Sorry for the slightly extended absence, I’ve been fairly busy in the last couple weeks. This last weekend I attended GMX Volume 4 in Franklin, TN, and met a few sci-fi authors who got me interested in their work. So, I have a few books from some authors you may not have heard of, and will be reviewing their work in the upcoming weeks. Assuming, that is, I don’t get sidetracked with NaNoWriMo, which I’m planning to participate in. November may be a little quiet here. Just a heads up.
The nice thing about ebooks is that they’re a lot more affordable than paper books, especially when they’re on sale. Subterranean Press had an ebook sale for the month of September, and among my many purchases was the short story collection, The Best of Michael Swanwick. The collection gathers 21 years of stories written over the course of his career, which began in 1980. Over the course of a quarter-century, Swanwick has been nominated for 14 Hugo short story awards. He won five of those in a six year span from 1999 to 2004.
All of the Hugo-winning stories are included here, along with a selection of Swanwick’s favorite stories. A series of mini-reviews follows after the jump.
My introduction to Robert J. Sawyer came when WWW:Wake was serialized in Analog magazine back in 2008. I remember reading a couple pieces of the novel and thinking it was pretty interesting stuff, but I didn’t get around to rereading and finishing the novel back in 2011. It held up through my changing tastes, and I’m looking forward to digging into WWW:Watch soon.
A few weeks ago I picked up a copy of his 2000 novel, Calculating God. I’d never heard of it, but the concept was pretty interesting: aliens land on Earth, part of an investigation into the existence of a God. Their first stop is a Toronto museum, where a paleontologist named Tom Jericho works. Their theory: God has been steering the evolution of life through the history of the universe. Their proof: two other planets in the galaxy have suffered a series of mass extinctions at precisely the same times, among other things. Their intent: to see if Earth is part of the same grand plan.
The Starry Rift (1986), written by James Tiptree Jr. (aka Alice Sheldon), is a collection of three novellas linked around the common theme of navigating the troubles of a frontier region, in this case a star-void region between arms of the Milky Way. Separated in time over decades and centuries, the stories recount some of the problems humanity encounters as it spreads into the galaxy at large – unknown life forms, piracy, and diplomacy are only a few of the things characters encounter as they fill in blank areas on the star maps.
The stories are as entertaining as they are thought-provoking, but this is something to be expected when dealing with Tiptree stories. Written late in Sheldon’s life, The Starry Rift is among the last of her fiction to be published. Since I’m really not too familiar with Tiptree’s fiction, but from what little I’ve read of her earlier works, The Starry Rift seems quite a bit less pessimistic in tone.