Mankind comes face to face with extraterrestrial life in this short fiction reprint anthology from Clarkesworld publisher Neil Clarke. They Are Strangers from Far Lands . . . Science fiction writers have been using aliens as a metaphor for the other for over one hundred years. Superman has otherworldly origins, and his struggles to blend in on our planet are a clear metaphor for immigration. Earth’s adopted son is just one example of this “Alien Among Us” narrative.
There are stories of assimilation, or the failure to do so. Stories of resistance to the forces of naturalization. Stories told from the alien viewpoint. Stories that use aliens as a manifestation of the fears and worries of specific places and eras. Stories that transcend location and time, speaking to universal issues of group identity and its relationship to the Other Contents: Introduction Touring with the Alien / by Carolyn Ives Gilman Laws of Survival / by Nancy Kress At Play in the Fields / by Steve Rasnic Tem Ants of Flanders / by Robert Reed Taking Care of God / by Liu Cixin Water Scorpions / by Rich Larson The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill / by Kelly Robson Men are Trouble / by James Patrick Kelly They Shall Salt the Earth with Seeds of Glass / by Alaya Dawn Johnson Bits / by Naomi Kritzer And Never Mind the Watching Ones / by Keffy R. M. Kehrli Dark Heaven / by Gregory Benford Nine-Tenths of the Law / by Molly Tanzer Five Stages of Grief After the Alien Invasion / by Caroline M. Yoachim Time of the Snake / by A.M. Dellamonica The Fear Gun / by Judith Berman Tendeleo’s Story / by Ian McDonald The Choice / by Paul McAuley Passage of Earth / by Michael Swanwick Reborn / by Ken Liu Story of Your Life / by Ted Chiang Permissions About the Editor
Neil Clarke is best known as the editor and publisher of the Hugo and World Fantasy Award-winning Clarkesworld Magazine. Launched in October 2006, the online magazine has been a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine four times (winning three times), the World Fantasy Award four times (winning once), and the British Fantasy Award once (winning once). Neil is also a ten-time finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Editor Short Form (winning once in 2022), three-time winner of the Chesley Award for Best Art Director, and a recipient of the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award. In the fifteen years since Clarkesworld Magazine launched, numerous stories that he has published have been nominated for or won the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Sturgeon, Locus, BSFA, Shirley Jackson, WSFA Small Press, and Stoker Awards.
Not One of Us had a couple of amazing stories that even after finishing this book a couple of days ago I can still remember vividly what happened and the important messages those stories tried to portrait and succeeded at it. But unfortunately those stories weren't enough for me to love this anthology as a whole because there were a lot more stories that I didn't like, whether it was because of the characters or the pacing.
A lot of the stories I didn't like weren't unique enough for me to distinguish between them and that's not a good sign. Moreover, there were a few stories that I had to DNF because they were too gory for me, I just can't deal with people cutting open dead bodies even if those bodies aren't human.
On the other hand, I did like how the majority of the stories were amazingly diverse. These stories are written by a lot of different authors and that really showed in the stories, we got main characters from all over the world and with different sexualities. I adored to see diverse characters in a story where that diversity wasn't the main focus, it was just another characteristic of the person.
I would definitely recommend this book to people who love reading about aliens but not so much to people who are only starting to get into this genre because, from my experience being used to reading contemporary or low fantasy, starting with this book can be quite shocking and confusing at times.
