SLOW BIRDS And Other Stories by Ian Watson

SLOW BIRDS And Other Stories

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A rather feeble collection of 11 tales, 1981-85, with a couple of striking: stories, the remainder comprising eccentric fantasies or self-conscious parodies of current affairs. The best of the bunch: the fine title piece, about interdimensional cruise missiles of unknown origin and purpose, which in our dimension move inexorably at a walking pace, only to mysteriously vanish--or explode leaving circles of glass dotting the landscape. In the other goodie, distances inexplicably expand so that New York and London are a 100,000 miles apart; much of the world's excess population vanishes into another reality. Elsewhere, a sprightly fantasy, in which Lucretius is summoned to the present from Roman times and his peculiar world-view impinges on modern reality, is marred by an unconvincing US setting. There's an African fantasy about a were-leopard and a coldhearted British administrator. A Margaret Thatcher-type condemns the world to death at absolute zero rather than admit error or defeat. James Joyce puts in an appearance in a fantasy about life after death. Too, there are ruminations on cruise missiles, weird sex, and mirror-worlds. Patchy work, overall, less probing and thoughtful than Watson's previous collection, Sunstroke and Other Stories (1984).

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Victor Gollancz--dist. by David & Charles