Tales from the Crypto-System
(Prime, $17.95, 292 pages, trade paperback; 2003.)
Tales from the Crypto-System
is a perfect example. This is a book that has most likely never seen
a single Borders or Barnes & Noble shelf, yet it deserves shelf-space
far more than half the crap they stock (I use the word "crap" with the
utmost respect and affection for my fellow authors). Thanks to the Internet,
not only do you get to read my happy comments on the book, you can go
order a copy for yourself!
shopping has changed and continues to change not only the way people
purchase but what they purchase as well. Independent music labels, small
film production companies, and small presses are all discovering that
selling on Amazon or some other vendor can turn a small loss into a
meagre profit. For us, the consumers, the benefit is far better. All
that griping we did decade after decade about the lack of choice is
waning, for there is less to gripe about.
The lowdown is this: Maloney, an Australian short story writer, has
put together a collection of twenty-one stories, most previously published,
that all fall in the speculative-fiction realm. He covers politics,
revolution, culture clash and much more. He handles this material with
deft skill that never becomes overbearing. Yet another short story collection
that pushes me further and further into liking these things.
It's par for the reviewing course to single out the stories that really
rocked me, or even just one story in particular as an example of many
more. "The Taxi Driver" certainly falls under that category, presenting
a tale in which some cabbies are actually KGB-type police-spies, belonging
to an organization called BOSS and living in a world where revolution
has overcome capitalist society. There are other BOSS stories and each
one is good, but this one shines. Unfortunately, I can't say too much
about it without spoiling the story. Perhaps that's enough, though,
because any short story should be missing extraneous details that a
reviewer could pounce upon. I like that -- in a twisted way, the less
we reviewers can say about a work, the better (provided, of course,
we preface this all by saying the work is good).
So where does that leave the reader? Well, I don't want to hang you
out, so the best I can think of is to say that Maloney is like an Australian
James Patrick Kelly. He understands the strengths and limits of a short
story. He utilizes every tool in his pack, and even surprises the seasoned
reader with a twist or two. He can take all the various parts and combine
them into a sturdy whole -- a short story that is just what it says:
a complete story that is short and to the point.
Is the book perfect? No. Of course not. But of the twenty-one tales,
I suspect most readers will enjoy the majority. And isn't that one charming
beauty of the short story collection? If we don't like story X, we can
skip it and read story Y. We can read the collection backwards, forwards,
or shuffled. It's a lot like the access we get with ... Internet shopping.
So, take a chance, if you haven't read Maloney before. And, if you
have, then what are doing reading this review? You know he's got the
goods and he delivers. Now go purchase.
Elsewhere in infinity plus: