More than 10,000 books and stories rated and reviewed! - About this site

Home A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z Pen names
reviews of books and stories by author's name
SF&F Timeline 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000-Now Best!
retrospective look at sf&f year-by-year
The Ultimate Guide to New SF&F Writers (from 1990 till now)

Michael Swanwick

(art copyright: Grant Morrison)


"Ancient Engines"
© IASFM, Sep 1999
Tales Of Old Earth, 2000
--short story : 2000 Hugo
--short story : 2000 Nebula
--short story : 2000 Locus /2
--short story : 2000 Asimov's Reader Poll W

--/ fourth place sf story
--/ style award
--/ idea award
--/ wonder award

"Anyone Here From Utah?"
© IASFM, May 1985
--/ cool sf story

"Archaic Planets:
Nine Excerpts from the Encyclopedia Galactica"

© IASFM, Dec 1998
--short story : 1999 Asimov's Reader Poll /3 (tie)
--/ cool sf story
--/ humour award

"The Blind Minotaur"
© Amazing Stories, Mar 1985
Gravity's Angels, 1991
--short story : 1986 Locus/21 (tie)
--/ cool f story
--/ emotion award

"Covenant Of Souls"
© OMNI, Dec 1986
Gravity's Angels, 1991
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award

"Coyote At The End Of History"
© IASFM, Oct 2003
--short story : 2003 Asimov's Reader Poll W

"The Dog Said Bow-Wow"
© IASFM, Oct 2001
--short story : 2002 Hugo W
--shortlist : 2002 Sturgeon
--short story : 2002 Locus /2
--short story : 2002 Asimov's Reader Poll /4
--short story : 2003 Nebula

--/ third place sf story
--/ style award
--/ idea award
--/ wonder award
--/ humour award

(with William Gibson)
© OMNI, Jul 1985
Burning Chrome, 1986
--novelette : 1986 Hugo
--novelette : 1986 Nebula
--novelette : 1986 Locus /5
--novelette : 1986 SF Chronicle /2

--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ style award

"The Dragon Line"
© Terry's Universe, ed. B. Meacham, 1988
also in - IASFM, Jan 1990
Gravity's Angels, 1991
--novelette : 1989 Locus /11
--short story : 1990 Asimov's Reader Poll /7

--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award

"The Edge of the World"
© Full Spectrum # 2, 1989
Gravity's Angels, 1991
A Geography of Unknown Lands, 1997
--short story : 1990 Hugo
--short fiction : 1990 World Fantasy
--winner : 1990 Sturgeon W
--short story : 1990 Locus /4

--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ style award
--/ idea award

"The Feast of St. Janis"
© New Dimensions # 11, 1980
Gravity's Angels, 1991
--novelette : 1981 Nebula
--novelette : 1981 Locus /11

"Five British Dinosaurs"
© Interzone, Mar 2002
--short fiction : 2003 British SF
--/ fourth place f story
--/ wonder award
--/ humour award

© Interzone, Sum 1988
Gravity's Angels, 1991
--/ cool sf story

© Triquarterly # 49, 1980
Gravity's Angels, 1991
--novelette : 1981 Nebula
--novelette : 1981 Locus /19

--/ third place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ style award

"Gods Of Mars"
(with Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois)
© OMNI, Mar 1985
Gardner Dozois, Slow Dancing Through Time, 1990
--short story : 1986 Nebula
--short story : 1986 Locus /9

--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award

"Gravity's Angels" (coll)
© Arkham House, 1991
--collection : 1992 Locus /4
--/ third place sf collection
--/ wonder award
--/ style award

"Griffin's Egg" (nv)
© IASFM, May 1992
novel: Legend, 1991
--/ third place space sf novella
--/ third place apocalyptic sf novella
--novella : 1992 Hugo
--novella : 1992 Locus /3
--novella : 1992 SF Chronicle /3
--novella : 1993 Nebula
--novella : 1993 Asimov's Reader Poll /5

--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ emotion award
--/ style award
--/ shock value

