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No matter how far into the realms of space and fantasy Jeffrey Ford’s stories may venture, they have one trait in common: They’re grounded in the universal. The Fantasy Writer’s Assistant, Ford’s debut collection, is no exception. “Creation,” which received the World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story and a nomination for a Nebula Award, relates a boy’s attempts to animate a man made of sticks and pebbles. Even as the creature’s life fades along with the summer, its loneliness and yearning for contact are palpable.
Other blends of the worldly and otherworldly are evident in “Bright Morning,” in which a man searches far and wide for a cursed Kafka book, and “At Reparata,” when the grief of a king over the death of his queen takes the form of a destructive moth that could overtake the entire kingdom. The Fantasy Writer’s Assistant, its titular story another Nebula Award finalist, reveals Jeffrey Ford at his creative best.
Few writers can extract as much enchantment from the mundane as award-winning author Jeffrey Ford. His talent for storytelling is readily evident in The Empire of Ice Cream, his collection of ordinary and extraordinary juxtapositions.
The bittersweet Nebula Award–winning title story introduces a composer with synesthesia who finds the sound—and woman—of his dreams through a cup of coffee. Then there are the fairies that inhabit sandcastles in the fleeting moments before the inevitable rise of the tide. Ford populates this charmed collection with stories taken from his own life as well, including “Botch Town,” which finds him as a schoolboy, and “The Trentino Kid,” which recalls his experience digging for clams.
Where manufactured order once reigned, now there is peace. In this second volume of the Well-Built City Trilogy, the dominion has fallen, and its vicious ruler, Drachton Below, has been defeated. Cley has renounced the title of physiognomist, striking out on his own to establish the idyllic village of Wenau, where he lives as a healer and the inhabitants’ protector. But when the villagers suddenly start to succumb to a lethal sleeping sickness, Cley is pulled back into the struggle he thought he had left behind.
In order to cure his community of this horrible malady, Cley journeys back to the Well-Built City, braving dangerous ruins teeming with mechanical birds and werewolves. Amid the wreckage, he finds the deposed ruler, Drachton Below, comatose from the same sickness that has overtaken Cley’s village. Below created this disease, and he is the only one with the knowledge to cure it. In order to create an antidote, Cley must venture into Drachton Below’s mind to gather the information he needs from the source before the disease ravages the village—and Below’s mind—forever.
In the Well-Built City, Master Drachton Below’s power is absolute, and he will not hesitate to use it. His primary method of control is through his physiognomists, who are trained to read a person’s face and body, perceiving that person’s past and secrets—and even events yet to come. These seers are the judges and jury. Now Drachton has found something that could extend his reign for eternity: a fruit that bestows immortality. To investigate its whereabouts, Below sends cold, collected physiognomist Cley to the remote mining town of Anamasobia. One at a time Cley interrogates the townspeople, performing his usual fact finding without issue. That is, until he meets the beautiful and bright Arla, who harbors a secret that could potentially turn Cley’s world upside down—and topple the Well-Built City itself.
A Kafkaesque journey into the unknown, The Physiognomy is an award-winning trip through a land where the line between reality and imagination is constantly blurred.
Appointing themselves ad hoc investigators, the brothers set out to aid the police—while their little sister, Mary, smokes cigarettes, speaks in other voices, inhabits alternate personas . . . and, unbeknownst to her older siblings, moves around the inanimate residents of Botch Town. But ensuing events add a shadowy cast to the boys' night games: disappearances, deaths, and spectral sightings capped off by the arrival of a sinister man in a long white car trawling the neighborhood after dark. Strangest of all is the inescapable fact that every one of these troubling occurrences seems to correspond directly to the changes little Mary has made to the miniature town in the basement.
Not since Ray Bradbury's classic Dandelion Wine has a novel so richly evoked the dark magic of small-town boyhood. At once a hypnotically compelling mystery, a masterful re-creation of a unique time and place, a celebration of youth, and a poignant and disquieting portrait of home and family—all balancing on a razor's edge separating reality from the unsettlingly remarkable—The Shadow Year is a monumental new work from one of contemporary fiction's most fearless and inventive artists.
There is a life lived beneath the water—among rotted buildings and bloated corpses—by those so overburdened by the world's demands that they simply give up and go under. . . .
In this mesmerizing blend of the familiar and the fantastic, multiple award-winning New York Times notable author Jeffrey Ford creates true wonders and infuses the mundane with magic. In tales marked by his distinctive, dark imagery and fluid, exhilarating prose, he conjures up an annual gale that transforms the real into the impossible, invents a strange scribble that secretly unites a significant portion of society, and spins the myriad dreams of a restless astronaut and his alien lover. Bizarre, beautiful, unsettling, and sublime, The Drowned Life showcases the exceptional talents of one of contemporary fiction's most original artists.
While "communing with spirits," Schell sees an image of a young girl in a pane of glass, silently entreating the con man for help. Though well aware that his otherworldly "powers" are a sham, Schell inexplicably offers his services to help find the lost child -- drawing Diego along with him into a tangled maze of deadly secrets and terrible experimentation.
At once a hypnotically compelling mystery and a stunningly evocative portrait of Depression-era New York, The Girl in the Glass is a masterly literary adventure from a writer of exemplary vision and skill.