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20 tales that cross boundaries to create bold new hybrids melding the best of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, westerns, romance, and the supernatural....

Edited by Martin H. Greenberg & John Helfers

      I knew about slipstreams in motion and software, but not that there was a slipstream subgenre until I picked up this book. In his introduction, editor John Helfers admits (without any sign of recognizing the irony in what he's saying) that his grasp on what slipstream fiction means isn't sure. So he just told the authors to give him stories that combined two or more genres. That sounded like generic cross-genre rather than a new genre of its own, so I dug around for a bit more information. Wikipedia summed things up nicely, saying slipsteam fiction "falls into the gap between speculative fiction and mainstream... [with] some degree of the surreal, the not entirely real, of the markedly anti-real... 'the fiction of strangeness' is as clear a definition as any others in wide use." Since genre designations create expectations, and he wasn't sure about his designation, Helfers was left hoping that some readers will believe that at least some of these stories are slipstream. He gets a solid thumbs up on that from me.

The 20 stories in this anthology are all pretty unique, although more than a few riff off the classic private investigator of Hammett and Chandler. With a twist of course - this is slipstream - such as one of those PIs being a down and not quite out Santa replaced in running the elves and in the heart of Mrs. Claus by Jack Frost. Or a werefolk Holmes (no, not Sherlock - Farrell, his American cousin) meeting a not always so nice Dr. Watson. Other favorite stories offer a dark fantasy Paul Bunyonesque type, an original idea about how werefolk are spreading among us, and a "Menu for Life... and Death" exploring different foods and recipes in a double entendre-filled progression.

All of the stories are of the fast read, but keep thinking about them after sort. The overall quality is quite high, with my lesser enjoyment of a few really a matter of taste. Recommended as an enjoyable way to give your imagination that light run through the wringer that helps keep it fresh and in good working order.

The Book

May 2006
Mass Market Paperback
SF - Slipstream
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The Reviewer

Kim Malo
Reviewed 2006
© 2006