---- RATINGS FOR EACH STORY ----
*Touring with the Alien - Carolyn Ives Gilman: 2 stars *Laws of Survival - Nancy Kress: 3 stars *At Play in the Fields - Steve Rasnic Tem: 3.5 stars *The Ants of Flanders - Robert Reed: 2 stars *Taking Care of God - Cixin Liu: 4 stars *Water Scorpions - Rich Larson: DNF *The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill - Kelly Robson: 5 stars (TW: Sexual assault, PTSD, suicide) *Men Are Trouble - James Patrick Kelly: 1 stars (TW: Suicide) *They Shall Salt the Earth with Seeds of Glass - Alaya Dawn Johnson: 3 stars *Bits - Naomi Kritzer: 5 stars *And Never Mind the Watching Ones - Keffy R. M. Kehrli: DNF *Dark Heaven - Gregory Benford: 2 stars *Nine-Tenths of the Law - Molly Tanzer: 2.5 stars *Five Stages of Grief After the Alien Invasion: 3.5 stars *Time of the Snake - A. M. Dellamonica: 4 stars *The Fear Gun - Judith Berman: 3 stars *Tendeléo's Story - Ian McDonald: 2 stars *The Choice - Paul Mcauley: 3 stars *Passage of Earth - Michael Swanwick: DNF *Reborn - Ken Liu: 3.5 stars *Story of Your Life - Ted Chiang: 3 stars
As is the case with most anthologies, not all the stories were good but most were decent. A couple stood out as amazing. There are some really great quotes/snippets in these stories that I've shared below. Consistent throughout each story in Not One of Us anthology is that there are no green men, humanoids or aliens like we traditionally think of. These are truly 'alien' beings from the dark creatives minds of each writer (and lets face it way more likely to be what we might encounter in real life!). Some are bug-like, others are monstrous, more blob-esque or didn't even have a physical or perceivable tangible form! My imagination was pushed to its limit by these alien forms, societal beliefs, and even their methods of communication.
Story 1: Touring with the Alien by Carolyn Ives Gilman If only I were half as creative as this writer! What an odd, yet meaningful story. A solid way to kick-off what becomes a very mind-bending anthology.
Story 2: Laws of Survival by Nancy Kress An odd story. We are solidly in the territory now that 'alien' is not an archetype or in any way typical for this anthology.
Story 3: At Play in the Fields by Steve Rasnic Tem ”Sometimes the best thing is just doing the only thing that’s left.” What you do when you appear to be at the end of civilization. Not bad but was missing some substance.
Story 4: Ants of Flanders by Robert Reed A very engaging story; even though it has some large, difficult to digest concepts in it. "Adventure is the story you tell afterwards. It’s those moments you pick out of everything that was boring and ordinary, and then put them on a string and give to another person as a gift. Your story.”
Story 5: Taking Care of God (translated) by Liu Cixin This is not what you might expect based on the title. I really enjoyed this story about aliens that 'created us' returning to Earth thousands of years later. It has lovely language and style. A wonderful translation! "In this universe, as long as you’re patient, you can make any wish come true. Even though the possibility is minuscule, it is not nonexistent."
Story 6: Water Scorpions by Rich Larson Written by a fellow Canadian whom I'm familiar with! Sadly I didn’t really get this one. But there was a bit of a creepy-crawling ick factor that might have been most of my problem. Sometimes my brain just won't cooperate or allow me to imagine something.
Story 7: The Three Confessions of Jessica Churchill by Kelly Robson Robson, another fellow Canadian, is a sci-fi author I’ve been meaning to read for some time now. If this story is any demonstration of her writing she is well worth reading! I loved the legit Canadian tidbits and settings in this one. Alongside the contrast of real catastrophic events against that of the events our lead gal is experiencing. Very clever and well done!
Story 8: Men Are Trouble by James Patrick Kelly There is a great irony, given the title, that there is not a single man in this story. It was okay. I didn’t love it or hate it. Mostly meh on this one. Part of me can't help but wonder if perhaps the author doesn't really get how women feel and made too many presumptions?
Story 9: They Shall Salt the Earth with Seeds of Glass by Alaya Dawn Johnson *yawn* this one was sooo boring. Also it’s a poor editorial choice to put two stories where pregnancy/conception are the main topics. Neil Clarke should know better.
