MAP OF DREAMS by M. Rickert, cover art by Tom Canty. Urbana, IL; Golden Gryphon Press; 2006. 1st edition hardcover.
Fantasy has come to be associated with a literature of escapism but M. Rickert's collection, Map of Dreams, hearkens back to the root meaning of "fantasy," from the word "phantasia" or "a making visible." Myths exist here, not as old stories, but as ancient truths about the nature of being a modern human.
There are winged creatures in these stories, and there is odd magic as well, but these serve as elementals of emotion, making apparent the inner lives of humans. There is terror, and humor, too; love and sorrow, despair and recovery — all in a reality where dreams and nightmares do not fade away upon close inspection. Rickert's stories do not lull; they awaken.
In the title story, a near-40,000-word novella published here for the first time, Annie Merchant witnesses — experiences — her daughter’s murder by a sniper; a random murder. Annie then vows to relive that moment, and prevent her daughter’s death. She forsakes her marriage, her friends, her home, and invests body and soul into this endeavor. She studies every tome she can find at the library on physics and "curved space"; her quest eventually takes her to Australia where the everyday myths and dreams of the Aborigines become her new reality; she befriends people, from the present as well as the past, who aide her in her search for the past. But above all else, her love for her daughter gives her the strength of will to find and embrace redemption.
"Peace on Suburbia" is a different kind of Christmas story, about a different kind of Saviour; a world in which parents fear for their children's safety, and terrorism poses a threat to home and neighborhood. And in this same world — our world! — where our children go off to war, the story "Anyway" asks the questions: What if you could save the world? . . . Would you do it?
"Cold Fires," about love and obsession, which Locus magazine calls "virtuoso narrative artistry, two embedded tales conspiring to tell the story that frames them," was a finalist for the Speculative Literature Foundation’s Fountain Award, and named to Locus's 2004 "Best of the Best" list.
Map of Dreams — featuring seventeen tales plus four interstitial framing sections: Dreams, Nightmares, Waking, and Rising — is the highly anticipated first short fiction collection from M. Rickert, heralded as "the hot new writer of the year" by David Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer, editors of the Year’s Best anthology series. With an introduction by Christopher Barzak and an afterword by Gordon Van Gelder, editor and publisher of the prestigious The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
"The stories in this collection both sting and delight me. M. Rickert is a trailblazer in the unexplored dark corners of our lives, marking the way out ahead of us with fearlessness and humor and grace. Map of Dreams will be at my bedside for a long time to come."
— Charles Coleman Finlay, author of The Prodigal Troll.
" 'All life is death,' she says. 'From death, and sorrow, and compromise, you create. This is what it means, you finally realize, to be alive.' This may be Rickert's characteristic theme, and from it she's forged the most impressive debut collection I've seen this year."
— Gary K. Wolfe, Locus, October 2006.
"Don't miss this excellent collection of stories by M. Rickert (an exceptionally talented writer working at the literary end of the fantasy field), for it's likely to be an awards contender."
— Terri Windling, The Endicott Studio for Mythic Arts.
More praise for M. Rickert's short fiction:
"She is a poet of the extremes housed within the human heart, and adapts the fantastic to the pressing needs of the emotional present. . . . M. Rickert has mastered her own distinct creative territory, and has become a formidable writer.
— Nick Gevers, Locus, October 2006.
". . . her stories are enigmatic gems, sometimes sharp and disturbing, sometimes gentle and funny, and often a mix of quotidian details with tropes from traditional fantasy and myth (or, occasionally, science fiction). In her stories, dream logic creates understructures of metaphor . . . subtexts and echoes play off the other elements of the story to create a rich imaginative landscape."
— Matthew Cheney, The Mumpsimus, 2005 Hugo Award finalist for best Internet web site.
Winner of the William L. Crawford Fantasy Award, presented by the International Association on the Fantastic in the Arts (IAFA), for the Best First Book by a New Fantasy Writer.
Fine in fine dj.