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Antiquities: Seven Stories, John Crowley, Incunabula, 1994, ISBN 9780963363725, 100pp.

A small press short story collection from Crowley that I had to request through Inter-Library Loan. Just seven stories, nothing longer than 6,000 words, but richer by far than the sparseness of the type on the pages. In “The Green Child,” Crowley tells an anti- fairy tale, wherein the fairies visit our world and lose their ability rather than the other way around. “Missolonghi 1824” uses the style of the tall tale to explore a being from the past in a somewhat more recent past. The best story by far is the title story, a mystery about sex in a small town. “The Reason for the Visit” is somewhat pointless if you don’t know anything about Virginia Woolf, like me. The fatalistic “Her Bounty to the Dead” is my next pick in this volume; the ending is as sudden as a car crash, and just as inevitable. I had read both “Snow” and “Exogamy” before in other pages (likely Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s Year’s Best volumes). I liked “Snow” even more than I remembered. It’s rare for Crowley to write such a straightforward science fiction tale, and this is one of the best. It even has a Neal Stephenson-like flavor. I hated “Exogamy,” which is too much like the recent pointless drivel that Harlan Ellison has been producing. All in all, worth checking out from the library, but wait for a publisher to realize a sure thing and do a Complete Short Fiction of John Crowley before mortgaging the house to find this rare volume.

[Finished December 1998]


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