This little British beauty has been sitting on my desk for some months, to the extent that several of the stories have now been identified as being selected for one or more of the current year’s Year’s Best anthologies, which will be hitting the streets before too long.
The volume also includes a number of reprints – no, make that a number of excellent reprints, as well as the aforementioned excellent new stories.
Reynold’s ‘Sleepover’ starts closer to home than most of his stories. But don’t worry, horizons are expanded in due course. There’s a mystery to be uncovered at the start (Reynolds’ does like his mysteries) as Marcus Gaunt wakes up from a period of technologically-induced hibernation. He was one of the super-rich who took the opportunity to go into hibernation and wait for medicine to get to the point to offer immortality.
Waking up he finds that it isn’t all a land of milk and honey. The only real issue with the story is that you have to accept that the protagonist is willing/able to wait several days for the truth to be gradually revealed to him – he doesn’t put his foot down and demand to know exactly what the fuck is going on and refusing to budge an inch until told.
There’s some dramatic imagery effectively conjured up – a sea packed with what look like oil platforms. Except they aren’t mining oil, they’re looking after untold millions of humans in hibernation. No longer the prerogative of the privileged minority, pretty much all of humanity in now asleep.
Just why is revealed, and without giving the game away, it’s way more complicated than rising sea levels. Ashley mentions in the opening notes that the story was dusted off from notes and work done on a projected novel that has yet to see the light of day. For my money, being a short story reader rather than a novel reader, Reynolds should produce further installments in short story form, eking the story out over several of our years as he works on his big novel contract! He’s left himself a whole world(s) of opportunity for broadening the story (as is also his wont).