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The Night Orchid: Conan Doyle In Toulouse

Author: Jean-Claude Dunyach
Genre: Sci-fi
Reviewed by Kevin R. Tipple

10090404In this collection of stories by Jean-Claude Dunyach, imagination full of hopeful wonder is the key. The 14 stories in this 279-page book, all science fiction, are driven by imagination powered by hopeful wonder. This is science fiction in its truest form where the possibilities are endless and the vision, or the visions in this case, of the future are not negative and involving the downfall of civilization. Instead, anything that can be dreamed is the limit and even those boundaries known to man are blown away by the concept of wonder and imagination allowed to flow free across time and space.

It simply isn't possible to cover every story in depth. I have chosen three, that for this reader, really made an impression on my mind. This is one of those books that means massively different things to different readers so your favorites would vary. And I suspect, years from now when I read this book again, my selections would change as well. That is the mark of truly great literature.

"Time, as it evaporates" (Page 91) opens with a city where time as if it were a lake, floats above. The level is slowly receding and compressing downward on the citizens of the town. The city has survived the rip in time until now, but the pool is diminishing and their days are numbered with no escape. Or is there?

"Watch Me When I Sleep" (Page 152) on its simplest level, is about a young boy who, while he slept, accidentally swallowed a fairy. This story was included in the "2002 Year's Best Fantasy and Horror" for good reasons.

"Footprints In The Snow" (Page 185) details a group that makes an annual pilgrimage high above the tundra line in the mountains. As their numbers slowly shrink every year, they keep faith with their purpose.

While those are just three examples of the work in this book, there is a stunning variation in subject matter, perspective, and vision of the future. Each story, written in the Jules Verne style by a modern author, shows incredible use of imagination and hope. These are not the downer cataclysmic end of the world type stories so often found today masquerading as science fiction. This is how science fiction used to be.

This book, courtesy of Black Coat Press, is another wonderful example of a publisher crossing continents to bring little known authors, at least in America, to a new audience. Owned and operated by Jean-Marc and Randy Lofficier, Black Coat Press books seem to always be quality novels worth reading over and over again. Whether the book is from the Doctor Omega series (sure to interest fans of Dr. Who), the Holmes vs. Lupine series, or this book, the stories are complex with interesting and varied characters. Additionally, the cover art and illustrations as well as the books themselves in terms of the printing process are always top notch.

This book in particular is a definite must read for science fiction fans hungry for a read where wonder and the imagination are still acceptable. Not everything has to be a doom and gloom future and it is nice once again to read a work that sees the positives.

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October 28, 2004 in Science Fiction | Permalink

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