Story 10: Bits by Naomi Kritzer Best story yet! Well only because it’s the most amusing and yet makes perfect sense when you really think about it. Bits is about a squid-like alien that comes to Earth and integrates with us. Including having relations (a.k.a. sex) with humans. Now (of course) our 'bits' don't match-up quite right. So a company starts making silicone-like sex organs that are compatible for the aliens and humans to enjoy one another. Seriously hilarious but also genuinely truthful in the necessity that pleasure plays in happiness and general existence of humans (and maybe aliens too).
Story 11: And Never Mind the Watching by Keffy R. M. Kehrli Alien or covert way to gain knowledge of everyone’s life? Either way these glitter frogs gain access to everywhere, literally. This is a story that I could actually see being true. At its core it’s about teenagers wanting to get away from it all. And let's face it, if we had aliens (in any form on Earth) I can definitely see many teens wanting to run away with them. No questions asked. Adolescence is a tough, tough time and a ride in a spaceship could easily seem like the answer; especially when you feel you have no other options. This is also a statement on societies inability to really help those in abusive situations or whom become homeless just to stay alive. A sad, yet kind of bittersweet story in the end. I really liked this one and it stuck with me long after I read it.
Story 12: Dark Heaven by Gregory Benford This is the longest story so far; as well as the most boring. There is so little alien involvement in this story that it's a stretch to even consider it remotely appropriate for this anthology. While the major (eventual) plot point involves aliens; the first 70% of the story is just a detective investigating a homicide. A murder mystery is not my cup of tea on a good day; and certainly not when what I'm expecting (and frankly hoping for) is odd alien-esque stories. Give our annoyingly broody detective an alien sidekick and maybe we can talk...
Story 13: Nine-Tenths of the Law by Molly Tanzer This is an interesting little story of a married couple who are having problems; and one night the husband spices things up. Except the husband may not really be the husband anymore. Talk about alien's learning how humans interact! A very good (and very adult) short story about trust, relationships and marriage.
Story 14: Five Stages of Grief after the Alien Invasion by Caroline M. Yoachim This is an okay one. It's not really about aliens; so much as it is about a result of their arrival and unintended consequences on humans. I'm not really sure there is a lot here that stands out to me but I did enjoy this quick read well enough.
Story 15: Time of the Snake by AM Dellamonica Great, quick, action packed story. And love to see a lesbian writer included in here! LGBTQ+ rep has been really good all around in this anthology in fact. Kudos to Neil Clarke for finding some ensuring good diversity.
Story 16: The Fear Gun by Judith Bergman This story could easily be adapted into a book or even series. So much potential! It reminded me a bit of Wayward Pines. I don't want to give anything away as this one is so good. I just wish there was more of it!
Story 17: Tendeleo’s Story by Ian McDonald Any avid follower of sci-fi stories (especially novellas, shorts, etc) will have heard of Ian McDonald and be familiar with his genius sci-fi writing. McDonald is skilled at taking a basic, seemingly everyday concept, and twisting it on its head. Here he tells the story of refugees and their plight. However unlike so many refugee stories this one has an ending/twist I absolutely did not expect! McDonald is a master at giving new perspectives. Suddenly you find yourself really thinking differently about a situation without even realizing you might have felt otherwise before the story was laid out for you. Honestly brilliant.
Story 18: The Choice by Paul McAuley I’m clearly missing something on this one as I didn’t get the point at all. Maybe following McDonald hurt this stories chances. I dunno just wasn't there for me.
Story 19: Passage of Earth by Michael Swanwick I had to look up words, how fun! They were medical/scientific terminology related to worm anatomy, so everyday practicality is low, but still exciting to learn new words. :) This story is beyond shiver worthy if you don’t like insects, mud or worms. I read it at home and halfway through retrieved my boa constrictor (Bowie) to sit with me to make me feel safe (he'd eat those icky worms!). If you can get past the possible ick factor, this is a very original and well written story. I’m definitely going to keep Swanwick on my list to read again; even if I have nightmares of giant sentient worms that devour me and my pet snake.
