Eighteen fantasy and SF stories by Anderson, a veteran novelizer and author with Doug Beason of several thrillers (Ignition, 1997, etc.). “A Whisper of the Caladan Seas,” written with Frank Herbert’s son Brian, carries on the Dune series with the first fiction about the planet since the master died. The story features much of the battle plans and weaponry in the original series, as the Harkonnen fight the Atreides, and turns on a mystical appearance of salt water on the desert planet. Though Scully and Mulder are not in the title piece, it was later used as the armature for Antibodies, one of Anderson’s bestselling X-Files novelizations (he’s done Stars Wars books too). “Dogged Persistence” concerns an immortal black Lab and the futuristic nannorepair units that, when injected, rebuild injured or diseased bodies forever. Anderson’s “Prisoner of War” hangs from Harlan Ellison’s teleplay “Soldier”: Ellison posits future soldiers bred and trained to do nothing but fight from birth to death; Anderson suggests the horror of these same soldiers teetering on the abyss of peace when, taken prisoner in an underground paradise, Barto and Arviq find themselves disconcerted by food that doesn’t taste like combat gruel and utterly disoriented by the absence of commands ringing in their heads. Rock fans will dig “Music Played on the Strings of Time,” in which a failed musician goes to an alternate universe for five hours and finds that over there he had a hit record—before making Rolling Stone’s obit page. In “Fondest of Memories,” a man has his dead wife cloned and reprogrammed with only his fondest memories of her, then enters a kind of space hibernation for 30 years to await her maturity.
Shining invention and talent and style.