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BOOK REVIEWS: August 2000
By Paula Guran

DREAMSIDE
Graham Joyce
Tor / $23.95 / 256p
ISBN: 031286633X book cover Finally, with this edition from Tor, American readers have the opportunity to read Graham Joyce's 1991 debut novel, DREAMSIDE. It's a shame we had to wait so long. Imaginative and chilling, the novel explores the subject of lucid dreaming -- the capacity to be conscious of and to control one's dreams -- and questions what we perceive as reality. It's also a cautionary tale: those who, like Prometheus, steal fire from the gods will, inevitably, pay a price for their impudence. Four mid-70s undergraduates -- more attracted to one another than to science -- participate in an experiment in lucid dreaming under the aegis of an elderly professor. Meeting with more success than expected, they even learn to meet in what they come to call the "Dreamside." The time comes to stop the journeys to Dreamside, but the students push on until tragedy forces them apart. More than twelve years later, the dreams again invade reality and begin to tear them away from their daily lives and sanity. It becomes clear they must, somehow, reunite and return to Dreamside. Well-paced and smoothly written, DREAMSIDE, lacks a bit of the poetry of Joyce's later writing, but in no way betrays itself as a virgin effort. Better late than never, don't miss your chance to read DREAMSIDE this time around.

THE YEAR'S BEST FANTASY AND HORROR : THIRTEENTH ANNUAL COLLECTION
Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling, editors
Paperback: Griffin / $17.95 / 640p / ISBN: 031226416X
Hardcover: St. Martin's / $29.95 / 640p / ISBN: 0312262744

book cover Now in its thirteenth year, this excellent anthology series just keeps getting better and better. Stand-outs among the stand-out dark stories this year include two by Steve Rasnic Tem -- "Heat" and "Halloween Street"; the exquisite "The Emperor's Old Bones" by Gemma Files; the exotic "The Tree Is My Hat " by Gene Wolfe; Gary A. Braunbeck's melodic "Small Song"; Neil Gaiman's deliciously wicked "Keepsakes and Treasures: A Love Story"; the clever "What You Make It " by Michael Marshall Smith (both Gaiman and Smith also have excellent "fantasy" entries, as well); "Shatsi," a devilish piece by Peter Crowther; noirish "The Kiss" by relative newcomer Tia V. Travis and novella "White" by British newcomer Tim Lebbon; "You Don't Have to be Mad..." by the deservedly ever-present Kim Newman; Paul J. McAuley's evocative "Naming of the Dead"; the sensual "Crosley" by Elizabeth Engstrom Along with the usual yearly honorable mentions and summations -- Windling on fantasy, Datlow on horror, Edward Bryant on various media, Seth Johnson on comics, and "Obituaries: 1999" by James Frenkel -- Douglas E. Winter's must-read nonfiction essay on the horror field, "The Pathos of Genre," is also included. Datlow and Windling continue to set a standard that no one else can match.

THE DAWNING
Hugh B. Cave
Leisure Books / $5.50 / 368p
ISBN: 084394739X

book cover Despite a supposedly near-future setting that seems more mid-seventies than early twenty-first century, somewhat stereotypical characterization, and archaic dialogue, prolific horror master Hugh B. Cave still spins a grand story with his new tale of survival and ecological horror. A band of regular folks head into the Canadian wilderness to escape what is left of a society ruined by pollution, violence, and drugs. Cave never confronts the societal "big picture," nor does he deal with the question of why more people did not head for the woods just as our protagonists do. Instead, he concentrates on his small group of characters as they discover that Mother Nature is very angry indeed with humanity. Just as frightening is the one blue-collar member of the group who knows something about fixing things, hunting, fishing, and firearms. The others can't survive without his skills, but they may not survive the consequences of his behavior either. All a bit simplistic, perhaps, but still a good read.


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