Story 20: Reborn by Ken Liu ”Just because something is true doesn’t mean you stop struggling.” A very deep story about how humans are more than the sum of their history. For example, a murderer can still be a good husband or father irregardless of his murdering past. In Reborn, an alien race comes to Earth to assimilate with us and yet we fight back (as that is what humans do it seems...). We fight even in the face of a truth we don’t want to believe or hear. This is a weird story but has something unique to it. It reminded me a little of Altered Carbon in that it's about our humanity and willingness to accept what may seem counter intuitive.
Story 21: Story of your Life by Ted Chiang This reminded me of the movie Arrival (I have not read the book). It’s entirely focused on learning an alien language. It has some really cool linguistic science in it but sadly doesn't deliver at the end. Any drawn out, slow story like this (with a lot of fancy words) needs to have a punch of an ending or some sort of twist. This one missed that for me. It's too bad as I would have loved to see the final story really grab me. Were I putting the anthology together I'd put McDonald's or Swanwick's story last. Each left a lasting and punchy impression on me. I like to have an anthology end strong so I don't immediately forget all the stories in it.
Overall I really enjoyed the majority of these stories. The best part of all of them was the lack of defined gender roles put onto our aliens. Because to assume aliens would be female or male would be very arrogant of humans. It was clear that there were no rules given to these writers in advance to keep things within a certain societal context; sexually, physically or emotionally. This gave a lot of depth to the stories that you don't always get in collected anthologies. I would definitely recommend this set of stories for anyone into sci-fi and for those wanting to dabble in true alien fiction (not just little green men stories).
To read this and more of my reviews visit my blog at Epic Reading
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
I'm not going to rate the entire book because I did not read every story. For the most part, the stories I read were pretty good. I only began the ones that sounded interesting and finished the ones that really drew me in (well at least after I realized the first 4 weren't that great lol then I decided I wasnt going to read every single story). I read 13 of the 21 stories.
My favorite was The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill by Kelly Robson. I loved the tone and how dark it was.
I also really enjoyed Touring with the Alien (only because it had a satisfying twist ending that saved it), Taking Care of God (big ideas in this one), Bits (the most unique), Nine-tenths of the Law (among my top faves; had a bleak tone and ending), Reborn (also among my faves; could totally see this being a movie!) and Story of your life (subtle story but very interesting ideas about the connection between language, perception and reality).
For those who think that imagination has reached its limits and those who believe every story has been told before, here’s a terrific volume of 21 creative stories about aliens 👽 coming to earth 🌍. All these different authors have given us their unique tales about HG Wells War of the World’s type invasions. But, what’s remarkable is that not all the stories are about catastrophic destruction and refugees living in the mountains. Some posit symbiotic cooperative futures where we are connected to aliens 👽 by telepathy, by rock star like bus tours, by bearing the burdens of caring for those who were last here thousands of years earlier. And, believe it or not there are even stories about sex with aliens 👽 even when their parts are not exactly compatible. And, the aliens are quite diverse from 🦑 squidlike creatures to croaking glowing frogs 🐸 to mindmelding body stealers. A truly awesome collection. But, be forewarned, it is lengthy and cannot be consumed in just one sitting.
Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
Like most of these humongous tomes edited these days, the collection under review was a rather badly mixed bag. For some reason Mr. Clarke had decided to go for big (and over-written) stuff at the expense of compact, readable pieces. He had also gone for (mostly) stuff that talks about humanity while aliens are somewhere out there. Nevertheless, I found several stories worthy of repeat-read. These are~ 1. Touring With the Alien: Carolyn Ives Gilman; 2. Taking Care of God: Cixin Liu; 3. Men Are Trouble: James Patrick Kelly; 4. Bits: Naomi Kritzer; 5. Dark Heaven: Gregory Benford; 6. Reborn: Ken Liu. Unfortunately, the rest (including lots of big names) were mostly 'Meh' types. 'Nuff said.
