Why Coyotes Howl
($15.95, 214 pages, Sofawolf Press, December 2004. ISBN 0-9712670-7-3.)
This collection brings together nine of the author's short stories
from various magazines, plus five new ones and an afterword. The older
stories have been
and updated for this publication. Together they provide an excellent
sample of Watts Martin's popular writing, most of it featuring anthropomorphic
"Why Coyotes Howl" is an enigmatic tale of shapeshifters, woven with
lore from Hopi and other southwestern cultures. The quiet love story
"Dreams Are for Vixens" reminds us that we can never really know
what's going on inside someone else's head -- unless we ask. "Still
Life, With Espresso" is downright surreal, a piece of urban fantasy
reminiscent of Charles de Lint. "The Fence" takes a disturbing look
at the nature of sentience, and the relationship between game warden
and wildlife. The mystery "Seeing Things" does a fascinating job of
setting up wrong impressions. "Beast" retells a familiar fairy tale
in a whole new way, giving it an exotic cyberpunk angle. "The Moon in
Water" is a story of awakening.
By turns hilarious and ominous, "The Fox Maiden" illustrates the futility
of war by showing how a unicorn would react to it. And yes, the story
also contains foxes. More or less. "Vertical Blanking" runs on two levels
simultaneously, the characters' everyday lives and the roles they play
in an online game; an intriguing palimpsest of reality. "Only With Thine
Eyes" careens through an extremely intense and suspenseful first contact,
in which a minor character winds up taking on a major role in human-alien
relations. A girl on a vision quest returns with more than just a vision
in "Daughter of Shadows." "Without Evidence" is a long, involved mystery
about a missing prince that gets more unsettling the farther it goes.
"Going to the Dogs" offers some amazing insights into applied evolution.
Finally, "Travelling Music" weaves a love story between two parallel
worlds, one populated by humans, the other by felines.
Watts Martin writes with a precise and relentless voice. His fiction
spans fantasy, science fiction, horror, mystery, romance, and more.
If you get tired of reading the same thing for long, this is the collection
for you. It also holds great appeal for fans of anthropomorphic or other
speculative fiction. Most highly recommended.