"Tideline" and "In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns" are still good stories, but none of the rest is remarkable. And even those two, the re"Tideline" and "In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns" are still good stories, but none of the rest is remarkable. And even those two, the reason why I picked a collection by Bear, are not stories that burned themselves deep into my memory. The rest ... there are neat ideas and great language, but somehow, they are lacking. None of the worlds created are coherent - I read science fiction and fantasy a lot, I am used to suspend my disbelief a lot, but there are too many things that are not thought through, where taking it even one step further than the surface of the story makes me realize that this could not work - and there are so many places that invite me to take a step further. It's a pity, really. There is a lot of potential here.
Also, and this is less about the stories and more about the editions: I do NOT want to read introduction by the romantic partners of a given author. No. No, no, no....more
Two points overall because so many of the stories are just pointless. That said - two of them, "Six Months, Three Days" by Charlie Jane Anders and "ATwo points overall because so many of the stories are just pointless. That said - two of them, "Six Months, Three Days" by Charlie Jane Anders and "A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel" by Yoon Ha Li are amazing. (Both are also available on tor.com - go and read!)
Six Months, Three Days by Charlie Jane Anders This is really not a story I should be judging - it is great writing with a rather quiet ending that made me for the first time be somewhat thankful that I read this one digitally and could quickly search for a word. But it's really not a story I should be judging, because it's bound to leave me somewhat giddy: I know what the food in Punjabi Dhabi tastes like and 1369 is my favorite cafe and, and, and ... So yeah, if you know Boston, pick it up. If you don't, perhaps still do and let me know what you thought of the story even if you did not make you giddy with recognition of places you know and love. [Also, it won a Hugo! So perhaps my giddiness about it was not only the recognition of all the Somerville places and the general vibe of the area?]
The Dala Horse by Michael Swanwick Still pretty pointless, I am afraid.
A Clean Sweep with All the Trimmings by James Alan Gardner Somewhere in there is the seed of an idea that could be a great story. But this one isn't. Not even a good one.
Beauty Belongs to the Flowers by Matthew Sanborn Smith This was promising to be a great story - the tone is wonderful, the world is creates both believable and interesting. The ending lets down, but the one or other image remains.
A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel by Yoon Ha Lee Oh yes, yes. "The Invisible Cities", but almost deeper. I so need to pick up Yoon Ha Lee's short story collection soon!
Ragnarok by Paul Park Another pointless one - yes, this is a verse-story about a apocalyptic world in Iceland. But a setting and the form of writing do not a story make.
Hello, Moto by Nnedi Okorafor I want a novel based on this idea! Or at least a Novella. As a short story there is not enough to it - not enough time for the world or the characters or the idea to develop. And I would have liked to get to know all of them.
Shtetl Days by Harry Turtledove So when you write a future Nazi Germany? Do NOT write future USA. Just don't, it does not work and is not believable. (And it would be easy to research the one of other bit about the cultural background; it does not even have to be German, just Nazi ...) [Just googled the author: and this guy is the master of alternative history? Seriously? I may have though this is a young writer who was going to learn, but agh ... agh!!!]...more
On one hand, it is an immensely readable book - and gosh, the pronouns! The pronouns! On the other - if somebody asks me (but why should they ask *me*On one hand, it is an immensely readable book - and gosh, the pronouns! The pronouns! On the other - if somebody asks me (but why should they ask *me*), I will tell them that in spite of the space and the ships, it reads more like fantasy than like science fiction....more
This one took me ages to finish - perhaps because it started with somewhat weak stories and did not overall contain as many strong one as other in theThis one took me ages to finish - perhaps because it started with somewhat weak stories and did not overall contain as many strong one as other in the collection. That said, everyone needs to go and read Kristine Kathryn Rusch "Craters" NOW (also available at Lightspeed Magazine), it's so short and so amazing. And Elizabeth Bear's "Tideline" (also available as podcast that I haven't yet listened to here) was very much a worthy Hugo winner.
David Moles: "Finisterra" Some fancy world-building, but otherwise rather meh and vague and somehow feeling very steam-punky (without any steam punk to it; and yes, steam-punky means bad for me). Also I am more and more annoyed by complex engineering problem being solved or having to be solved by individual people.
Ken MacLeod: "Lighting Out" Technically OK, but pointless and absolutely forgettable.
John Barnes: "The Ocean is a Snowflake, Four Billion Miles Away" An another one of the technically well executed but utterly forgetable ones.
Gwyneth Jones: "Saving Tiamaat" This was neat, but I almost suppose that this is because all the other stories were so bad and this had both some emotional impact and some bigger scope to it.
James Van Pelt: "Of Late I Dreamt of Venus" SO bad. SO bad. Cardboard characters does not even start describing it. Research? Zero. Working characters? Zero. Working world? Zero. Believable corporations? Nope. What is this story even doing in a book published in this century. not even mentioning that it's a "best of"-book?
Ian McDonald: "Verthandi's Ring" My problem with all these stories is that they read like Golden Age. Oh, the surface is different. There is more modern science and some of the characters use "she" as a pronoun. but the heart is still the same. And I am a New Wave girl, I need social science and psychology and societies and religion and working characters and literary.
