"With his command of prose, characterization and ideas, Robert Reed is the new century's most compelling voice."
— Stephen Baxter, winner of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award
"Wonderful far-future SF of the best kind: imaginative, epic, mind-blowing."
— Alastair Reynolds, author of Revelation Space
"[Robert] Reed may be one of the most prolific of today's young writers . . . [his] stories . . . count as among some of the best short work produced by anyone in the '80s and '90s. . . ." Thus wrote editor Gardner Dozois in his Year's Best Science Fiction anthology series. Reed's second collection from Golden Gryphon Press, The Cuckoo's Boys, gathers twelve of the best stories from his prolific short fiction output of the past decade and into this, the twenty-first century.
In the near-future title story, a lonely genius clones himself — not once, but millions of times — by creating a virus that affects pregnant women. Throughout the world, women give birth to baby boys with the genetics of Phillip Stevens. Then a few years later, a man with a mysterious past becomes the teacher to three of these clones — and as their teacher, he tests and challenges them. Are these boys little more than genetic copies of Stevens? Or are they individuals in their own right, with unique personalities and coming-of-age problems?
Advances in virtual technology allow the president of the United States to visit every household of the nation's electorate simultaneously on the "First Tuesday" of each month, and he even stays for dinner.
In "Abducted Souls," published here for the first time, a young college student discovers that he has defined himself by his alien abduction as a young child. When that abduction comes into question, he begins to question his own reality and self-worth.
Also included in this new collection are two stories from Robert Reed's well-regarded "Marrow" universe: "River of the Queen" centers on Quee Lee and Perri, immortal beings enjoying a half-million-year voyage around the galaxy in the Great Ship, a starship larger than most worlds. In this story, the Queen of the title is kidnapped (or is she?) and Perri assists in the investigation (or does he?) to locate the Queen and her captors. And in "Night of Time," an ageless human named Ash meets two aliens, one a servant of the other, who prove to be even older — and stranger — than him, as he strives to help each of them recover lost memories.
From the sardonic "On the Brink of That Bright New World" (a laborer uses aliens' first contact to cover up a crime of passion) to the intense "Savior" (a military commander is held accountable for tortuous acts that may have saved the human race) to the surreal "Coelacanths" (four unique, yet interlinked, perspectives of post-humanity), this collection exemplifies Library Journal's assertion that Reed's stories evoke "visionary futures and scientific speculation."
With a nearly 6,000-word Afterword by the author that details the genesis of each story.
Cover art by Edward Miller.
". . . the expertness of [Reed's] writing and [his] knowing exploitation of current scientific speculations are balanced by an underlying quiet sanity about how to depict and to illumine human beings."
— The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, John Clute and Peter Nichols, editors
Cloth, ISBN: 1-930846-37-1
$24.95 postpaid for U.S. orders only
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Read the Booklist review
Read the Publishers Weekly review
Read the Library Journal review
Read the Nick Gevers review in Locus Magazine
Read Cheryl Morgan's review in Emerald City
Read the review in the Midwest Book Review's Bookwatch
Read the Rambles Magazine review
Read the review in SFRA Review
Read the detailed review of short story "The Children's Crusade" in Aaron M. Wilson's blog "The Soulless Machine Review" for 11.25.2007
Read the complete text of short story "The Children's Crusade"
View the wraparound dust jacket art by Edward Miller