The Seven Sexes
by William Tenn
reviewed by Timons Esaias

This collection of eight stories wanders between the genres of SF, Fantasy and Horror. It also wanders through time, into space and gets sucked into a fat little girl's mind. The collection first came out in 1968, but the only thing that dated any of them in this reader's opinion was the use of the New York wise-cracking street reporter prose style Tenn occasionally affected.

The historical star of the collection is "Child's Play" which is the frequently anthologized classic about what happens when one Sam Weber finds himself the recipient of a package from the future. Specifically, the Bild-A-Man Set #3. Sam does no better than Pandora at resisting opening and experimenting with the box, and the results are disquieting.

The title story is "Venus and the Seven Sexes", an alien viewpoint tale that explores an extremely complex biological adaptation to a very danger-ridden planet. It puts quite an intriguing strain on the theory of civilization, and our very limited imagination of what family values might really mean.

I most enjoyed two eerie tales that partake most of horror. "The Malted Milk Monster" describes a man who finds himself trapped in the inner world of a gluttonous, and horribly selfish, child. Not a pretty picture, despite the occasional chocolate rainfall. "The House Dutiful" tells the tale of a man who finds that his dream home has been built on his wilderness property, though he hasn't hired it done. The house really takes care of him, too. We suspect that this is an alien artifact, that has been waiting to serve someone for quite a while. And we finally find out what the neighbors will think.

This is a fine collection, by one of the Masters.

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