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Space is Just a Starry Night by Tanith Lee
Cover Artist: Fornax Galaxy Cluster: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA
CabeusbCrater: NASA / GSFC / Arizona State University
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Aqueduct Press Trade Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781619760318
Date: 01 July 2013

Links: Author's Wikipedia Entry / Show Official Info /

Space is the final frontier, and I do mean final. This collection of 14 stories by Tanith Lee brings death in many ways, mostly in space, in the future, or on a faraway planet. Most of the stories are reprints, but there are two originals.

"The Beautiful Biting Machine" tells of a special place where people can come and achieve the ultimate satisfaction. The machine needs a special caretaker. Beldek is perfect for the job, as long as he can keep his background secret.

"Moon Wolf" is just that. Bayley is stationed on the moon. She thinks she sees something on the surface of the moon, but it seems impossible. Only when she comes to realize the truth, does she set herself free.

"Felexity" is not attractive. She is the opposite of her mother. But one man can look past her ugliness to see the beauty of her bank account. Will she come out of her cocoon?

"The Thaw" is a tale of the resurrection of those held in cryogenic stasis. Unfortunately, those that come back are not what they seem. The future of humanity changes as they awake.

"You are my Sunshine" is set on a space liner. An ugly duckling is exposed to the sun and begins to shine. Unfortunately sometimes a light can shine too brightly as one crew member finds.

"With a Flaming Sword" is a tale of beginnings. An alien whose species is dying finds a planet where he is able to start anew and give his species a chance to survive.

"Black Fired" relates a strange series of events. An alien comes to Earth to seduce the inhabitants. The seductions will change many lives. The events are told through a series of personal accounts.

"Written in Water" tells of a survivor of a plague. The last woman on Earth is alone until a stranger comes to her from the heavens. But the stranger is not what he seems.

"Tonight I Can Sleep Quietly" is a tale of love found and lost. Even across the galaxy kindred spirits know each other. But finding a former love is not the end, but only the beginning.

"Stalking the Leopard" is the tale of the hunt. When Avly sees someone different, she decides she needs to know more about him. She tracks him around the city, who she finds is wholly unexpected.

"Dead Yellow" is a story about a different kind of ending. The ending of something basic brings a change that affects the whole world.

"By Crystal Light Beneath One Star" is set in another realm. In this realm time means very little. Calle is trapped, but he has a message he must get out.

"A Day in the Skin" is a story of a simple day on another world. Trapped on a hostile world the crew has a limited number of bodies to share.

"Within a Ghost" tells of the aftermath of a deadly meteor storm. The world is definitely more than expected and the survivors have choices to make.

I was ready for some space tales and got something completely different. This morose montage threw me for a loop. I joked with my wife that it was a good thing I wasn't depressed when I read this collection. There was death everywhere, sure it wasn't always the main character, but it seemed like there was a major death in the fore or background. That being said, Tanith Lee knows how to spin a good tale. None of the stories are especially long making this a good read for evenings or commutes.

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