Gardner Dozois's multifaceted, sharp-edged, surreal fiction has long been regarded among science fiction's finest offerings. The fourteen masterworks in this volume are unique and beautiful constructions whose images etch themselves indelibly in the reader's mind.
Long before he became one of SF's premier editors (he heads Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine and compiles the leading best-of-anthology, The Year's Best Science Fiction ), Dozois was one of the genre's most exciting writers. This new collection, warmly and wittily introduced by Robert Silverberg, includes some of Dozois's best short stories (some co-written with others), ranging from his early efforts (the profoundly moving ``A Kingdom by the Sea'') to his most recent work. Dozois's fiction is generally serious, exploring themes of sacrifice, catastrophe, unfulfilled hope, and death. Many of the stories collected here--``Morning Child,'' ``The Peacemaker,'' ``Solace,'' ``Executive Clemency''--take place after some disaster has shattered civilization and reduced the survivors to barbarity of one kind or another. Now and then Dozois shows a lighter side, as in the droll ``Slow Dancing with Jesus,'' which includes some dead-on observations of the fears and pains of high school, and the banality of many people's religious beliefs. Even the brief ``Apres Moi,'' though it leaves the world an ecologically ravaged husk, displays his biting humor. With passages of lyric wonder and vivid, fully realized characters, Dozois here shows himself to be an outstanding writer.