In Not One of Us, Neil Clarke collects reprints of some of the most impactful stories concerning aliens and humanity published in recent years. For the alien lover, it’s a great collection, and I’d recommend it even for those who are simply alien-curious as well.
Covering a broad spectrum of authors, from Chinese tour-de-force Cixin Liu to the incredible Kelly Robson, Not One of Us has an astounding amount of depth to it that make it feel comprehensive and well researched.
Particular standout stories include “The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill” by Kelly Robson, a story of alien parasites set against the backdrop of the looming 9/11, among others. “Bits” by Naomi Kritzer is also well worth checking out, for its humorous portrayal of selling sex toys and marital aids to human/alien couples who aren’t biologically compatible. And, of course, I would be wrong not to mention “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, the short story that was later adapted in the feature film Arrival.
As with most collections, the stories vary in tone from the tragic to the comic, and every other spectrum in between. They also vary in length a great deal, with some that could more easily be classified as novellas or novelletes thrown into the mix. The variation in lengths can be somewhat jarring- going from a story that’s only a few pages long into something much longer can jolt you out of your reading groove. More uniformity in word count may have helped to hold the cohesion, but also would have left some pivotal stories out.
Underscoring every tale is the theme of how humanity shows itself in the face of alien invasions. Even the most benign tells us something about ourselves, and every author takes pains to scrape away the layers to show that.
Because it’s a reprint anthology, it’s likely you’ve read some of the stories before, if not most of them. If you’re someone who follows sci-fi voraciously, this may come as a disappointment, though I guarantee there’s at least one or two you haven’t read before. For everyone else, it’s going to be an entirely fresh dive into the face of the weird.
This novel was a good collection of short stories. I liked all of the stories with some being downright amazing. Most of the stories can be found in either other anthologies or online websites. None of the stories were the same with different alien types, and different plots with some featuring an alien invasion, some about first contact and some about life after the aliens have arrived on Earth (either as humanity is enslaved or after humanity has driven the aliens away). My favorite stories were The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill by Kelly Robson, Bits by Naomi Kritzer, Time of the Snake by A. M. Dellamonica, and Reborn by Ken Liu.
Introduction by Neil Clarke The introduction briefly talks about previous pieces of written/visual literature featuring aliens on/visiting Earth. Interesting and short, I liked how Neil Clarke used old (1960's) and new (2015) examples.
Touring with the Alien by Carolyn Ives Gilman - ★★★★ This story follows two people and an alien as the alien tries to learn more about humanity. Great story with an even better ending. As much as I liked the main character I liked the secondary character Henry better.
Law of Survival by Nancy Kress - ★★★★ This was one of the saddest stories in the anthology. It features aliens, dogs, and humanity on the brink of death. I think the saddest part was the MC's connection to the unwanted dogs.
At Play in the Fields by Steve Rasnic Tem - ★★★.5 This wasn't one of the best stories in the anthology. Instead of focusing on the aliens or why they came to Earth it focuses on the main character remembering his past. The author was trying to talk deeply about home and what it means to have a safe place but I wasn't interested.
The Ants of Flanders by Robert Reed - ★★★ This story reminded me of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, only serious without any humorous elements. I didn't like the plot premise, I found it too unrealistic (funny, coming from a novel featuring aliens). Characters were interesting and well written.
Taking Care of God by Cixin Liu - ★★★★ This was such a unique and well written story. I was a little confused in the beginning with the references to God but that quickly cleared up. I loved the plot and story idea.
Water Scorpions by Rich Larson - ★★★ Alright story about a genetically altered alien boy who lives with a human family. Story focuses on the human brother as he trips to come to terms with his feelings towards the alien: anger, jealously and guilt.
The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill by Kelly Robson - ★★★★★ Wow, just wow. That is one intense way to end a story. I loved the Canadian location too.
Men Are Trouble by James Patrick Kelly - ★★★.5 Story follows a PI who is trying to find a missing girl and solve a suicide. I liked the background to the story, aliens invaded and removed/killed all men so only women are left. I just wish we could have found out why the aliens fear men so much. Felt like there was too many elements to the story so it was a little jumbled.
