A collection of four novellas from John Crowley, perhaps best known as the author of Little, Big. I admire Crowley’s writing, although, like Howard Waldrop’s, I often don’t follow everything that’s going on. In particular in this volume, I was lost in the time travel story, “Great Work of Time.” History was never one of my strong suits, so I guess I shouldn’t wonder why I’m not that attracted by alternate history. “In Blue” and “Novelty” were both reminiscent of stories that I had previously read in SF, but done with an artistic frame of mind.
For me it was “The Nightengale Sings at Night” that made this collection worthwhile. One of the hoariest cliches of SF is the Adam and Eve story, and although “Nightengale” has Adam and Eve in it, it is nowhere near the cliche. That’s because the starting point of this story is the creation–that same moment in Genesis–whereas the cliche ends at the creation. Crowley, although “explaining” an aspect of the creation myth here, is also being slightly satirical in his exploration of it. In all, it makes for a wonderful story.
[Finished 23 May 1993]