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Cosmic Powers: The Saga Anthology of Far-Away Galaxies

(The Machineries of Empire #- The Chameleon’s Gloves)

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  241 ratings  ·  51 reviews
A collection of original, epic science fiction stories by some of today’s best writers—for fans who want a little less science and a lot more action—and edited by two-time Hugo Award winner John Joseph Adams.

Inspired by movies like The Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Wars, this anthology features brand-new stories from some of science fiction’s best authors including Dan
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 18th 2017 by Gallery / Saga Press
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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Jun 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-read
Overall this was just an OK collection for me. There were more stories that I didn't much care for than those I did. The ones I liked best were The Deckhand, the Nova Blade, and the Thrice-Sung Texts; and The Chameleon's Gloves.

A Temporary Embarrassment in Spacetime by Charlie Jane Anders - This was OK, but I'm not really a fan of humorous or zany satirical SF.

Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance by Tobias S. Bucknell - This one I quite liked. A maintenance robot goes toe to toe with a snobby
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful anthology of science fiction and fantasy with a view towards the widest scopes. It's not all on a cosmic space or time scope, but it's definitely all playing to the theme. There's a wide range in tone as well, with some being very hard science fiction, a couple of laugh-out-loud funny stories and a few that are touching and sweet.

As with all anthologies, the quality is somewhat uneven and naturally subjective, but there were only a few stories I really didn't care for and some of th
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Like all collections/anthologies this one has some winners and some losers but the good far outweighs the bad in this collection of stories from some very talented writers!
Peter Tillman
Aug 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Peter by: Random grab off the new-book shelf, SBPL
Interesting anthology of new stories. I liked some more than others. Overall, 3.3 stars?

For me, the standouts are:
* “Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance” by Tobias S. Buckell. Classic biter-bit tale, in a posthuman, post space-war setting. With one nasty throwback onscreen. Tasty stuff: 5 stars! Also available online at

* "The Chameleon's Gloves" by Yoon Ha Lee. An interrupted art-heist becomes a mission to save-the-universe from a prototype superweapo
Some good stories but overall a bit underwhelming. 18 stories with a combined rating of 55 stars out of a possible 90 gave the average rating a 3.05. The following is the stories ranked from most liked to least liked:

Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance by Tobias S Buckell - 5 Stars - Exquisite world building
A Temporary Embarrassment in Spacetime by Charlie Jane Anders - 5 Stars - Hilarious

Unfamiliar Gods by Adam Troy Castro & Judi B. Castro - 4 Stars - Hilarious and Unforgettable
The Deckhand
Lis Carey
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is just one kickass good anthology. Go buy a copy in your preferred format now.

Okay, okay, you want to know more.

Every one of these stories is, as advertised, far-future, galaxy-spanning, and involves people confronting huge problems caused by technology, in some cases so advanced as to be, as Arthur C. Clarke said, "indistinguishable from magic."

They vary wildly in tone, also.

Charlie Jan Anders' "A Temporary Embarrassment in Spacetime" is just really funny.

"The Chameleon's Gloves" by Yoon
Cosmic Powers is an anthology of sci-fi stories from 18 different authors; many of them were new to me.
I found it kind of disappointing: there were many stories I couldn't even get into; not all of them were necessarily bad, some were just really not my kind of sci-fi. On the other hand, the stories I was looking forward to were just as good as I expected.

A Temporary Embarrassment in Spacetime by Charlie Jane Anders: ★½ DNF
Charlie Jane Anders' writing really isn't for me, I already knew that bec
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fantastic! A wonderful and deliciously rich story, from beginning to end. Buckell is sure to gift us some amazing ideas, and I very much look forward to reading more from him.
Jun 13, 2018 added it
Ok, so I didn’t technically read all the stories. Which is silly, because I was really enjoying them, but it was due back at the library, and couldn’t be renewed, and I dunno, there’s so many other books to read! And I’d read the Becky Chambers story that has prompted me to get in the first place! That said, I enjoyed what I read very much, and if my path crosses it again I’ll finish it!
Bonnie McDaniel
John Joseph Adams pretty much has the golden touch as an editor. I own several of his anthologies, and they've consistently been among the better SFF collections out there. This book definitely follows in that tradition. Some of these stories are outrageously over-the-top (in keeping with the bright, eye-watering cover art), but that is part of the theme, and the charm, of this book.

