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Soft and Others: 16 Stories of Wonder and…
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Soft and Others: 16 Stories of Wonder and Dread (edition 1990)

by F. Paul Wilson

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792152,477 (3.64)1
Member:LisaMaria_C
Title:Soft and Others: 16 Stories of Wonder and Dread
Authors:F. Paul Wilson
Info:Tom Doherty Assoc Llc (1990), Edition: First Thus, Mass Market Paperback, 306 pages
Collections:Reviewed, Read but unowned
Rating:**1/2
Tags:Science Fiction, short stories, Horror, fiction

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Soft and others : 16 stories of wonder and dread by F. Paul Wilson

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A collection of short stories by Wilson - a new author for me. Most of the stories were horror, many with a sci-fi bent.
The book was a quick read, but I didn't like it enough to go out and look for anything else by the author. The writing is competent, in a mainstream-fiction sort of way, and there are a few good ideas, but nothing really out of the ordinary. (And a few things that I disagreed with, philosophically.)

The stories are:
The Cleaning Machine - A schizophrenic woman explains to the police what exactly happened to all of her missing neighbors.

Ratman - An interplanetary exterminator specializes in dealing with pesky "space rats."

Lipidleggin' - In the future, after unhealthy foods are legally banned, bootleggers provide fresh butter and eggs. In the introduction, Wilson goes on about how the concept of a National Health Plan is "fascist" and would bankrupt the country. Odd, and a bit peculiar, until I realized that Wilson is (was?) a medical doctor with a private practice. Yeah, doctors know which side their bread is buttered on. (ha ha) However, the way I see it, it's a nearly criminally selfish attitude.

To Fill the Sea and Air - Set on a far planet, the only habitat of a fish prized for its tasty filets throughout the galaxy. One fisherman seems to always catch the most of the delicacy - and a giant corporation wants to ferret out his secrets.

Green Winter - In the far future, photosynthesizing humans believe themselves far superior to mere animals, who lack the ability to take sustenance from the sun - when tasty game meat isn't available.

Be Fruitful and Multiply - In the future, the government has been taken over by fundies who believe that god will sweep them up into a higher plane of existence as soon as they have increased the population to the limit of what Earth can support (wait, this is supposed to be fiction? tongue.gif ). Clever ending - I laughed.

Soft - In the future, a nasty plague that melts people's bones has nearly wiped out humanity.

The Last "One Mo'Once Golden Oldies Revival" - A ruthless record producer gets what's coming to him.

The Years the Music Died - A conservative conspiracy was behind the downfall of some of rock-n-roll's first stars.

Dat-Tay-Vao - A junior mafioso, drafted into Vietnam, runs across one of those Mystical Ancient Secrets of healing that old Asian sages so often seem to know... not bad, actually.

Doc Johnson - very Lovecraftian (but not as good). A new doctor in town learns that his new town of Greystone Bay has some weird secrets - and that people here take care of things their own way.

Buckets - Had the potential to be an acceptable horror story, but slipped into mere propaganda, when the author started putting the cliched words of every typical right-to-lifer into the mouths of the ghosts of aborted babies. Doesn't engage a debate, just sets up straw men to knock down. Surprised it ever got published.

Traps - There's something horrible in the attic of the nice family who are just planning their happy trip to Disneyland... ho-hum.

Muscles - An ex-stripper reappears in Times Square after being attacked a couple of years ago. Now she's a female bodybuilder. But why does she need all those muscles? I actually liked this one quite a bit - didn't see the end coming quite the way it did.

Menage a Trois - A creepy, deformed old lady invites attractive young folk to work in her house (a spooky gothic mansion, of course). But what is her real motivation?

Cuts - An author does evil voodoo on the movie producer that he feels ruined his novel. Blah. (Of course, Wilson hated the movie that was made from his book, The Keep.) ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Meh. Not a keeper. Even in his novel-length work I prefer Wilson's science-fiction rather than his horror--even though it's his horror that's much more popular. (I didn't care for The Keep and preferred his much more obscure The LaNague Chronicles. Half of these 16 stories are old-fashioned horror of the supernatural kind. Half are science fiction. (Although quite a few of those have a horror flavor.) Wilson doesn't give Stephen King or Isaac Asimov a run for their money. I can't say I find any of the stories particularly memorable--except "Buckets" which I did remember right from the opening lines from my first read of this years ago--problem is it's the story in the anthology I disliked the most. True, I don't care for the anti-abortion message, but I also thought it eye-rollingly heavy-handed. The same could be said of "Lipidleggin'"even if the 1978 story does seem rather prophetic in its food police and I agree with its libertarian message. And I found other such message stories such as "Be Fruitful and Multiply" even more clunkily trailing anvils--and too far fetched to allow me to suspend my disbelief. My favorite story in the book was the one with no whiff of horror, the most upbeat of the bunch, and I thought the one with the most clever twist--"To Fill the Sea and Air." But I don't like it enough to let this book continue to claim shelf-space. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Jan 20, 2013 |
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The Kindle edition includes five extra stories:
Performance, Night Dive, Memoirs of the Effster, Rumors, Hunters.
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Book description
Contains the stories:
The Cleaning Machine
Ratman
Lipidleggin'
To Fill the Sea and Air
Green Winter
Be Fruitful and Multiply
Soft
The Last "One Mo' Once Golden Oldies Revival"
The Years the Music Died
Dat-Tay-Vao
Doc Johnson
Buckets
Traps
Muscles
Menage a Trois
Cuts
Performance
Night Dive
Memoirs of the Effster
Rumors
Hunters
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Wilson's hard-to-find first collection of short fiction is available again - with bonus stories exclusive to this ebook edition. "F. Paul Wilson is among the finest storytellers of our time." (Rocky Mountain News) "Biting themes..stinging tales..sharp social satire." (Kirkus Reviews) "Reminiscent of TV's 'Twilight Zone'..vivid and viscerally wrenching.."(Publishers Weekly)… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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