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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Tachyon Publications (1 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 189239118X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1892391186
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.7 x 20.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,572,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

". . .perfectly realized horror. . ." -- Stephen King, about Spring Conditions

"Corporate satire and Kafkaesque metamorphoses gleefully collide..." -- The Seattle Times

"Eileen Gunn has a barbed-wire-sharp mind. . .unsettling insight into the way the world works. . .a wicked sense of humor." -- Connie Willis, author of To Say Nothing of the Dog

"Gunn’s stories are in another league entirely. . ." -- Cory Doctorow, author of Eastern Standard Tribe and Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

"Hugo-nominee Eileen Gunn's collection...showcases tales with fresh, unusual perspectives on ordinary life..." -- Publishers Weekly

"When you read Gunn, you remember that short fiction can be spare, beautiful, and deadly." -- Kelly Link, co-editor of The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and author of Stranger Things Happen

"…deceptively compact, explosive stories." -- SciFi.com

"…the stories in Gunn’s first collection bespeak a first-rate writer with a knack for a certain timelessness." -- Booklist

'Best short story collection of the year' -- Cory Doctorow -- BoingBoing.com, August 31, 2004

'Corporate satire and Kafkaesque metamorphoses gleefully collide in "Stable Strategies for Middle Management"' -- Michael Upchurch -- Seattle Times, October 10, 2004

About the Author

Eileen Gunn won a Nebula for one of the stories in her first collection, Stable Strategies and Others, and was nominated for another. The book was nominated for the Philip K. Dick and World Fantasy awards. She has also been nominated twice for the Hugo Award. Eileen has been the marketing director of Microsoft, a board member of the prestigious Clarion Writers Workshop, the publisher of The Infinite Matrix, and she maintains The Difference Dictionary, an online concordance to the Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
'Lichen would lie on the moss and watch music on a tiny television'

If you can read that sentence without a grimace or a smirk, perhaps this is for you. Me, I'm going back to my disintegrating 1958 copy of Charles Beaumont's Yonder (genre and proud of it - more artisanal, more authentic, more chilling). Valancourt recently reissued his first. Perhaps they will be tempted to reissue this, his second and best

My quest for genre for grown-ups, prompted by Tachyon's recent anthologies (qv), is proving abortive. This is scholarly-looking, with foreword, afterword and postscripts - but the stories in between? They are well written, is all; in aiming for seriousness she has lost sight of fun. Except for one, which happens to be her first. Like Carol Emshwiller, the demise of pulps led her into more treacherous waters. The faux profundity of Coming to Terms finally sank me. A new selection is promised - from Small Beer!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A first-rate collection 28 Dec. 2010
By TChris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found Stable Strategies and Others after reading the story "Contact" in the anthology Proteus: Voices for the 80's. The story was so superior to the others in the collection that I decided to look for other works by Eileen Gunn. Stable Strategies and Others is what I found, and all that I found in book form. She does have some other stories, available to read at no charge, on her website (her name followed by dot com).

Stable Strategies and Others collects Gunn's stories through the date of the book's publication in 2004. It also includes a short introduction by Gunn's friend and fellow sf writer William Gibson; a short poetic ode to Gunn by Michael Swanwick; and an afterward by Howard Waldrop. Gunn follows each story with a brief description of its origin.

Gunn shows her amazing range in these stories. Some are wildly funny. The Hugo-nominated "Stable Strategies for Middle Management" is reminiscent of Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" with a comic twist: the narrator wakes up with certain attributes of an insect courtesy of a bioengineering experiment designed to make employees into "a more useful corporate organism." In the alternate history described in "Fellow Americans," Richard Nixon is a game show host, Geraldo is "a respected PBS commentator," and former President Goldwater ... well, you can guess how that turned out. Gunn's uncanny ability to write in Nixon's voice is spooky. To find humor in a bleak future where children grow up to have very close relationships with computer networks or don't grow up at all, Gunn wrote the Hugo-nominated "Computer Friendly" from the perspective of a precocious child. In Gunn's first commercially published story, "What Are Friends For?," alien invaders investigate porn.

Two stories are deeply moving. "Coming to Terms" examines death through the post-it notes the deceased left behind. "Contact" is a beautiful story about first contact with a bird-like alien who is preparing to die.

