Last year’s ‘Solaris Rising’ anthology edited by Ian Whates (Best SF review here) was excellent, particularly welcome after the previous Solaris Book of New SF anthology series edited by George Mann, was cancelled.
The good news is that not only is a Solaris Rising 2 scheduled for 2013, but that an e-book to whet the appetite has been published between volumes, a clever way of raising profile for the series.
I’ve Kindled 1.5 onto my iPad, at only £3.50, less than a pint of beer in London these days. Considerably less if you buy a 6%abv pint of stout from a craft beer emporium off Hatton Lane. You may wish to avail yourself of the title, and herewith the Amazon links.
Adam Roberts. What Did Tessimond Tell You?
With a Nobel Prize for Physics beckoning, the lead scientist becomes increasingly frustrated as one by one her colleagues, having spoken to the titular Tessimond, leave the team with immediate effect.
Roberts teases the reader as each departee refuses to explain what Tessimond has said to them, building up the tension. Asimov’s ‘Nightfall’ gets a mention, with the fact that the research they are undertaking is on the expansion of the universe tipping the wink that something big is going to happen.
There’s an ‘interesting’ range of language used – ‘geezer’, ‘galoomph’, ‘cahoots’, ‘bald bonce’ which is a little anachronostic – unless physicists really speak like that?. Finally the lead scientist (and the reader) has Tessimond spell everything out, and everything is tidied up neatly at the end.
Aliette de Bodard. Two Sisters in Exile.
Another in de Bodard’s satisfying future Xuya sequence (chronology here). First up was ‘Shipmaker’ (Interzone #231 Nov/Dec 2010 – reviewed here), then ‘Shipbirth’ (Asimovs, Feb 2012 – reviewed here), and more recently ‘Ship’s Brother’ (Interzone #241, Jul/Aug 2012 – reviewed here).
The aforementioned stories having looking at the birth of spaceships powered by/linked to human minds, de Bodard takes us to the other end of the lifecycle, as warrior Nguyen Dong Huong, whose The Tortoise in the Lake is her fourth ship in her relatively short life, has the task of accompanying the Northerner vessel ‘The Two Sisters in Exile’ to its funeral.
Her visit to the Northerner planet is a suprise to her, as is the age of the ‘Two Sisters in Exile’, and the implication s of that longevity, and the response of the Northerners to its death. The story has literature and poetry and feelings at its core, rather than warp speed, photon torpedoes and the like, and along with Jay Lake’s short SF featuring humans facing human issues in future settings, one of the kinds of SF that I look forward to reading.
Gareth L. Powell. Another Apocalypse.
Powell covers ground in this short story that Alastair Reynolds would have covered in a fat novel (in fact, the story had strong echoes of Reynolds’ ‘Chasm City’). The planet Neuvo Cordoba has a single continent, arid and desolate, save for a series of might canyons, down the sides of which, and across which humanity has settled.
The story starts off with one Napoleon Jones, stetson-hatted and lizard-skin jacketed, escaping his pursuers by jumping off a rope bridge onto the top of zeppelin passing below. All very Indiana Jones! We then meet Katherine Abdulov on the spaceship Ameline and as we find out about her backstory it becomes clear that this story is part of a bigger milieu, and a post-reading google identifies it as being tied in closely to Powell’s novel ‘The Recollection’, published by Solaris.
Abdulov duly rescues her ex-lover Napoleon Jones, but it all feels a little bit like it’s on rails, action strung quickly together, explanation and backstory provided when needed, giving the reader a good taster for what the novel ‘The Recollection’ offers, with a suspicion that the story was primarily created for just that purpose.
Mike Resnick. The Second Civil War.
An alternative take on the civil war those crazy gun-totin’ Americans had.
Sarah Lotz. Charlotte.
An elderly female farmer in South Africa feels vulnerable when her guard dog is poisoned. Fortunately her daughter has a replacement, albeit not a canine one…
Phillip Vine. The Gift.
Vine muses on the muse. I’m not entirely sure to what effect, as it is one of those odd stories that just doesn’t grab me, and after half a dozen attempts to get into it that end up with me in an altogether different place mentally than the story he’s trying to tell, I gave up!
Tanith Lee. IT.
Short and quite lightweight look at a message from the stars.
Paul Cornell. A New Arrival at the House of Love.
Cornell bodaciously envisages a world in which almost anything is possible, and indeed the impossible does happen, with a cast of memorably strange characters and an epic DOOM! to withstand.
Paul di Filippo. A Palazzo in the Stars.
The First Men in the Moon from an Italian perpective, which of course involves beautiful scenery, food, and a molto bella lady with attitude (this latter being a Filippian requisito).
An excellent collection, more than whetting the appetite for Solaris Rising 2, due Spring 2013.