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The Forest of Time

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Before he wrote the critically acclaimed Firestar, the first volume of a contemporary future history, Michael Flynn was one of the most popular regular contributors to Analog. Collected here are the stories that first won Michael Flynn recognition and acclaim, with comments by Flynn on the background and the writing of each piece in prefaces that are intelligent, insightful, and humorous.

An inventive and dazzling collection of short fiction from one of the most ...

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1997 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 384 p. Audience: General/trade.

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Overview

Before he wrote the critically acclaimed Firestar, the first volume of a contemporary future history, Michael Flynn was one of the most popular regular contributors to Analog. Collected here are the stories that first won Michael Flynn recognition and acclaim, with comments by Flynn on the background and the writing of each piece in prefaces that are intelligent, insightful, and humorous.

An inventive and dazzling collection of short fiction from one of the most popular sci-fi writers around. In Prefaces that are intelligent, insightful, and humorous, Flynn comments on the background and the writing of each piece, seven of which have appeared in Analog. 384 pp. 15,000 print.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
Ideas effervesce like splitting atoms in Flynn's debut collection, as each of the 10 stories here imaginatively correlates complex scientific concepts to emotionally engaging human behaviors or situations. In "The Common Goal of Nature," a study of alien linguistics sheds light on the generalizations humans use to stereotype and demonize social outcasts. In "Spark of Genius," an aspiring writer discovers that the random process by which an artificial intelligence experiment produces a novel is not unlike the unpredictable reader preferences that turn books into bestsellers. Flynn dexterously counterbalances hardware and software, finding ingenious new interfaces for exploring some of SF's most familiar themes. Three stories are concerned with time travel, but each employs a refreshingly different vehicle: the premature aging disease progeria in the previously unpublished novella "Melodies of the Heart"; a mestizo trying to alter the outcome of Pizarro's bloody conquest of the Incas in "On the Wings of a Butterfly"; and a paratime explorer who, in the title tale, creates alternate histories with each new jaunt. In his introduction and charming endnotes, Flynn reveals an impish sense of humor that leaches into the stories. "On the High Frontier" is the space opera to end all space operas, a wild western hardwired with the argot of cyberpunk that gleefully subverts every cliché of the subgenre. Any author who can nudge readers in the ribs with a line such as, "Many a spacer has come to grief with his ship tuckered out megaclicks from the nearest gas cloud," and make them envision a Gary Cooper type saying it with a straight face, is worth his weight in cybercash, and then some.
VOYA - John Peacock
This collection, beginning and ending with Hugo-nominated stories, provides a good working definition of "speculative fiction." Each story (all of which originally appeared in Analog Science Fiction and Fact) is followed by a brief discussion of how it came to be written. The stories include a scientific ghost story, a Western outside the orbit of Uranus, several Twilight Zone-type tales, as well as time travel stories that grimly evoke the periods involved. The Forest of Time tells the story of a time traveler lost on an alternate Earth not from the traveler's point of view, but narrated instead by Oberleutnant Rudolf Knecht, Chief Scout of the Army of the Kittatinny. In a world where the British colonies of the New World descended into petty squabbles instead of becoming the United States, Knecht is like a Pennsylvania Dutch Davy Crockett. He comes across a lost Hernando Kelly, who has traveled sideways in time. On the High Frontier is in most respects a Western. In Flynn's marvelous conceit, however, the gunfight is with laser blasters, the faithful steed is a spaceship controlled by a disembodied brain, the roundup is of the space whale-like jellybellies, and the ambush takes place in the pass of a gravity well around a comet. It is incredible how well Flynn has translated the classic Western into space. Mammy Morgan Played the Organ; Her Daddy Beat the Drum is the story of Leo Reissman, a physicist who brings the full force of science to bear against an apparent ghost in the central library in Philadelphia. Melodies of the Heart tells the story of Mae Hollaway, who appears to be at least one hundred years old yet begins remembering music and events that occurred years before she would have been born. This collection shows the depth of Flynn's writing and is a wonderful introduction to a rising star of the science fiction genre. It also demonstrates just how much ground the genre can cover. VOYA Codes: 5Q 2P S (Hard to imagine it being any better written, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Cleveland Plain Dealer
"[The stories in The Forest of Time are] unified by nothing but their author and their excellence... All are well-crafted and feature the kind of strong storytelling that good fiction needs... elegantly constructed and genuinely moving."
Kirkus Reviews
Ten tales, including the author's afterwords, from Flynn (Firestar, 1996), seven of which first appeared in Analog magazine—though the publisher doesn't tell us when or upon what basis they were selected. In the title piece, an experimenter is marooned with no hope of returning home in an alternate world where the US doesn't exist. Elsewhere, a genetics whiz accidentally transforms himself into a water-breather with gills and webbed feet; a space cowboy yarn amuses, as does a satire on New Yorkers—for a while; a scientific investigation of a ghost proves equally illuminating of its investigator; a neural net computer writes a bestseller (sound familiar?); and, in WW I, some—aliens? fallen angels?—feed on emotions. Best of the bunch: A powerful, reactionary soldier- turned-businessman arranges for aliens to remove the "useless" elements from society, with unforeseen consequences; a time- traveler hopes to moderate Pizarro's destruction of the Incas; and a misanthropic doctor, whose young daughter is dying of progeria (accelerated aging), discovers that a patient of his is 200 years old.

Wonderfully diverse themes, but Flynn belabors matters long after his point is made; his plodding prose style doesn't help, neither do the afterwords wherein he explains how smart he's been.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312855260
  • Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
  • Publication date: 3/28/1997
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.86 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Flynn
Michael Flynn

Michael Flynn lives in Easton, Pennsylvania.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 13
The Forest of Time 19
Great, Sweet Mother 71
On the High Frontier 85
The Common Goal of Nature 109
Grave Reservations 149
Mammy Morgan Played the Organ; Her Daddy Beat the Drum 171
Spark of Genius 217
On the Wings of a Butterfly 227
The Feeders 261
Melodies of the Heart 281
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2000

    Sci Fi without the guilt...

    Most science fiction that I have read involves using one's imagination, yes, but also a great deal of suspension of one's disbelief. Fantastical, other worldly stories can be very liberating as an escape, but it is refreshing to read a collection of tales that maintain a good bit of real-world credibility. The author does not abandon the humanity of the characters in any of his stories, which makes them very easy to relate to. The stories are smartly written and well-polished, with identifiable local references to the author's (and my) home region of eastern Pennsylvania that add to the book's charm.

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