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Polyphony 6 by Deborah Layne & Jay Lake (Eds.)
Review by Colleen Cahill
Wheatland Press Book  ISBN/ITEM#: 0975590340
Date: Nov 10, 2006 / Show Official Info /

As with its companion volumes, Polyphony 6 contains stories that are full of the unexpected. Kristine Kathryn Rusch's "Dark Corners" brings us a tale of resistance to the Germans occupying Paris in 1943 by one of the faerie, but one with sadly diminished powers. This is a fantasy, as are others in this book, such as "Wanders", Nina Kiriki Hoffman's short-short of what bones do when we are asleep, or Robert Freeman Wexler's interesting title, "The Adventures of Philip Schuyler and the Dapper Marionette in the City of the Limbless Octopi", a work with a strong Lovecraftian feel. In contrast is the warmer "Winter in Aso", where Paul M. Berger describes the reaction of a modern day Japanese girl to the wonders of shape shifting.

Other stories in this collection are definitely science fiction: M.K. Hobson's humorous "God Juice" follows a woman and her ex-husband on a far-off world as they try to find the artifact that could give them godlike powers, while "The Uncanny Valley" by Nick Mamatas gives us a future where a collective consciousness has solves all the world's problems, until their subconsciouses begin to assert themselves. Just about every genre is represented in this book: Mikal Trimm's "The Last Drinkin' Man's Blues" is a ghost story that is tenderly wrapped around a song and Esther Friesner brings us a tale of second chance at love when "An Autumn Butterfly" is found in New York City.

Many of these stories can only be described as interestingly weird. David J. Schwartz's "Manifest Destiny" is a droll tale of a young man who speaks to dead presidents on the phone. A fascinating pocket of alternative space brings back together two former lovers and puts that love to the test in Tim Pratt's "The Crawlspace of the World". Bruce Holland Rogers explores the power of names in the laughable "Missy Victoria" and Darin C. Bradley describes a world were religion and health care meet, made all the more fascinating by "The Heresy Box" being told chronologically in reserve.

Although it is tough to do in this collection of so many good works, I do have my favorites. I was fascinated by Josh Rountree's tale of a giant on-the-run who spawns the legend of Paul Bunyan and enthralled with "The Library of Pi" by Ray Vukcevich, where a woman has discovered how to unlock the secrets of pi, which holds all possible answers to any question.

Once again Layne and Lake have brought together a truly stunning collection of avant-garde writing and it is not surprising that all the Polyphony books have received acclaim from both reviewers and authors. With 26 stories in the collection (of which I only describe a few), you also get great quantity as well as great quality. These are stories are more than an entertaining read, they have teeth and will stay with you long after you have finished the book. I strongly urge you to read all the series and Polyphony 6 is not a bad place to start.

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