". . . MacLeod's fancy roams gloriously free in these stories, and its synergy with his command of the textures of ordinary life makes Breathmoss a brilliant book, the schisms in its creative heart luminously reconciled."
— Nick Gevers, Locus, June 2004
"[Breathmoss and Other Exhalations] are dangerous visions: sometimes dark, sometimes redemptive, always transcendent. Stylistically, McLeod's prose is shaped to story and character, but, just as surely, story and character shape the prose. Few writers can achieve the variety and breadth necessary for such synthesis, but McLeod does so effortlessly."
— Paula Guran, Cemetary Dance #50
The literary short fiction of Ian R. MacLeod combines fantasy, science fiction, and horror in vivid settings, peopled with normal humans with normal relationships, and the interaction of the mundane with the fantastic is where MacLeod shows his skills. In "Breathmoss," nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards, a young girl must cope with the relationship with her family, love, and a community set in rigid custom, where males are a rarity. In "Verglas," nominated for the Locus Poll award, a man must decide to leave his humanity, by going native on an ice world, or abandon his family. During WWII an eighteen-year-old girl gains the reputation of being "The Chop Girl" (winner of the World Fantasy Award, nominated for the Hugo Award) — a death flower, which once dated meant certain death on the next mission for the unlucky airman. But what happens when the chop girl dates a lucky flyer, one that always returns? The combination of good and bad luck will change her reputation, or his. A famous and rich composer, secure in his life and habits, helps a young girl lost in a forest, who teaches him that there is magic in the world he has been ignoring, especially near "The Noonday Pool." A scientist devotes his life to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and as his life nears its end, he finds himself essentially the only person still looking for ET, and he has been reduced to poverty, drunkenness, and ridicule. But the future is bright, and full of promise, in "New Light on the Drake Equation." An isolated valley depends on the sun's rays being reflected into their valley, a task accomplished by the members of a religious order, blinded at birth. But Isabel finds the constraints of her duties burdensome, and seeks other relationships, becoming "Isabel of the Fall." In an alternate history, England loses WWI, and becomes the Germany of the '20s and '30s — a fascist government takes power, and Jews and gypsies are relocated to islands off the coast of Scotland, and homosexuals are offered "treatment" at camps. The story is told from the perspective of an aging historian and homosexual, who was the teacher of the fascist leader. The events leading to the formation of the current government, the repression of Jews and homosexuals, and the horrors of being a closet homosexual in such a regime are examined in "The Summer Isles," winner of the World Fantasy Award and nominated for the Hugo Award.
Cover art by Bob Eggleton.
"[Ian R. MacLeod] is a major source and shaper of what SF will be in the coming millennium."
— Michael Swanwick
"Since 1988, British writer Ian MacLeod has proven himself a powerful short-story writer in issues of Asimov's and elsewhere. His understated, melancholic prose, with its focus on small lives that open out interiorly to vast fields of meaning . . . these tales echo and compound such mainstream masters as Hardy, Lawrence and Dickens, while also evoking thoughts of Nancy Kress, Philip Jose Farmer, and James Tiptree."
— Paul Di Filippo, Asimov's SF
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Read Rick Kleffel's commentary in The Agony Column for 06-03-2004 (scroll down)
Read Paula Guran's review in Cemetary Dance
Read the Ian R. MacLeod interview with Kilian Melloy on SF Site
Read Kilian Melloy's review on infinity plus
Read the Ian R. MacLeod interview with John Jarrold on infinity plus
Read Nick Gevers's review in Locus Magazine
Read the Publishers Weekly review
Read John Clute's review on SciFi Weekly
Read the SF Site review
Read an excerpt from the novella "Verglas"
View the wraparound dust jacket art by Bob Eggleton