"[Perpetuity Blues] is the first 'must buy' of the new millennium. Don't miss out."
—Jonathan Strahan, Locus, February 2000
Meet the cast: * Maggie McKenna, country girl with auctorial aspirations, who receives assistance from a space alien temporarily stranded on the planet Earth. * Billy the Kid, Erwin Rommel, and the Wright Brothers, who live together in a dilapidated hotel on the edge of nowhere. * Josh Raines, who conducts a perilous trading operation with a group of menacing extraterrestrials who have a hankerin' for fine Western art. * Ginny Sweethips, peripatetic prostitute who travels through a predatory postholocaust landscape with perils at every stop.
An abiding glory of the SF genre lies in its willingness to provide a haven for the lonely dreamer, the maverick iconoclast, the man or woman with a vision for whom the doors of the conventional literary establishment would otherwise remain forever closed. And one of the great concomitant joys of this genre is the emergence of such a bold new voice: the sudden appearance of a fantasist who, with novel-like effulgence, embarks upon a scintillant ascent across the science-fictional firmament.
The case of Neal Barrett, Jr., is an unusual one, since this "bold new voice" had been writing professionally and competently for twenty-five years before his work inexplicably attained critical mass. With no preliminary fanfare, Barrett suddenly began to burn like a meteor, giving the field a succession of stories in which the SF and Western genres were combined with almost insolent ease, stories that were darkly lyrical, uproariously funny, and yet often profoundly sad in their relentlessly bleak portrayal of a future America. The story "Stairs," for example—which was described by the New York Review of Science Fiction as "possibly the most all-out weird story of the year"—depicts the adventure of Mary Louise in a futuristic high-rise complex. At times, the narrative is laugh-out-loud hilarious, and yet the overall impression is a tragic tale of loneliness, pathos, and anomie. The short fiction of Neal Barrett, Jr., is both unresistingly amusing and somberly bittersweet, the two elements so consummately combined that, as in life itself, they became one.
Cover art by Ron Walotsky.
Cloth, ISBN 09655901-4-3
Out of Print
Read the review from Kirkus Reviews
Read the Locus Magazine review
Read the Neal Barrett, Jr., interview on Crescent Blues E-Magazine
Read the Infinity Plus review
Read the Infinity Plus Neal Barrett, Jr., interview
Read the SFSite review
Read the complete text of the title story "Perpetuity Blues"