New SF writers prove that the future didn’t die with Isaac Asimov.
Science Fiction Book Review Ian Whates Solaris Rising Two 2013 Rebellion Press
A fabulous collection of short science fiction stories by some of the best writers in the genre today, with several new and familiar names among them.
Opening with Paul Cornwell’s simply titled Tom, which deals with a very sensual aquatic life form from another World, who gets into a very complex cross species adulterous relationship tangle.
Nancy Kress’s More addresses the future of Greenpeace style protest action groups, and the kind of punishments that await them in the ongoing struggle to preserve the environment.
James Lovecroft’s eerie Shall Inherit has the autistic children of Earth cast into space as our only hope of continuing the species when Earth itself faces destruction.
Neil Williamson’s Pearl In The Shell is probably the first story to explore the future implications of illegal file sharing and music downloading, and sampling, in a World where the true original sound is greedily sought and all music is savagely copyrighted so no one can do cover versions of more than a few seconds of existing work.
Nick Harkaway’s The Time Gun has a man shot into time itself during what seems like routine robbery, but how far into the past will he go, and who was it who shot him? An ingeniously simple tale worthy of the Golden Age.
Kristine Kathryn Rusch provides the most poetic title, When Thomas Jefferson Dined Alone, about invisible time travellers watching the unfolding history of the US White House, but were its residents aware of their presence or not?
Allen Steele’s Ticking is a Terminator style war against robot marauders who are out to purge the human race, but how many survivors are they going to allow?
Kim Lakin-Smith’s Before Hope has a fantastic Supercar style truck haulage driver with a vehicle that serves as road Juggernaut, aircraft and spaceship, seeking an apprentice on a World where poverty has attained extreme levels.
Kay Kenyon’s The Spires Of Greme is another ecology gone wrong story, with the survivors of a World that has been swallowed by a genetically enhanced forest entity trapped in Cathedral spire like rockets that can only take them to a limited number of places. A young lady finds herself part of an arranged marriage survival deal, but will her future husband survive the journey to meet her?
Mercurio D Rivera’s Manmade is a reversal of the AI unit struggling to become human, with a perfect android’s efforts to reject its humanity in favour of a return to the machine state. Will the humans allow it?
Martin Sketchley’s The Circle Of Least Confusion sees an artefact from a time war fall into the hands of a young couple who see all manner of possible futures for themselves and humanity as a whole. Will they dare to keep the devise and try picking the futures that appeal tot hem? An interesting take on the genie’s wishes’ options, and the need to choose your dreams wisely.
Norman Spinrad’s Far Distant Suns sees one of the giants of the New Era SF boom return with a new classic. Spinrad savagely spoofs the old Star Trek Prime Directive here (and he has a right to, having penned the classic Doomsday Machine episode of the series). He finds that the suns we dream of visiting are trapping us in a circle of orbit round themselves just as a light bulb draws a moth. He reminds us that our own Sun is just such a star, and that it holds us back, rather than letting us move freely through the gulfs between the stars.
Martin McGrath’s The First Dance has a future where our memories can be taxed, and erased if we don’t keep up our payments. An old man sets out to illegally restore old favourite moments, but the experience may not be one he can repeat or hold on to for long. Is it worth it?
Mike Allen’s Still Life With Skull is a pure Cyberpunk struggle by a man able to detach his wire components and bury his own head, in a struggle against fabulous virtual monsters who may have something to do with a former lover.
Vandana Singh’s haunting J G Ballard-like With Fate Conspire has a woman in India picked from poverty for her time sensitivity. She is sent on a mission to find the lost thoughts of a great Indian poet, but in a World which is flooding she finds herself haunted by the plight of peoples from other times, and wonders at the wisdom of the mission she is given. She makes up the poems she is supposed to be finding, and tries to reach the people who she believes are really calling for her. In doing so, she discovers the truth of why she is set such a task in the first place.