ABSOLUTE MAGNITUDE by Warren & Stephen Pagel--Eds. Lapine


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Sixteen tales, written between 1993-97, that first appeared in the eponymous magazine or its predecessor, Harsh Mistress. Oddly, the two most impressive yarns come from a couple of septuagenarians: Frank O. Dodge's ""The Barefoot Mule,"" an amusing and well-worked tale involving some desert sleuthing, a dimensional warp, and a disappearing mule; and Hal Clement's ""Sortie,"" an immaculate exploration of the surface of chilly, smoggy Titan that's less a story than a novel fragment (let's hope he goes on to complete the novel). Also noteworthy: an imaginative survey of a hostile alien planet (Linda Tiernan Kepner); mathematical high jinks (Janet Kagan); and a more-than-meets-the-eye war-buddy yarn, strongly reminiscent of William Tenn (from Denise Lopes Heald). There are also fair-to-middling variations on xenophobia, alien-contact, intelligent spaceships, a Martian ripper, cosmic meditation, post-disaster life, exchangeable memories and body parts, life after cryogenesis, and more. Overall, a sound if unremarkable anthology, certainly worth a try for story enthusiasts. The only problem with it is a common one nowadays: You wish the best stories were novels, while the runners-up tend to fade from view.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1997
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Tor