Today's book review is The John Varley Reader: Thirty Years of Short Fiction, written, edited, and with introductions by John Varley.
Despite not being a terribly prolific author, Variey is, I think, generally acknowledged as an important SF writer. These stories remind me why. I thought, looking through the table of contents, that I had read a lot of the stories -- most of them are from The Persistence of Vision, The Barbie Murders, and Blue Champagne -- but as I read through the book, I found that most of the stories were fresh. And most of the stories are very good. I found a couple of them a little weak, but only a couple.
In addition to the stories, Varley includes an introduction for each story -- generally two or three pages. These introductions, together, tell a lot about an author I had known little about, and I found them very interesting and enjoyable reading. There's enough material in these introductions to make the book worth reading even if you do remember the stories that were published in those famous and widely read collections.
If you've lived under a rock for the last 30 years and aren't familiar with Varley, this is a good introduction. On the other hand, if you're a serious fan, the previously unpublished stories and the introductory material make it a must have. And if you're somewhere in between, it's a good excuse to re-read some very memorable stories, stories that may not be old enough to be called classics but will be when they're old enough. 9 out of 10.