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edited by Jonathan Strahan

Night Shade (2008)

ISBN: 978-1-59780-136-2

Reviewed by Simon Petrie, May 2010

The stated aim of Strahan’s Eclipse annuals is to emulate the unthemed anthology series of decades past, such as Orbit and Universe. Eclipse is intended to provide a selection of stories exploring the gamut of topics within SF and fantasy, by some of the best writers in the business. How does it measure up?

“The Hero,” by Karl Schroeder, has some startling worldbuilding on its side – Jessie is a young, quietly-desperate drifter who, within the story’s brief span, participates in a misguided assault on a truly massive insect, makes a promise he cannot afford to keep, and journeys to the perilous heart of the vast, hollow habitat in which his family ekes out its living. It’s a story that’s big on sense-of-wonder, but it didn’t particularly move me.

Stephen Baxter’s “Turing’s Apples” concerns itself with one of the staples of space-based SF: the discovery of a signal from an advanced alien intelligence, and contemporary society’s reaction to the resultant upheaval. Baxter presents two brothers, both gifted, both of whom agree that the briefly-detected signal has ramifications not apparent to the general populace, but disagree on the appropriate response to the signal’s existence. I must confess that there’s a tendency for Baxter’s stories to rub me up the wrong way, and this one’s no exception: it’s undeniably well done, and those who like their SF underpinned by solid physics (a category into which I generally fall) should find it enjoyable. I didn’t, and I wish I knew why.

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