Two stories are co-authored. "Nirvana High," written with Leslie What, is a funny yet poignant look at the paranormal students attending the Kurt Cobain Magnet School. Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and computer whiz Grace Hopper all star (L. Sprague de Camp appears in a cameo role) in "Green Fire," written with Andy Duncan, Pat Murphy, and Michael Swanwick. The story begins as an alternate history taking place aboard a naval vessel during World War II before morphing into a tale of time/space/dimensional travel that brings the crew face to face with Quetzalcoatl. That story alone is worth the price of the book.

Gunn's other stories are harder to categorize. "The Sock Story" is "the story of a woman who lost her sock at the laundromat and discovered it contained part of her soul." A girl named Lichen learns how to change a world that has been altered by carp-eyed creatures in "Lichen and Rock." The least successful story, "Spring Conditions," is a horror story that might make you think twice about cross-country skiing. Gunn also included a deconstructed, politically correct recipe for fruit crisp; it's not sf and not a story so I'm not sure what to make of it, but it's amusing.

This is a first-rate collection by one of sf's masters of the short story. I recommend it not only to sf fans, but to fans of quality writing.
10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
One of SF's least-prolific good writers.... 16 Dec. 2004
By Peter D. Tillman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
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Eileen Gunn is surely one of SF's least-prolific good writers, having published all of eleven stories since her debut in 1978. Fortunately, they're all worthwhile, and some are brilliant -- such as the title story, "Stable Strategies for Middle Management" (1988, Hugo nominee), a novel view of the role of bioengineering in future corporate life, guaranteed to bring a smile. Then there's "Green Fire", cowritten with Michael Swanwick, Andy Duncan, and Pat Murphy, which is just terrific: a WW2 pulp burlesque, starring Isaac Asimov and Bob Heinlein, and featuring Tesla superscience, topless pirates, giant plesiosaurs, a kraken -- and a special guest appearance by Lord Quetzalcoatl! Great stuff. SF's best-ever 4-author story!

Her third "A" story, "Nirvana High" (with Leslie What), makes its first appearance here. The special-ed students at Cobain High have, well, *special* talents, and Gunn's sfnal look at high-school life ranks right up there with Suzy McKee Charnas' "B00BS" and Sharon Farber's "The Nostalginauts" . Top-notch story.

"Computer Friendly", a 1990 Hugo nominee, features 9-yr old Elizabeth "Lizardbreath", and how she saved her friends online and learned to spit. Cool, nerdy stuff, if a bit dated now.

And her first sale, "What Are Friends For?" (1978) is still a crackerjack -- I'd never seen it, and I'll bet you'll like it, too. Gunn notes that her check for $51.63, from Ted White's AMAZING, "came in someone else's SASE, with their name crossed out and mine scrawled in... I had hit the big time."

And there's more! Bottom line: 11 stories, 5 "A"s, 6 "B"s -- plus an "ideologically labile" recipe, and cool little Gunnophile goodies from Gibson, Swanwick, and Waldrop. "Open [the book] and be dazzled! -- JP Kelly's blurb, with a coverful of other nice blurbs, from Le Guin, Doctorow, Willis, and many more.

So, you owe it to yourself to check out Eileen Gunn's neat stories. As Michael Swanwick sings,

"Hooray for Eileen and her bully machine...
She's graced with a runcible style...
Lets all celebrate
Before it's too late...
Eileen! -- and her bully machine."

Happy reading--
Pete Tillman
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The Gunn Canon At Last! 31 Aug. 2004
By Rosa Lina - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I've been an Eileen Gunn fan for a long time and it's a treat to see her perceptive, witty stories collected for the first time. William Gibson's introduction, Howard Waldrop's afterword, and Eileen's own notes about each story add to the feeling that this unique collection was well worth the wait.
7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Huzzah! 1 Nov. 2004
By MemeBag - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had the pleasure of hearing Ms. Gunn read the story "Fellow Americans" at a science fiction convention. It was one of the funniest things I've ever heard. After that I made sure to attend all of her readings and seek out her work (which until now it has been shockingly hard to find.)

Impress your friends! Get in on the ground floor of Gunn-mania! Be one of the cool kids and read this as soon as possible!
8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
At last!, at last! 10 Oct. 2004
By P. Salus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Eileen Gunn is one of the finest writers in any genre. Her
stories are full of wit, pith, allusion, and a lapidary placement
of words.

Because of these virtues, she writes slowly. (Howard Waldrop
claims she is the only person who produces more slowly than he.)

These stories are brilliant. With luck, Eileen will produce more.

A warning: these are not glib; read with care; and enjoy!
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