A Place So Foreign and Eight More Paperback – 30 Sep 2003
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Top customer reviews
An collection of short SciFi stories, all are interesting and show the authors development. His introductins to each story really help you enjoy them.
0nz0red is the last and probably my favourite story. But all of them are terrfic reads. The book barely left my hands from start to finish!
Although very good, it pales slightly in comparision to the authors first full novel "Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom". This again shows the development of an up and coming author.
All in all a great collection of modern SciFi tales by an original and entertaining author. Worth every penny of the purchase price!
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
If you're interested in reading imaginative science fiction, then this is the anthology for you. It is one of the most interesting works I've read in years.
***UPDATE 4/18: driving in to work I started randomly thinking about the story "craphound" from this collection...so I guess you could say Doctorow has stay-time, considering it's been a year since I read it and it still occasionally bounces around my brain.
"0wnz0red" made quite a stir back in 2002. Also online, see 1st comment.
Here's Bruce Sterling's opinion:
[quote]There has been a chunk of science fiction influenced by Silicon Valley, but "0wnz0red" captures the disturbed inner world of the technically sociopathic... This story is fully realized, and it is sarcastic, abrasive, and mind-boggling in a truly novel way. Like Beat writing in its early period, "0wnz0red" has the dual virtues of being both really offensive and genuinely hard for normal people to understand. This work is therefore truly advanced.[end quote]
"Craphound", the leadoff story, was Doctorow's first published story, about an alien who likes thrift shops. Good weird stuff, and online, too.
"A Place So Foreign", an 18,000 word novella (also online) about time-travel from 1898 to 1975, is a fresh take on an old theme, and well-worth reading, though not quite to my taste.
"All Day Sucker" is a neat, clever short-short original. "To Market, To Market: The Rebranding of Billy Bailey", personal brand-management at Pepsi Elementary, is crackerjack, my second-favorite in the collection (and overall). Neither is online.
"Return to Pleasure Island" is sort of a Disney satire and didn't do much for me. And "Shadow of the Mothaship", a weird scientology/alien invasion tale, went completely by me, though it's a favorite of the author. Go figure. Both are online, so you can judge for yourself (and calibrate your taste against mine). "Home Again, Home Again", an alien nuthouse tale, and "The Super Man and the Bugout", adventures of a Jewish-Canadian superhero, are good stories that share the "Mothaship" background. Both are online.
So that's it. A good collection, from a fine writer, early in his career.
Peter D. Tillman
Review first published at SF Site, 2004
Each story is preceded by author notes. The information given is historical, humorous, or biographical. And he talks about issues important to him such electronic rights and 'sampling'. Some of these subjects need more than just a paragraph. On the issue of sampling he asserts that writers should be able to 'lift' pieces of other authors stories; backdrops, character sketches et cetera. Other authors simply claim to have been inspired by books they have read, Doctorow takes this idea a step further. In 'A place so foreign' he admits to having read Fitzgerald's 'The Great Brain' children's books and copies the entire setting of Mormon Utah in the 1860s. Also in 'The Superman and the Bugout' he copies the comic hero Superman; right down to the tights, trunks and cape. These stories are yawnfests. When he uses his own ideas the stories are MUCH better, memorable even. '0wnz0red' is a great story about programming, bio-technology, and pushing the limits of human physiology, the characters and tension are believable.
Doctorow sells himself, and the reader, short by not examining the ideas in each story. He certainly has the talent to do so, but never closes the deal. Only two selections can be considered complete short stores. The rest are slice-of-life, literary snapshots, that are amusing in their telling but lack a equally weighty denouement. I look forward to what he may write the year he turns forty.
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