The John Varley Reader by John Varley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When it comes to the social side of world-building in Science Fiction, slathered with good science, beautifully messed-up situations, and a really vast setting of our Solar-System nestled neatly in Varley's collective imagination, Varley is a master.
I've read and raved about some authors for their sheer imagination, intense focus on the fringes of technology, and sometimes about the nitty-gritty of what it means to be human, or more specifically, gendered, but Varley takes gender to new heights. Specifically, he follows the same direction as his Eight Worlds novels and makes gender extremely fluid. Anyone can change it whenever they want. Death is also a taboo word because brain recordings are great backups for a force-clone of yourself. Old ideas, right? Well, Varley runs with them in wildly progressive and interesting ways, building vast societies that mess around the niches and the twists. Most of these short stories deal with one version of that or another. And I love it. :)
If I was to recommend any Varley, if only to get a taste as to what he's about and get a great feel for his easygoing and personable writing, it would be this collection.
I've loved most of his novels, too, and I came to this late, but I kinda wish I had started here. It works great as a primer to all the interesting and doubly-interesting stuff to come. :)
Oh! I should mention, Varley's very much a child of the sixties. Expect ruminations on hippies, Woodstock, sexual liberation, and a lot of the great ideals. And he never LOST them. I really appreciate the idealism. :) Love power!
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