25 October, 2010

Book Review: The Starry Rift: Tales of New Tomorrows

Title: The Starry Rift
Editor: Jonathan Strahan
Contributing Authors: Stephen Baxter, Cory Doctorow, Greg Egan, Jeffrey Ford, Neil Gaiman, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Ann Halam, Margo Lanagan, Kelly Link, Paul McAuley, Ian McDonald, Garth Nix, Alastair Reynolds, Tricia Sullivan, Scott Westerfeld, Walter Jon Williams
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Science Fiction/Anthology
Page Count: 525
Rating: 5 out of 5
Cover Rating: 5 out of 5. Awesome cover for this one!

Inside flap:

Truly successful science fiction does two things: it gives a credible glimpse into the future while entertaining the reader. With this in mind, noted anthologist Jonathan Strahan asked sixteen of today's most inventive, compelling writers to look past the horizon of the present day. Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link, Garth Nix, Scott Westerfeld, and their colleagues have crafted a dazzling range of stories. Whether on spaceships, in suburbia, or in simulated gaming worlds, whether about cloning, battle tactics, or corporate politics, the stories of The Starry Rift will give every reader something to consider.
   This original anthology is crucial in reading for those who want to see where the future--and the future of science fiction--is headed.

My expectations: High. I loved Strahan's other anthologies, so I pounced on this one when I saw it in the library. (I really should go back and read The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year again.)

It exceeded my expectations!

About the book: There are some amazing authors in this book. I've read Gaiman, Lanagan, Link, McDonald, Doctorow, Westerfeld, Nix, and a few others before, and I enjoyed most of them. This book didn't disappoint, either. With different formats, completely different ideas, and a whole host of characters, I loved reading all of the stories.

1. A**-Hat Magic Spider by Scott Westerfeld
Can you imagine nearly starving yourself to go onto a ship with just one other object with you? Having to make yourself weigh nothing over a certain allotted number of grams, because of how much food and fuel you take up? That's what this boy has to do.

2. Cheats by Ann Halam
Gaming seems to be on the rise when it comes to SF. Personally, I was never a fan of it, but as long as the story is well-written and free of the usual cliches I'm fine with it. This short story isn't cliched, and the idea of "cheats" in the game I hadn't heard of before..

3. Orange by Neil Gaiman
It's 70 answers. You don't know the questions being asked, but you do know the replies. It's an interesting set up--the reader has to fill in the questions on their own.

4. The Surfer by Kelly Link
An epidemic has hit Earth. People are being quarantined, planes are grounded, parts of the world have stopped and Adorno is stuck in the middle of it.

5. Repair Kit by Stephen Baxter
Spaceships in this one. The Flying Pig is equipped with a special drive, a prototype--Paul Tielman is Captain, and he is known for being cautious when it comes to flying. But the company wants him to get into space without the precautions, a mistake that could be deadly for the crew.

6. The Dismantled Invention of Fate by Jeffrey Ford
I love this one. Parts of it sort of reminded me of Pocahontas/Avatar (I kid you not) but it's completely different in other respects--yes, there's the foreigner who falls in love with one of the people indigenous to the planet, but he thinks he accidentally killed her, and now lives alone. His life changes when a strange creature appears and stabs him.

7. Anda's Game by Cory Doctorow
A take on Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Again, it's a gaming story, this time about a girl who belongs to an elite group of gamers; she and one of her friends are sent, with the promise of a large reward, to kill everyone inside one building.

8. Sundiver Day by Kathleen Ann Goonan
Sundiver's brother has been killed in the war. She misses him terribly, as does her mother. She works for a place conducting research on cloning, being a scientific genius herself. Then something occurs to her, out of missing him so badly--what if she cloned her brother?

9. The Dust Assassin by Ian McDonald
Padmini was told by her father that she was a weapon. To be used against a rival family, she was brought up in the city, always wondering how and why she was a weapon. When her family is attacked and killed, leaving only her living, she escapes with one of her family's most trusted yts, to go into hiding, to wait until--the reason still unknown to her--she can act as the weapon she was brought up to be.

