Not So Much, Said The Cat by Michael Swanwick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This man is a superlative author.
I'm deathly worried about spoiling anything about this short story collection because all I want to do is gush and gush about the transposition of ideas here, the character building there, the truly awesome amount of storytelling SKILLS that he seems to effortlessly embody. He lays out words with such clarity and beauty and beastly knowledge about the SF (and fantasy!) fields, that I'm frankly floored. He's consistently original, widely exploratory, and best of all, he is consummately entertaining.
I could gush on and on, but what I really, really want to do is discuss his stories. There's really a ton that I want to say, but spoiling anything at this point would do everyone a disservice, and that's precisely the opposite of what I want. I want to tell EVERYONE that Michael Swanwick has got to be one of the very best SF authors alive.
Granted, I only read a single one of his novels and I gushed over it, but I do remember reading a few years worth of Issac Asimov Magazines back in the eighties and early nineties and I remember his name as always writing the stories I most wanted to read in every issue.
It's the ideas. It's always the ideas first. Then it's the brilliance of the writing. Mind you, it's not flowery language or anything crass like that. It's all about telling wonderful stories that make you think and feel and go, "Ah!" and make you go, "Oh, that's awesome!"
So why did I ever lose track of this guy? Probably because I got into a novel kick shortly after and left all those gorgeous short stories behind. Hell if I know why. He's a better short story writer than practically any other author I've ever read, and they stick with you like neon signs or the smell of pancakes with syrup or the furry lining of your favorite winter coat as you step out into the harsh night.
Well I can tell you right now, I'm never turning my back on short stories again if this guy is still writing them. I didn't meet a single story I didn't absolutely love.
They were all a perfect marriage of classic stories and bleeding edge tech, from godlike continental AIs to the abolishment of time, clever discourse on libertarianism and zero-sum economics in a mirroring tale of humanity and alien bugs, fairy tales and one of the best futuristic con-games I've ever had the pleasure of consuming. :) There was even a literary love-story of an American Pushkin that surprised and delighted the hell out of me even as it baffled me, too. :)
Some of my absolute favorites, even though I loved them all, were:
The Dala Horse - Great world building, great fairy tale.
Passage of Earth - NICE and twisty invasion story.
The Woman Who Shook the World-Tree - I'm NOT spoiling this one, but trust me. It's COOL. :)
Tawny Pettycoats - I'm a sucker for con games.
I'm LOVING these, but don't get the idea that I didn't love the rest. Some were like having OZ step from behind the curtain, while others were a deeply emotional look at their last moments of life, as in "3 A.M. in the Mesozoic Bar", which was also funny at the same time as it was horrifying, or "Libertarian Russia" which captured the contradictory flavors of a true Russia despite a future depopulation, or the last story, "The House of Dreams", which was some of the most clever modern UF/Alternate Histories I've ever read that included magic and a literary gotcha. :)
I'm almost dancing in my seat as I write this. I want to get my hands on everything else he's ever written, now, and devour it all. :)
I can tell that he's a huge fan of the genre. He's doing all of this out of pure love. It's not like any author can survive on short stories in this day and age. He's writing awesome fiction because he's obviously driven to get this great stuff out. :) A calling, perhaps? An obsession? Great Love? Who cares! We are all the grand winners, here! :) :)
Great thanks goes to Netgalley for the opportunity of reading this great stuff! :)
View all my reviews