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How to Save the World Hardcover – September, 1995


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 349 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (September 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031285577X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312855772
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,058,800 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

There's no question mark in this book's title. The stories gathered in it won't politely request permission to play with your head. They're not asking you, they're telling you! In the gutsy tradition of the best science fiction speculation, they'll confront your assumptions and force you to discard the thoughtless certainties of everyday life. In thirteen stimulating tales, some of SF's brightest thinkers entertainingly challenge you to stretch your mind around the answers that might shape your future.

From Publishers Weekly

Sometimes light in tone but always serious in subject, these 13 SF stories present modest proposals for ending racism, reducing hostility, restoring the environment, benefiting from space travel and otherwise improving the world?or, at least, preserving it. Overwhelmingly, the stories are not simple wish-fulfillment, although "Higher Education," by Jerry Pournelle and editor Sheffield (Cold As Ice ), risks that. Many of the tales show well-laid plans going astray, as in Brenda Clough's "The Product of the Extremes" and Geoffrey Landis's "The Meeting of the Secret World Masters," two of the best entries here. Others highlight the temptation of solutions that may be worse than the problem, as in Mary Turzillo's "The Guatemala Cure," in which an abused woman seeks vengeance against all men. When plans succeed, sometimes it is by trickery?as in James P. Hogan's "Zap Thy Neighbor" or Arlan Andrews's "Souls on Ice"?but technology can prove beneficial as well, as shown in Nick Pollotta's "Raw Terra" and Doug Beason's "Defense Conversion." While outstanding prose surfaces only in the Kathe Koja and Barry Malzberg collaboration ("Buyer's Remorse"), this collection, while perhaps not up to saving the world, should at least save its readers from a few perhaps otherwise empty hours.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jason Mierek on March 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
"We have no friendly advisor looking over our shoulder. We will have to make do with the next best thing: humans who are close observers of the actions of our species, but who are not directly involved in trying to run the affairs of humanity.

This of course is exactly what writers are and have been through recorded history.... Even among writers, I argue that the writers of science fiction form a special sub-group. They tend to be interested in global problems, in the impact of science and technology, and in the long-term future of humanity. They are observers of events at the largest scale." (pp. 12-13)

This then is a collection of these observations, examining themes as far ranging as the failure of public education in the US to the breakthrough in space exploration to the cure for patriarchy to an ugly dilemma inherent in the feminist rhetoric of "reproductive choice." For those of us who (often) feel motivated to save the world, this book provides an entertaining meditation on the shadow side of the utopian and of the unknowable consequences of our wholly benevolent intentions.

Sheffield writes, "Some of the stories in this book may offend. I certainly hope so." (p. 14). None of the stories offended this reader, but disappointingly most didn't make much of an impression either way. The unevenness of the stories was a definite let-down, particularly considering the devastatingly understated (or, as Sheffield puts it, "unduly modest") title. After all, what self-respecting Christian anarchist bodhisattva utopian would pass up the manual on how to save the world?

So here are some thoughts on the stories that impressed a little SF wisdom on me, providing visions of possible futures and of some pitfalls that might face us along the way.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
These stories will make you think. Some may seem very simple, others may seem complex, and some may seem insulting or, as they say, the cure may seem worse than the illness. I didn't find them at all insulting but I also can't really remember many of the major plot points after only a week. Also, sad to say, some of them are also old. After all, the book was published in 1995, so you may know most of them already. The first, Zap Thy Neighbor by James P. Hogan, was one of those I already had read many years ago.
How do we solve the problems of the world? Sexism? Hunger? Need for more and more resources? War? Violence? The answers are here.
But, as they also say, be careful what you ask for. You may just get it. I would suggest it for the open minded fan or those NEW to science fiction. With such authors as Hogan, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Lawrence Watt-Evans you get a wide range of well known, highly skilled, science fiction authors.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ileana Aponte on August 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
When I was still in middle school, I was an avid reader of science fiction, more so then than I am now. That said, one of the few books I remember vividly was this one. I still bring up the stories and the rather extreme solutions when given the opportunity. If this book is anything, it is a 'food for thought' kind of book. The ideas the book illustrates has stayed with me for a longer time than I can remember, and, perhaps, they will affect you just as remarkably.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "davidk93" on August 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
Many people would agree that humanity is currently on the path to its own destruction. The problem is, no two people would agree on how to get us off that path. The fourteen stories in this anthology provide some ideas on how this can be done. The nice thing about these stories is that they provide what may be feasible soltuions, while also demonstrating the complications that would arise from them. Some of these stories introduce concepts that are downright disturbing, and most of them are enjoyable.
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