This collection of tightly crafted, highly imaginative short stories employs surrealist, satirical, and fantastical devices to explore politics, class, and gender. From creatively homicidal bioengineering to counter the stresses of climbing the corporate ladder, to a woman who loses a sock at the laundromat and finds she’s missing a bit of her soul, these science-fiction gems showcase an award-winning writer’s compelling vision of the universe. Computer pioneers, cross-country skiers, and aliens figure into these literary stories that challenge the boundaries of imagination with quirky, anti-establishment characters and visionary technological extrapolation.
Reading this book is like getting to wear the eyeballs of a madwoman in your own sockets for a day.
I dragged myself out of bed, wondering how I was going to drink my coffee through a stiletto. Was I now expected to kill my breakfast, and dispense with coffee entirely? I hoped I was not evolving into a creature whose survival depended on early-morning alertness. My circadian rhythms would no doubt keep pace with any physical changes, but my unevolved soul was repulsed at the thought of my waking cheerfully at dawn, ravenous for some wriggly little creature that had arisen even earlier.
—from “Stable Strategies for Middle Management”
Eileen Gunn has a barbed-wire-sharp mind, an unsettling insight into the way the world works, and a wicked sense of humor, and her stories are just like her. From Cobain High to the Tower of Diminished Expectations, Stable Strategies and Others is a disconcerting, witty, delicious read!
Not caring to scavenge the slipstreamed Sargasso that typifies so much of today’s American sf, Eileen Gunn gives us a lucid field guide to a veritable Galápagos of droll arcana and deeply-felt anomalies. Long-awaited, and worth the wait.
“I awoke this morning to discover that bioengineering had made demands upon me during the night.” Who hasn’t had mornings like that? It’s a strange life we live, and it gets stranger every day: Eileen Gunn knows as much. A sharp-eyed student of mantises, windswept deserts, Fibonacci numbers, and Richard Nixon, she unblinkingly faces this brave new world as if she’d started off the day sharing coffee with Kafka, trading knowing remarks about the preternatural weirdness of the world. Gunn shows us vistas and scenarios possible and improbable, suggests events that may or may not have happened, and invites us to stretch our minds and imaginations as she does her own. This book contains no end of treasures and pleasures for anyone fortunate enough to come to it, and I’m glad to have it close at hand.
Very few writers have the range or impact of Eileen Gunn. Her stories zip, dip, twist and turn, move from melancholy to mystery to magic. You are in for a treat. Enjoy!
–Karen Joy Fowler
Without Eileen Gunn, life as we know it would be so dull we wouldn’t recognize it. Among the five or six North Americans currently able to write short stories, she has not written anywhere near enough. But at least all of them are here in this book, an occasion for rejoicing from Manhattan to Makah.
–Ursula K. Le Guin
Gunn’s stories are in another league entirely – like Sturgeon or Chiang, she’s sui generis and anything but generic. Every one of these stories has a pleasing, sharp flavor unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. Especially the recipe for fruit crisp. Delicious.”
Reading this book is like getting to wear the eyeballs of a madwoman in your own sockets for a day. Nothing’s going to look the same. Suddenly, the Richard Nixon Game Show and the girl with twenty-one fingers and the birds who need rest to die will make perfect sense. And your life will be better. So buy the damn book. It’s brilliant.
Her prose is clean, effortless, and quirky (yes, all three at once) in a way that makes it possible for the knife point to slip right past your eyeballs and straight into your brain.
-The Spectrum Circus