Jessica Amanda Salmonson:A Silver Thread of Madness

Whenever I see a book written by someone whom I've seen as an editor, I feel compelled to pick it up. Just to see if there's a reason they're doing one rather than the other. Jessica Amanda Salmonson I knew from the Amazons anthologies, and Heroic Visions. After reading A Silver Thread of Madness, I'm wishing she was writing more.

This book, despite its slimness, contains a sizeable number of short stories--most of them very short indeed. The first half-dozen, in the "Six Legends" section, are short tales like Tanith Lee at her best, or like the rewritten Fairy Tales so in vogue today...but, as far as I can tell, original to Salmonson. The last few stories, "Tales of Naipon", are set in a Japanesque world, similar, I'd guess to the background of her Tomoe Gozen novels.

The heart of the book, though, are the "Silver Thread of Madness" stories themselves. There is a thread running through them, sometimes obvious, sometimes only the barest of thematic links. Some are stories, some only sketches, some of them almost(though one may hope otherwise) autobiographical. A silver thread of madness, the decay of urban life, runs through the whole thing, from the metaphor of "Seller of Stones", the horror of "Threats", the black humour of "Meditations And Confessions Regarding My Disturbing Ability", and the almost-cyberpunk of "Samurai Fugue".

These stories will, or should, disturb you. Perhaps that is why Salmonson is not better recognized...perhaps not. But she should be. I have no doubt I will reread this book often, with a shudder as the thread runs once again through my brain.

%A Salmonson, Jessica Amanda
%T A Silver Thread of Madness
%I Ace
%C New York
%D January 1989
%G ISBN 0-441-76680-3
%P 179 pp.
%O Paperback, US$3.50, Can$4.75

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The Den of Ubiquity / Aaron V. Humphrey / alfvaen@gmail.com