British Science Fiction award winner Ian Watson graces us here with a brilliant new collection of short stories and essays.
Though he dazzles the reader with his footwork in the kaleidoscope intensity of his vision, each piece is plainly the work of a master craftsman. Whether he is dealing with a future culture where whales control us (“The Culling”) or taking a hilarious poke at the matter of government funding (“The President’s Not for Turning”), his concepts are clear and undeniably logical.
True to the highest ideal of science fiction, Watson carries present tendencies of our society to possible conclusions in “Roof Gardens under Saturn,” and points a warning finger at the consequences of alienation from the environment.
In an innovative style which borders on the experimental, Watson explores in “The Pharaoh and the Mademoiselle” the horrors of fascism.
Ian Watson’s writing stays with us. He entertains and he makes us think. If in some future and better world politicians were to take advice form writers, Watson should be one of them.
Trapped by the evil Edrick in a locked room, Yaleen is cold-bloodedly murdered. But it is not the end of Yaleen’s story, for she is given a second life – a reincarnation on Earth as a ‘cherub’.
Soon she encounters Godmind, the megalomaniac artificial deity which controls life on Earth – and maintains a brutal labour colony on the Moon for any who dare to rebel. Bit by bit, Yaleen comes to understand the horrifying project of the Godmind…
The river cuts right across the known world, from the impassable Far Precipices to the sea. The people on one bank are cut off from those on the other, for the black current has the power to stop them crossing.
Only women can travel repeatedly up and down the river, but when Yaleen joins the boating guild and becomes a riverwoman, she is singled out to follow an even more extraordinary path…
The megalomaniac Godmind is still planning to use all the minds in creation to make a vast ‘lens’, and if necessary it will burn out all life in the process.
Back beside the river and literally born again, Yaleen represents to the guild of riverwomen the perfect proof of salvation, of life after death. In fact, she is desperately searching for a way to save the whole universe from imminent destruction.
The second and concluding volume of Ian Watson’s extraordinary epic, The Book of Mana. Kaleva is Earth’s first and only interstellar colony, discovered by Lucky Sariola who was transported there by an Ukko, a mysterious asteriod-like entity that responds to stories told to it – in Lucky’s case, those of her Finnish grandmother. Now Queen Lucky, half-mad and newly widowed, is obsessed by relocating that Ukko – but this is potentially disastrous, as the snakelike alien Isi are also on its trail as part of their design to enslave humans. Understanding this, one of Lucky’s daughters (with obsessions of her own) crowns herself rival queen. A summer turns into unseasonable winter and elysian peace turns to bitter civil war and Ukko, once more, has a role to play in the history of Kaleva.
Ian Watson’s latest collection shows the same range and apparently inexhaustible fund of ideas that have characterized all his previous books. No other contemporary figure in SF is so prolific or inventive a writer of short stories. In the title story we immediately encounter a phantasmagoric vision of a society increasingly dependent on recycling its usable material; other brilliant inventions include a planet inhabited by lemur-like aliens who bafflingly produce marvellously finished stone carvings without apparently having the tools to do so (‘The Moon and Michelangelo’); people fighting their way through the various levels of what appears to be a real-life version of a computer adventure game (‘Jewels in an Angel’s Wing’); and a zoo in which are caged the extensions into our universe of four-dimensional hyberbeings (‘Hyperzoo’). And that is only the beginning: there are fifteen stories in all, each one a state-of-the-art example of short science fiction at its finest.