THE GREAT ESCAPE
This collection of 19 stories by Hugo- and Nebula-finalist Watson
showcases the author's knack for contemporary dark fantasy, often
blended with an SF chaser. In "Caucus Winter" and "Three-Legged Dog,"
artificial intelligences take intriguing roles in rebellion and murder,
respectively. Likewise in "Nanunculus," an intelligent program from the
future "haunts" an unbalanced mathematician, attempting to keep him from
committing suicide before he can finish the work necessary to the
development of time travel. "When Thought-Mail Failed" reprises the fear
and chaos of E. M. Forster's 1909 classic, "The Machine Stops." In two of
the best stories here, the denizens of hell take matters into their own
hands in "The Great Escape," while a famous fictional detective who suddenly
appears on a starship in hyperspace cracks a tough case in "The Shape of
Murder." A few stories disappoint by merely offering speculative ideas
without fully exploring them, such as "A Day Without Dad," where the expense
of nursing-home care forces adult children to "host" their parents inside
their own brains. Likewise "Ahead!" and "Early, in the Evening" offer
unconvincing futures created by unconventional technology run amok. In
his introduction, Watson writes, "human consciousness is not the source
of tales it is the product of tales," and therefore the telling of tales
is "fundamental to our whole existence and to our knowledge of the world."
That philosophy underlies this diverse and thoughtful volume, the first U.S.
story collection for this British author. (May)
Copyright © 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.