I've just re-read this and think even better of it than I did upon first reading, perhaps because this time 'round I wasn't concentrating solely on plot and atmosphere and so was able to get a sense of the intelligence and humour underlying the writing.
Tillyer's stories are of places, people, events in off-kilter versions of this world, a reality gone slightly awry, and not the surreal or wholly fantastic: A city whose streets are literally labyrinthine; a slumming visitor to a kingdom who is at great cost made king; an ring road of nearly hypnotic appeal and inexplicable danger; civilian astronauts whose time in space is televised as a reality show.
Not one of the stories is a dud and some are truly haunting: For a few years, something I'd read about an underwater city and charging horses now and again came to mind and I was delighted to find it again in 'R is for Reservoir'. Tillyer's style is straightforward and--for the most part--polished, her ability to pack so much matter into stories so short is admirable, and her imagination is something I covet. I'm surprised there are so few reviews of this, as though the book in no way resembles mass-market pap it seems like one that would have a very wide appeal amongst general readers. And anyone who's a fan of Chateaureynaud's or Alois Hotschnig's stories would probably take to these (and vice versa).
The format of A-Z is outstanding. Each story is a separate chap-book and all are contained in a box. This isn't a tricksy design decision but packaging inspired by and perfectly appropriate to the content and, it occurred to me, forced me to take a bit of time to let each story sink in, whereas had the book been in conventional form I would have raced through it. The only slight let-down, at least to a geek who looks at copyright pages and credits on end flaps, is that the designer seems to receive no mention. The format might have been a group decision, but surely the letters of the alphabet weren't drawn by a committee.
No doubt I'll be reading this yet again in a few years . . .
I bought this book because of a glowing review in SFX magazine, and was not in the least disappointed. This is one of the best collection of short stories I have read in a long time, a modern day continuation of the works of Jorge Luis Borges (which would be the author who comes . A very unusual book that I would highly recommend, and in a way comparable to "House of Leaves" as a very unique work of imagination. Moritz Eggert