A master class in the art of short-story writing.



Nine substantial stories, 2007-2009, from Kress (Crucible, 2004, etc.).

Framing the collection are two award-winning long tales, both speaking to the trials and compensations of growing old. A magnificent yarn, "The Erdmann Nexus" won the Hugo award for best novella in 2009 and describes the emergence of a dangerously god-like collective intelligence among old folks—think experience, wisdom, memories—living in a retirement home. "Fountains of Age" captured the Nebula award for best novella of 2007: A fabulously wealthy retired gangster discovers that the woman with whom he had a brief, intense affair many years ago is the source of the longevity treatments available to those that can afford them, and becomes consumed with the desire to see her again. Kress' talent for dreaming up odd aliens reveals itself in "The Kindness of Strangers," where they wipe out every major city on Earth—for our own good, of course; and in "Laws of Survival," where aliens visiting a devastated Earth want their captives to train dogs to protect and serve them. Two tales concern genetic experiments on children. In "First Rites," these experiments produce an autistic child instead of the hoped-for transcendentally aware mind. And "Safeguard" describes the tragic results of a biological warfare project. Elsewhere, "By Fools Like Me" features a nightmarish post-apocalyptic future where anything that survives from the former age is evil. Persons considering using one of the new "focus" drugs might wish to read "End Game" first. And if you're thinking of taking up photography, ponder the strange results obtained in "Images of Anna." Quality oozes from every page.

A master class in the art of short-story writing.

Pub Date: April 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-931520-45-4

Page Count: 303

Publisher: Small Beer Press

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 47

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller


Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and...


This future space fantasy might start an underground craze.

It feeds on the shades of Edgar Rice Burroughs (the Martian series), Aeschylus, Christ and J.R. Tolkien. The novel has a closed system of internal cross-references, and features a glossary, maps and appendices dealing with future religions and ecology. Dune itself is a desert planet where a certain spice liquor is mined in the sands; the spice is a supremely addictive narcotic and control of its distribution means control of the universe. This at a future time when the human race has reached a point of intellectual stagnation. What is needed is a Messiah. That's our hero, called variously Paul, then Muad'Dib (the One Who Points the Way), then Kwisatz Haderach (the space-time Messiah). Paul, who is a member of the House of Atreides (!), suddenly blooms in his middle teens with an ability to read the future and the reader too will be fascinated with the outcome of this projection.

With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and it should interest advanced sci-fi devotees.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1965

ISBN: 0441013597

Page Count: 411

Publisher: Chilton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1965

Did you like this book?