They Shall Salt the Earth with Seeds of Glass by Alaya Dawn Johnson - ★★★.5 Story follows two sisters who have to leave their small town to see a doctor. This was a good story, exactly what I expected to read in this anthology. The aliens and their motives are mainly unknown as humanity tries to survive with their presence on Earth.
Bits by Naomi Kritzer - ★★★★.5 Not sure if this story was supposed to be funny or not but I still got a few good laughs from it. It is the most liberal and sexual explicit story in the novel. One of my favorites.
And Nevermind the Watching Ones by Keffy R. M. Kehrli - ★★★.5 This story is told from numerous teenagers POV. Some don't feel like they fit in on Earth so they want to visit the alien's ship/planet. Great main character and character development. Plot was okay but a bit dry.
Dark Heaven by Gregory Berford - ★★★.5 Story is about a homicide detective trying to solve a double murder. It was one of the longer stories in the anthology so it felt like it dragged in parts. Great ending.
Nine-Tenths of the Law by Molly Tanzer - ★★★.5 Story follows a woman who is in an unhappy marriage when her husband agrees to allow an alien cohabit in his body. I found I couldn't relate to the main character, she is willing to accept too many unknowns with the aliens for potential happiness.
Five Stages of Grief After the Alien Invasion by Caroline M. Toachim - ★★★★ This story follows a married couple as they grieve for their dead daughter. It was a sad story with a sad, but realistic ending. The death of a child can destroy a marriage.
Time of the Snake by A. M. Dellamonica - ★★★★.5 Great story about an alien and a human collaborator squad. It made me think of the french/polish/etc citizens who helped the Nazis. Ending was amazing.
The Fear Gun by Judith Berman - ★★★★ Story features a town that has survived out of from the government support for a year. The story was alright. I found it left too many questions unanswered, and I dislike the anti-government mentally the town had.
Tendeleo's Story by Ian McDonald - ★★★★ Long but great story about an alien invasion that is terraforming part of the planet. I loved the plot and the discussion of power, refugee camps and the UN. Main characters were great, Tendeleo was interesting to read. The alien terraforming was beautiful, I could visualize it.
The Choice by Paul McAuley - ★★★.5 Aliens have made a peace agreement with humanity and then disappeared from everyday life. As such alien technology or artifacts are highly sought after. This story is part of a coming of age story and part adventure. The story contains an in depth look at the choices people make and their unattended circumstances.
Passage of Earth by Michael Swanwick- ★★★★ Story is abut an alien civilization that wants to understand humanity better. Main character is a divorcee who has to work with is ex-wife again. I loved the interaction between the two, the hidden anger and bitterness there. Interesting concept of how aliens learn.
Reborn by Ken Liu - ★★★★.5 Another great story in the anthology. It focuses on a detective who is hunting down a group of xenophobes. I loved how the story resolved around memories and personality and the past.
Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang - ★★★.5 Story is about a woman who tries to understand an alien language so she/the world can communicate with it. The story also has flashbacks to her past. This story had the most technical details in it, as such it should have been places closer to the beginning of the novel as my mind had started to wander at this point of the long novel. Okay story overall.
Thank you to Netgalley and Skyhorse Publishing for this ARC.
The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill / by Kelly Robson - no star (The copy I was reading failed to post BIGTIME trigger warning.) (I was expecting aliens THIS WAS JUST TOO DARK.) (Read last year.)
Passage of Earth / by Michael Swanwick - 2.40🌟 (Read last year.)
Nine-Tenths of the Law / by Molly Tanzer - 2.45 🌟 (Read last year.)
Touring with the Alien / by Carolyn Ives Gilman - 2.50🌟 (Read last year.)
At Play in the Fields / by Steve Rasnic Tem - 2.55🌟 (Read last year.)
The Choice / by Paul McAuley - 2.90🌟 (Read last year.)
