While there are familiar stories here – such as the much-praised ‘Old Hundredth’, ‘The Small Stones of tu Fu’ and ‘The Moment of Eclipse’ – others are barely known, having appeared in small circulation magazines which Aldiss has always favoured with much of his best writing. Stories like ‘Journey to the Goat Star’, with its fantastical metaphysical voyage and ‘Lies!’, with its horrible erotic happenings in the Black Forest, will be new to all but the most dedicated Aldiss readers.
Perhaps, as some have suggested, my best work is in my short fiction. Certainly much of my life is contained in this collection: and the conflicting desires for fame and obscurity. A quotation from Borges in the Introduction summarises what many writers must feel, and not writers only: “Really, nobody knows whether the world is realistic or fantastic, that is to say, whether the world is a natural process or whether it is a kind of dream, a dream that we may or may not share with others.”
FIRST EDITION: Victor Gollancz, 1989