Mazer Rackham, the first human to defeat the Buggers, is waiting in a near-lightspeed ship for the Buggers to return, or the next human commander to be found. Like when a 13year old gets "high" off of pixie-sticks and posts "hilarious" and "wacky" crackfic on ff.net. A linguist talks about his work in destroying various alien life-forms. It seems like it tries a little too hard to be folksy--but I expect a lot from KTB's stories, so perhaps I'm judging this to an unreasonable standard. Far too many double-crosses and plot twists, but I like the science and the ideas he uses. I would undoubtedly have enjoyed this more if A)I had read Foster's Commonwealth stories or B)the differences between Empire and Commonwealth weren't presented so heavy-handedly. "Like They Always Been Free" by Georgina Li. An atypical love story. A callow pilot watches as a med tech retrieves and identifies bodies from the recently finished war. (This was a weird story, because I felt like we were supposed to root for the Praesidentrix and the Warden, but in point of fact I thought the prisoners were in the right.) "Warship" by GRR Martin and George Guthridge. Really interesting story in which tradition and religion is used to cloak uneven power. As he says, "I started thinking about what a realistically capitalistic federation would look like, and the story was born." Hilarious and poignant. Fantastic world building, beautiful language, and an engaging story.
Mazer in Prison by Orson Scott Card was excellent, but I listened to it not long ago in one of his collections. Life-suspension by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. was good, 3.5 stars. 2 stars Spirey and the queen by Alastair Reynolds - good. 3 stars Pardon our conquest by Alan Dean Foster - LOL! 3 stars Symbiont by Robert Silverberg - :shiver: Creepy & sad, but good. 4 stars Ship who returned by Anne McCaffrey - great to revisit this universe. Valente - interesting way of presenting a history through wine. The last were all pretty good, 3+ stars. Excellent collection.
In many ways, I've started to come to believe that you can't go wrong with a John Joseph Adams' collection. E. Modesitt, Jr.): "Terra-Exulta" (S.L. Gilbow): Reminds me a bit of that Stephen King piece that opens Wastelands. Anderson & Doug Beason): So much potential, and almost good; but why did I wind up feeling like it needed to be more subversive? (E.g., so many heteronormative relationships!if the prison revolt leader had been lovers with another man, well now maybe that might have been a little more intriguing.) "Different Day" (K. Wright): The Tolkien-esque language can be a little off-putting at first but it really starts to make sense after you get about a third of the way in. A little bit like that. "The Other Side of Jordan" (Allen Steele): Serves a little bit as a reminder that one of the things you're going for (when you're going for sci-fi) is the "deep milieu". "The One with the Interstellar Group Consciousnesses" (James Alan Gardner): Cute, and a bit novel, but kind of like an artisan soda: not really bad for you but not really necessary but damn tasty but kind of a cloying aftertaste?
My two biggest complaints about the collection are that it tends towards super-contemporary and slightly juvenile styles and it also contains several stories which are sequels, prequels, or otherwise part of story arcs set across multiple stories and novels by their authors, making the stories themselves hard to follow if you're not familiar with that author (and those characters') other stories. "Life-Suspension," by LE Modesitt, Jr : This Asian themed story manages to do "mythology in space" without succumbing to Star Wars level tackiness. The story has pretty decent voice, but its premise is apparently largely to creep out the audience, something which it manages only peripherally. Although this one is also part of a larger story arc written by the author in novel form, this story stands on its own well, and, as the introduction promises, explores the grim professions that crop up out of war. "Twilight of the Gods," by John C Wright : Another story that's part of an extended arc by the author, this story actually is one of my favorites in the collection. The exploration of society aboard a generational warship that experienced a great cataclysm that caused its crew to lose its way, turning the ship into a microcostic world with warring states, is engaging and interesting from beginning to end. While it has some interesting ideas - the culture clash between a less-advanced but extremely aggressive species which has decided to surrender to a technologically superior but benevolent civilization rather than lose at war, while the latter superior civilization takes their surrender as an opportunity to let them join their society - it ultimately plays these clashes off more as gags than as an intellectual exploration of the incident. "Symbiont," by Robert Silverberg : This story creeped me out, which is definitely what it set out to do. Unfortunately, the way this story is written won't appeal to anyone fully - people who are already fans of the other stories will be bored with the constant rehash, and new fans will be put off by all the exposition. Decently done but it does feel a bit juvenile, and if you're not heavily familiar with both Trek lore and contemporary internet-nerd culture you'll probably be quite lost reading it. Its ideas and societies and economic structures are pretty interesting, but ultimately it fails to deliver a really good storytelling experience. "Like They Always Been Free," by Georgina Li : Definitely, by far the strongest voice in the collection. Short, and probably could have been longer to be a more fulfilling story, but definitely a high point of the collection. The story gets its point across and leaves the reader feeling pretty lousy, while maintaining a decent sense of character and a relative lack of melodrama. Of these, the best are "Life-Suspension," "Aftermaths," "Twilight of the Gods," "Swanwatch," "Like They Always Been Free," and "Eskhara." I'm still not sure I'd recommend a purchase, but a grabbing a copy from the library to take in a few of the stories isn't a bad idea if you're looking for a few fun, but not terribly ground-breaking, reads.
