on 22 January 2014
Howard Waldrop is the best writer you've never heard of. Thing is, where other writers become specialists -- mining a particular vein of obsessions in a single, recognizable tone of voice -- no two Waldrop stories are alike.
His scope is staggering. These stories, written between 1974 and 1983, invite us into the quest of 18th-century natural philosophers to isolate the atomic substance "phlogiston"; into a proud Native American society based on auto theft and tractor pulls; into a band of time-traveling Jewish terrorists; into a tournament for telekinetic sumo wrestlers; into a reunion concert for two of the world's greatest jazz musicians, Louis Armstrong and Dwight Eisenhower. And I haven't even mentioned that there are cowboys gunning for vampires, Izaak Walton as a 17th-century Captain Quint, robot simulacra of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy as the last survivors in a postapocalyptic landscape, and Groucho Marx as God.
If you love dazzlingly imaginative science fiction and fantasy writing, you must read this book.