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Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood

By Margaret Atwood

A suite of hugely innovative brief items that talk to our occasions with lethal accuracy. classic Atwood creativity, intelligence, and humor: imagine "Alias Grace."

Margaret Atwood turns to brief fiction for the 1st time because her 2006 assortment, "Moral Disorder," with 9 stories of acute mental perception and turbulent relationships bringing to brain her award-winning 1996 novel, "Alias Grace." A lately widowed delusion author is guided via a stormy iciness night by way of the voice of her overdue husband in "Alphinland," the 1st of 3 loosely associated tales concerning the romantic geometries of a gaggle of writers and artists. In "The Freeze-Dried Bridegroom," a guy who bids on an auctioned space for storing has a shock. In "Lusus Naturae," a girl born with a genetic abnormality is improper for a vampire. In "Torching the Dusties," an aged woman with Charles Bonnet syndrome involves phrases with the little humans she retains seeing, whereas a newly shaped populist staff gathers to burn down her retirement place of abode. And in "Stone Mattress," a long-ago crime is avenged within the Arctic through a 1.9 billion-year-old stromatolite. In those 9 stories, Margaret Atwood is on the most sensible of her darkly funny and heavily playful game."

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Example text

Ground undulations were few. There were not signs of permafrost beneath. After a time a fox could be made out trekking southward some way off. Some larger tracks, not hooved, showed by the edge of a bog pool. If one wandered far from the vehicles and men, the silence was broken only by the thin sound of the wind where it combed a grass mound, the zizz and skrittle of insects, the distant yipe of fox or other hunting animal, and the secretive giggle of seeping water. Here and there on the north side of a mound or clump traces of rime showed, and a few of the pool edges were lightly frozen.

Also the trees are bigger. The two professors with German names step outside and sniff the air. It is even better than Earth's. They take a stroll. 10 Whereupon something appears. It is a crowd of Jovians and - bless my soul! - they prove to have a silicon-based metabolism. So one of the professors wins his argument. They shake hands and marry the housekeeper, whose carbon-based metabolism has always had a certain appeal. Doubtless some of my more cynical readers will find this story a little naive, comical even.

There is no mistaking 'The Sack' for anything but an sf story; yet we can see that it is also a fairy story, with all the traditional virtues of that genre: a grain of unpalatable wisdom incorporated within the fantastic, the medicine within the spoonful of jam. The wisdom cornes in the form of a fairly standard, but continually necessary, precept concerning the rightful use of knowledge and power. 'The Sack' was first published in the USA in 1950, one of those awful years that have trudged by, when Senator Joe McCarthy was just beginning his inquisition of anyone suspected of being a Communist; Morrison's senator is less interested in the truth than in his own career.

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