Men are Trouble / by James Patrick Kelly - 3.00🌟 (Read last year.)
Laws of Survival / by Nancy Kress - 4.00🌟 (Read last year.)
Five Stages of Grief After the Alien Invasion / by Caroline M. Yoachim - 4.25🌟 (Read in 2020.)
Bits / by Naomi Kritzer - 4.5🌟 (I think I began this anthology with this. Naomi Kritzer will always have a warm fuzzy place in my heart because of Cat Pictures Please. And this story lived up to my expectation.) (Read in 2020.)
Time of the Snake / by A.M. Dellamonica - 4.75 🌟 (This made me look up A.M. Dellamonica and her other Squid works! My second favorite story in the whole bunch.) (Read in 2020.)
Story of Your Life / by Ted Chiang - 5🌟 (I first read this in 2013. One of my favorite short stories ever.)
(Read in June 2021.)
Dark Heaven / by Gregory Benford - 2.70🌟
They Shall Salt the Earth with Seeds of Glass / by Alaya Dawn Johnson - 3.10🌟
Taking Care of God / by Liu Cixin - 3.15 🌟
Water Scorpions / by Rich Larson - 3.2🌟
Tendeleo’s Story / by Ian McDonald - 3.5🌟(Probably one of the most interesting alien invasions I've read. But. There is something distracting about the idea of an author who is a white man writing a first person pov of a poor black girl.)
And Never Mind the Watching Ones / by Keffy R. M. Kehrli - 3.55🌟
The Fear Gun / by Judith Berman - 3.70🌟 (The ending is the best part. Without that particular ending it would have been a meh 2.5.)
Ants of Flanders / by Robert Reed - 4.10🌟
Reborn / by Ken Liu - 4.70🌟(My third favorite story in the bunch, and it was the last one I read so it was a truly excellent way to end this anthology. It has Greg Egan feels!)
A collection of short stories centered around the theme of aliens on Earth. Some are conquerers, some are refugees, some invasive species with no observable intelligence, some just visitors.
My final read of 2021, and as it's a collection, it's both the easiest and hardest type of review to do. Because I can almost write the words I write all the time in anthology reviews blindfolded: "It's a mixed bag with some stories I really dug, others I didn't connect to at all, some I've already read, and I bet if we both read the collection we'd completely disagree on which stories we most and least liked." So what's to say in a review? Nothing, other than to just list some faves: "Reborn," by Ken Liu- a reread, but one I'd both forgotten, at first, and yet feel like I shouldn't have because it's quite powerful, both an interesting alien race and having a lot of deeper things to say. "Men Are Trouble," by James Patrick Kelly, set on a worlds where aliens disappeared all the men but want the human race to continue, but focusing on the smaller story (connected to bigger issues) of a PI dealing with a missing person case. "Tendeléo’s Story" by Ian McDonald, which I'm not sure I particularly liked as a short story (not that I disliked it, but I might have been a bit too distracted and rushing-to-complete-before-the-year-end to fully appreciate it, I'll have to give it another read sometime) but really interested me in trying out the greater Chaga novels. And of course "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang is always good but I've read it enough already that the impact is blunted. Of the duds, mostly I just can't remember them enough to point them out, but "The Fear Gun" by Judith Berman just felt like a slog that I didn't much care about (but again, end-of-the-year rushing, maybe I didn't give it my full attention).
Overall, I thought it was a pretty decent collection. 3.5 stars, maybe, but since Goodreads still doesn't allow part-stars, I'm going to move it to three, just because, although there were some excellent ones, too many of them were just kind of 'meh,' and it's too big a book to have that be my major impression.