10. The Star Surgeon's Apprentice by Alastair Reynolds
Peter Vandry needs to get off Mokmer. He doesn't have enough credit though, to buy his passage--so he agrees to become an apprentice aboard the Iron Lady. The Star Surgeon, Zeal, takes care of the crew members onboard, and they are usually half-people, half-machine. When the Iron Lady gets into a fight with another ship, Peter learns something else--this isn't just a ship. It's one of the fabled and infamous pirate ships. And he can't get off.

11. An Honest Day's Work by Margo Lanagan
(This is the story I did one of my Teaser Tuesdays on.) Amarlis is a cripple, one leg withered. He can't find work very often--but when one, huge job comes along, everyone gets a spot. They're dismantling of a huge, massive, living human replica. Of course, things start to go wrong when they realize that the creature's brain wasn't completely sedated.

12. Lost Continent by Greg Egan
Ali is taken away by a man his uncle says is trustworthy. He's forced to stay under a blanket for the entire trip, while they travel through deserts and tunnels, until they accidentally crash. Ali finds himself in a strange world; apparently, in a different time, on a different continent.

13. Incomers by Paul McAuley
Strangers on the moon are rare, especially in some parts. Which is why Jack, Mark, and Sky decide to follow the man they see in the market; they think he is a spy of sorts. It all starts to go wrong when Mark decides to break into his house and find out what the man's really about.

14. Post-Ironic Stress Syndrome by Tricia Sullivan
Maja is a fighter. There's such a thing as M-space, and she uses an M-ask to access it. She can travel anywhere in the Universe with a single thought; the purpose is to fight others who are on the enemy side. Her body is programmed to reflect parts of the universe, which means, for example, that her leg may connect with a power plant, her arm to a factory, and so on. If she's injured, that place goes down. But when the fight comes, something happens--her communication is shut off, and she's suddenly feeling pain when no one's there.

15. Infestation by Garth Nix
Mechanical vampires, and their hunters. There are the freelance hunters, with their Wood-N-Death (r) weapons, their crosses, but Jay has none of that--just a scar in the shape of a cross, and a wooden weapon. He and four others are sent to a vampire lair, with ten of the creatures living inside. Their goal is to kill all of them.

16. Pinocchio by Walter Jon Williams
The pitfalls of fame and being "popular". Sanson starts out his story as a gorrillaloid, a human who's taken on the shape of a gorilla. He has a huge following of people (much like, say, Justin Bieber). When his girlfriend, Kimmie, dumps him, he's at a loss at first to think of what to do--she's now his rival. His popularity begins to slide continually, and Sanson is forced to scramble to think of something--anything--to do.

Other: Some language, b-, d-, and s-words, and violence.

I don't usually like anthologies. But sometimes anthologies can pull it off like nothing else can, and this one did that for me.

Do I recommend this book? Yes!

-----The Golden Eagle
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Clarissa Draper said...

Cool book review. I don't read much sci-fi but I do like it. I think I would like shorter works done in an anthology so I'll look into it.


Hannah Kincade said...

you know, I only write spec. fiction shorts but I don't read many and I should. I will add this to my list! Thanks!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sounds awesome! And yes, a great cover.

Jules said...

Nice review. I'll keep this one in mind. :) I like the cover, too.
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Mary said...

Looks very interesting.-- Maybe after CassaStar.

Anonymous said...

This book sounds awesome. I love peeks into the future and this will provide plenty. I'm writing down the title. Thank you. This probably would've slipped past me.

The Golden Eagle said...

Clarissa: If you do read this book, I hope you enjoy it!

Hannah: I'm trying to get around to reading more speculative fiction, but sometimes that type of literature can be hard to find in the library . . .

Alex: I really like it too. :)

Jules: Thanks, Jules.

Mary: Right! CassaStar first, of course.

Paul: You're very welcome!

RaShelle said...

This books sounds like a lot of fun! Thanks for the review. I'll have to pick it up.

N. R. Williams said...

Great review Golden. I think the stories sound fabulous.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Misha1989 said...

It does sound very interesting. I have not read much of science fiction but I will check this one out.

The Golden Eagle said...

RaShelle: Worth the read!

Nancy: They are, and at the end of each chapter there's a note by the author--those are interesting to read.

Misha1989: I enjoy SF a lot, so this wasn't out of my genre, but I think it has some cross-appeal.