With imaginative vigor, Aguirre explores the fluctuating boundaries that separate human from inhuman, terrestrial from extraterrestrial, and natural from supernatural in the 29 fantasies in his debut story collection. In “The Butterfly Artist,” a zoological illustrator discovers there’s more to life than he had imagined when he visits a postapocalyptic landscape where beautiful and dangerous new species flourish. “The Universal Language of Silence” juxtaposes acting with real life in its eerie account of an insular society of mimes who rigorously enforce a code of silence on its members. Most of the selections are brief, plotless sketches built from surreal images that resist literal interpretation. At their best, they offer arresting and provocative perspectives that make the ordinary uncommon and the bizarre plausible. Aguirre won a World Fantasy Award for editing the anthology Leviathan Three (2003) and readers who enjoyed that book’s genre-bending content will find much to their satisfaction.


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