Urbana, IL; Golden Gryphon Press; 2004. 1st edition hardcover. In 2002, when Jeff VanderMeer's first book-length short fiction collection, City of Saints and Madmen, made nearly every "year's best" sf/fantasy list, including those of Publishers Weekly and amazon.com, this merely confirmed what fans and critics alike had already known - that the future master of fantastical fiction had arrived. City of Saints and Madmen introduced readers to Ambergris - a brilliantly realized city of treachery, ritual, and decay, whose denizens include the mysterious "mushroom dwellers," where the juxtaposition of humor and horror forms a complex fantastical tapestry of the imagination. Now, with Secret Life, VanderMeer's second short fiction collection, readers can return to the world of Ambergris, where the author has set five of these stories, including "Corpse Mouth and Spore Nose," a new story written exclusively for this volume. But Jeff VanderMeer is a man of many worlds, as reflected in his travels and in his fiction: "Balzac's War," set in the same milieu as the author's first novel, Veniss Underground, is a harrowing, powerful far-future novella that pits brother against brother in a landscape ravaged by war with Earth's newly sentient human-made species. In thirteenth-century Cambodia, a lone artist is torn between his love of his craft and his unspoken love for a woman in "The Bone Carver's Tale." It's seventeenth-century Peru, and in "The Emperor's Reply" and "The Compass of His Bones," the last Incan Emperor, having brutally fallen at the hands of the Conquistadores, seeks his revenge. And this summer you can join us at "The Festival of the Freshwater Squid," in Sebring, Florida, to observe the annual mating rituals of the mayfly squid. Jeff VanderMeer, winner of the 2000 World Fantasy Award, has handpicked these twenty-three stories (three written exclusively for this collection), which reflect a diversity of approaches to key questions about the human condition: questions about mortality, love, obsession, and creativity. Secret Life represents the author's continuing effort to stretch the narrative boundaries of fiction while still entertaining the reader. Yet all of these stories are related thematically: transformation and what it means to be human - and the reader too will be transformed, into one of the faithful, a confirmed believer in the short fiction of Jeff VanderMeer. With personal notes by the author detailing each story's genesis, and an Introduction by Jeffrey Ford, New York Times Notable Author and winner of the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel for The Physiognomy. Cover art by Scott Eagle. Fine in fine dj. This copy SIGNED by the author.