THE EMPIRE OF IICE CREAM by Jeffrey Ford. Urbana, IL; Golden Gryphon Press; 2006. 1st edition hardcover.
In 2002, author Jeffrey Ford published his first short fiction collection, The Fantasy Writer's Assistant and Other Stories, to wide, critical acclaim. The collection received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, and was later selected for PW's "Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2002" List. The Fantasy Writer's Assistant then went on to win the World Fantasy Award for Best Single-Author Collection of the Year.
Now Golden Gryphon Press releases Ford's second, long-awaited short fiction collection, The Empire of Ice Cream. As noted fantasist Jonathan Carroll writes in his Introduction to the book: "Ford sees wonder everywhere and embraces it fully. A generous writer, he is willing to share it with us. The precision and clarity with which he gives us his vision is really the next best thing to being there."
In the title story, winner of the prestigious Nebula Award (and a finalist for the Hugo Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award), a young musician perceives another sensory world of sights and sounds and smells while consuming cup after cup of coffee.
A faerie Twilmish chronicles his brief yet adventurous life in a sand castle, during those few hours between the outgoing and incoming tide, in "The Annals of Eelin-Ok." Through a complex formula we can calculate "The Weight of Words," and thus determine their subliminal, and surreptitious, affect on the reader. In "A Night in the Tropics," we learn of a possibly demonic chess set, originally crafted in 1533 by Italian goldsmith Dario Foresso, in a New Jersey bar called The Tropics. And in "Boatman's Holiday," Charon, the boatman of Hell, takes a hiatus from his horrific day job to embark on a rather memorable vacation.
Also included is a new, previously unpublished novella (nearly 40,000 words), entitled "Botch Town," in which a young boy from Long Island comes of age in a town peopled by family and neighbors, each trying to live a life, amidst both a real and a perceived menace. Jeffery Ford can take the mundane, the everyday, and, with the skill of an adept, mold these into brilliantly realized visions, wondrous yet elusive.
Ford also contributes mini Afterwords detailing each story's genesis — some of these author's notes becoming stories unto themselves.
"The Empire of Ice Cream" — winner of the 2003 Nebula Award (and a finalist for the Hugo Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award) for Best Novelette of the year!
"The Annals of Eelin-Ok" — winner of the Speculative Literature Foundation's 2005 Fountain Award for "exceptional literary quality."
Cover art by John Picacio.
Fine in fine dj.