In this first story collection from James Alan Gardner, 14 very different tales comprise one fantastic collection. In "Muffin Explains Teleology to the World at Large," Muffin is a little girl who is somehow both magnificent and ordinary. It's a quirky tale and it sets the tone for the entire volume.

One of the highlights of this collection is "Kent State Descending the Gravity Well: An Analysis of the Observer," a poignant story about the 1970 Kent State killings and the way history erases the individual. "A Changeable Market in Slaves" is an incredibly funny example of rewriting gone wrong. "Three Hearings on the Existence of Snakes in the Human Bloodstream" shows that while technology improves, the human urge to destroy what's different never changes.

Fans of well-written, witty and utterly unique speculative fiction will not be disappointed by Gravity Wells. From the mundane to the sublime, it delivers on every level. (May, 368 pp., $15.95)
Reviewed by: 
Natalie A. Luhrs