Dirty Work
by Pat Cadigan
(story collection)
Review by Ann Cecil

This collection is an unusually fine set of stories, all by Pat Cadigan. The element that makes it exceptional is the synergy between the stories, the additional insights and connections made by reading the stories together. Several were stories I'd read before, in magazines or other anthologies; in every case, I found new depths, new meanings, new illuminations of the weirdness of the human condition when I re-read them in 'Cadigan context.'

All too frequently in collections, the closeness of stories from the same source lulls you with the narrowness of scope and theme (ok, bores you cause it's the same story redone with minor variation). I defy anyone, for example, to read the whole of Zenna Henderson's collected stories of the People without screaming 'Formula!' - beautifully done, well-orchestrated, but formula nevertheless. No one will ever say that about Cadigan.

There's a funny story with a nasty/funny twist at the end called 'The Sorceress in Spite of Herself' that will make you think twice the next time you lose something. There's 'Dirty Work' which gives the term vampire a whole new meaning - and manages to get in some licks on fame, vanity, creativity and spying as well. There's 'The Pond', which sucks you in as surely as it does the heroine, and leaves you feeling slightly unclean - and manages in short story length to say all of the things about children that 'High Wind in Jamaica' (praised as a classic) took a whole novel to say. There's 'Naming Names' and 'A Deal with God' which are connected stories about trivial themes like power and good and evil with people described so vividly you'd recognize them instantly, even if you don't know their names (they're not in the story). There's 'Dispatches From the Revolution' and 'No Prisoners,' which you've read before but need to read again, to see now how fully ironic these reflections on our times and our politics are.

This is a wonderful collection, highly recommended, worth hunting down (it was published by Ziesing in hardcover and trade, but I don't think there ever was a mass-market edition). It's strong stuff, thoughtful and clever and impressively good.

Return to Review Indexes by author or reviewer.

Click here to return to the SIGMA mainpage.

This page maintained by Greg Armstrong