Blame it on taxes. According to SFWA Grand Master Brian Aldiss, that's the main reason he sold the movie rights to the Pinocchio-android tale "Supertoys Last All Summer Long" to Stanley Kubrick back in 1982. Bound here along with two followup short stories and nine unrelated short pieces from more recent years, "Supertoys" was to be the source material for Kubrick's last movie. Of course, Kubrick died, and then Steven Spielberg inherited the rights, intending to follow through on Kubrick's original vision.
In fairness, Aldiss has never seen his original story--nor the two pieces added later, "Supertoys When Winter Comes" and "Supertoys in Other Seasons"--as a Pinocchio fable at all. As he recounts in the wry, revealing foreword to this collection, "I could not or would not see the parallels between David, my five-year-old android, and the wooden creature who becomes human.... Never consciously rewrite old fairy stories." But the interpretation of the stubbornly eccentric Kubrick prevailed until Aldiss was "wheeled out of the picture."
These three excellent stories occupy just the first 35 pages of this compilation, but they accurately capture one of the great voices of British SF at his prime, with a plaintive, thoughtfully nuanced story about existence and the meaning of being human. The remaining tales range from intriguing to distractingly strident to borderline mawkish, but make no mistake about what's the main attraction here. In fact, the foreword alone, with Kubrick exposed at his curmudgeonly worst ("[To Aldiss:] You seem to have two modes of writing--brilliant and not so damned good"), makes this a collection worth picking up. --Paul Hughes