Wendy Sparrow's Reviews > Far Orbit: Speculative Space Adventures

Far Orbit by Bascomb James
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(Review from the author)
it was amazing
bookshelves: my-books

Okay, so it's too weird to review my own stuff, but I'll review all the other stories in this and the anthology as a whole.

The anthology on the whole is amazing. Anthologies typically are a mixed bag for how well stories fit a theme and the quality. I usually see anthologies like I see any artist's album--there'll be a few throwaway tracks used as filler. This anthology wasn't like that. I'm really impressed. It was cohesive in theme and, unless it's my own--which obviously I can't be objective on, there were no throwaway tracks.

No one has summed up individual stories, so I've done my poor best here, and I've also included my favorite quotes from each story. (I think I transcribed all the quotes exactly, but if anyone catches mistakes--I'll correct them because those are mine.)

1. Open for Business by Sam S. Kepfield: Entrepreneurs on Earth decide to mine an approaching asteroid by dragging it into Earth's orbit. *****

“Space is the new Old West.”
It was insanity, even after Terry’s explanation, but a very seductive insanity.

2. Composition in Death Minor by K. G. Jewell: An assassin visits an infected planet where the antibacterial’s addictive effects made it a commodity that was traded and stolen. ****

Playing classical cello was a lot like assassination.
“Do you know where the El Dorado is?”

The kid shook his head. “That’s not a place for ladies.”

“My mother has always wanted me to be a lady. Take me there anyways.”

3. Spaceman Barbeque by Peter Wood: A spaceman lands on Earth with his alien accoutrements which mean nothing to him if he can’t get home. His plight inspires the man he lands near. ****

Hank stared at Matt. If there hadn’t been a rocket ship in his backyard, he would’ve assumed that the stranger was a lunatic.

4. Obsidianite by Kat Otis: A signal calls a space trader to a planet with an erupting volcano. If she can grab the valuable obsidian or even the lesser obsidianite, she can make the trip worthwhile—even profitable, but first she has to confront a past she’d rather forget and which seems to be repeating itself. ****

Fourteen years of risking life and limb to turn a profit had definitely skewed her definitions of acceptable personal risk to the extremities of the human bell curve.

5. Starship Down by Tracy Canfield: A treaty with a greater alien race condemns a human medic to an internship among giant bunny aliens who only seem to mate and mimic. Without predators, it seems a great leap in evolution isn’t in the offing—especially when the nerdiest one can’t seem to catch a break. ***** (This was my personal favorite.)

Bunnytongue had three numbers: one, two, and many.
The other English post was a new overlay for the translation database, promising one hundred and five new synonyms for “to mate.”

6. Backscatter by Gregory Benford: Crash-landing on an asteroid made entirely of ice leaves the explorer searching for anything to keep her alive until their ship can find her. Things don’t look good—which her ship’s software is only too happy to inform her. But, over the next rise, the sun is coming up to shine on the icy planet. ****

She was cold, hurt, and doomed, but otherwise reasonably cheery.
Evolution never slept, anywhere. Even between the stars.

7. A Game of Hold’em by Wendy Sparrow When Moses shows up for a friendly game of Texas Hold’em at a Baruvian law-holder’s place, he discovers it won’t be friendly, and Martice lives outside the law. Even the game is rigged–the scheming dealer is a mute slave girl who, this time, has nothing to lose if she skews the game. (No rating since it's mine.)

The house always wins. In this place, the house would beat you and leave you broken and next to dead, but it would win.
Now, he’d just gone all in.

8. From a Stone by Eric Choi: Research explorers come across more than expected in an asteroid’s inner tunneling, but they have limited time to investigate while hampered by the red-tape and bureaucracy of those on Earth. ****

“I have no explanation at this time as to how these features were produced. This sounds crazy, but Ben… I don’t believe this is a natural phenomenon. This is something alien.”

9. Charnelhouse by Jonathan Shipley: A vacation on another planet turns into an archeological expedition with sinister results suggesting the former inhabitants of the planet, known as Necropolis, weren’t welcoming. *****

A thump followed her. Then a slow grinding sound. Then a sharp click. She picked up her pace. Around her, the echo of that click spread like a ripple in a pond. The feeling of wrongness crescendoed.

10. Bear Essentials by Julie Frost: When a transport freighter takes on delivering a cave bear to be worshipped but then killed, the crew has serious misgivings about the morality of their part in the transaction. *****

“Ain’t some gods famous for bein’ wrathful? I’d like ‘em to see what that looks like…”

11. The Vringla/Racket Incident by Jakob Drud: An epistolary narrative about a woman’s attempt to get one of the rare human babysitters for her child on an Earth being safeguarded by one alien race from another hostile alien race. *****

The Sensibi learn fast, and once they understood that wet insects aren’t considered a delicacy on Earth, they’ve stopped feeding them to the babies.

12. A Trip to Lagasy by Barbara Davies: A botanist is racing a former lover to find a Strangler Orchid on an alien planet with the help of a native guide. *****

The ‘Ministry of Foreign Affairs’—too grand a term for Lagasy’s one-man-and-his-dog outfit—had almost suffocated her with its red tape. Then there was the bored customs official at the dilapidated spaceport yesterday, who had amused himself by being obstructive.

13. Saturn Slingshot by David Wesley Hill: A space sailing ship carrying cargo breaks into the orbit of Saturn only to be attacked by pirates. *****

With a sidelong glance toward Jones, she sliced off an ear from each one and tucked the mementos away for safekeeping. Martians! He thought fondly, loving her ferocity as much as he feared losing her from the consequences of her bravery.

So, the result of those ratings divided by 12 (I'm excluding mine) is 4.6 well...4.583333..., so I'm rounding up to 5. Ha!(Look at me, showing my work...how awesome am I?)

Seriously, a great anthology. I hope there will be more anthologies like this one put out.

Edited to add: For those of my friends who are conservative or want to give this book to a younger audience, it's a mild PG-13 for profanity, content, and violence. It's a lot of fun, and I think a teen who enjoys Bradbury, Gaiman, or Douglas Adams would eat this up.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
December 4, 2013 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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James Kemp Thanks for doing this. I am really enjoying this anthology too.

message 2: by Mars (new)

Mars Rising Excellent review. Good work!

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