The Butterflies Of Memory by Paul McAuley

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Paul McAuley
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The Butterflies Of Memory

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Book review

THE BUTTERFLIES OF MEMORY (A COLLECTION) by Ian Watson, intro by Paul McAuley, cover art by Vincent Chong. ~ UK; PS Publishing; 2006. 1st edition deluxe hardcover. Synopsis: Ian Watson is one of the finest writers of SF and fantasy stories, and Butterflies of Memory is his 10th collection, with bonus prefaces to each of the 17 tales specially written by Ian. As Paul McAuley remarks in his Introduction to the whole ensemble, "Ian possesses an irrepressible energy and a restless, far-ranging imagination... His creative delight dances us through crossfires of plotlines, wild suppositions and general bizarreness, and irradiates his stories with a puckish sense of fun." Stories that are by turns serious and playful, and always wildly imaginative... In the title story, what if mobile phones were to become truly mobile, flying about like butterflies? 'An Appeal to Adolf' tells of gay sailors on a Nazi battleship many kilometres long during a Second World War unfamiliar to us; 'Lover of Statues' of an enigmatic alien visiting the only statue of Satan in the world, in Madrid - while in the bubbling stew of faiths which is Jerusalem a doorway opens to reveal capricious godlike beings. And just suppose that Jules Verne undertook an actual journey to the centre of the Earth... Closer to home, in a Midlands town, a man who seems to have suddenly popped into existence tries to discover who and what he is. 'Hijack Holiday', written a year before 9/11, presciently if bizarrely anticipates events akin to those on that fateful day. Ian's previous story collection, The Great Escape, was a Washington Post Book of the Year, and was praised on National Public Radio in America. Of an earlier collection, the Times Literary Supplement enthused, "a phenomenon, a national resource... Ian Watson resembles H.G. Wells." Here, once again in McAuley's words, is "the frisson of the unexpected, the shock of the new," from an author who "does things differently. Every time."

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