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SKB-Like Water for Quarks Review

SKB-Like Water for Quarks Review

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Published by: sunni-brock-7464 on Jul 19, 2011
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Like Water for QuarksEdited by Elton Elliot & Bruce TaylorMVP Publishing, 2011. ISBN: 978-1-61364-144-6 $20.00."Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."  Arthur C. ClarkeLike Water for Quarks is an anthology which aims to display the synergy between the Magic Realismliterary movement and modern science fiction.In his introduction, Elton Elliotexplains his goal of bringing the awe and wonder back into the genre. The secret to this, he believes, is to embrace cuttingedge physics in a way that allows the author to truly speculate with unbounded imagination. "Theboundaries between the real and the unreal are blurring," he said in a recent conversation. "Who is tosay that science won't allow to future to seem magical?"For those unfamiliar with the Magic Realism movement, Bruce Taylor's closing essay outlines a brief history. He further expounds on modern science fiction and how he sees the two comingling. MagicRealism began as an art movement in Europe after World War I in which the subject matter contains amagical element in an otherwise realistic setting. Shortly after,Latin American writers (Latin Americanauthors, such as Gabriel GarcíaMárquez, Arturo Uslar-Pietri,Julio Cortázar, AlejoCarpentier and so on)began borrowing the ideas after seeing the art while visiting Europe. They adopted the term as well todescribe fiction in which the surreal seems very real.It is apparent that a lot of care went into the selection of the stories, and like many classic vinyl LPs, theorder of the selections provides an overall flow giving the reader a real journey through the content.This bookshould be read cover to cover."Fishin' Off the Starry Stream" is a beautiful vignette by Bruce Taylor about a father who takes a day off from work to be with his son. The magic of the story is not just in the premise (the father works as a"dimension slider"), but also in Taylor's amazing prose which transcends mere English into near starstuff."In the Garden, a Late Flower Blooms" by Jerry Oltion is a winding tale about an older woman thatbegins with the mundane task of going to the store for paint. As the story progresses, so does thebreakdown of reality. The character becomes more and more confused in her quest as conveyedthrougha dreamlike qualitywith a humorous tone. The payoff is unexpected and satisfying."Once We Were Dragons" by George Zebrowski supposes a world where humankindsuddenly awakensto find themselves as dragon creatures rather than naked apes. This is told almost entirely through thevoice of the masses ("What has happened to us!" cried the people.) It is an entertaining juxtaposition of crowd mentality and personal identity.Greg Bear's "Petra" begins with the death of God. The rift in reality caused by His departure spawnsforth creatures who are not entirely human. A boarded up church becomes a refuge for humans, newlyawakened statues who are now alive, and their illegitimate "flesh and stone" offspring. Inspired by the
 
clandestine love affair between the bishop's human daughter and a winged statue half-breed, ourhybrid protagonist quests to redeem the church's occupants who are in a constant state of civilwar.Even Christ himself makes an appearance."The Fountains" by Ursula K. Le Guin is a short piece written in 1960 about a political prisoner whoescapes his custody and creates his own asylumwalking through the streets of Versailles.William F. Nolan's "Coincidence" is a clever tale about a man who is literally his own worst enemy. Nolanrefers to this as his "Mobius Strip" story. The tension and build-up are masterful and the ending isn'ttheend.In "Excerpts from 'Sidney's Comet'" by Brian Herbert, Sidney is an AmFed bureaucrat in a polluted,wasteful future. He is the unlikely hero, being set up to fight an impending alien invasion, and hissuperiors are counting on him to fail."Crater the Earth" by Kathleen Alcalá is a more traditional story, less science fiction than the rest. Themain character has a spiritual moment, but then comes to doubt that it happened after the revelry of the evening leading up to it causes a wildfire resulting in her family's evacuation.Kevin J. Anderson's "Drilling Deep" would have made an excellent episode of The Twilight Zone. Thestory centers around a man whose recent visit with his archeologist son sets him to imagining thatdigging below the ground is really a trip back in time.
Or 
was he imagining?"The Scenery of Paradise" by Patrick Swensonis a fun world-jumping story. "One man's paradise isanother man's" or so the saying goes.Ray Vukcevich's"Going Places" is a very inventive tale told from multiple viewpoints. A woman'sneighborhood seems different. Not quite the way she remembered  or was it? She doubts her ownrecollection but then discovers that her neighbor is behind some strange happenings. When sheconfronts him, he explains that he just wants to make his business trips as convenient as possible.In "Blood Tunnel" by Tamara Kaye Sellman, it's going to take some magic and a leap of faith to escapethe bible-thumping rednecks and the bloody weeds.Anyone who's spent a length of time near Pasco,Washington can relate to this post-apocalyptic civil war story.Robbi is the title character in "A Special Child" by James Glass. Although he can't speak, he has anamazing ability which allows him to warp reality. Remarkably, he is able to bond with his teacher, who isalso paranormally gifted: she can communicate through mental images. In some ways, this story isreminiscent of the Twilight Zone episode "It's A Good Life", except that the child in this story is nevermalevolent."The Dead Man's Child" by Jay Lake isone of the best pieces in the collection. In a futuristic spacevernacular, Lake gives us a single scene that tells a complete story through superb characterization anddialog.

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