This collection contains 14 stories of a talented british author. A trademark are the characters. Most of them realize that their own life is shallow and that something is missing but whenever they think they are on the right track they actually end up in another dead end. For a short time they can escape their feeling of being lost and these are the moments that Chris Beckett has captured, knowing that around the corner the next disappointment is waiting.
My highlights are
- The Marriage of Sky and Sea: a space traveller who writes books about his journeys has to face a decision that turns his life upside down
- The Turing Test and We Could be Sisters, a mix of virtual reality, dark lookout into the future and a woman trying to fill a void in her life
- The Perimeter and Piccadilly Circus, describing a world in which most people live a virtual life. Only few have remained in the physical world and face a conflict of what it means to be alive and what is real. After Matrix the idea might look old but the author looks at it from a new angle.
- Jazamine in the Green Wood: men have been hit by an epidemic and the women, now in a leading role, try everything to keep their number small. This story could have needed more pages but it's interesting and features torn characters.
- La Macchina deals with artificial intelligence in a society that condemns it. This one hit a spot and I liked it a lot although the end came too early.
- Valour, a story about how an alien philosophy could change our thinking, however, at the end it goes nowhere and forgets to make a point.
Going nowhere, this would be my biggest criticism about almost all stories. The ideas are there and the characters are interesting, however, only in the highlights mentioned above something stuck with me and became more than just a forgettable snapshot.
The other stories I didn't enjoy much.
Overall 5 very good stories, 3 good ones and 6 rather boring although other readers might like them. It's not the new big hit that I wished for but I can recommend it to all who enjoy character driven stories that might end without a happy-end.