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Carbide Tipped Pens: Seventeen Tales of Hard Science Fiction

(The Universe of Xuya #A Slow Unfurling of Truth)

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  409 ratings  ·  81 reviews
Carbide Tipped Pens is an anthology of new hard SF stories that follow the classic definition of the genre, in which some element of science or technology is so central to the plot that there would be no story if that element were removed. The aim of the editors was to collect stories which emphasize plot, character, science, originality and believability in equal measure, ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published December 2nd 2014 by Tor Books
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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Start your review of Carbide Tipped Pens: Seventeen Tales of Hard Science Fiction
Althea Ann
Oct 02, 2014 rated it liked it
**** “The Blue Afternoon That Lasted Forever” by Daniel H. Wilson
This one could almost be a companion piece to Ben H. Winters' 'Last Policeman' series... OK, the specifics of the disaster are different, but I thought it was similar in feel. Some might find it too sentimental, but it worked for me.
A socially-challenged but brilliant physicist is struggling with the minutiae of life... from the fallout of divorce to the struggles of being a single father. He's the only one who realizes what's hap
Nov 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Received this book as an ARC through netgalley. I added my reviews of each individual story as I read them. Overall, it's a pretty diverse collection in terms of type of story, topics covered, and my enjoyment of each story was variable as well. That's pretty common for an anthology like this, and overall, I think the editors did a good job of putting together a collection where everybody will enjoy at least one story. I'd recommend giving this collection a try, and if you find yourself not enjo ...more
Dec 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Mon avis en Français

My English review

The blue afternon That Lasted Forever – Daniel H Wilson
Here we find a rather touching story between a scientist father and young daughter during the end of the world. A story of love, protection and the difficulties that can cross a family. 3.5/5

A slow unfurling of truth – Aliette de Bodard
This story was quite complex. We do not really understand universe where we fall, or what is happening in this different space. A man appears, explaining that he is a perso

This collection started off really well. The Blue Afternoon That Lasted Forever was a touching story about a single father who is an astrophysicist. It had a near perfect balance for me of a good sci-fi plot and characters.
4 stars

The second story was heavier on the sci-fi and all about the plot. A Slow Unfurling of Truth takes place in a time where people can switch bodies, using them up in the process. I felt the world setting required something lengthie

3 stars

A collection of stories focused on new hard science fiction.

I like to believe that I used to be a scientist, and I do retain a faint memory of that period, along with some leftover jargon. When I started to read science fiction, hard SF was a key part of it, and no doubt bolstered my feeling that this was serious stuff, not just escapism. Along, probably, with everyone else, I've noted a decline in hard SF over the last decades. I don't write any myself. It someti
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★★★☆☆ The Blue Afternoon that Lasted Forever by Daniel H. Wilson
★★★☆☆ A Slow Unfurling of Truth by Aliette de Bodard
★★★★☆ Thunderwell by Doug Beason
★★★★☆ The Circle by Liu Cixin (translated by Ken Liu)
★★★☆☆ Old Timer’s Game by Ben Bova
★★★☆☆ The Snows of Yesteryear by Jean-Louis Trudel
★★★★☆ Skin Deep by Leah Petersen & Gabrielle Harbowy
★★★☆☆ Lady with Fox by Gregory Benford
★★★★☆ Habilis b
Tobin Elliott
A very spotty-quality collection, unfortunately.

The Blue Afternoon That Lasted Forever by Daniel H. Wilson
This one starts off the collection, and does so with a bang. Loved it.

A Slow Unfurling of Truth by Aliette de Bodard
...and then the quality dropped. This one just seemed to go on forever, with no real point to it.

Thunderwell by Doug Beason
This one was fun, but I would have enjoyed a bit more of the desperation of the Mars team.

The Circle by Liu Cixin
I am just going to say it. I despise Liu
Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
I got this audiobook without paying attention to who narrated it. Uncharacteristic of me yes, but there are several narrators involved and I knew I would like some and dislike others. It's all personal preference. But when the first voice I heard was Stefan Rudnicki's I lit up. He has narrated hundreds of science fiction books and is producer of Lightspeed Magazine podcast. I really love his narrating style. In this book he reads the introduction to each story and one or two of the stories thems ...more
Oct 04, 2014 rated it really liked it

Carbide Tipped Pens: Seventeen Tales of Hard Science Fiction is named after the hard science fiction writing group that editors Ben Bova and Eric Choi belonged to in the late 1990’s. The subtitle speaks for itself.

For me, the best hard science fiction uses its technical aspects to enhance tales of human interest. The editors of Carbide Tipped Pens seem to agree, as the bookend stories are among the strongest. The first story, “The Blue Afternoon th
Michael Hicks
Dec 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher via NetGalley.]

