book cover of Synthesis and Other Virtual Realities

Synthesis and Other Virtual Realities

A collection of stories by

Publisher's Weekly
Deserts, oceans, Antarctic wastelandsthe locales in Rosenblum's first short-story collection and hardcover debut (after three paperback novels, most recently, The Stone Garden) tend to be extreme. Her characters, not surprisingly, live on the edge. Farmers struggle to survive in a drought-stricken future America. Sailors work to bring a captured iceberg to port. Virtual-reality artists throw everything into their work. Several of the nine stories are set in the arid universe of Rosenblum's widely praised first novel, Drylands. "Water Bringer," for instance, concerns a disabled child who can work small miracles but who finds his talent rejected by his embittered father until a stranger brings temporary hope to their parched farming community. Moving from the desert to the ocean, "Flood Tide" concerns a father and son who argue bitterly over the son's decision to leave Earth for Tau Ceti. Also noteworthy is "Synthesis," which involves a virtual-reality artist torn between his art and his loyalty to an aging, tyrannical father. Rosenblum writes about people caught up in painful conflicts, often intergenerational. Her characters usually achieve some form of reconciliationwith their parents, with their children or, at the very least, within themselves. Her prose is strong and her insights true; although more than one story here deals with virtual reality, the pleasures afforded by this collection are very real. Illustrations by Elizabeth L. Bourne.

BookList - Carl Hays
Rosenblum's early story "The Water Bringer" and tales subsequently published in such popular sf periodicals as "Asimov's Science Fiction" attracted a large fandom almost immediately. The reasons for that success are readily apparent in her first collection, which showcases her uncanny knack for grounding unusual premises in thoughtfully explored themes. "The Centaur Garden," for instance, describes the meeting between a latter-day Don Juan and a genetically engineered female centaur while it probes the credibly rendered intricacies of their relationship. "Second Chance" chillingly focuses on an astronaut-in-training whose discovery of a crystalline sphere reawakens her forgotten identity as an alien trapped in human form. "Synthesis" brilliantly recounts the story of an artist whose painstakingly crafted virtual-reality tableaus are threatened by a young computer hacker. Whether her medium is fantasy or cutting-edge sf, Rosenblum demonstrates a solid command of character development that makes her tales irresistibly compelling and distinguishes her as a major new voice in science fiction.

Kirkus Reviews
A first collection of nine tales, 199095, all originally published in Asimov's Science Fiction or its predecessor magazine, set against the common near-future backdrop of a hard-driven information society beset by a climatic change that has turned the western US into desert, water being gotten from icebergs towed up from the Antarctic. In the title piece, longest and probably best, a rigidly traditional Chinese industrial boss must be persuaded to accept a daughter as his natural heir, leaving his son to pursue his artistic vocation. Elsewhere, a crippled young boy produces illusions by teleprojection ("Water Bringer"); a young woman determined to escape the barrio chooses ethical pragmatism over the temptation of blackmail and manipulation ("Entrada"); a lonely gene-engineered female centaur meets a musician seeking inspiration ("The Centaur Garden"). "Second Chance" concerns an alien trapped in the Antarctic ice; there are fraternal struggles in Mexico, and father-son rivalries at sea in "Bordertown" and "Flood Tide," respectively; three young friends in the desert seek their destinies in "The Rain Stone"; and an amnesiac fears to remember the man he was in "Stairway."

Pleasingly crafted work from the author of the paperback The Stone Garden, etc., but with few sharp edges, showing little determination to press ahead into the unknown.

Genre: Science Fiction

Used availability for Mary Rosenblum's Synthesis and Other Virtual Realities

Hardback Editions

May 1996 : USA Hardback

Title: Synthesis & Other Virtual Realities
Author(s): Mary Rosenblum
ISBN: 0-87054-170-6 / 978-0-87054-170-4 (USA edition)
Publisher: Arkham House Pub
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