A Place So Foreign and Eight More is a sardonic collection of short stories by Cory Doctorow, winner of the prestigious John W. Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction Writer in 2000.
The title story, “A Place So Foreign,” is, on the surface, a novella revolving around a family living in 1898 Utah that has access to a portal (in their horse barn) to 1975. After young James spends time in the future and returns home to 1898, he sees his life -- and his world -- in a different light. It’s a sentimental story not so much about time travel as about growing up and finding one’s destiny.
Although all the stories in the collection are fascinating in their own right, easily the most memorable is “Craphound,” a work destined to be a classic that has already been included in several international anthologies. Jerry Abington is a collector of junk. His weekly routine includes religiously visiting yard sales, auctions, and thrift shops in search of the discarded objects that could potentially turn into collectibles when someone offers to pay big bucks for them. Together with Craphound (an alien who shares his addiction to junk), he travels around Canada in search of the big score.
Comparable to the popular science fiction satire of Steve Aylett, Paul Di Filippo, and Allen M. Steele, Doctorow’s collection of nine short works is as entertaining as it is thought provoking. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes disturbing, this collection showcases Doctorow’s wicked sense of humor and genius wit. Paul Goat Allen