"In The Tradition" (nf)
© IASFM, Nov 1994
The Postmodern Archipelago and Moon Dogs, 2000

"Jack Faust" (nv)
© 1997, Avon Books
--novel : 1998 Hugo
--fantasy novel : 1998 Locus /2
--novel : 1998 British SF
--long form : 1998 Sidewise

--/ cool sf novel
--/ style award

"King Dragon"
(Iron Dragon's Daughter series)
© The Dragon Quintet, ed. M. Kaye, 2003
--novelette : 2004 Locus /13
--/ cool f story
--/ wonder award

"The Man Who Met Picasso"
© OMNI, Sep 1982
Gravity's Angels, 1991
--short fiction : 1983 World Fantasy
--short story : 1983 Locus /10

--/ third place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ style award
--/ emotion award


"Midnight Express"
© Sirens, ed. E. Datlow, 1998
Tales of Old Earth, 2000
--/ cool f story

"..The bleakly comic dialogue of "Midnight Express" occurs between two rail passengers in Faerie, one of whom is the certain corrupter and nemesis of the other"(Interzone) I found it too rowdy.
review: 16-Jul-06 (read in 2006)


"A Midwinter's Tale"
© IASFM, Dec 1988
Gravity's Angels, 1991
--short story : 1989 Locus /6
--short story : 1989 Asimov's W

--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award

"Moon Dogs"
© IASFM, Mar 2000
Moon Dogs, 2001
--short story : 2001 Hugo
--short story : 2001 Locus /2
--short story : 2001 Asimov's Reader Poll /6
--short story : 2001 HOMer

--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award

"Mortal Engines"
© IASFM, Dec 2003
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ style award
--/ idea award
--/ wonder award

"Mummer Kiss"
(In The Drift series)
© Universe # 11, 1981
Gravity's Angels, 1991
In The Drift, 1985
--novelette : 1982 Nebula
--novelette : 1982 Locus /13
--novelette : 1982 SF Chronicle W

--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award

"The Periodic Table Of Science Fiction"
© 2003, Sci-Fiction
--/ cool sf series
--/ humour award
--/ style award

"Picasso De-constructed:
Eleven Still-Lifes"
© IASFM, May 1993
Cigar-Box Faust, 2001
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ style award

"Radiant Doors"
© IASFM, Sep 1998
Tales Of Old Earth, 2000
--short story : 1999 Hugo
--shortlist : 1999 Sturgeon
--short story : 1999 Locus /2
--short story : 1999 Asimov's Reader Poll W
--short story : 2000 Nebula

--/ third place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ style award
--/ emotion award

"Scherzo With Tyrannosaur"
© IASFM, Jul 1999
Tales Of Old Earth, 2000
--short story : 2000 Hugo W
--short story : 2000 Locus /3
--short story : 2000 Asimov's Reader Poll /4
--short story : 2001 Nebula

--/ fourth place sf story
--/ style award
--/ idea award
--/ wonder award

"Slow Life"
© Analog, Dec 2002
--novelette : 2003 Hugo W
--novelette : 2003 Locus /4
--novelette : 2003 AnLab /5

--/ second place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ style award
--/ emotion award
--/ adventure award

"Snow Angels"
© OMNI, Mar 1989
Gravity's Angels, 1991
--novelette : 1990 Locus /28
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ style award
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award

"Till Human Voices Wake Us"
© 1981, Proteus, ed.R.McInroe
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award

"The Transmigration of Philip K"
© IASFM, Feb 1985
Gravity's Angels, 1991
--short story : 1986 Locus /16
--/ cool sf story
--/ style award

"Troyan Horse"
© OMNI, Feb 1984
Gravity's Angels, 1991
--novelette : 1985 Nebula
--novelette : 1985 Locus /13

--/ cool sf story


Michael Swanwick
"Vacuum Flowers" (nv)

© 1986, IASFM, Dec-Mar
Ace Books, 1987
--novel : 1988 Locus/7
--/ third place sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ awesome scale
--/ style award

There’s a lot of ways you could label Vacuum Flowers by Michael Swanwick: cyberpunk, post-cyberpunk, pre-transhuman, post-posthuman … and all those other silly labels pretentious science fiction reviewers and nit-picking analysts have been sticking on various books since the genre began to be taken -- or took itself -- too seriously.

