This stellar collection, Good-Bye Robinson Crusoe and Other Stories, by John Varley contains eleven provocative, utterly distinctive stories and novellas. None of them are currently available in any other book. Some have been unavailable in any form for twenty-five years or more. The result is a publishing event that no admirer of Varley—or of first-rate imaginative fiction—can afford to miss.
The bulk of these stories comprise what the author calls a “Grand Tour of the Solar System,” moving from one thoroughly imagined setting to another with deceptive ease. “The Funhouse Effect” is a tale of mystery, intrigue, and illusion that takes place on a mechanized comet moving toward the sun’s corona. “Retrograde Summer” is an account of gender reversals and family secrets set against the radically unstable backdrop of Mercury. “Bagatelle” pits a recurring Varley character—Police Chief Anna-Louise Bach—against a living bomb that threatens to devastate Luna’s Dresden City. Other stories range from Venus (“In the Bowl”) to an underground “disneyland” on Pluto (“Good-Bye, Robinson Crusoe) to the unexplored reaches of deep space (“The Black Hole Passes”). The collection ends with two very different offerings that are nonetheless vintage Varley. “The Unprocessed Word” is a whimsical reflection on one writer’s relationship with a ubiquitous, constantly evolving technology, while “The Manhattan Phone Book (Abridged)” is a brief, absolutely chilling meditation on the consequences of nuclear proliferation.
Whatever the tone, style, or subject matter, Varley remains in complete control of this impressively varied material. Good-Bye, Robinson Crusoe and Other Stories provides intellectual stimulation and pure entertainment in equal measure, and bears the unmistakable hallmark of a master storyteller on every page.
Limited: 1000 signed numbered hardcover copies: $45