Books by Michael Bishop

AT THE CITY LIMITS OF FATE by Michael Bishop
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Aug. 1, 1996

Bishop's latest collection (One Winter in Eden, 1984, etc.) brings together 15 tales, 198696, drawn from a wide variety of periodicals and anthologies, many with a strong mainstream/experimental flavor. Best is the title piece, a splendid tongue-in-cheek fantasy about a Japanese-style ritual suicide in a Deep South town. ``God's Hour'' posits a weekly hour of TV direct from the deity—and if you don't watch, you go to hell. A dying St. Augustine is lectured on advanced Chinese cosmology by his long- lost son, and on evolution by an African tribesman, in ``For This Do I Remember Carthage.'' And Judas gets a thoroughgoing workout in ``I, Iscariot.'' Other ideas range from Crucifixion ironies, butterflies, snakehandling, jukeboxes, death, and cats to chaos theory, ghosts, and conversations with God. Chilly, intellectual, extended metaphorical ruminations for the most part, with the emotions only rarely engaged: for minority tastes only. Read full book review >
BRITTLE INNINGS by Michael Bishop
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 15, 1994

From the author of such noted works as Unicorn Mountain (1988), No Enemy But Time (1982), and others comes this remarkable novel, set in 1943, inspired by bush-league baseball and—it sounds incongruous, but Bishop pulls it off brilliantly—literature's most famous monster. Talented 17-year-old shortstop Danny Boles leaves Tenkiller, Oklahoma, to join the Hellbridge Hellbenders, a class C farm club in Georgia's Chattahoochee Valley League—but on the train to Hellbridge he's robbed and brutally raped, and loses his ability to speak. The Hellbenders' manager, Mister JayMac, rooms Danny with first-baseman Henry ``Jumbo'' Clerval, who, despite his intimidating yellow eyes, huge bulk, mysterious scars, and awesome hitting, turns out to be a gentle and understanding companion. Yet Henry is not what he seems: He talks a courtly, old-fashioned English and keeps secret papers hidden under his bed inside a kayak he claims to have made himself. He is, of course, Frankenstein's monster (savvy readers will have been tipped off by the name). After wandering in the Arctic for many years seeking redemption, immortal Henry came to Georgia—and discovered baseball. Danny soon wins the starting shortstop's job, to the chagrin of the incumbent, Buck Hoey, who nurses a deep resentment of the youngster. Through the summer of 1943, the complications mount: the Hellbenders, in the thick of a pennant race, lose their star centerfielder, a hemophiliac, in a bizarre accident during a game on an army base with a team of Negro All-Stars; Hoey is traded to the team's pennant rivals, the Gendarmes; during the last, crucial game of the season, with Danny and Henry slated to join the Philadelphia Phillies, Hoey extracts a horrid revenge. Resonantly evocative of time and place, with a splendid gallery of characters in a beautifully reticulated plot. Read full book review >
COUNT GEIGER'S BLUES by Michael Bishop
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 1, 1992

Another distinctive fantasy featuring a dying protagonist (as in Unicorn Mountain, 1988), this one set in the mythical southern state of Oconee and its largest city, Salonika. After cultural-snob Xavier Thaxton, Fine Arts editor of the Salonika Suburbanite, swims in a pond whose waters (unbeknownst to Xavier) are contaminated with illegally dumped radioactive waste, his life takes a strange turn. He acquires a fashion-designer girlfriend and, much less welcome, a roomie, his retropunk nephew, the Mick, a dedicated fan of UC superhero comics. Following the launch of a new comic character, Count Geiger (he acquires superpowers after exposure to radiation), Xavier and the Mick quarrel over Xavier's condemnation of comics in general and Count Geiger in particular. Soon, however, Xavier develops a strange malady: culture—opera, literature, whatever—makes him sick; the only cure is a dose of lowbrow realism...especially the Mick's comics and rock music. In the hope that constant contact might alleviate his symptoms, Xavier takes to wearing a Count Geiger suit underneath his clothes. But then Count Geiger's creator, blaming Xavier's hostile column for his firing by UC, shoots Xavier—who, far from ending up dead, finds he can expel the bullets and heal right up! Days later, he defeats four would-be subway muggers in comic-book style: somehow, he has become Count Geiger! Not only that, but Xavier now approves of comics and rock music. He starts a crusade to heighten the social awareness of Salonika's stubbornly reactionary inhabitants. Then, as another shipment of illegally dumped nuclear waste comes to light, Xavier realizes that he is dying, though he lives to see the owner of UC comics convicted for masterminding the dumping. Social-conscience-tweaker, tear-jerker, environmental- consciousness-raiser, or just plain if ponderous fun? Witty, often admirable work but with a hidden agenda that grates. Read full book review >
NEBULA AWARDS 23 by Michael Bishop
Released: April 21, 1989

The 1987 award winners and some runners-up, as voted by the Science Fiction Writers of America: 11 stories, four poems, two once-overs, and a memorial. In fiction, the most noteworthy entries are: Kate Wilhelm's succinct and telling time-travel/romance, "Forever Yours, Anna"; Bruce Sterling's clever and amusing Japanese electric demon, "Flowers of Edo"; Gregory Benford's blackly humorous near-future fast-track family; Kiln Stanley Robinson's tautly effective ruminations on blindness and geometry; and James Morrow's witty commentary on scientific creationism. Also: trench warfare and coranology (Connie Willis); alternate-world McCarthyism (Walter Jon Wilhams); sports and ethics (John Kessel); dragons (Lucius Shepard); a human/chimpanzee romance (Pat Murphy); and weird alien criminals (Pat Cadigan). Also on the agenda: lan Watson usefully examines 1987's output of fiction (including novels), while Bill Warren glooms over 1987's movies (a horrible bunch, by and large, with little prospect of improvement); poems from Joe Haldeman, John Calvin Rezmerski, Jonathan V. Post, and W. Gregory Steward; and Isaac Asimov's appreciative memorial to the late Alfred Bester. Solid and dependable overall, measuring up to the high standards set in previous years. Read full book review >