In a far future society, people change their identities, their societal roles, even their personalities based upon the masks they must don each day. But not every citizen is content to play their mandated part, longing instead to discover who they are beneath their masks: sinner, gentleman, or beast.
Winner of the 2009 Nebula Award for Best Novelette and nominated for the 2010 Hugo Award for Best Novelette, the 2010 WSFA Small Press Award, and the 2009 BSFA Award for Best Short Story.
Praise for SINNER, BAKER, FABULIST, PRIEST; RED MASK, BLACK MASK, GENTLEMAN, BEAST:
This far future science fiction tale is an exploration of self identity and the masks we all wear in public…a beautifully written and fast-paced tale
—Jason Sanford (Story Recommendation of the Week, 1/19/2009)
an elegantly strange slipstreamish fantasy
—Gardner Dozois, Locus
disconcerting and thought-provoking in equal measure and should rightly earn its author wider exposure—and perhaps appearances in the Year’s Best and on various award ballots.
—Colin Harvey, Suite 101
the broadening of the theme from science fantasy psycho-drama to full sf dystopia is a satisfying shock, and just when you think she’s going to wrap things up with a relatively redemptive ending, Foster sneaks in a suckerpunch in the end that’ll leave you wide-eyed and a bit breathless…the conception and plotting are top notch, and it’s a much more sf-nal story than it initially appears. Recommended.
—Paul Raven, Velcro City Tourist Board
What a blast of sensory overload we’re given with ‘Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest, Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast’, a story in which Eugie Foster as usual doesn’t shy away from the darker and more unpleasant side of human nature…a wondrous, sickening, startling story that is sure to stick in the mind.
—Gareth D. Jones, SF Crowsnest
the best of the issue…A fantastic piece of worldbuilding.
—Matt Bruensteiner, Garbled Signals
The dream-like world that Foster paints is so beguilingly strange that this tale might have worked just as well even without the explanatory backstory, but regardless this is gloriously strange stuff, and a pleasantly untypical science fiction story.
—Lawrence Conquest, The Barking Dog
This surreal story of people living in a beehive society and changing their identity and personality each day…opens out into something dark, powerful and moving…including an ending that successfully avoids cliche and reminds the reader that freedom and self-discovery can lead to a great deal of pain.
The worldbuilding is very effective and very creepy…Halfway through, I was expecting this to go into familiar territory: the ending was a shock and a unpleasant but welcome surprise.
—Aliette de Bodard, All Quiet in France
a classy fantasy, a strange society in which the wearing of masks in not only compulsory, but one in which the mask worn confers a different daily identity…The implications of this are subtly portrayed, as is the response to those who oppose this status quo.
—Mark Watson, Best SF Reviews
Eugie Foster’s “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest: Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” is as bizarre and convoluted as its title, but in a good way…probably my favourite story this time round, an exotic and unusual piece that is never less than convincing.
Foster has created a fascinating world here.
—Sam Tomaino, SFRevu
Foster’s story might not take the reader where they expect to go, but it’s a heady journey nonetheless, encompassing sex and death, and it is told in an accomplished manner…powerful stuff.
—Martin McGrath, The Fix
a really engrossing otherworld fantasy
—Tansy Rayner Roberts, Not if You Were the Last Short Story on Earth
a cracking story of a human society which has stagnated into something like a bee colony crossed with a perpetual masquerade…This is the best story on offer in this issue.
—Nathan Brazil, Tangent
Nun ist es fűr mich die beste dieser Ausgabe.
Foster delivers an ending that isn’t what you think it might be, and raises some unsettling questions about the connection between non-conformity and sociopathy.
Of the [Interzone 2009] novelettes, my particular favorites…Foster’s “Sinner…” is a colourful story of a world in which characters wear different masks each day and enact different, stylized, roles—not a new idea, but handled newly, with a dark ending.
— Rich Horton, The Elephant Forgets
Foster manages to keep the tale moving forward, using elegant but not flashy prose…a fascinating, absorbing story
—Aaron Hughes (Story Recommendation of the Week, 2/25/2010), Fantastic Reviews Blog
Reviews of the Escape Pod podcast:
yet another in a run of massively inventive, intelligent stories from Eugie.
one of the most beautifully crafted stories I’ve ever read
—Nora Heineman-Fleck, “The Best Podcasted Short Fiction of this Year”
…each section of the story is a heightened emotional experience. The intensity of this story was spectacularly captured by Lawrence Santoro, who narrated in a dramatic manner that reminds me of Harlan Ellison. Bravo to author and narrator – a perfect match. A great story, truly worthy of a Nebula.
—Scott D. Danielson, SFFAudio.com