Intersections, The Sycamore Hill Anthology
Edited by John Kessel, Mark L. Van Name and Richard Butner
Review by James Walton

The Sycamore Hill Writers' Conference is an annual invitation only event for professional Science Fiction authors. The authors are encouraged to bring their "problem stories" for critique by their peers. This particular volume contains stories from the seventh Sycamore Hill gathering in the summer of 1994.

Offhand I'd say the Sycamore Hill Conference works. All the stories are well done (though not necessarily to my liking) and two from this volume, John Kessel's "The Miracle of Ivar Avenue" and Bruce Sterling's "The Bicycle Repairman," have gone on to be nominated for major awards.

One of the more interesting parts of this book is the inclusion of workshop comments from the other authors at the end of most of the stories. The professionals have the same problems with their writing as the rest of the world.

I can't say which story out of the fourteen presented I liked most from this anthology. I will mention a few. I think Sterling's story is supposed to be funny (there it is again!) or at least satirical. It works on other levels though. "Sex Education" by Nancy Kress (ConFluence '98 Guest of Honor) was very thoughtful. "Hardened Criminals" by Jonathan Lethem is bizarre and surreal (just like everything else he writes) and the title is a horrid and horrible pun. "The Fury at Colonus" by Alexander Jablokov had me trying to remember the ancient Greek literature I read and forgot so many years ago. Karen Joy Fowler's "The Marianas Islands" is fanciful. I can't call it fantasy or Science Fiction. In her afterword to "Homesick," Maureen F. McHugh says "It's a better story, but I don't know if I really pulled it off or not." No, she doesn't.

Intersections, the Sycamore Hill Anthology is an interesting addition to anyone's bookshelf.

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