But I have a better label for it. One I think says a lot more about this delightful book than any pre- or post- definition anyone could give it.

Sure, Vacuum Flowers does neatly fit into the cyberpunky domain (pre- or post- or whatever): set in an accessible where earth has been overrun by The Comprise, a voracious digital hive-mind, and the remaining free-will humans has escaped out into the solar system. The protagonist, Rebel Elizabeth Mudlark, begins the story like all good protagonists, as the subject of shadowy forces out to get something she possesses – and, naturally, what she isn’t exactly what she possesses.

But what makes Swanwick’s novel so wonderfully unique is that Rebel isn’t really Rebel. Originally a restless personality tester, someone who tries on artificial identities, she did the unthinkable and found a perfect one for her – Rebel’s – and stole it. See, in the post/pre (whatever) world of Vacuum Flowers personalities, memories, abilities, are as changeable as putting on, or taking off, make-up. In fact, Swanwick is credited by many as being one of the first creators of wetware, the idea of ‘painting on’ software to do just that.

And a lot of painting goes in Vacuum Flowers, but to Swanwick’s credit he takes this esoteric and possibly-confusing concept and makes it deceptively easy to understand, the book completely readable and totally enjoyable.

Just like the best of Alfred Bester, Swanwick is also deliciously and dazzling inventive, each page sparkling with memorable details and dazzling inventiveness: a blindly-focused quasi-communistic society dedicated to terraforming Mars, a renegade ‘mob boss’ who entertains himself by twisting the minds of his prisoner/guests, a multiple-personality ‘hero’ who has just the right mind for pretty much any job … Swanwick coolly and seductively brings the reader into Rebel’s kaleidoscopically fantastic, yet completely real-feeling world.

Yep, there are a lot of labels that could be tossed at Michael Swanwick’s Vacuum Flowers: post-this, post-that, transhuman, posthuman, cyberpunk ... whatever. The best label, though, and one that fits the novel so very well is one that every writer wants to get: A Really Good Book.
Review by author M. Christian


"The Very Pulse of the Machine"
© IASFM, Feb 1998
--short story : 1999 Hugo W
--short story : 1999 Locus /11
--short story : 1999 Asimov's Reader Poll /3 (tie)

--/ third place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ adventure award
--/ style award

"Walden Three"
© New Dimensions # 12, 1981
--novelette : 1982 Locus /21

"Walking Out"
© IASFM, Feb 1995
Tales Of Old Earth, 2000
--short story : 1996 Hugo
--short story : 1996 Locus /6
--short story : 1996 Asimov's Reader Poll /6

--/ fourth place sf story
--/ style award
--/ wonder award
--/ emotion award

"The Wisdom Of Old Earth"
© IASFM, Dec 1997
Tales Of Old Earth, 2000
--short story : 1998 Locus /6
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ shock value


Click to go to "Dark Roasted Blend" site



Post a Comment

<< Home


Collecting Pulp Magazines

Ephemera Interview with Avi Abrams

Enchanting Victorian Fairy Tale Art

"Then world behind and home ahead..."

Exceptional British Scifi Artwork from the 1950s

Space Pulp Art by Ron Turner and other British artists

Pulp Pleasures: Eando Binder

Great space adventure fiction from the 1930s
"Where Eternity Ends" and other rare gems

Epic Fantasy: the Start of the Journey

Part 2 of our "Best Classic Fantasy" series
incl. works by Henry Kuttner, Tolkien, etc.

