The future doesn’t just happen… Somebody has to build it.
Martin L. Shoemaker, author of “Today I Am Paul”, presents stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary work. Planning, exploring, constructing… living and growing and dying… across the Solar System.
Includes these award-winning stories: Scramble (second place, Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award, 2012) Unrefined (third place, Writers of the Future, 2014) Racing to Mars (first place, Analog Analytical Laboratory award, 2016)
A nice set of stories all focused on people working through environmental or physical challenges in lunar, martian or space settings. The stories are filled with characters that many longtime sci-fi readers imagine themselves to be. That is folks who work hard and generally have an analytical approach to challenges.
For those looking of fiction that addresses stories of minorities or LGBTQ issues, this is not for you. The stories are all set in a place where either those issues have been resolved to the point where none of the characters worry about them anymore or if you are pessimistic about such topics, they are ignored in favor of boring traditional type characters. I would like to think it is the former, but your mileage may vary.
I really like Martin Shoemaker's books. This is perhaps my least favorite. I call his writing "old fashioned science fiction", with a mixture of good story telling, suspense, character development (so you CARE about the characters, even the not-so-nice ones), geeky technobabble, and broad vision of humanity's future. T. O'Connor Sloane once said that science fiction should make clear what inventions need to be invented soon and what fields need to be studied now, if we are to arrive at a bright future. Shoemaker's books help with that endeavor as well.
For me, the trouble with this book is that it is a collection of short stories published over several years in various pubications, loosely organized around the three themes of lunar, martian and jovian exploration. The stories are uneven. Some are among my favorite sf short stories. Some were a little boring. But that is the way with collections, so I still give the book 4 stars.
As with most short story collections, there are a couple that don't appeal to the reader, but I enjoyed the majority of these stories.
I really like the theme of "blue collar" which told me from the outset the stories would be more about the working crew, rather than featuring a dashing captain who gets all the women.
Overall, I recommend it as a good book you can pick up, read a story, then go do something else before reading the next story. I read two full novels with this book acting as my spacer (pun intended) between the novels which required much more of my attention for a longer period.
I like short story anthologies. I've got a couple of them myself.
Wasn't sure what to expect as I started the book. I read the synopsis of the book, and have read a different book by Shoemaker, so I knew the type of story telling I was about to dive into, yet despite this, I was still pleasantly surprised. It interesting to go through a series of stories that covers the mundane day to day happenings of living and working in space. Given, this book will never be adapted to a blockbuster sci-fi flick, but can definitely shed light to what the extras in the background should be up to.
As the title suggests, Shoemaker delivers a work-a-day reality. However, blue collar he may see it, the stories are laden with science. Plot points depend on metallic, orbital, and closed system properties.
Although he sketches the future in solar system activities, I wish he painted the scenes with a bit more impasto.
Finally! A sci-fi book that tells the stories of the folks who really do all the work!
If that weren't enough, the stories themselves are all solid and with many that are exceptional. They're organized into chapters dealing with different spaces/places/situations. I really enjoyed this one tremendously.