"Jeffrey Ford's The Empire of Ice Cream is probably the finest book of 2006 in any category, a spectacular gathering of oneiric tales ranging from the dreams of postwar suburban America to those of lands very far away. The displays of narrative craft, prose poetry, and sympathetic characterization are breathtaking, glorious."
— Nick Gevers, "2006: The Year in Review," Locus Magazine
"Put simply, Jeff Ford stands in the top five or six short fiction writers currently working in the field. This collection, which assembles stories from the past three or four years, contains no duds at all, and a goodly handful of stories that are sufficiently wonderful as to almost leave your humble correspondent speechless. If you love short fiction, you need this book. If you love great science fiction or fantasy period, you need this book. Itís still early in the year, but Iím completely confident when I say that there wonít be a more essential collection published all year."
— Jonathan Strahan, editor of the annual anthology Best Short Novels
"A leading light in today's short story firmament, Ford is a literary descendant of Poe, Verne, Bradbury, Ellison, and more, but while he often conjures up images that make the real surreal, or the surreal tangible, he never entreats us to give up hope. Despair exists, but not alone, and throughout his writing I find reassurance in the human condition. Not because it is indomitable, but because it expresses the ability to look both outward and inward and to find value in both directions. This collection of stories is thoughtful and intriguing, and once begun, exceedingly difficult to put down. We owe both author and publisher a vote of thanks for bringing forth this terrific collection."
Praise for the author's first collection:
"Jeffrey Ford's The Fantasy Writer's Assistant and Other Stories is the finest single author short story collection I've read in a decade. But everyone says that, so I'm not telling you something you couldn't hear somewhere else."
— Lou Anders, Senior Editor, Argosy
"I don't know if Speculative Fiction is large enough to contain Jeffrey Ford for very long. But while it does, we have this book."
— Richard Bowes, author of From the Files of the Time Rangers
In 2002, author Jeffrey Ford published his first short fiction collection, The Fantasy Writer's Assistant and Other Stories, to wide, critical acclaim. The collection received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, and was later selected for PW's "Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2002" List. The Fantasy Writer's Assistant then went on to win the World Fantasy Award for Best Single-Author Collection of the Year.
Now Golden Gryphon Press releases Ford's second, long-awaited short fiction collection, The Empire of Ice Cream. As noted fantasist Jonathan Carroll writes in his Introduction to the book: "Ford sees wonder everywhere and embraces it fully. A generous writer, he is willing to share it with us. The precision and clarity with which he gives us his vision is really the next best thing to being there."
In the title story, winner of the prestigious Nebula Award (and a finalist for the Hugo Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award), a young musician perceives another sensory world of sights and sounds and smells while consuming cup after cup of coffee.
A faerie Twilmish chronicles his brief yet adventurous life in a sand castle, during those few hours between the outgoing and incoming tide, in "The Annals of Eelin-Ok." Through a complex formula we can calculate "The Weight of Words," and thus determine their subliminal, and surreptitious, affect on the reader. In "A Night in the Tropics," we learn of a possibly demonic chess set, originally crafted in 1533 by Italian goldsmith Dario Foresso, in a New Jersey bar called The Tropics. And in "Boatman's Holiday," Charon, the boatman of Hell, takes a hiatus from his horrific day job to embark on a rather memorable vacation.
Also included is a new, previously unpublished novella (nearly 40,000 words), entitled "Botch Town," in which a young boy from Long Island comes of age in a town peopled by family and neighbors, each trying to live a life, amidst both a real and a perceived menace. Jeffery Ford can take the mundane, the everyday, and, with the skill of an adept, mold these into brilliantly realized visions, wondrous yet elusive.
Ford also contributes mini Afterwords detailing each story's genesis — some of these author's notes becoming stories unto themselves.
Cover art by John Picacio.
"[Ford's] stories, his language, refuse to do the expected, are always groping towards something larger, something ultimately inexpressible, reaching for those miracles that are the very touchstone of our daily lives."
— James Sallis, author of the popular Lewis Griffin crime novels
"There are many things Ford does well — he consistently writes magnificent endings to his stories, endings which are seldom predictable and if they are then are so because they are perfect; he has a masterful ability to put just the right amount of ambiguity into a story to make it haunting; he often creates situations and settings that seer themselves into your memory — but what I most admire in his autobiographical stories is his ability to make them feel informal, off-the-cuff, even chatty, when in reality every sentence is integral to the whole. . . ."
— Matthew Cheney, author of the Hugo Award-nominated website Mumpsimus
"Ford's visions are elusive, tantalizing the reader with hidden implications yet raw with autobiographical pain. Ford's sentimental, exalted prose demands more than one reading."
— The Washington Post Book World
"Botch Town" — winner of the 2007 World Fantasy Award for Best Novelella of the year!
"The Empire of Ice Cream" — winner of the 2003 Nebula Award (and a finalist for the Hugo Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award) for Best Novelette of the year!
"The Annals of Eelin-Ok" — winner of the Speculative Literature Foundation's 2005 Fountain Award for "exceptional literary quality."
Publishers Weekly starred review and a PW "Best Book of the Year" selection.
Cloth, ISBN 1-930846-39-8
$24.95 postpaid for U.S. orders only
For non-USA orders, please read shipping fees information.
Read the starred Publishers Weekly review
Read the Other Fantasy Admins' review on the "OF Blog of the Fallen" for October 03, 2007
Read the review on RobB's blog "Rob's Blog o' Stuff" for November 25, 2007
Read the Nick Gevers review in Locus Magazine
Read yet another lengthy Locus Magazine review by Gary K. Wolfe
Read Paul Witcover's A+ review on Science Fiction Weekly
Read Rick Kleffel's commentary in The Agony Column for 03-30-06
Read Terry Weyna's review in The Agony Column
Read Paul Di Filippo's review in Asimov's SF
Read the Booklist review
Read the California Bookwatch review
Read Cheryl Morgan's review in Emerald City
Read the FantasyBookSpot review
Read James Sallis's review in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
Read Cat Eldridge's review in Green Man Review
Read John Mark Eberhart's review in the Kansas City Star
Read the review in Midwest Book Review
Read Gregg Thurlbeck's review in Rambles
Read Mark Graham's review in the Rocky Mountain News
Read Colleen Cahill's review on SF Revu
Read Nathan Brazil's review on SF Site
Read Rich Horton's review also on SF Site
Read Danny Adams's review in Some Fantastic
Read Rose Fox's review on Strange Horizons.
Read Matthew Cheney's Field Guide to Recent Short Story Collections in Locus Online
Read the Jeffrey Ford interview with Nick Gevers on SciFi Weekly
Read the Jeffrey Ford interview with Colleen Cahill on SF Revu
View the wraparound dust jacket art by John Picacio