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Compared by critics to Borges, Nabokov, and Kafka, contemporary fantasist Jeff VanderMeer continues to amaze with this surreal, innovative, and absurdist gathering of award-winning short fiction. Exotic beasts and improbable travelers roam restlessly through these darkly diverting and finely honed tales.

In “The Situation,” a beleaguered office worker creates a child-swallowing manta-ray to be used for educational purposes (once described as Dilbert meets Gormenghast). In “Three Days in a Border Town,” a sharpshooter seeks the truth about her husband in an elusive floating city beyond a far-future horizon; “Errata” follows an oddly familiar writer who has marshaled a penguin, a shaman, and two pearl-handled pistols with which to plot the end of the world. Also included are two stories original to this collection, including “The Quickening,” in which a lonely child is torn between familial obligation and loyalty to a maligned talking rabbit.

Chimerical and hypnotic, VanderMeer leads readers through the postmodern into a new literature of the imagination.

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