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Aftermath
Chuck Wendig
Dhalgren
Samuel R. Delany
Jackals
Charles L. Grant

A Wanderer in the Perfect City: Selected Passion Pieces

A Wanderer in the Perfect City: Selected Passion Pieces - Lawrence Weschler Welcome to Las Vegas, right at the turn of the 20th Century. After surviving the random destruction of towns that led to a food shortage, the city is presented with the threat of disease, though it has yet to show any signs of the smallpox virus that has affected much of the world outside. Enter Trey, a resident of a run-down community near the city limits where other castoffs live, who has a strange ability for survival, to deal with the threats surrounding the city.

I've had a hard time getting in to this series so far, but with this volume, I've started to anticipate a good conclusion. Grant did a great job of setting up the events and characters that lead to the conclusion of this story, even if the story is less about the threat of disease than it is about this one small community dealing with a physical threat. The smallpox is a prevalent part of the story, but it's not the central conflict. I can't say I was surprised, since In the Mood wasn't really about famine, but it's odd to me that the key characteristics of the Horsemen aren't the main conflicts in these stories.

The Millennium Quartet is about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Book One featured Death; Book Two featured Famine; and Book Three features Pestilence. The first real bird flu scare was in 1997, just a few years before this book was published, and it appears that Grant drew on the fears and responses to that scare to portray Vegas' response to the threat. There are lots of folks wearing medical masks, people who don't want to help others who are obviously sick, and others who just don't leave their houses.

I had serious problems with the character of Eula. She's a black woman and a gospel singer, and Grant chooses to give her Aunt Jemima dialogue. I don't understand the need to resort to stereotypes to portray her, but it's not like he's the first one to do it; Stephen King did it with Mother Abagail in The Stand, too.

I'm holding out hope that the final volume will be grander in scale. Casey Chisholm is mentioned again, and again in passing, but it seems like he's the key to the entire Apocalypse. At least, Grant is setting it up that way. It would be nice to see the entire story come full circle, but I feel like I shouldn't hold my breath. I think that Chariot has the best individual ending of the three volumes this far, but each volume has been its own isolated story. I'd like to see it wrapped up in a grand fashion.