This is an interesting collection of stories anchored by aliens either as the driving force of the story or in the background. A couple of enjoyable aspects of this collection are the imaginative types of aliens that these authors came up with and how humans interacted or are affected by alien contact. The stories cover a wide range of topics, including explorations of hot topics, such as climate change, immigration, and the plight of refugees. I was disappointed with some of the stories because of their abrupt endings; however, my dissatisfaction may have been the result of being into the story that I wasn’t ready for it to end. I think readers will find some stories in this collection more rewarding or appealing than others which is to be expected in such a wide ranging collection as this one, but all the stories should be appreciated for the inventiveness of each writer. For me, some standouts were “Bits” by Naomi Kritzer, a fun story about sex and the aliens, “The Fear Gun” by Judith Berman, about fighting the occupation by aliens, and “Taking Care of God” by Cixin Liu, a wonderful look at aliens who created our world class me back for help and, well, the results are not what you may expect. One of the strongest and moving stories is “Tendeleo’s Story” by Ian McDonald, a novella about alien occupation and western intervention through the eyes of a refugee. Not a simple tale as it explores loss of home, culture, family, and the search to retain and reclaim what was lost.
This was an excellent collection of SF stories that explore the idea of "aliens" on Earth. I love collections like this that show how many different ways good writers can approach the same idea in such different ways. I loved the fact that the editor chose stories from international authors, and that most of the stories are relatively recent—the oldest is Ted Chiang's famous "Story of Your Life" from 1998 but most are from the last 10 years. I used to read a lot of science fiction stories in magazines but got a bit tired of stories that seemed more fantasy than SF so I am just now trying to catch up with more contemporary SF novels and stories. At any rate, I really loved this collection and while there were stories from some of my old favorites (Michael Swanwick, Gregory Benford, Nancy Dress) there were stories by people unfamiliar to me as well. While, as usual, I liked some stories more than others, I really enjoyed the variety and the imagination in these stories. And some of these stories will stay in my memory for a long time.
This was a fantastic collection of stories! I enjoyed every one. My favorites were “Tendeléo’s Story” by Ian McDonald, Laws of Survival by Nancy Kress, Men are Trouble by James Patrick Kelly, Dark Heaven by Gregory Benford and The Fear Gun by Judith Berman. There were variations on old science fiction tropes, but there were also a surprising number of plots and theories I hadn’t read before. I highly recommend this collection!
A marvel of storytelling. The characters are so alive and the 12th century settings so finely described, I felt as if were truly a part of the action. Eglantine is a wonderful heroine and Duncan is her perfect foil. The ending is a bit contrived, but is happy nonetheless.
This is a delicious collection of stories of alien encounters by many of sci fi’s heavyweights. I especially enjoyed Ted Chiang’s story which was the basis for one of my favorite movies, Arrival. I always feel that alien interventions make me more aware and questioning of what it means to be human, so for me this was exceptionally thought provoking.
A surprisingly excellent collection of stories. All first contact stories and all really good. There are a few "duplicates" but the telling makes them worthwhile. I would recommend it to anybody looking for sci fi that surprises
“Touring With The Alien,” by Carolyn Ives Gilman (2016): 7.5 - A first-contact story with that plays out its (slightly implausible) xenobiological implications thoughtfully, yet is otherwise enfeebled by the encrustations of emotional resonance barnacled to it. These gestures at backstory do little to explain character actions (the “betrayal” of humanity at the end [ie allowing the alien spores to “invade”) and often just are left floating ambiently (the un-returned-to brother??).
This is a very long book filled with stories that give some intriguing possibilities for contact with aliens. am not a fan of short stories that are given no end and the reader must imagine what happens next. Many stories like that. More than one story utilized aliens that had some relationship to earthly amphibians. Why do these types of stories have to include sex and porn? On the whole, my preferences go towards space opera sf stories and the stoies in 'Not One of Us' did not satisfy.
A solid collection of stories. As with any short story anthology, some stories will appeal to the reader more than others- this will, of course, depend on the tastes of the reader. Having said that, I didn't find a stinker in the bunch. I won't list which stories I liked best or least- I personally prefer not to be influenced ahead of time, I won't do it to others, but I found no stories lower than 3.5 stars, most were 4 or 5 stars.