Rooms of Paradise
New Stories for Tomorrow
"Rooms of Paradise is a superb collection of prevously unpublished stories by a galaxy of international science fiction authors. Brian Aldiss, Ian Watson, Gene Wolfe, R.A. Lafferty, Michael Bishop - the contributors read like a roll call of Hugo and Nebula Award winners.
"Lee Harding asked each author to write a story that would examine the impact of the future on the individual. The result is a human-orientated anthology in the great tradition of Edmund Crispin's Best SF, and similar collections.
"Why Rooms of Paradise? 'In my father's house are many mansions', and the extraordinary visionary qualities of these stories reveal a rich and varied approach to 'paradise'.
"'Something went wrong with my re-birth' complains the protagonist in lan Watson's title story. In Brian Aldiss' "Indifference" a missionary on an alien planet confronts his god - with awesome consequences. In "Collaborating" Michael Bishop explores the problems of cohabitation when two personalities have need of the same body. Violent self-destruction and greed are carried to their ultimate conclusion in "The Savage Mouth" by Japanese author Sakyō Komatsu. This story, together with Kevin McKay's audaciously Australian "Pie Row Joe", emphasises the unique international flavour of the book.
""In Re-deem the Time" David Lake gives an unusual twist to a journey into the future, and Philippa C. Maddern in "Ignorant of Magic" poses a disturbing problem for anyone foolish enough to tamper with the past. George Turner and Cherry Wilder have achieved in their stories that most difficult feat: the construction of completely alien cultures, different from our own, yet just as believable.
"It is rare nowadays to find new themes in science fiction: R. A. Lafferty's "Bequest of Wings" and Damien Broderick's "A Passage in Earth" both contain an element of shock, while Gene Wolfe's subtle story juggles with the burgeoning nineteenth century 'sciences' of mesmerism and phrenology, in a delightfully Dickensian setting.
"Twelve stories notable for their humanity, their compassion, and for their freshness. With this anthology Lee Harding has established Australia as one of the leaders in world science fiction."
Foreword - Roger Zelazny
"Indifference" - Brian Aldiss
"Pie Row Joe" - Kevin McKay
"The Falldown of Man" - Cherry Wilder
"The Save Mouth" - Sakyō Komatsu translated by Judith Merril
"Re-deem the Time" - David Lake
"Our Neighbour by David Copperfield" - Gene Wolfe
"The Rooms of Paradise" - Ian Watson
"Ignorant of Magic" - Philippa C. Maddern
"Collaborating" - Michael Bishop
"A Passage in Earth" - Damien Broderick
"Bequest of Wings" - R.A. Lafferty
"In a Petri Dish Upstairs" - George Turner
First Paragraph from the Foreword:
This is one of the finsest science fiction collections I have seen in a long while. Every story in it has something to recommend it, in terms of idea, situation, character, plot, setting, or some combination thereof. In addition, the quality of the writing itself is uniformly high. I could simply stop right here with a '...therefore my recommendation for this book is both enthusiastic and unqualified' and be delivering nothing less that the truth.
In a place such as this, however, a prospective reader may ask for more than the enthusiasm of a partisan. All right. There are other points of interest along the Scenic Drive.
Some years ago, when Toffler's breathless account of the fracturing of our respective psyches by the sonic booms of Scientific Progress was enjoying great currency among the Concerned, I recall reading through it and mumbling, 'No, no; it's not like that.' Thomas Kuhn's less widely read but more thoughtful The Structure of Scientific Revolutions examined the phenomenon which renders much of Toffler's thesis nonsense. With each major turnover in the development of a science - with the creation of each new paradigm - a great quantity of early material is purely and simply junked. It is correct in the old context but it no longer matters, like Ptolemaic epicycles. That terrible pace threatening us all with terminal jitters looks worse on paper than anywhere else, because it is only a compilation of facts. In our heads, we dwell in a world of co-ordinating ideas, not fissioning facts - and it is there that science fiction has its home.
From the Quartet hardback edition, 1978.
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Last modified: October 8, 2003.