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Edited by Jonathan Strahan

Solaris (2012)

ISBN: 9781781080566

Reviewed by Alexandra Pierce

Edge of Infinity is not especially concerned about Earth, but it cares deeply about humanity. It’s not blindly optimistic, but neither is it depressingly morbid. It cares about the little things and the big, it’s got romance and death, and lots and lots of adventure, set within our solar system but not on Earth. Also, space ships. Read the rest of this entry »

Solaris Book of New Science Fiction #4 

Solaris (2011)

ISBN: 9781907992094

Reviewed by Alexandra Pierce


I like that this anthology is unthemed – there are stories that will appeal to a goodly cross-section of the sf-reading public. Unsurprisingly, but unfortunately, it is also quite a mixed bag with regard to quality.

The good:

Ian McDonald’s “A Smart Well-Mannered Uprising of the Dead” is a delightful take on how social media might interact with local culture in order to impact on the political arena. With the events of the last 18 months this isn’t a radical notion at all, but McDonald here imagines a company offering virtual space for the dead – spirit-houses created by the bereaved for the recently departed. And what’s a virtual space like that without forums, and interaction? It’s really just the next step for the departed themselves to take part in those discussions, and to be commenting on contemporary affairs. I really enjoyed the style of this story as well as the content, although it was a bit confusing to begin with; it jumps from posts written by the dead, to interviews with the website’s creator, to discussions between the relatives of the talking dead. And gradually a picture builds up of what is going on in this country (which I think is never named, but seems to neighbour Mali), and the impact of the dead speaking out. It’s a really great opening to the anthology.

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edited by Jonathan Strahan

Solaris (2011)

ISBN: 978-1-907519-52-9

Reviewed by Jason Nahrung

Engineering Infinity is a rare beast in the land of anthologies: it takes its theme and it nails it. Themes can be nebulous things, reliant on perspective, but here the award-winning Australian editor Jonathan Strahan collects fourteen stories that take his vision and run with it: they examine, as Strahan says in his introduction, “the point where the practical application of science meets … our sense of wonder”. The anthology succeeds on another, more important, level, too: there’s very little to fault on a story-telling level. It’s a joy to find such a consistently high standard.

Peter Watts begins brilliantly with ‘Malak’, in which war machines develop conscience from algorithms and decide how best to balance their military commands with their nascent sense of morality. David Moles furthers the military complex with a story of interstellar war, tinged with futility and tragedy.

Strahan remarks that the realm of hard science fiction has moved on from being a predominantly white man’s playground – he admits this anthology suggests that ‘hard’ is a more malleable material now than in its classic form – and this collection chips away at that gender reign with four women represented. Kristine Kathryn Rusch takes the trope of the over-ambitious parent and adds technology to the family in crisis; Kathleen Ann Goonan starts in Hawaii and ends up somewhere else entirely in one of the more fantastical, and probably the least thematically appropriate, of the stories. Gwyneth Jones goes off-world to find a family reunion under tragic circumstances while Barbara Lamar joins with Damien Broderick to produce some engaging time tunnelling.

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