This collection contains fourteen stories of varying length, first published in magazines and anthologies in the 1970s. In the title story, a lonely boy on Settlers Island finds consolation for his fathers absence and his divorced mothers neglect. In a brilliant pastiche of classic science-fiction adventure tales, pulp adventure stories provide escape for Tackman, who imagines the characters entering his own life. At the climax, he discovers his mothers friend, Dr. Black, giving her treatment for an overdose of amphetamines. He heroically walks to the home of a distant neighbor, whom he persuades to call the police. Knowing that his mother will be institutionalized and he will be placed in a foster home by the authorities, Tackman has acted to change his life. He discusses his future with Dr. Death, the villain of the pulp story. Dr. Death promises to become a tutelary companion for Tackman and reminds the boy that any story can be begun again from the beginning, suggesting that Tackman can start his life over. At the storys end, the reader concludes that the protagonist has become older and is reflecting on his boyhood experience.
Two other stories, “The Doctor of Death Island” and “The Death of Doctor Island,” continue the motif of an island as a metaphor for human loneliness and isolation from others. The first deals with a lonely adolescent sequestered on an island maintained by an artificial intelligence that attempts to provide therapy. The...
(The entire section is 456 words.)