Cover illustration by Matt Mahurin.
George R. R. Martin once wrote of Tom Reamy that he “brought to his first efforts such a store of talent, keen observation, and knowledge of humanity that he seemed to spring into being as a major writer full-bloom.” For his sensitively rendered yet darkly gnawing fiction Reamy has been compared to Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, Richard Matheson and Jack Finney.
Gathered here for the first time is all of Reamy’s professional short fiction, including two previously uncollected pieces: the story “M is for the Millions” and the screenplay “Sting!”, as well as a previously unpublished novella.
Reamy sold his first two stories, “Beyond the Cleft” and “Twilla,” to Harry Harrison and Damon Knight respectively—on the same day in 1973. “San Diego Lightfoot Sue” earned Reamy the 1975 Nebula for Best Novelette, and, following more nominations, Reamy won the 1976 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Tragically, he died at the age of forty-two in late 1977; his posthumously published novel, Blind Voices, garnered further acclaim. George R. R. Martin noted that, along with John Varley, Reamy was one of “the two most important new writers of the Seventies,” and this definitive retrospective of Reamy’s supernova career showcases why.
Ranging from the survivalist science fiction of “Dinosaurs” and “2076: Blue Eyes” to the undeniable horrors of the eponymous story and “The Detweiler Boy,” these dark, consistently seductive tales by a mercurial fantasist easily shift from urban noir to rural romance, from private eyes to cosmic fears, from creature features to slice-of-life, from bittersweet realism to existential slipstream.
Closing out the collection, in what we might irreverently call the pièce de réamysistance, is that long-awaited, never-before-published novella “Potiphee, Petey, and Me,” penned more than 45 years ago and now exclusively available in this volume. Offbeat, disturbing and prescient, it conclusively brings to the fore why, no matter where we might be reading from, we’re all living Under the Hollywood Sign.
From Paul di Filippo, in Locus Online:
“Finally, we get to the real gem of the collection, both due to its heretofore-unseen nature and the sheer quality of its vision and writing. ‘Potiphee, Petey, and Me’ is the tale that Reamy sold to Harlan Ellison for The Last Dangerous Visions, and one can see instantly how it qualified. It depicts a world that is some kind ofa inexplicable giant habitat (a theme much beloved in Sixties and Seventies SF, as witness Ellison’s own underground realm in ‘A Boy and His Dog’), wherein live only gay men, although they do not so categorize themselves, given the absence of women for any purposes of comparison. Some of the men are deemed ‘butterflies,’ subservient to the needs of the rest. A mysterious priesthood rules over all, extracting sperm donations for the deific ‘Big Mama.’ The story is told by Horse, the ‘me’ in the title. Through a series of semi-ridiculous complications, he and his two naïve partners end up falling afoul of the priests, as they are ensnared in a revolution being undertaken by the fed-up butterflies. The story has an air of Ishmael Reed filtered through Norman Spinrad and Lawrence Janifer. And Reamy pulls off one superb joke that I won’t spoil, except to say it reflects on why Horse is named Horse.”
Table of Contents:
- Under the Hollywood Sign
- Beyond the Cleft
- San Diego Lightfoot Sue
- The Sweetwater Factor
- The Mistress of Windraven
- The Detweiler Boy
- Insects in Amber
- Waiting for Billy Star
- 2076: Blue Eyes
- M Is for the Millions
- Potiphee, Petey, and Me
- Tom Reamy
- Matt Mahurin
- eBook Edition