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VANISHING ACTS by Ellen Datlow


A Science Fiction Anthology

edited by Ellen Datlow

Pub Date: June 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-312-86962-2
Publisher: Tor

Datlow's latest themed anthology (Off Limits, 1996, etc.) headlines endangered species, and sometimes the endangered species is humanity itself, as a result of its own behavior. Of these 16 pieces, 4 have appeared before. The reprints range from Avram Davidson's classic `Now Let Us Sleep,` the callous exploitation of a primitive sapient race, to Suzy McKee Charnas's stunning masterpiece, `Listening to Brahms,` in which a handful of bewildered and deeply disturbed survivors make contact with an alien race, the rest of humanity having exterminated itself. Unfortunately, the remaining stories—Neanderthals, gorillas, Arks, ecosystems, beetles, and all—tend to pale by comparison. There are two exceptions: Joe Haldeman's heartfelt poem, “Endangered Species,” about gods, men, and war; and Ted Chiang's `Seventy-two Letters.` The latter, an impressive feat of extrapolation and ruthless logic, is set in an alternate world where kabalistic magic works, and the notion of preformation—creatures are created embodying all future generations of development—is literally true. In consequence, once the last preformed generation is born, humanity faces extinction.

Worth a try.