SFWRITER.COM > Nonfiction > Book Reviews > Distant Signals
Reviewed by Robert J. Sawyer
Toronto writer Andrew Weiner dons two hats with equal confidence. One's the crisp fedora of Bay Street (he's a renowned business journalist, best known perhaps for his The Financial Post Moneywise Magazine Dictionary of Personal Finance, Random House, 1987). The other is a space helmet: his science fiction writings are among the most literate and thoughtful in the field (his critically acclaimed novel Station Gehenna was published in Canada by Congdon & Weed in 1987).
Now small-press publisher Tesseract Books has gathered a dozen of Weiner's more than 30 short stories into Distant Signals, a long-overdue collection. Ten of the pieces are reprints from such genre staples as Amazing Stories, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine; the remaining two are originals.
Weiner sometimes writes about future business trends. Of the stories gathered here, "Waves," about a long economic lull, and "Fake Out," dealing with knock-off copies of brand names, are the two best of that type (indeed, "Waves" may be Weiner's masterpiece). He also writes with a sly, ironic humor: the title story "Distant Signals," about a strange investor looking to revive a long-forgotten 1950s TV Western, and "The Man Who Was Lucky," about a fellow whose persistent good fortune brings him to the attention of alien gamblers, are particularly witty. And lastly, Weiner, who holds a master's degree in psychology, plays with the softer sciences often ignored in SF, in stories such as "Going Native," about an alien in group therapy, and "Rider," a voyage by one person into the mind of another.
The book suffers from the lack of introductions, either to the collection as a whole or to the individual stories, and Tesseract Books should be ashamed to have used what appears to be a laser printer instead of traditional typesetting equipment to prepare the camera-ready copy. But the raison d'etre for a collection such as this is to spotlight the talents of a worthy author, and it's hard to imagine an author more worthy than Weiner. Highly recommended, both as a pleasurable read and as a teaching collection.
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