Una McCormack: "Sea Change" This one has potential, but I wish we had gotten more of the story: more of the characters, more of the world.
Chris Roberson: "The Sky is Large and the Earth is Small" This one had it's moments - especially the narrators despair over the old man's ramblings -, but overall was not very new and the ending was kind of meh.
Greg Egan: "Glory" I loved the needle "ship", but the rest of it was rather weak for Egan. He knows how to write this with far more emotional impact and more believable characters.
Robert Silverberg: "Against the Current" For some reason I had to think about Thomas Disch's "Descending" - which was so much better. (Although you may like this story more if you know SF better than I do or are quite a bit older ...)
Neal Asher: "Alien Archeology" Ugh ... Stupid, and more stupid with a mix in of convenient deus ex machina technology when necessary. However, the Gabbleduck was cute.
Ted Chiang: "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate" Hugo for this one? Seriously? I love old Arabic tales (not only the 1001 night ones, but also Nazami, etc.) and even with this background and my general love for the exploration of free will in science fiction (I will write this story, I will ...) it left me rather meh. (Besides, it's pure fantasy. Now it does not matter for the Hugo, but it very much does for this collection.) I heard so many good things about Ted Chiang; I will definitely give him another try, but only in an anthology. This one does not make me want to pick up a whole book of his stories.
Justin Stanchfield: "Beyond the Wall" Very atmospheric. Not deep (I think), but a very good read.
Bruce Sterling: "Kiosk" Boring in both, idea and execution. The only remotely redeeming thing was the joke about the three traits of politicians and mainly because it reminded me of a joke we tend to make about parts for spacecrafts.
Stephen Baxter: "Last Contact" Nicely melancholic, although not all logical ends meet.
Alastair Reynolds: "The Sledge-Maker's Daughter" I know that Reynolds can create intricate worlds within one short story. This is not one of those short stories. This is a wild jumble of words and pieces, shards of colorful glass that does not produce a work of art, rather a kitschy exhibit at a local art fair.
Ian McDonald: "Sanjeev and Robotwallah" This is not the first take on the "what would it be really like if teenagers did pilot giant war robots" question I read. And this one does not get it - the whole genre, at least the good ones among them, are not about androgynous teenage boys piloting giant alien robots. Sure, the giant robots are ego extensions. But it's always about the metaphors, about the pains of growing up and finding oneself. Ignore the metaphor and write a take on how this dream would work in reality and you have something that may sound sharp (and be read as such by someone whose growing was not deeply influences by Neon Genesis Evangelion) but is hollow in the middle (and lacks a proper explanation why teenage boys; it will never work if it's not a metaphor or a world as meticulously constructed as "Ender's Game").
Michael Swanwick: "The Skysailor's Tale" This may have been a good novel, but as a short story it's both too much and not enough. And I could really do without that adolescent purple prose approach to sex.
Vandana Singh: "Of Love and Other Monsters" Oh yes. The feeling this one creates, the voice of the narrator, the vast, rich background world that exists in hints, the ending (I was not sure about it, but then I realized it was because I wanted it to be different so, so much - it could not, not in the logic of the story; once you are burned, it's forever ...). This one is very good.
Greg Egan: "Steve Fever" Very, very nice. The only reason I am not singing praise here is that this is Egan and I know that he can pack even more of a punch in his stories. But very, very nice and with an other author it would be even very good.
Kage Baker: "Hellfire at Twilight" Nope. Does not work. Perhaps if I knew the characters, this one would shine, but as a short story of it's own it lacks impact (in spite of the topic) and depth and making me feel for the character. Also, this kind of time-travelling premise is just off to me.
Brian Stableford: "The Immortals of Atlantis" Now that is an interesting one - it was OK but nothing spectacular until the ending. And then it was really good. I like stories that manage that; take an old idea and add an emotional punch, something that really hurts and is really memorable.
Pat Cadigan: "Nothing Personal" I am not sure that the ending really ties everything together, but I liked the atmosphere this one created. And that feeling of Dread? Oh, be happy if this was not something you could understand the very first moment it was mentioned.
Elizabeth Bear: "Tideline,"which went on to win the 2008 Hugo award for best short story Yep, that one is a worthy Hugo winner. (Perhaps I should really change my opinion about Bear and read a few of her short stories. As opposed to her novels, I seem to enjoy them a lot.)
Keith Brooke: "The Accord" At that's another one where the ending actually makes the story a lot better than I would have had expected. Very neat.
Nancy Kress: "Laws of Survival" This one would have worked much better without listing the actual laws - that made it slide towards kitsch, which is rather unfortunate, because the idea was a really interesting one.
Tom Purdom: "The Mists of Time" Seriously, what did I just read? Either I fully misunderstood the author or this is one of the biggest pieces of crap in sf form I've read in a while ....
