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Greetings And Other Stories
Terry Bisson
Tachyon paperback $24.95

review by Debbie Moon

A near-autistic scientist receives e-mails purporting to come from a time traveler living with Neanderthals... A group of former hippies find themselves called back to their one-time idyll by dreams in Super 8 format... A naïve prisoner is manipulated into volunteering for crucifixion, for the benefit of the media and the religious authorities...

Multiple award winner Terry Bisson's collection of ten stories covers a wide variety of situations drawn from the staples of science fiction � time travel, alien contact, technology rebelling against humans and humans against technology. What links them is a strong emphasis on the human cost of progress, and some terrific writing.

An interest in the nature and mechanics of death runs through many of the stories. The title story takes place on an overcrowded Earth where the elderly are selected randomly for assisted death. Despite voting for the measures years before, Tom and Cliff believe they�re being used to get rid of the government�s opponents. When they accidentally end up on the run and fall in with the resistance, they become national heroes � but maybe there are worse things than facing death... Come Dance With Me transforms what could be a clichéd goth tale of a website encouraging teen suicide with its subtle insight into the mind of a bored teenage girl, and the slow unfolding of a family secret leading to a chilling encounter in the afterlife...

Almost Home also enters the secret life of children: Troy, his tomboy cousin Toute, and best friend Bug, discover a magic aeroplane that takes them to a parallel version of their isolated town where everything is slightly different. Freed from the crippling disease that has blighted her life, Toute wants to stay � but is their fantastical journey actually what it appears? Shot through with a sense of menace and magic, the story is deeply memorable.

For scale, though, it would be hard to beat the last story in the collection, Dear Abbey. Cole, a college teacher with a past in eco-terrorism, finds himself dragged into a radical plan to prevent humans destroying the planet. The problem is, the scientific knowledge required to implement the plan doesn't exist yet. Enter Chinese cowboy Professor Lee and his time machine... But as Cole and Lee travel through time in search of the vital clue, human history unfolds in ever more surprising ways, and Cole wonders if their plan is actually necessary. An eco-spin on The Time Machine, the story is stuffed with big ideas, but never loses sight of the human dilemma � can we really act on behalf of our descendants when we have no idea what they will be capable of, or what they'll want?

Terry Bisson is a tremendously skilled writer with a wide-ranging imagination, and despite The Old Rugged Cross taking pot-shots at some disappointingly easy targets, there isn't a bad story in the collection. A must-read for all science fiction fans.
Greetings by Terry Bisson

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