Genre: Adventure Alternate History Apocalypse Cyberpunk Disaster Fiction Military Multiverse Science fiction Short stories Space Space opera War Why this book: The cover. ______________________________________________________________________ Mazer in Prison by Orson Scott Card Favorite Character: Mazer Rackham, war hero and deep space traveller, and Rip Van Winkle on a long trip through time on his roundtrip way to Earth and command a fleet that is on its way to enemy territory. Reminded me of the scene in Apollo 13 when Tom Hanks Lovell ripped the sensors out of his space suit because he was tired of people knowing everything that was going on with him. Hmm Moments: Sending the commander into space at relativistic speeds on a trip to nowhere so that he maintains time with the fleets outbound from Earth for the Formic worlds. Hmm Moments: The cloning ambassadors thing instead of having to send new ones out from Earth is odd. Clone ambassadors in deep space with other alien ships close at hand waiting on an all powerful alien to show up while keeping the peace between all those waiting for the arrival. Plot Holes/Out of Character: Flight Captain Ghenji Yamatos physical description of the new officer entering the mess, which is presented as an inner monologue, doesnt read like anyone would talk to themselves. ______________________________________________________________________________ Terra-Exulta by S L Gilbow The Feel: This is like a Reverse Earth Day diatribe hidden inside a discussion of language wrapped in a sci fi template. ______________________________________________________________________________ Aftermaths by Lois McMaster Bujold Favorite Character: A wet behind the ears Pilot Officer on his first real mission and hes doing recovery trips across dead battlefields recovering the bodies of troops from both sides. Hmm Moments: The idea of carrion wagons crisscrossing interstellar battlefields to recover the bodies of soldiers and sailors. ______________________________________________________________________________ Prisons by Kevin J Anderson and Doug Beason Favorite Character: The Warden Amu, the revolutionary. ______________________________________________________________________________ Twilight of the Gods by John C Wright Favorite Character: The last Watchman, his duty is to be carried through even if all is lost. Least Favorite Character: Acting Captain Weston II, he is every privileged silver spoon who thought that by virtue of birth he was chosen to lead that youve ever encountered in your life. The Feel: I like the idea of Wagners Ring Cycle in space. Hmm Moments: Creepy when he uncovered the body of his dead lover and kissed her kneecap. ______________________________________________________________________________ Spirey and the Queen by Alastair Reynolds Favorite Character: Spirey is us caught up in the flux of duty, honor, and what is right when all three dont equal out. The Feel: Love the concept. Hmm Moments: Posthuman men falling into barbarism while machines fight their wars. Thats a great twist on the evolution of the A.I.s. ______________________________________________________________________________ Pardon Our Conquest by Alan Dean Foster Favorite Character: Admiral Gorekii for that last line if nothing else, but hes excellent throughout. Hmm Moments: ...this war. ______________________________________________________________________________ Symbiont by Robert Silverberg The Feel: Its a decent story about duty and honor. Hes the narrator and the voice that leads us through the story. Favorite Scene: The moment when MacGregor and Woo realize that it isnt vulcanism causing those lights on their target planets dark side. Hmm Moments: Love the Rip Van Winkle / Vance Astrovik / tortoise and the hare aspect of this story. Hmm Moments: Love the idea that there are nodes out there with the real identiies of all these absorbed cultures, just waiting for their rediscovery by the drones who may escape the UP and rebegin again. ______________________________________________________________________________ The Other Side of Jordan by Allen Steele Favorite Character: The narrator is great. The Feel: There is a great sense of wonder at the universe that the narrator is moving through. Hmm Moments: The way that the danaii deal with warfare on The Hex. Why isnt there a screenplay? Great story. ______________________________________________________________________________ Like They Always Been Free by Gerogina Li Favorite Character: Kinger and Boy are great characters. ______________________________________________________________________________ The One with the Interstellar Group Consciousness by James Alan Gardner Favorite Character: Both the Union and the Didge are great characters in possibly the weirdest romantic comedy of all time. Least Favorite Character: The Abundance reminds me of my ex. Favorite Scene: When the Union realizes that the Abundance isnt all shes cracked up to be. Hmm Moments: I kept wanting to read the line and this was regarded as being a really bad idea or some variation of that. ______________________________________________________________________________ Golubash, or Wine-Blood War-Elegy by Catherynne M Valente Favorite Character: Our narrator and winetaster in chief The Feel: The illicit, illegal wine tasting history lesson is an awesome way to do world building for the background. Favorite Scene: Love the end. Hmm Moments: Possibly one of the oddest sci fi stories Ive ever read. ______________________________________________________________________________ Last Page Sound: This was a great collection of sci fi.
I bought this book purely for Jeremiah Tolbert's story, which did not disappoint, and was surprised to see other authors I liked among the contributors. The Good: "Carthago Delenda Est" by Genevieve Valentine I think I didn't quite "get" this story, but it worked. R. Martin and George Guthridge Good concept done well, but a little overstated. "Like They Always Been Free" by Georgina Li It's hard to find a good really short story and this one definitely makes the grade, but the intensely personal voice was a little hard for me to follow. "The Other Side of Jordan" by Allen Steele Great concept skimmed over in favor of a fairly cardboard love story. The Not Worth It: "Mazer In Prison" by Orson Scott Card I enjoy much of Card's fiction and dearly love several of his books, but I really didn't need to read this story. "Symbiont" by Robert Silverberg Silverberg's written a zillion stories, but all the ones I've read seem to take a concept that could be interesting, give it a few quirks--a few good lines, a nice twist, a funny scene--but just not do much with it.
Called the reigning king of the anthology world by Barnes & Noble, John is a two-time winner of the Hugo Award (for which he has been nominated nine times), is a seven-time World Fantasy Award finalist, and served as a judge for the 2015 National Book Award.