Fountain of Age

Nancy Kress  - published April 2012

April 2012 · trade paper / ebook · 978-1-931520-45-4 · 303 pp.

Philip K. Dick Award finalist

Nine new stories from a long-time star of the science fiction field including the Hugo Award winner “The Erdmann Nexus” and the caper-inspired Nebula Award winning title story “Fountain of Age.”

Kress unpacks the future the way DNA investigators unravelled the double helix: one gene at a time. In many of these stories gene sculpting is illegal yet commonplace and the effects range between slow catastrophe (“End Game”), cosmic (“First Rites”), and tragic (“Safeguard”). Then there’s the morning when Rochester disappears and Jenny has to rely on “The Kindness of Strangers.” There’s Jill, who is kidnapped by aliens and trying to learn the “Laws of Survival.” And there’s Hope,  whose Grandma is regretting the world built “By Fools Like Me.”

* Read an interview with Nancy in The Stranger.

“What stands out is that Ms. Kress’s characters have developed interior lives. . . . she is a wise woman.”
—Tom Shippey, Wall Street Journal

“Well-written hard sf, peopled with strong and vivid characters, and articulating a subtle and highly nuanced vision of the moral quandaries inherent in genetic engineering, global warming, and other intentional and accidental manipulations of our biosphere. The nine stories in this collection include the Hugo Award Winning novella, ‘The Erdmann Nexus’ and the Nebula Award-winning short story, ‘Fountain of Age.’ Other highlights are ‘Images of Anna,’ in which a routine photo shoot morphs into an alchemical romance about the relationship between selflessness (or perhaps more accurately “self-loss”) and self-discovery; and the post-apocalypse, harsh to the point of brutality, global warming parable, ‘By Fools Like Me.'”
Chris Moriarty, F&SF

“What makes her fiction distinctive, apart from the elegance of her craft and the clarity of her prose, is the manner in which she recombines [conventional SF] elements into complex structures that reveal their hidden dimensions, and invariably concern their impact on fully realized characters. She’s as good as anyone at imaginary gardens with real toads, only we’re the toads.”
Locus Magazine

“This is an extraordinary collection of stories by one of our best writers. Kress has won several Hugo and Nebula awards for her work and justifiably so. Her focus tends to be on biology and genetics (though not always), but her real heart lies in how humans behave…. There are nine stories in this collection and all of them are keepers. I did find “The Erdmann Nexus,” the longest story here, to be the better story, if only because of its length. Kress really does excel in the short form. . . . This is a collection that absolutely belongs on your shelves.”
—Paul Cook, Galaxy’s Edge

“The nine stories in this collection are all excellent examples of Kress’s writing for the past decade. Fountain Of Age should be a ‘must buy’ both for fans of Kress’s work and for those readers who are just discovering her writing. Highly recommended.”
SF Revu

“Quality oozes from every page. A master class in the art of short-story writing.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Passions are magnified by age and the world only becomes more unpredictable in Kress’s new collection, anchored by the Nebula-winning title novella. The nine stories, published over the course of just two years, wrestle with themes of love, death, and transformation. . . . Kress’s depiction of science is much like her characters’ experiences with love: by turns glorious and terrible, and always a little disturbing, even in triumph.”
Publishers Weekly

End Game” & “The Kindness of Strangers” are available as podcasts and many of these stories have been reprinted in The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, and Best of the Web.

Table of Contents

The Erdmann Nexus
The Kindness of Strangers
By Fools Like Me
First Rites
End Game
Images of Anna
Laws of Survival
Fountain of Age

Cover by

Praise for Nancy Kress’s previous books:

“Nancy Kress Has the true storyteller’s Gift–the ability to make her characters and what happens to them so vital that the reader’s heart aches.” —Stephen R. Donaldson

“Nancy Kress comprehends the grimy relationships among bioscience, technology, and politics; and soon we will too, if only enough of us read her. Too soon it cannot be.” —Gene Wolfe

“Nancy Kress has written a novel that graphically disects the roots of human violence while affirming the invincibility of the human spirit. An Alien Light is both provocative and insightful.” —Julian May

“Kress’s villains are not diabolical conspirators but willfully ignorant hypocrites, shortsighted and greedy dunderheads, the well-intentioned half-baked—in short, us. But we are also the heroes whose generosity, honesty and energy could turn our lemming tribe away from the polluted waters ahead.” —Washington Post

“The plotting is fast-paced, the characterization is good, and science explained in easily digestible portions.” —New Scientist

“The kind of thriller that continually makes you want to turn the pages faster than you can read them.” —SF Site

“That Kress remains a master is everywhere evident.” —Booklist

“The keeness of vision to. . . see the possibilities for the future very clearly, and they are both fascinating and frightening.” —San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle

Nancy Kress is the author of thirty books, including four collections of short stories, and three books on writing. For sixteen years she was the fiction columnist for Writers Digest magazine. She is perhaps best known for the “Sleepless” trilogy that began with Beggars in Spain. Her work has won six Nebulas, two Hugos, a Sturgeon, and the John W. Campbell Award. Most recent books are a collection an SF novel, Steal Across the Sky; a YA fantasy written under the name Anna Kendall, Crossing Over; and a short novel of eco-terror, Before the Fall, During the Fall, After the Fall. Kress lives in Seattle with her husband, SF writer Jack Skillingstead, and Cosette, the world’s most spoiled toy poodle.


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