Strange Shadows: Best Classic Fantasy

Fantasy "glitches in the matrix",
...lovely baroque magical lands, and more

Classic Cyberpunk SF Novels: Reviews

Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, K. W. Jeter, et al
(awesome must-reads)

10 Possible Sources of "Avatar" in Classic Science Fiction

Going beyond the obvious "Dances with Smurfs"...
(many stories worth reading)

"Steampunk" Anthology: Full Review

some truly crazed stories in there...
(plus artwork by John Coulthart)

"Dune", Plus Often-Neglected
Other Novels by Frank Herbert

"Dune", plus some overlooked gems:
"The Santaroga Barrier" and "The Green Brain"

Universe at Play:
Two Must-Read Novels of the Fantastic

"The Yiddish Policemen's Union" by Michael Chabon...
and David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas"

Two of the Most Entertaining SF Novels from the 1980s

"Vacuum Flowers" by Michael Swanwick...
and Tim Power's "The Anubis Gates", of course!

"The Body Snatchers" and Other Alien Pods

Fiction by Jack Finney, Vance, Simak and Bloch
mind impostors and emotion imitators

Exploring the Noir and the Grotesque

Jack O'Connell "The Resurrectionist"
and other newest examples of the bizarre

Overpopulation, Sex and Sensibility

Robert Silverberg's "The World Inside"
and other classic sf blasts

H. P. Lovecraft "At the Mountains of Madness"

and other masterpieces of terror
including original illustrations

"Constellations", edited by Peter Crowther

original anthology, 2005
full review: mind-bending stories

The Ultimate Guide to New Writers of SF&F

more than 2,000 writers, 1990-2009
Ratings, awards, web links

The Surreal Office

"The Situation", "The Cookie Monster"
Weird fiction by Jeff VanderMeer and Vernor Vinge

Mind-shattering Novels of Philip K. Dick

"UBIK", "Now Wait for Last Year", etc.

Theodore Sturgeon's "More Than Human"

There’s a problem with this new gestalt being: needs a conscience.

Jack Williamson's "Legion of Space" Series

Classic Space Opera
The ultimate weapon, controlled by a gorgeous woman

Astounding Stories, August 1934

Jack Williamson, Nat Schachner, "Doc" Smith
Epic space opera gems and horror surprises

Rare Pulp SF&F, Issue 3

Leigh Brackett, Fritz Leiber, Vic Phillips
Rediscovered gems of wonder & adventure

William Gibson's Novels

"Pattern Recognition", "Neuromancer"
A Fractured Delight...

Alfred Bester "The Computer Connection"

"Bester was the mountain, all the rest of us..."
Pyrokinetic writing in one neat package

Two Novels by Samuel R. Delany

"Nova" and "Babel-17"
New Wave Milestones, and then some.

Theodore Sturgeon's "The Cosmic Rape"

(and more reviews of his fiction)
Classic SF at its best and most humane

Travel Distant Worlds!

Vintage Space Travel Posters, and more.
Part 3 of Pulp Sf art series...

Alastair Reynolds' Epic Novels

"Chasm City" and "Revelation Space"
And it's only the beginning...

Rare Fantasy Gems by C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner

Hidden Gems of Pulp Fiction
When two star writers become husband and wife

Grand Old Times... in the Future

Overview of Pulp Art
A Loudly Lurid Universe of Sci-Fi Illustration

Exclusive: Interview with Nancy Kress

From High Fantasy to Hard Science Fiction
A Spectrum of Wonder

Jack Vance

"To Live Forever"
and other Vance extravaganzas

Alastair Reynolds

"Pushing Ice"
Cosmological "noir" chase across space

Charles Stross

"Missile Gap"
Mind-bending Cold War world-building

Hidden Gems of Pulp SF, Part 2

Rare stories from the "Age of Wonder"
incl. David Keller, Horace Gold etc.

