Sunday, August 23, 2009

Passing for Human

Here are a couple of reviews of some of the latest I've had a chance to read. Both are recommended and should give you something to think about.

PASSING FOR HUMAN, edited by Michael Bishop and Steven Utley, PS Publishing, $32, 270 pages, ISBN: 9781905834228, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

In this, the latest anthology edited by Michael Bishop – ably aided by Steven Utley – he makes me think of some of his earlier works. STOLEN FACES and ANCIENT OF DAYS both cover the different faces someone might wear to keep his identity hidden or that of someone hiding in plan sight without people knowing your true nature. It’s really too bad that neither of them is currently in print. It is also a bitter sweet volume in that the cover is the last cover created by Jamie Bishop, Michael’s son who died in the Virginia Tech shootings.

The stories are filled with terrific stories that cover the many eras of science fiction from the 1940s up until today. “Mimic” by Donald A. Wollheim, “The Man Upstairs” by Ray Bradbury and “The Reality Trip” by Robert Silverberg. Other outstanding tales come from Paul D. Filippo, Howard Waldrop, James Tiptree, Jr, John Kessel, and Lisa Tuttle.

There are other stories here as well to show how some beings go about PASSING FOR HUMAN. I expected to see “Who Goes There” by John Campbell included in this volume, but I’m guessing that most everyone is aware of it. It has appeared in numerous anthologies and been filmed twice. I missed it being here, but there is plenty of good reading for everyone. Kudos to all involved.

‘FOLLOW ME, DAVID!’, Jonathan Russell, Peter E. Randall, $17.95, 240 pages, ISBN: 9781931807616, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

This is a very interesting book from Jonathan Russell. His poetry volume, WHISPERS, was reviewed last year. This story is an expansion of “Valhalla Hill” which appeared in that volume. The fact that Russell is legally blind and uses a four foot monitor to write only adds to the impressiveness of his work.

The book originated with Russell’s greyhound, David, who was rescued from the race track and is now a beloved member of the family. A portion of the profits is being donated to groups that help save the dogs after they are discarded after their racing time is finished.

Jennifer adopts David from one of the rescue societies and names him after her late husband and almost instantly they develop a psychic connection and although she has another dog, Robert; David takes over first place in the home. Jennifer has a friend, Pastor Bernard Houndsditch, who walks the dogs and being single finds a place in Jennifer’s heart. They marry and have some adventures, any of them humorous.

The main point of the book comes at the end when Bernard and David go to pick up a boat Bernard has purchased. On the way home the boat is sunk and only David’s body is recovered. Jennifer has known all along that David must have a Christian burial and sets about to make it happen.

This is truly a special book about loyalty and love, not only between master and pet, but between kindred souls no matter what the species. This is one of those books that will make you laugh and then cry. It will also show you how simple thins can make your life special. Be sure to look for this one, it’s special.

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