The standout story in this anthology, so far, seems to be "Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance," Tobias S. Bu
a hooded figure from your friendly neighbourhood dog park
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
"I" is a maintenance form robot who used to be human, who agreed more than one hundred years ago to give up its free will in order to perform contracts in exchange for a chance to see the galaxy on various contracted positions.

(view spoiler)
LCL Summer Reading Challenge "Read a book published this year" ...more
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
Great short story of a bot on a spaceship just after a battle. Elements of Iain M Banks and perhaps also Neal Asher ... or at least it brought him to mind.
I picked this anthology up for the Seannan McGuire and Becky Chambers stories, both of which are well worth reading. In point of fact, they are not the only gems in this collection, which has quite a few stellar stories. Unfortunately, there are also a number of tales that just made me tune out. They were a little too epic and somehow failed to be interesting. Or they just weren't my style. Still, it's a set of short stories, so there's no harm in putting the book down for a week or two before r ...more
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
My favorite stories:

P. 55 Zen and the art of starship maintenance: this story is about a "robot" who is used by a biological form, who knows the 3 laws of robotics, to force it to save its life. 3 🌟

P. 70 The Deckhand Etc: This story is by Becky Chambers who wrote Long Way to an Angry Planet. it's about an orphan who is A deckhand on a ship. Nobody likes her; she lost her best friend at the same time that she lost her parents. She likes to smoke weed in the chapel and she keeps a log that's halfw
This book was a mixed bag, but that mix was generally excellent- I enjoyed something from every story. I think the issue I encountered most often is that science fiction doesn’t lend itself to the short story format when you try to shoehorn in too much lore or information- you can’t worldbuild your robotic space odyssey as deeply in a short story as you would in a novel. That being said I think these stories were mostly balanced and interesting. Some stories, though I would give them only 3/4 st ...more
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Space Opera. How did I not realize this was a distinct subgenre of science fiction? Consider me stumped but oh so very pleased. According to Wikipedia, space opera "emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, interplanetary battles, chivalric romance, and risk-taking.” Heck yes.

Whatever you call it, this collection of short stories has been an absolute joy and refreshing escape. All the more necessary as a reprieve during my long dark read of Mr. Stephen Kings’ “The Stand” and our equally
- Charlie Jane Anders, 'A Temporary Embarrassment in Spacetime' (3.5/5)

What an odd but fun story. It's the kind I'd like to read more of (as a novel) to really get into the characters and world.

- Tobias S. Buckell, 'Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance' (3/5)

I struggled to get into this one, after a few attempts. While I don't necessarily understand everything, I could picture what was happening. Interesting. (The writing is so much like my brother's haha.)

- Becky Chambers, 'The Deckhand, th
Mark Vayngrib
Jun 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
still reading, but so far, 3.5 stars

A Temporary Embarrassment in Spacetime - 2.5 stars
zany and hilarious at first, exhaustingly tedious in the middle, and something probably happens at the end

Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance - 3.5 stars
well written and engaging. More space opera like this please

The Deckhand, the Nova Blade, and the Thrice-Sung Texts - 2 stars
engaging enough, but literally nothing happens in front of the camera

The Sighted Watchmaker - 2.5 stars
not bad, but the magic trick
Feb 07, 2020 rated it liked it
1. A Temporary Embarrassment in Spacetime - Awful. Characters are one dimensional. Plot is all over the place. Hope this is the worst one of the anthology. ⭐

2. Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance - I really liked this one. It contemplates what free will is and how two characters - a robot and a human - view free will. I also like the side characters and would enjoy reading more about this world. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

3. The Deckhand, the Nova Blade, and the Thrice-Sung Texts - This story reminds me of the sto
Jun 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: anthologies
With 18 stories in the star-hopping, galaxy-spanning, gonzo vein of Guardians of the Galaxy, this JJA anthology is one of his best. I took my time, savoring every story. It rocked my universe.

"Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance" (Tobias S. Buckell, nominated for Locus, Sturgeon, Eugie)
"The Deckhand, the Nova Blade, and the Thrice-Sung Texts" (Becky Chambers)
"Infinite Love Engine" (Violet Allen)
"Golden Ring" (Karl Schroeder, in his Lockstep universe)
"The Chameleon's Gloves" (Yoon H
Oct 20, 2020 rated it liked it
A collection of far out space opera, the kind with galactic empires and civilizations that can move stars and other themes that have an almost comic-booky feel (I don't mean that in a derogatory way, the editor did specifically cite Silver Surfer comics as being something in the style they were going for).

A short story collection's generally only as good as the stories within, and typically they're a mixed bag, appealing to different tastes, and usually I find a few I liked a few I didn't and pl
Bridget Mckinney
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
The new John Joseph Adams-edited anthology, Cosmic Powers, is the first great anthology of the year, jam-packed with smart, entertaining sci-fi adventure stories that bring a nicely modern sensibility to old ideas and tropes. There are several recurring themes throughout the anthology. Religion figures largely in many of these stories, and several of the stories deal with gods or with beings who have amassed nearly godlike power with the aid of time and technology. Artificial intelligences of va ...more
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I picked up this anthology because it included one of my favorite stories from last year "Infinite Love Engine," by Joseph Allen Hill. Cosmic Powers, as seen in this collection, is a bit of tricky beast to classify. It's one part space opera, one part comic book, and generally a lot more concerned with dramatic action and character tension than the accuracy of the science. In another era this might be termed "Planetary Romance," or something like that but really it's just a lot of fun. To be cle ...more
John Pedersen
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, fiction
Short story collections are, by definition, a mixed bag. This one contained very few duds in my opinion. The theme of the collection is sweeping operatic space saga, so vote yourself out if this is of no interest to you.

Top 5 stories from my perspective (in order they appear in the book):
A Temporary Embarrassment in Spacetime - Charlie Jane Anders. Bizarre world, a talking super weapon, and teamwork.
Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance - Tobias S. Buckell. Precise plotting, believable conflic
Riju Ganguly
Apr 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
An anthology that aspires to touch the levels of, or at least claims to have been inspired by the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' has a tough job to handle. Fortunately, John Joseph Adams proves to be better captain than the self-proclaimed Star Lord. Thus, despite being not entirely marvel-esque, the anthology provides us with a lot of enjoyable stuff.
My favourites are:
1. Charlie Jane Anders's "A Temporary Embarassment in SpaceTime"— awesome!
2. Tobias S. Buckell's "Zen and the Art of Starship Mainten
Jun 10, 2017 rated it liked it
A diverse bag of talent, I got the book mainly for Becky Chambers's story (and hers alone was worth it) but was pleasantly surprised with some other real gems. I found the stories by Becky Chambers, Dan Abnett, Kameron Hurley, Charlie Jane Anders and Jack Campbell are the most memorable.

Other stories were good. A few were outright amateurish, stuck in the folly of having ambiguous voices speaking in abstractions about unknown nouns and events.

Overall though a good collection of the current scen
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf
These are all set in the far future, on other planets/ships/structures, barely a mention of Earth. Predictably, the ones I liked best were by authors who were already favorites: Charlie Jane Anders (hilarious), Becky Chambers, Alan Dean Foster, Seanan McGuire (yes doing interstellar kind-of-space opera complete with jewel thieves!), and Linda Nagata. All the others were nicely done too, though a few were not to my taste.
A very enjoyable anthology where I thought all of the stories merited at least three stars and most were of the four star variety. My favorites were probably Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance by Tobias S. Buckell and Tomorrow When We See the Sun by A. Merc Rustad but there were several more that were just as good. This is the second anthology that I've read and enjoyed that was edited by John Joseph Adams so I'll look for more from him. Highly recommended! ...more
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John Joseph Adams is the series editor of BEST AMERICAN SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY. He is also the bestselling editor of many other anthologies, such as ROBOT UPRISINGS, DEAD MAN'S HAND, BRAVE NEW WORLDS,WASTELANDS, and THE LIVING DEAD. Recent and forthcoming books include WHAT THE #@&% IS THAT?, OPERATION ARCANA, PRESS START TO PLAY, LOOSED UPON THE WORLD, and THE APOCALYPSE TRIPTYCH (consisti ...more

Other books in the series

The Machineries of Empire (3 books)
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  • Raven Stratagem (The Machineries of Empire, #2)
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