Editors Ben Bova and Eric Choi have collected seventeen short stories from authors across the globe, where the primary focus is on technology. These are stories of hard science fiction, where the scientific concepts provide not only a framework for the plot, but are so integral to the story being told that without such a tech-heavy conceit the story would be impossible to tell.

The anthology opens with The Blue Afternoon
Dec 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Pardon me for a moment while I glue my heart back together.

And that is how I ended the first story in Carbide Tipped Pens - with a shattered organ, the sniffles, and high expectations for the rest of the stories.

As anthologies are oft to do, they put the best stories at the very front and the very end, hoping to pull book-store browser and preview-readers to the check out, while leaving readers who get all the way through with a feeling of satisfaction. Carbide Tipped Pens is no exception. It pu
James Campbell
Oct 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
First of all, thanks to TOR for the ARC of this fine collection of hard sci-fi short stories.

The first story The Blue Afternoon That Lasted Forever is worth the price of admission alone! This is what sci-fi is all about. This tale had a realism to it that was both sad and terrifying.

Other stories that I enjoyed were Ambiguous Nature which also had a lot of *yes this could happen* to it. It involves researches working on the SETI program.

Ken Liu's The Circle is a quirky alternate history story wh
Steven Cole
Oct 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaway-prize, arc
Full disclosure: I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book (thus the review prior to publication) for free from (Seriously: if you're not taking part in their sweepstakes, you really should. Odds of winning are actually quite high.)

What we have here is an anthology of new Science Fiction, with the "Hard" classifier thrown on there for good measure. This is supposed to mean that there's some scientific or possible futuristic element that's crucial to the story.

As is typical wheneve
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Camille, Kevin, Mike
Recommended to Jeff by: Found it on the library shelves
This is an excellent anthology of short stories clinching closely to the definition of "Hard" science fiction. In fact, the very science in each of these stories is crucial to the tale holding together. Very refreshing and uncommon in the genre. Even more wondrous, characterization is not sacrificed to the science.

My favorite: "The Yoke of Inauspicious Stars" by Kate Story. If Shakespeare had placed his iconic tale of young love and tragedy amongst the water miners of Jupiter's ice moon Europa.
Elaine Aldred
Dec 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The quality of the writing is signalled by the first story and does not let up. The stories are sharp and beautifully crafted, with the writers in full control of sometimes very complex material. These qualities beg for them to be read by an audience who would not normally consider dipping their toe in the science fiction genre. That said, it is also a book in which avid readers of science fiction will find no trouble immersing themselves.
Although firmly in the science fiction genre, the science
Nov 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Just read the first story. I dare you. The Blue Afternoon that Lasted Forever by Daniel H. Wilson. Try it. You'll see. Actually, one of the reasons I can't give this (or maybe any anthology) five stars is because there are always a few stories that make the cut and just drag. Those are in here too. It isn't because of poor writing, but because of the ideas or topics central to the story that just don't catch my interest. You may love them! [I easily forgo all baseball scifi stories...]

I don't c
Nov 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading this anthology of new hard sci-fi. These stories deal with the more human aspect of hard sci-fi (read the first story, "The Blue Afternoon that Lasted Forever" will drive that point home.

These stories approach the genre of hard sci-fi from several different areas of the human condition - from what is sentient (SIREN of Titan) to star-crossed lovers (The Yoke of Inauspicious Stars) to old age and marriage (Recollection). There is something for everyone here - excellent an
Tom Malinowski
May 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Interesting that this is labeled "Hard Science Fiction." It makes sense. For example, The Time Traveler's Wife might be considered "soft science fiction." That book is labeled as fiction, but clearly has a sci-fi element, but it doesn't hit you over the head with it. Carbide Tipped Pens does hit you over the head, but not all the time. Is there more techno babble jargon and out of this world concepts than other sci-fi books? Well, yeah, but since there's 17 tales you get a plethora of how author ...more
Apr 08, 2015 rated it liked it
No story beats the first one in this anthology. Still, the tales are good, but not as good as I expected.
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
My favorites:
"The Blue Afternoon that Lasted Forever" - Daniel H. Wilson
"Skin Deep" - Leah Petersen & Gabrielle Harbowy
"SIREN of Titan" - David DeGraff
David Dunnagan
Jul 14, 2019 rated it liked it
This short story collection was often fun and thought-provoking, but the quality was wildly inconsistent. Has an unmistakable amateur feeling. To be frank, a majority of the stories felt like they needed another revision... or ten.

And almost all of the forewords are shockingly terrible. Written-at-four-in-the-morning-before-a-deadline kind of terrible.

"The Blue Afternoon that Lasted Forever" - Very short, intriguing, heartbreaking. Liked it a lot. 4/5

"A Slow Unfurling of Truth" - Far, far too mu
Kindleworm Dot Com
May 07, 2020 rated it did not like it
My only interest in this anthology was to read A Slow Unfurling of Truth by Aliette de Bodard, so please read the following review with that in mind.

