LIVE FROM PLANET EARTH! by George Alec Effinger. Urbana, Il; Golden Grypgon Press; 2005. 1st edition hardcover.
"Curse whatever gods you believe in for taking George Alec Effinger from us far too soon. And curse them if you will for making him suffer for most of his life in pain far more severe than you want to even imagine. He deserved better, much better, as he was without doubt one of the most brilliant writers that ever graced our presence."
— Cat Eldridge, The Green Man Review, April 18, 2004
"Beyond whimsy in the service of brutal insight, Effinger was a technical whiz, perhaps the Kornbluth of late 20th-century SF."
— Damien Broderick, Locus Magazine, April 2005
George Alec Effinger Live! From Planet Earth, the author's second book from Golden Gryphon Press, contains a hearty selection of Effinger's critically acclaimed short fiction. This collection features twenty-two tales handpicked by those who knew him best — among others, fellow writers and editors Neil Gaiman, Mike Resnick, Michael Bishop, Barbara Hambly, and Howard Waldrop. Then, as a tribute to Effinger, who passed away in April 2002, these friends each contribute commentary about their favorite story, offering insights into its writing, as well as personal anecdotes about the author himself.
The collection opens with one of Effinger's most popular stories, "The Aliens Who Knew, I Mean, Everything," a finalist for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. In this droll tale, benevolent aliens visit Earth and share their knowledge and technology with all humanity. There's only one problem: these aliens also voice unyielding, and highly annoying, opinions about everything!
A truly complex alternate history story, "Everything But Honor" — also a Hugo Award finalist — tells of Dr. Thomas Placide, a Black physicist in 1938 Germany, who travels back in time to alter the outcome of America's War Between the States, with dire consequences.
Written in the late 1970s, "One" had to wait for publication until, astutely, editor Greg Bear bought it for his anthology, New Legends, in 1995. Later, Orson Scott Card featured it in Masterpieces: The Best Science Fiction of the Century (2001). Now you may read "One" in only its third appearance since Effinger wrote it, and decide for yourself the merits of a tale pointedly at odds with one of the sf field's most cherished suppositions: that we are not alone.
Also included in this volume are all eight previously uncollected pieces (seven stories and a poem) that George Alec Effinger wrote under the pseudonym "O. Niemand." (In German, "Niemand" means "nobody" or "no one.") These stories showcase Effinger's mastery of voice and content, for he mimics with authority and apparent ease the styles of such literary icons as Hemingway, Steinbeck, Twain, and others. Writes Gardner Dozois, former editor of Asimov's Science Fiction, in his introduction: ". . . in their own way, the 'O. Niemand' stories are small marvels. Perhaps it takes another writer to appreciate the amount of skill that went into them, and be awed by it. . . . they are unlike anything ever done in science fiction before, and you will never see their like again." These stories are not parodies or caricatures, but "a sympathetic homage" (to use Dozois's words) to each of their respective authors. If John Steinbeck had written a story about a loner in a domed city on an asteroid in deep space, then "The Man Outside" would be that story.
From the quirky "Solo in Spotlight" (how the president makes decisions aboard Air Force One) to the sardonic "My Old Man" (a man's encounter with a sentient chess game elicits memories of his abusive father) to the intense "Housebound" (a woman strives to overcome agoraphobia), this collection demonstrates why George Alec Effinger remains one of the most popular science fiction writers of his time.
With contributions by Neal Barrett Jr., Michael Bishop, Jack Dann, Bradley Denton, Gardner Dozois, Neil Gaiman, Richard Gilliam, Barbara Hambly, Lawrence Person, Mike Resnick, Pamela Sargent, Howard Waldrop, and George Zebrowski.
Cover art by John Picacio.
Fine in fine dj.