Thursday, June 14, 2007

A new vehicle for hard SF stories

kw: book reviews, science fiction, story reviews, anthologies

The collection is Fast Forward 1, edited by Lou Anders, author of one Star Trek genre novel, hundreds of articles, and editor of several well-known anthologies. The expected series features hard SF, and the story ideas cover quite a range of imagined futures. Nearly all the stories launch upon the synergy of two or more significant elements of those futures.

  • "YFL-500" by Robert Charles Wilson — Almost everyone is on the dole, paid unemployed because machines do all work, including most intellectual work; art made from data is a unique medium in which AIs cannot work.
  • "The Girl Hero's Mirror Says He's Not the One" by Justina Robson — The brain can be upgraded as simply as the automatic upgrades for MS Windows that appear almost daily; the world is at war between defenders and meme authors, including well-trained assassins.
  • "Small Offerings" by Paolo Bacigalupi — Pollution is rampant, and nearly all first pregnancies are too damaged to live, but a fetus is known to take everything it can from the mother, including most of her stored pollutants...
  • "They Came from the Future" by Robyn Hitchcock — Time travel turns out not to be worth the bother.
  • "Plotters and Shooters" by Kage Baker — A balls-to-the-wall riff on "Revenge of the nerds" fantasies.
  • "Aristotle OS" by Tony Ballantyne — Did you ever think of a computer's (actually an Operating System's) model of the world as a Platonic model (shadows on the wall)?
  • "The Something-Dreaming Game" by Elizabeth Bear — For some kids, the strangle game may really connect to another dimension. I sure hope no youngsters ever read this story; it could be literally fatal!
  • "No More Stories" by Stephen Baxter — Solipsism turned on its head.
  • "Time of the Snake" by A. M. Dellamonica — An alien invasion and collaboration story with more than one ending twist.
  • "The Terror Bard" by Larry Niven and Brenda Cooper — Five billion years hence, the sun is dying; million-year-old humans and a mysterious alien ship collaborate to save what can be saved. A hymn of love, betrayal and forgiveness.
  • "p dolce" by Louise Marley — Time travel imagined as "insertion" into the more than one way. p dolce means, "soft & sweet", literally, but what did Brahms mean by it, so frequently?
  • "Jesus Christ, Reanimator" by Ken MacLeod — The Second Coming as a banal re-sacrifice of Jesus. It's been done before, and better, but this version has an interesting take.
  • "Solomon's Choice" by Mike Resnick and Nancy Kress — Give us a few thousand years and interstellar travel: How many human species will there be, and how divergent will they become?
  • "Sanjeev and Robotwallah" by Ian McDonald — A well-told tale of survival in a war-torn future India. Many Hindi words are simply thrown in, and must be guessed from context. After a while, I figured that "wallah" is pidgin for "warrior", but I am not totally sure.
  • "A Smaller Government" by Pamela Sargent — Physical size is but one characteristic that could be coupled to character more literally. This story just opens that door.
  • "Pride" by Mary A. Turzillo — Another take on a Jurassic Park resuscitation program.
  • "I Caught Intelligence" by Robyn Hitchcock — A poem that takes more work o parse than I was willing to employ. I love poetry, but have yet to see much SF poetry that I can enjoy.
  • "Settlements" by George Zebrowski — Almost a time travel story; descendants of our ancestors of the mid-Pleistocene, living among aliens who visited, return to supervise our survival.
  • "The Hour of the Sheep" by Gene Wolfe — So when can a warrior let down his guard?
  • "Sideways from Now" by John Meaney — Quantum entanglement-mediated telepathy and telempathy lead to a parallel-universe scenario.
  • "Wikiworld" by Paul Di Filippo — Today a Wiki is a collaborative web site, just about as democratic an enterprise as is possible (with a bit of oversight to avert total anarchy). In the future, the principle extends to businesses, government, family structure...

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