Kristine Kathryn Rusch: "Craters" This one is simply amazing - read it. Even and especially if you are not a science fiction fan. This could be today. Or tomorrow. Not let the genre label deter you; if it did not have one, if it were published in one of the "literary" magazines, you would not even know and would read it. [Available online in the Lightspeed Magazine here]
Ted Kosmatka: "The Prophet of Flores" Once again, the idea is somewhat neat, the execution is lacking both in terms of making you actually feel anything for the characters and in terms of inner coherency of the story, its believability. I don't believe that any kid could have build what the main character built. Nor is it believable how he will survive in the end.
Benjamin Rosenbaum & David Ackert: "Stray" This one is rather fantasy than science fiction - that said, it's a nice story, told in an interesting voice.
Robert Reed: "Roxie" This is not a new story, now. But gosh, is it strongly written. Like with his "Katabasis" (read in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirtieth Annual Collection), the summary says nothing about what the story is really about. About how it makes you feel. This is not one of the great ship stories - actually, it is one of those which you may not even classify as science fiction were it not written by a science fiction author and published in a science fiction collection. But oh, it is good.
Gregory Benford: "Dark Heaven" The beginning was interesting is well written, but it went down the moment McKenna "worked Buddy over" - seriously, and then we should still emphasize with the character? It went down from there - suddenly there was the partner that was kind of mentioned before but in the end only introduced to be killed, all with the crying widow, and the alien "solution" was just meh in terms of how it worked to actually solve the story....more
What an incredibly frustrating book! The Moties are superbly alien, consistent, interesting. Truly great worldbuilding. The humans on the other hand -What an incredibly frustrating book! The Moties are superbly alien, consistent, interesting. Truly great worldbuilding. The humans on the other hand - and they dominate the story - are all cardboard, a teenage boy's dream in the most negative sense of it. So: five stars for the moties, one star for the humans, divide by two, and one more star deduced for the often tedious prose....more
This is one wonderful anthology. If you are into science fiction: read it. If you are not into sf but into literary fiction: read it.
It stands exactlyThis is one wonderful anthology. If you are into science fiction: read it. If you are not into sf but into literary fiction: read it.
It stands exactly on the edge there, show-casting all the things that New Wave and its heirs have introduced into sf and let slip from sf into mainstream, navigating the sea gate between genre and literary, where the most interesting things grow, though often either overlooked (because people who read literary will not read anything with an sf label and keep insisting that Margaret Atwood does not write SF) or discarded (because a lot of hardcore sf fans are guarding their little corner against the stink of what they think to be literary pretence). But if you are willing to open the door just a bit and let the other in or, like me, honestly enjoy this mixture most of all, you'll love this book.
I knew only one of of the stories before - Ursula K LeGuin's classic "The One Who Walk Away from Omelas" - and the rest is well chosen. Chabon's and Millhauser's are too much Steampunk for me and were slower reads (but then again, Steampunk is just not mine, being more fantasy than sf to my physicists' eyes, and the stories are definitely needed to be in the anthology as a whole), but the rest I could not stop reading. Books by George Saunders and Carter Scholz are not my reading list now; I definitely need to finally read Gene Wolfe, even though - or perhaps because? - I had to google up some reviews of his story to come up with a proper interpretation that would satisfy me.
Added to the 19 actual stories is a wonderful introductory essay and, before each story, a few citations, usually juxtaposed opinions on the role and rules of science fiction, both as a genre or as something that can facilitate or ruin a writer's career. I would like to cite pretty much all of them, but I'll go for one only:
For my generation, the New Wave people, the big disappointment is that they did not find an audience large enough to sustain their work and their careers. -- Thomas M. Disch --
This is true and this is still one of my biggest disappointments in sf. Certainly, pearls like this anthology would have been more often otherwise ......more
Such a pity, such a pity ... I wanted to love this book, but alas ...
Some very nice ideas - great ideas, if one takes into account when this book wasSuch a pity, such a pity ... I wanted to love this book, but alas ...
Some very nice ideas - great ideas, if one takes into account when this book was written (1964/65!): today, everybody has heard of Fortran (or haven't you?), but back then programming was something entirely different.
Still, the book does not come together. Many ideas, but the characters are cartoon, merely scribbled on a piece of cardboard and forgotten in some lonely corner of the story (and I know that Delany can do it so much better - remember "Dhalgren"!). Too many genius people, not enough society, not enough impact, not enough depth to the genius ones....more
Oh, that was a great one! And not only for Jaime - so many little things: so many great motifs (is there an essay on how ASOIAF is all about unreliabiOh, that was a great one! And not only for Jaime - so many little things: so many great motifs (is there an essay on how ASOIAF is all about unreliability of stories?), so many wonderful characters, so many unexpected and still perfectly fitting twists ... Such a great read! Really and just: such a great read!...more
Maureen F. McHugh ist erwarteterweise klasse. Es ist auch erstaunlich wie gut das Buch gealtert ist, immerhin ist es 1992 in Vor-Internet-Zeiten geschMaureen F. McHugh ist erwarteterweise klasse. Es ist auch erstaunlich wie gut das Buch gealtert ist, immerhin ist es 1992 in Vor-Internet-Zeiten geschrieben, aber es liest sich trotzdem immer noch als eine Zukunft, die auch heute möglich wäre. Und dann natürlich die perfekten Figuren, die Maureen McHugh immer wieder hinkriegt....more