Shirley's first story collection (most recent novel, A Splendid Chaos, p. 416)--19 entries, 1975-88, including three previously unpublished: impressive when Shirley lets his imagination run loose and easy, problematically obscure when he's straining to make a point. In the latter category are numerous scary and arresting but ultimately hollow variations on possession and reality control--for instance, the notion of reality as a movie projection controlled by mysterious aliens for unfathomable purposes; or, renting out one's body for occupation by another's mind. Elsewhere: a comic piece about a city-sized human-hive-female is reminiscent of Philip JosÃ¨ Farmer; a politician riding a frenzied anti-crime bandwagon into office gets his ironic just deserts; a sentient-planet yarn (with Bruce Sterling) recalls Greg Bear's similar ideas. There's a baldly didactic effort about particles that can change reality. In a satire on pollution and urban decay, a machine that sends disembodied psyches on vacation to paradise produces unexpected side effects. And, in a futuristic jail-break, the inmates use their cyborg computer chips to effect a cooperative escape. Clearly, Shirley's science fiction is better than his fantasy, as his novels are better than his stories. Curious tales: disturbing as you read, they don't continue to disturb once you stop.
Pub Date: Jan. 15, 1988
Page Count: -
Publisher: Scream (P.O. Box 481146, Los Angeles, CA 90048)