NOTABLE SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY OF 1997

Reviewed by Michael Berry

Neverwhere
By Neil Gaiman
Avon; 352 pages; $24

After he rescues a young girl found bleeding on the sidewalk, young businessman Richard Mayhew becomes inexplicably invisible to the "normal" world. He must eventually wander the sewer canals and abandoned subway stations that run beneath the London and commune with vampires and angels, a gigantic, blood-thirsty boar and men who speak with rats. "Neverwhere" displays the kind of wit, mythological invention and attention to the odd detail that will be familiar to anyone who has read Gaiman's groundbreaking comic series, "The Sandman."

How Like a God
By Brenda Clough
Tor; 287 pages; $22.95

When Rob Lewis, an ordinary husband and father, suddenly develops the ability to control the minds of others, he begins a slide into despair and madness. Building upon the myth of Gilgamesh, Clough explores what it might mean to be a superhero and the price one might pay for god-like powers.

Slippage
By Harlan Ellison
Houghton Mifflin; 304 pages; $22
Onne of our finest short story writers, regardless of genre, Ellison is a writer who demands, and deserves, close attention. By turns funny, angry, rueful and horrific, the 22 pieces collected in "Slippage" finds him in fine form.

The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass
By Stephen King
Donald M. Grant; 790 pages; $45

King continues the epic tale of Roland of Gilead, the haunted gunslinger who roams a desolate Western land. This time, the story flashes back to a pivotal episode in Roland's past, when he fell in love for the first time and nearly lost his soul to a ball of magic glass.

My Soul to Keep
By Tananarive Due
HarperCollins; 348 pages; $24

David and Jessica Jacobs-Wolde seem to have a perfect marriage. What Jessica doesn't realize, however, is that David is a four-hundred-year-old Ethiopian immortal and that he has sworn to kill anyone who discovers his secret. The author of "The Between," Due avoids the sophomore slump, producing a novel charged with taut suspense and strong emotion.

The Encyclopedia of Fantasy
Edited by John Clute and John Grant
St. Martin's; 1050 pages; $75

With more than 4,000 entries, this encyclopedia is perfect for browsing -- full of recommendations, idiosyncratic interpretations and stimulating asides. It's also a significant tool fror scholarship and will be a standard reference for a long time to come.

The Rise of Endymion
By Dan Simmons
Bantam Spectra; 480 pages; $23.95

Simmons brings his four-volume space epic to a rousing, affecting conclusion, revealing the fates of Aenea, the teeanged messiah, her lover Raul Endymion and their fearsome protector, the Shrike.

/ (Slant)
By Greg Bear

Tor; 349 pages; $24.95

Set in the same nanotech future as "Queen of Angels," Bear's latest depicts a "perfect" society beginning to unravel under the onslaught of a mysterious epidemic. Tense, fast-paced and plausible, / features complex characters and beautiful writing.

Freeware
By Rudy Rucker
Avon; 288 pages; $23 hardcover, $13 paperback

San Jose writer Rucker offers another darkly funny tour through a gonzo future in which humans and "moldies" -- artificial life forms made from plastic and algae -- must fight a common extraterrestrial adversary.

(c) 1997 by Michael Berry


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