Melancholy Elephants


239 pages
ISBN 0-14-007427-9




Reviewed by Joan McGrath

Joan McGrath is a Toronto Board of Education library consultant.


Spider Robinson states his position very plainly and positively: he is a writer (and one of the best) of sf, not of sci-fi. No schlocky bug-eyed monsters here. The reader can confidently expect to find adult, provocatively intellectual “speculative entertainment” — i.e.,adventure and conjecture, set in some unique, internally consistent, imaginary universe or “fiction.”

In this collection of twelve short stories, many of which have previously appeared elsewhere, convincingly human projections of the future provide a forum for some of Robinson’s quirky theories regarding the human dilemma. Present or future, it seems likely that as in the past, the world’s problems will always revolve around questions of winning or losing, pain and pleasure, love and loss. One of Robinson’s recurring themes is that of reincarnation. The quandary inherent in the reappearance among the living of one apparently long dead is fascinating and — who knows? — may one day have to be dealt with in earnest. Amazingly varied and chock-full of surprises, this collection does full justice to the Hugo award-winning story, “Melancholy Elephants.”


Robinson, Spider, “Melancholy Elephants,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 3, 2021,