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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

on 13 August 2014
The other reviewer seems to have been reading something else,as this collection of JV's shorter fiction is excellent,as,in my opinion,are all his works,whether they be novels,or collections.His style is as engaging as as you will find,his ideas are original,his characters can be charming and endearing.I became a fan when (British title)Hall of the Martian Kings was initially published,and have remained so ever since.I enjoyed his personal segues into his stories,finding they resonated with me(possibly as we are of a similar age,and have a familiarity with the same things).I would urge any lover of SF to read any one thing of Varley,then I'm certain you'll want to read them all.
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on 2 August 2007
Most of John Varley's short stories are vignettes organized around some interesting idea about how advanced technology might shape life styles or societies. The stories are often set in a future where humanity occupies the moons and planets of the solar system (except Earth). Varley is perhaps most famous for these so-called "Eight Worlds" stories, even if only one of his three major award-winning stories belongs to this category. The prose is very direct and cinematic---down to the TV-style cold opening paragraphs of the lunar murder mysteries. There is usually some gratuitous sex involved, which can be a bit grating; for instance, it rather detracts from the best story in the collection, "Press enter". Thematically, Varley is a forerunner to nanotech/cyberpunk (Gibson, Bear), while his later pieces strongly evoke the spirit of Frederic Brown.
The stories are linked by Varley's recollections and commentaries, which, unlike the stories themselves, are not a pleasure to read, since he often comes across as oafish and dense, in fact very much like a redneck hick trying to impress the big-city hippie girls. It is unfortunate that Varley does not recognize that his hero Robert A. Heinlein exerts a very bad influence on his writing.
The longest story shares a weakness with Varley's novels: these tend to read like a number of great short story ideas strung together in the jejune sort of pulpy sci-fi plot that heavily relies on the convenient introduction of incredibly rich and or powerful characters (in a word: Heinleinesque).
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