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Other Worlds, Better Lives: Selected Long Fiction, 1989-2003 Kindle Edition

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Length: 280 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 903 KB
  • Print Length: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Small Beer Press (17 Mar. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00IY3ZO5Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #880,043 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Paperback
Writing novella-length science fiction isn't something that sane people do very often. Where do you sell it?

Fortunately for his readers, short story specialist Howard Waldrop likes to stretch out to 25,000 words or so every once in a while. His longer stories aren't always as action-packed as his shorter ones, but we get to spend a little more time in the various, richly-textured worlds he keeps dreaming up.

"A Dozen Tough Jobs" transplants the twelve labors of Hercules to rural Mississippi in the 1920s, and Waldrop's vernacular "translation" is a hoot: our hero from Mt. Oatie has a young, black sidekick named I.O. Lace, and the episodes are by turn funny as hell and scary as hell; the ending is poignant as hell.

"Fin de Cyclé" (a Waldropian joke: "cycle" in French has no acute accent, and refers to "a series of events") asks, "What if Méliès, Proust, Picasso, Satie, Jarry, and le Douanier Rousseau got together to make a movie about the Dreyfus affair?" The story is proof that Belle Époque Paris is as wild a science fictional settng as any alien planet.

In "You Could Go Home Again," novelist Thomas Wolfe lives to cross paths with Fats Waller, J.D. Salinger, T.E. Lawrence, and Nevil Shute on a zeppelin flight from Japan to Germany. Wolfe's books were always about bombastic young men in search of the real America; this story is about an older, sadder, and somewhat wiser man in search of himself. "Flatfeet!" is early 20th century world history as seen through the eyes of the Keystone Kops. "Major Spacer in the 21st Century!" takes us from live television drama and anti-Communist paranoia in 1950 to the Y2K technology crash of the new millenium (which actually happened in this story's world). What's the connection?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x957fda50) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95826204) out of 5 stars Seven swell stories you need! 11 Sept. 2008
By Michael Walsh - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Seven great long stories by the resident weird mind of America:

A Dozen Tough Jobs (1989)
Fin de Cycle (1990)
You Could Go Home Again (1993)
Flatfeet (1996)
Major Spacer (2001)
The Other Real World (2001)
A Better World's In Birth (2003)

Michael Dirda of the Wasington post Book World has written:
"If Philip K. Dick is our homegrown Borges (as Ursula K. Le Guin once said), then Waldrop is our very American magic-realist, as imaginative and playful as early Garcia Marquez or, better yet, Italo Calvino."

And award winning author Orson Scott Caes has written:
"Now he brings us 'A Dozen Tough Jobs' [included in this volume], which is, yes folks, a retelling of the Labors of Hercules, set in a Mississippi town in the 1920s. Because it's Waldrop writing it, though, it's more than a comic reworking of an old myth. It's also a clear depiction of life in that sunbeaten, humid, fearful place and time. The rhythms of speech, the slang, the relations between the races, between rich and poor, between men and women, all are there, with the power and ugliness and majesty of real life. Waldrop's comedy comes from his true-seeing eye, and A Dozen Tough Jobs puts him right amoung William Faulkner, Carson McCullers, Flannery O'Conner, and Harry Crews as one of the umcompromising prophets of the American South."

Don't wait, click away and order this! Order two! One for you, one for a friend!

But then I'm prejudiced about Howard Waldrop.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9582eda4) out of 5 stars America's Alternate Earth Folklore 30 Jan. 2014
By Roochak - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Writing novella-length science fiction isn't something that sane people do very often. Where do you sell it?

Fortunately for his readers, short story specialist Howard Waldrop likes to stretch out to 25,000 words or so every once in a while. His longer stories aren't always as action-packed as his shorter ones, but we get to spend a little more time in the various, richly-textured worlds he keeps dreaming up.

"A Dozen Tough Jobs" transplants the twelve labors of Hercules to rural Mississippi in the 1920s, and Waldrop's vernacular "translation" is a hoot: our hero from Mt. Oatie has a young, black sidekick named I.O. Lace, and the episodes are by turn funny as hell and scary as hell; the ending is poignant as hell.

"Fin de Cyclé" (a Waldropian joke: "cycle" in French has no acute accent, and refers to "a series of events") asks, "What if Méliès, Proust, Picasso, Satie, Jarry, and le Douanier Rousseau got together to make a movie about the Dreyfus affair?" The story is proof that Belle Époque Paris is as wild a science fictional setting as any alien planet.

In "You Could Go Home Again," novelist Thomas Wolfe lives to cross paths with Fats Waller, J.D. Salinger, T.E. Lawrence, and Nevil Shute on a zeppelin flight from Japan to Germany. Wolfe's books were always about bombastic young men in search of the real America; this story is about an older, sadder, and somewhat wiser man in search of himself. "Flatfeet!" is early 20th century world history as seen through the eyes of the Keystone Kops. "Major Spacer in the 21st Century!" takes us from live television drama and anti-Communist paranoia in 1950 to the Y2K technology crash of the new millenium (which actually happened in this story's world). What's the connection? Excessive government surveillance leads to a world that no one wants to live in? Could be. This one left me shrugging.

Ever wondered about the kid characters in The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951) and other 1950s sci-fi movies, and how their screwed-up lives might've gone on after the movie ended? Neither have I, but while "The Other Real World" has too many oblique movie and TV references for its own good, it's still one heck of a Cold War thrill ride.

In "A Better World's in Birth!" a spectre is haunting the Peoples' Federated States of Europe -- the spectre of Marx, and those of Engels and Wagner as well. A secret police investigator is assigned to find out who or what's behind these ghostly sightings. This is, without question, the best 19th century, hardboiled Communist detective story I've ever read.
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