Ultra-Rare Serials from "Fantasy Magazine"

"Cosmos" + "Challenge From Beyond"
incredible line-up of writers

Hidden Gems of Pulp SF, Part 1

Neat & Rare Stories
incl. the mad rally story "The Racer"

Astounding Stories, June 1935

Full Issue Review
incl. Gallun, Schachner, Campbell

Astounding Stories, May 1941

Full Issue Review
incl. Heinlein, Asimov, Eric Frank Russell

Horace Gold; P. Schuyler Miller

"Apocalyptic Blockbusters"
"Inflexure" and "Spawn": guilty pleasure

Interview with John C. Wright

Plus his advice to new writers
Adventures in Space & Magic

Frank Belknap Long

"The Horror from the Hills"
Great Lovecraftian Weird Novella

Interview with Jeff VanderMeer

Plus his Recommended Reading List
A Triumph of the Bizarre

Alastair Reynolds, Part 2

More "Galactic North" Stories
A Mixture of Hard Sf, James Bond & Jaws...

Alastair Reynolds Review

"Galactic North"
staring down infinity...

Most Shocking Article

"Holey Fools" by M. Christian
Warning: Gross Subject Matter

Alfred Bester Review

"The Stars My Destination"
"...nail it to the Retro Hugo voting board..."

Larry Niven Review

"Neutron Star"
"better get GP alien ship hull"

Poul Anderson Review

"Ensign Flandry"
"or how to start a sub-genre..."

Thomas M. Disch Review

"The Squirrel Cage"
"...seriously mind-bending stuff..."

Henry Kuttner Review

"Mimsy Were the Borogoves" (The Last Mimzy)
"...great storyline for a pretty average movie..."

Robert A. Heinlein Review

"The Moon is the Harsh Mistress"
" caused a tooth ache, and put my brain on freeze..."

Frank Herbert Review

"Destination: Void"
"...a layered cake of ideas and a scientific extrapolation on a genius level..."

Harlan Ellison Review

"The Abnormals"
"...editors slapped the most outrageous titles on his stories..."

James White Review

"All Judgement Fled"
"...the tension is palpable, soon to grow almost unbearable..."

Grand Adventure Strikes Again

Space Opera Article, by Avi Abrams
Based on Arthur Clarke's "Against the Fall of Night"

William Gibson Review

"Burning Chrome"
"...sheer pyrotechnics and exuberance of style..."

Ace Double: Murray Leinster

"The Pirates of Ersatz /The Mutant Weapon"
"...the characters might as well be cats or hamsters..."

Astounding Stories, May 1935

Pulp SF Magazine Review
with many original illustrations

Also read recent posts:
Author's Pen Names - Most Complete List Ever
The Wonder Timeline: SF&F Restrospective
Space Adventure Article



"SF&F Reading Experience" is part of "Dark Roasted Blend / Thrilling Wonder" family of sites. We try to highlight the most entertaining and rewarding science fiction and fantasy, with emphasis on memorable reader experience, not necessarily general acceptance by the critics. Have fun, and delve into our extensive ratings and reviews!

Most reviews are written by Avi Abrams, unless otherwise noted. Reviews also appear on our unique historical retrospective page Wonder Timeline of Science Fiction. Feel free to submit your own review, if a particular story is not listed here.

All major OFFICIAL AWARDS are highlighted in BLUE
("winner" has a letter "W" by it, otherwise it is a runner-up only)

Our PERSONAL AWARDS (ratings) are highlighted in RED and PURPLE:
--/ first place :
--/ second place :
--/ third place :

--/ fourth place :

--/ cool : (equal to fifth place)

These awards are given in the following categories:
- novel :
- series :
- novella :
- story :
- collection :

Also, there are our personal STYLE / GENRE SPECIFIC AWARDS. These reflect the story's content and the lasting impression on the reader:

--/ wonder award
sense-of-wonder, "visual intensity" and inventiveness

--/ idea award
originality of idea / concept

--/ adventure award
exhilarating plot, excitement / action

--/ style award
outstanding literary qualities, inimitable style

--/ romance award
intense and beautiful love / relationships

--/ humour award
funny and cool

--/ emotion award
touching, lasting impression, sensitivity

--/ shock value
altogether wild

--/ awesome scale
mind-boggling; further enhances sense-of-wonder

--/ rare find
very hard to locate, mostly from old pulps, never reprinted, etc.

Again, please feel free to leave your own review or comment under every writer's entry; also recommend us other stories you liked.