Dust Jacket by Patrick Arrasmith
With the publication of A Scattering of Jades, his award-winning debut novel, Alex Irvine established himself as a gifted, potentially important new voice in contemporary fantasy. Now, in his first collection of shorter work, Irvine reinforces his position, offering readers a generous collection of stories that are at once, witty, erudite, wonderfully imagined, and unfailingly entertaining.
Unintended Consequences contains 13 diverse narratives, and is bookended by a remarkable pair of novellas. "Jimmy Guang's House of Gladmech" examines the life of an entrepreneur caught up in a hauntingly familiar, near-future ethnic war from which no one escapes untouched. "A Peaceable Man," an original novella, takes a familiar subject -- a heist gone wrong -- and enriches it with memorable characters and an unexpected infusion of magic. In between, Irvine presents a gallery of tales ranging from the god-haunted world of ancient Egypt ("Akhenaten") to an entropic colonial outpost in a remote galaxy ("Elegy for a Greenwiper.")
Among the collection's other highlights are "Rossetti Song," a meditation on survival, loss, and the power of the past; "Chichen Itza," in which an ancient Mayan site becomes the focal point of a new chapter in human evolution; "Tato Chip, Tato Chip, Sing Me a Song," a comic reflection on the uses of technology and the ubiquitous appeal of junk food; and the stunning "Agent Provocateur," which uncovers some startling connections between baseball, the processes of history, and Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle.
Whatever his subject, Irvine remains in complete control of his often astonishing material. Individually, these 13 stories show us our world -- and its possible incarnations -- from a wholly unique perspective. Together, they comprise one of the most varied, memorable, and necessary collections of fiction published in recent years.
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