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Howard Who? [MultiFormat]
eBook by Howard Waldrop & George R.R. Martin

eBook Category: Science Fiction/Fantasy World Fantasy Award Winner, Nebula Award(R) Winner
eBook Description: A twentieth-anniversary celebration edition of Howard Waldrop's erudite, gonzo, wistful, funny, and beautifully written debut collection of short stories. Waldrop has a capacious, encyclopedic knowledge of superheroes, baseball players, Mexican wrestlers, world wars, long-dead film stars, oddball television shows, pulp serials, radio plays, fairy tales, scientific expeditions, extinct species, and knock-knock jokes. What if the dodo wasn't extinct after all? What if sumo wrestlers could defeat their opponents with the power of the mind? What if Izaak Walton and John Bunyan went fishing for Leviathan in the Slough of Despond? Acclaimed cult author Waldrop's stories are sophisticated, magical recombinations of the stuff our pop-culture dreams are made of. Open this book and encounter jazz singers, robotic cartoon ducks, nosferatu, angry gorillas, and, of course, the dodo.

eBook Publisher: Small Beer Press, Published: 2006, 2006
Fictionwise Release Date: August 2007

5 Reader Ratings:
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"Back in print after so many years, Howard Who? remains a terrific collection of short stories. There is nobody else alive writing stories as magnificently strange, deliriously inventive, and utterly wonderful as Howard Waldrop."--Metrobeat

"If this is your first taste of Howard, I envy you. Bet you can't read just one."--Introduction by George R.R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire)

My car was broken, and I had a class to teach at eleven. So I took the city bus, something I rarely do.

I spent last summer crawling through The Big Thicket with cameras and tape recorder, photographing and taping two of the last ivory-billed woodpeckers on the earth. You can see the films at your local Audubon Society showroom.

This year I wanted something just as flashy but a little less taxing. Perhaps a population study on the Bermuda cahow, or the New Zealand takahe. A month or so in the warm (not hot) sun would do me a world of good. To say nothing of the advance of science.

I was idly leafing through Greenway's Extinct and Vanishing Birds of the World. The city bus was winding its way through the ritzy neighborhoods of Austin, stopping to let off the chicanas, black women, and Vietnamese who tended the kitchens and gardens of the rich.

"I haven't seen any of those ugly chickens in a long time," said a voice close by.

A grey-haired lady was leaning across the aisle toward me.

I looked at her, then around. Maybe she was a shopping-bag lady. Maybe she was just talking. I looked straight at her. No doubt about it, she was talking to me. She was waiting for an answer.

"I used to live near some folks who raised them when I was a girl," she said. She pointed.

I looked down at the page my book was open to.

What I should have said was: "That is quite impossible, madam. This is a drawing of an extinct bird of the island of Mauritius. It is perhaps the most famous dead bird in the world. Maybe you are mistaking this drawing for that of some rare Asiatic turkey, peafowl, or pheasant. I am sorry, but you are mistaken."

I should have said all that.

What she said was, "Oops, this is my stop," and got up to go.

* * * *

My name is Paul Linberl. I am twenty-six years old, a graduate student in ornithology at the University of Texas, a teaching assistant. My name is not unknown in the field. I have several vices and follies, but I don't think foolishness is one of them.

The stupid thing for me to do would have been to follow her.

She stepped off the bus.

I followed her.

* * * *

I came into the departmental office, trailing scattered papers in the whirlwind behind me. "Martha! Martha!" I yelled.

She was doing something in the supply cabinet.

"Jesus, Paul! What do you want?"

"Where's Courtney?"

"At the conference in Houston. You know that. You missed your class. What's the matter?"

"Petty cash. Let me at it!"

"Payday was only a week ago. If you can't..."

"It's business! It's fame and adventure and the chance of a lifetime! It's a long sea voyage that leaves ... a plane ticket. To either Jackson, Mississippi or Memphis. Make it Jackson, it's closer. I'll get receipts! I'll be famous. Courtney will be famous. You'll even be famous! This university will make even more money! I'll pay you back. Give me some paper. I gotta write Courtney a note. When's the next plane out? Could you get Marie and Chuck to take over my classes Tuesday and Wednesday? I'll try to be back Thursday unless something happens. Courtney'll be back tomorrow, right? I'll call him from, well, wherever. Do you have some coffee?..."

And so on and so forth. Martha looked at me like I was crazy. But she filled out the requisition anyway.

"What do I tell Kemejian when I ask him to sign these?"

"Martha, babe, sweetheart. Tell him I'll get his picture in Scientific American."

"He doesn't read it."

"Nature, then!"

"I'll see what I can do," she said.

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