David D. Levine and I are connected, but he doesn’t know it. At the only Worldcon I’ve ever attended (LA Con IV, 2006), Harlan Ellison presented a Hugo Award to Levine for his short story “Tk’tk’tk”. The image of Levine leaping for joy into the arms of Harlan Ellison is a bright memory of that wonderful week. That’s why I was thrilled to see this collection available as an e-book. I thought I’d enjoy it, and I wasn’t disappointed.
There are 15 stories included here, and they demonstrate story-telling skill in fantasy, science fiction, and the in-between. My favorite story in the collection is one of the in-between stories: “The Tale of the Golden Eagle”. It spans a large number of years during which the enhanced brain of a golden eagle experiences much, from acting as the sentient control system for a ship to walking around in an android body. It’s a 5-star story that originally appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in June of 2003.
Another standout is that Hugo winner – “Tk’tk’tk”. A salesman goes to an alien planet to sell inventory management software of all things, and ends up being changed by the experience. Definitely an award quality story, but so was “The Tale of the Golden Eagle”.
One more science fiction story I’d like to mention is “At the Twenty-Fifth Annual Meeting of Uncle Teco’s Homebrew Gravitics Club”. I thoroughly enjoyed this fun story about a convention that takes place annually in Earth orbit. The group that gathers there is made up of people that met each other on the internet years before. Since then the group has grown, and there has been a lot of infighting and water under and over the bridge… this is a great setting, and I wonder if Levine has written any more about these folks.
On the pure fantasy side, there’s “The Ecology of Faerie”, a very moving story about a sixteen year old girl’s encounter with faeries, and “Circle of Compassion”, in which a priestess is ordered to send her spirit to an enemy camp to spy. And there’s also the lovingly meta “Charlie the Purple Giraffe Was Acting Strangely”, in which a purple cartoon giraffe starts to wonder about his readers.
This is a very solid and diverse collection of stories that I enjoyed very much.