8109-1246-5): The valid but adult-oriented introduction by Jeffrey Garrett should not ensconce this treasury of 15 children's books from around the world on the reference shelves. It's a browser's delight for readers who have passed self- consciously beyond picture books but still revel in visual tellings. Following a page on each author and illustrator, spreads from every book have been sized and reproduced on the large pages of the volume, with English translations appearing in the margins. The Umbrella Thief from Sri Lanka and The Hidden House from England have been available in the US for years, but most of the new books will be new to readers. (Book-of-the-Month Club selection) (Anthology. 9-12) Read full book review >
THE ULTIMATE WITCH by Byron Preiss
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Oct. 5, 1993

Generous collections of horror stories, nearly all original, that comprise the fourth and fifth volumes of the publisher's Ultimate series (previous volumes, not reviewed, covered Dracula, Frankenstein, and werewolves). What makes these two ``ultimate'' is unclear—certainly not Philip JosÇ Farmer's querulous introduction to The Ultimate Witch, in which he decries the ``moronicity of anti-Satanists'' (Dennis Etchison does a far more sensible job of introducing the companion volume, displaying a tight grasp on zombie literature and films). It's not quite the authors either, although they're an impressive lot, emphasizing youthful talent: new stories from Kathryn Ptacek, Lois Tilton, Jonathan Bond, Nancy Holder, Tanith Lee, and others on witches, and from Rick Hautala, Geoffrey A. Landis, Brian Hodge, Alan Rodgers, and others on zombies. There are new stories by some bigger, older names, too (S.P. Somtow, Stuart M. Kaminsky, Karl Edward Wagner on witches; Robert Silverberg, John Brunner on zombies), but, not surprisingly, the biggest draws—Dean Koontz, Anne Rice, Ray Bradbury—are represented by old stories (with the Rice zombie-piece being, ironically, a reprint from The Witching Hour) (It's also interesting to note that stories by women—a fast-growing minority in the horror field—make up only five of the 23 zombie tales, but ten of the 25 witch tales.) Perhaps not the ultimate, then (The Book of the Dead, ed. by John Skipp and Craig Spector, 1989, outclasses this zombie collection)—but, still, two strong bets for horror fans. Read full book review >
FIRST CONTACT by William R. Alschuler
NONFICTION
Released: May 28, 1990

Science/sf writers Bova and Preiss present a wide-ranging discussion of mankind's search for alien life, along with an intriguing section on how amateurs can help scan for signals from distant planets. The search for alien life-forms has long had its committed enthusiasts. Many of the better known aficionados are represented here, attempting to define alien intelligence, debating the issue's relevance, lamenting a previous lack of political savvy in raising funds for research, and reporting on the recent progress of SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence project). Bova begins with a methodical discussion of how scientists narrow down the number of stars likely to foster life (as we imagine it) to "only a few billion." Bruce Campbell, head of the High-Precision Stellar Velocities Group at the Univ. of Victoria, points out that there is as yet no hard evidence for the existence of even one planet outside our solar system. Isaac Asimov; dolphin-communication researcher Diana Reiss; and sf author Hal Clement discuss possible alternative life-forms and the significance of technology in interplanetary communication. Univ. of California astrophysicist Frank Drake reappraises his own Drake Equation, a formula for estimating the number of advanced technological civilizations in the universe; several contributors describe current SETI programs; and Kent Cullers, NASA signal-detection team leader, and William Alschuler, founder of Future Museums, describe ways ordinary American citizens can productively participate in the SETI program with only $3,000 worth of equipment. Specific instructions for setting up the equipment are included in the appendices, along with a list of intriguing stars to watch. A comprehensive overview that inspires as well as informs. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 12, 1988

Preiss invited 23 authors to write a short story featuring private eye Philip Marlowe and, unfortunately, all of them agreed: despite their personal afterwards citing Chandler's humor, grace, style, their indebtness to him for their careers, etc., only three writers manage to honor Chandler; the rest merely pander or parody. The exceptions: Jonathan Vallin's "Malibu Tag Team," with a believable larcenous lady, an inadvertent double-cross, and a downbeat resolution that actually has an authentic 1940 tone; Paco Ignacio Taibo II's "The Deepest South," the archetypal misfit story, with a hardedged churl that Chandler would have relished: and Robert Crais' "The Man Who Knew Dick Bong," a tear-jerker father-son relationship complicated by a cynical ex-wife, a robbery that turned sour, and a sentimental bent for Marlowe, a good man. The only other worthwhile story is Chandler's own "The Pencil," which concludes the collection and demonstrates that a strong plot and sharp characterization can only enhance a story. Other contributors include Eric Van Lustbader (purple prose rampant), Simon Brett (uncomfortably macho), Sara Paretsky (outright corny), plus anthology perennials Ed Hoch, John Lutz, Loren D. Estleman, Francis M. Nevins, Jr. Also included are a map of Philip Marlowe's Los Angeles; 25 chapter drawings of varying period success; and an introduction by Frank MacShane, who rehashes what he's done—and done better—so many times before. A serious disappointment, but it'll probably turn up in most Chandler fans' Christmas stockings anyway. Read full book review >