In Bailey's somber story collection, his first, tension often radiates from the uneasy relationship between parent and child, and the dead seldom rest easy. In the title tale, a 12-year-old boy copes with the unwelcome gift of a "simulated person" to fill the emotional gap left by his father's death. The moody "Death and Suffrage" begins with the blackly comic premise of the dead rising to vote in a close presidential election, but drifts to a lonely, if inconclusive, ending. Meanwhile, zombies of a different sort, bodies grown to provide organs for transplant, provide the gritty, grisly setting for "The Anencephalic Fields." The dark-touched souls of the small-town characters of "Quinn's Way," "Touched" and "The Census Taker" bring to mind the deft chill of Ray Bradbury's early work. With his thoughtful, frequently elegiac prose, Bailey has a knack for crisp, compelling family drama strung on a web of fantasy. (Nov.)
Forecast: Most of these stories first appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. An introduction by Barry Malzberg will help draw the attention of those unfamiliar with Bailey, who has also published a mass-market horror novel, The Fallen (2002), with a second, House of Bones, due in December.
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