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What do women want? Well, if Pat Murphy is to be trusted (and we’re not saying she is), women are looking for trouble. And in this collection of powerful stories, they find it — at an archeological dig in the Southwest, in the urban alleys, in California suburbs, in the old West, in ironic fantasy settings.
Over the past 25 years, Pat Murphy has been writing stories that garner critical attention and win awards. Her work is difficult to categorize, living on the boundaries between genres. But her characters are easy to recognize. They are troublemakers, every last one of them.
On the space station known as Moon Talk, engineers and poets work together to prototype and manufacture communications satellites. The founder of the station decided to include poets because they specialize in communicating high-density information in very short bursts.
Angel, a 20-year-old robotics engineer, is visiting Moon Talk on a poetry/engineering internship when an accident on the station’s hull leaves her paralyzed. Unable to return to Earth where the relentless pull of gravity would kill her, Angel must make the station her home.
Though her body is trapped, the poets and engineers who run Moon Talk find a way for Angel’s consciousness to escape the confines of the station. The robotics staff jacks Angel first into a robotic unit on the station’s hull, and then into a body that can move about the station’s interior. She inhabits a robotic probe that prospects among the orbiting rocks of the asteroid belt. But that's just the beginning of Angel's journey.
Traveling across the Martian polar cap, the second TransPolar Expedition is tracing the shape of the hidden lands beneath the ice and snow. Sita, the expedition’s cartographer, has a talent for interpreting the shades and squiggles that the computer produces from satellite photos and sonic recordings. She takes ambiguous data and makes a clear and precise map of lands no one has ever seen.
But Sita knows that maps are black-and-white portraits of a world that exists in shades of gray and, like cartographers before her, she knows that dragons lurk beyond the edges of every map. At night, in the darkness of her dreams, she believes in the yeti, the messengers from the secret lands, the dark-eyed dream beasts that haunt the crevasses and move as softly as the blowing snow.
The world is not all that it seems on the surface. Beneath the polar ice lies danger and discovery.
The Irish Giant – that’s what Londoners called Charlie Bryne, an enormous country lad standing 8 feet tall in his bare feet. He made his fortune by exhibiting himself, but Bryne was far more than a human oddity. He had the magical power of healing, a deep connection to the natural magic of the earth, and the blood of Irish kings in his veins. In 1782, he came to London with a single goal — to bring the Irish home to the island they had left.
John Hunter was a man of science and insatiable curiosity — a surgeon, a natural philosopher, and a tireless collector of natural oddities. With analysis and dissection, Hunter strove to understand the natural world — and he wanted to add the bones of a giant to his collection.
This novella, winner of the 1990 World Fantasy Award, examines what happens when the quest for scientific knowledge meets ancient natural magic.