As far as i'm aware this is only currently available in the anthology Carbide Tipped Pens, which, for some reason unbeknownst to me, isn't available on Kindle: yes folks, it appears that the Luddites are at it again attempting their very worse to ruin life for us technologically advanced hominyds who read ebooks and love trees.   But, not to be
Neil Szigethy
Jul 16, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm not usually a fan of short-story anthologies, but when I saw this sci-fi collection edited by Ben Bova, and the dedication to Isaac Asimov, I thought I'd give it a try. Other than Ben Bova, I had never heard of any of the authors, so I was curious how they would create their "worlds" within this genre. The first story, "The Blue Afternoon That Lasted Forever," had me hooked – a father/daughter end of the world piece that was both memorable and touching. The other stories were a mixed bag, bu ...more
17 short stories, 2 of which are women. Reviews later.

The Blue Afternoon that Lasted Forever- 5 stars

A Slow Unfurling of Truth- 5 stars

Thunderwell- 3 stars

The Circle- 3 stars

Old Timer's Game- 3 stars

The Snows of Yesteryear- 3 stars

Skin Deep- 6 stars (of 5)!!

Lady with Fox- 5 stars

Habiki- 5 stars

The Play's the Thing- 4 stars

Every Hill Ends with Sky- 5 stars

She Just Looks That Way- 5 stars

Siren of Titan- 5 stars

The Yoke of Inauspicious Stars- 5 stars (NSFW)

Ambiguous Nature- 4 stars

The Mandelbrot Be
Sep 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: local-library
Most of the stories in the book have interesting hooks, but many of the stories were pretty bland. However, I did enjoy a few of them quite a bit: Doug Beason's 'Thunderwell'; Leah Peterson and Gabrielle Harbowy's 'Skin Deep'; Eric Choi's 'She Just Looks that Way'; and Kate Story's 'The Yoke of Inauspicious Stars'. Interestingly, I thought the bookend stories were the best and most deeply affecting. They were 'The Blue Afternoon that Lasted Forever', by Daniel H. Wilson, and 'Recollection', by N ...more
Jun 24, 2020 rated it liked it
The Blue Afternoon That Lasted Forever: 5/5
A Slow Unfurling of Truth: 4/5
Thunderwell: 4/5
The Circle: 5/5
Old Timer's Game: 3/5
The Snows of Yesteryear: 2/5
Skin Deep: 3.5/5
Lady With Fox: 1/5
Habilis: 2/5
The Play's The Thing: 3/5
Every Hill Ends With Sky: 3/5
She Just Looks That Way: 3/5
SIREN of Titan: 5/5
The Yoke of Inauspicious Stars: 2.5/5
Ambiguous Nature: 4/5
The Mandelbrot Bet: 3/5
Recollections: 4.5/5
Kee Onn
Aug 09, 2018 rated it liked it
A thoughtful, variegated collection of "hard" science fiction, where the technology or theories behind the storyline is described and sounds almost plausible. The real story is of course what the effects are, on human rights, family bonds, and of consciousness itself. I find the very last story to be the best, even after accounting for recency bias. Saved the best for last!
Dec 15, 2019 rated it liked it
The theme of this collection is 'hard SF' meaning the science is supposedly front and center. I thought that these stories either fell short of that or went beyond it, depending on your point of view, as most had a fairly strong human or emotional dimension. I enjoyed it.
Feb 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
A collection of 17 hard science fiction stories. As with most anthologies, they range from good to excellent. Some are lighthearted, others can be dark but all are grounded in near future cutting edge tech.
Robert Hudder
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's nice to read an anthology where everything feels good and new. I enjoyed all the tales. The weakest still had its moments even though everything was telegraphed. I was familiar with most of the writers and it was good to read some short fiction. Every story felt too short.
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Ben Bova was born on November 8, 1932 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1953, while attending Temple University, he married Rosa Cucinotta, they had a son and a daughter. He would later divorce Rosa in 1974. In that same year he married Barbara Berson Rose.

Bova is an avid fencer and organized Avco Everett's fencing club. He is an environmentalist, but rejects Luddism.

Bova was a technical writer fo

Other books in the series

The Universe of Xuya (1 - 10 of 44 books)
  • Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight
  • The Jaguar House, in Shadow
  • Asimov's Science Fiction, July 2010 (Asimov's Science Fiction, #414)
  • Space and Time, Summer 2010
  • The Lost Xuyan Bride
  • Interzone 213, December 2007 (Interzone, #213)
  • The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection
  • Asimov's Science Fiction, August 2012
  • Anthology of European SF
  • Asimov's Science Fiction, February 2011

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