Saturday, August 28, 2010

It Came From Schenectady - Barry B. Longyear

Spoiler Level: Low

I first discovered Barry B. Longyear when my future wife Joy sent me a book called Baker's Dozen: 13 Short Science Fiction Novels Presented by Isaac Asimov back around 1986.  I'll confess I turned straight to Longyear's story "Enemy Mine" because I'd seen a movie poster for it at the mall.  The story (and quite a few others in the book) blew me away, much more so than the movie did when I finally saw it.  From there I've jumped on any book of his I've found, which sadly hasn't been that many considering how long his bibliography is.

It Came from Schenectady is a collection of Longyear's short stories, and I have to say, I think the short form might by his strong suit.  Not that the books of his I read weren't good (and very memorable), but these stories are all winners, right from his introduction "Forepiece" (explaining the title of the book, which had me laughing out loud) straight through to the end.  Topics include time travel, the true nature of dreams, space art counterfeiting, interplanetary terrorism, living alien rocks, space dinosaurs returning to Earth (as shown on the cover) and others I can't even begin to describe.  Each story is preceded by a brief introduction which explains where the idea came to him from.

A lot of times anthologies are a real mixed bag, but this is the most solid one I've ever read. Some of them were disturbing, but they were meant to be, and they're all thought provoking. If you're looking for a good short story collection, this one is worth hunting down.

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