The dozen stories in Reed's second Golden Gryphon collection (after 1999's The Dragons of Springplace) showcase this prolific author's ability to put a fresh spin on traditional SF themes. A dazzling variant on Harry Bates's classic "Farewell to the Master" is the spell-binding "Night of Time," in which the apparent servant is actually the master. Whereas the discovery of a message from an alien world would once have been story enough, in the ironically titled "On the Brink of That Bright New World" that revelation allows a man to get away with murdering his unfaithful wife and her lover. Sometimes, though, Reed's soaring imagination drops too easily into cloying preciosity and self-conscious wordplay, as in "River of the Queen" (a sequel of sorts to "Night of Time") or into didacticism, as in "Coelacanths." Still, Reed at his best ranks high in the SF firmament. Agent, Merrilee Heifetz at Writers House. (Nov.)
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