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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More New Space Opera
I enjoyed reading all 19 stories in this collection. I confess that The New Space Opera first volume is still on the shelf by my bed, only a few stories sampled. The difference was having this one in my iPhone Kindle app, so I could read away at it during train rides or boring staff meetings. I'm grateful for the entertaining diversion.

My five favorite...
Published on August 9, 2009 by John M. Ford

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars On Okay Collection
If you're a fan of space opera (as I am) you'll likely be both happy and dissatisfied with this book.

On the one hand there are some true gems in here that are *real* space opera--Mike Resnick's "Catastrophe Baker" is a fine example, as is Cory Doctorow's "To Go Boldly". Fast paced, tight narratives that have a different spin...good stuff...
Published 19 months ago by Steven Woodcock


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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More New Space Opera, August 9, 2009
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I enjoyed reading all 19 stories in this collection. I confess that The New Space Opera first volume is still on the shelf by my bed, only a few stories sampled. The difference was having this one in my iPhone Kindle app, so I could read away at it during train rides or boring staff meetings. I'm grateful for the entertaining diversion.

My five favorite stories in this book made me rethink my approach to my job:

"The Lost Princess Man" by John Barnes demonstrates how to conduct a job interview with a con man in a high-tech dictatorship.

"Defect" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch shows how to resign from a job as an undercover assassin--and how to resign ourselves to the consequences.

"Chameleons" by Elizabeth Moon reminds us what it is like to babysit a pair of bratty kids.

"The Tale of the Wicked" by John Scalzi evokes those feelings we sometimes have that our office computers are really running things--and that their errors are intentional.

"The Far End of History" by John Wright emphasizes the dangers of becoming romantically involved with someone at work--especially when different versions of both of you play so many different roles that it's hard to keep them straight.

Two more stories weren't among my favorites, but get an honorable mention for succeeding as "space opera" while making fun of it. Cory Doctorow's "To Go Boldly" made me laugh harder about Star Trek than I have since reading Terry Bisson's Galaxy Quest. And Mike Resnick's "Catastrophe Baker and a Canticle for Leibowitz" pokes enjoyable fun at the handsome heroes and shapely sirens of truly bad space opera. Can't wait to see the comic book version.

It's a good collection. Read and enjoy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good Read, August 7, 2009
I liked this collection a lot. There is nothing mind-blowing here, but all of it is readable and some is pretty good. The story that came closest to greatness, in my opinion, was Peter Watts' The Island. It had truly epic scale and a believeable sense of the human as alien and the alien as maybe human after all. Read it and see. Bruce Sterling's was the best written, but was not actually space opera. I enjoy Asher's work immensely, but his contribution here was good, not great. The Kessel and Meany stories were interesting in places, but did not finish strong for me. Lake's story made me want to read more of his work. I enjoyed his setting and characters, but the plot seemed to just happen; maybe the longer version will correct this. Barnes' story was very good, but I grew weary of its constant narrative dislocations; less cleverness would have been wiser in this case, but I still enjoyed most of it a great deal. Doctorow's story started off as mildly pleasant parody and then derailed in what I thougt was shoddy, unbelieveable character development. The opening story had great ideas and the grandest scale of any of these mini operas, but the narrative device was a little trite to my mind. Every story was at least a pleasant diversion, so I recommend this book quite highly.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A decent anthology with some real big duds, May 27, 2010
This review is from: The New Space Opera 2 (Mass Market Paperback)
A few standouts, some real big duds, and the rest mediocre. Overall rating: B-

"Utriusque Cosmi" by Robert Charles Wilson. A story that spans the timescale of universes, yet is also a poignant tale within the lifetime of one individual. On the one hand there are aliens competing for a slice of pie as big as the universe; on the other there is a girl competing for the affection of her estranged mother. A-

"The Island" by Peter Watts. A woman, her not-too-bright son, and the ship computer crew a ship and self-replicating machines to build a wormhole network for an authoritarian intelligence. In the process, an "Island" creature hinders their progress. Figuring out what the Island is and what to do about it makes up the plot. Not the best "isolated crew in a space ship discovers something" stories but still worth reading. B-

"Events Preceding the Helvetican Renaissance" by John Kessel. A thinly disguised dialog between atheism and theism and the pitfalls/benefits of belief. Good if you're into that kind of thing, which I am. B+

"To Go Boldly" by Cory Doctorow. We humans have certain pre-conceived notions of how our world is supposed to work and we assume that aliens will operate on those same notions. But what if the aliens don't? A wonderful story that examines this conceit. The Star Trek language was a bit annoying, though. A-

"The Lost Princess Man" by John Barnes. A black comedy about a con man and his con game of convincing poor maidens they are a long lost galactic princess. But in a universe of virtual "dwellspaces," can a con man be conned? B

"Defect" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. A spy vs. spy space opera that reminded me of the movie "The Professional." B

"To Raise a Mutiny Betwixt Yourself," by Jay Lake. A power struggle for ship control among two ancient Immortals and the shipmind itself. Though the story kept me engaged and the world-building was interesting, in the end I didn't care who won. C+

"Shell Game" by Neal Asher. A space adventure into interstellar/interspecies relationships. Perhaps it's my biased worldview, but I really liked this story because the religious fundamentalists are the bad guys, even if they are alien. A

"Punctuality" by Garth Nix. Huh?! Something about a Punctuality Drive, maybe from an ancient civilization whereby superluminal carriers need to be on time...and oh yeah, let's throw in a genetically engineered galactic dynasty...or something like that. D

"Inevitable" by Sean Williams. This story started out well: a battle of wills between a prisoner and his captor. But, like so many other time-travel stories, the temporal paradox becomes a crutch and a deus ex machina. The conclusion becomes a non-story and well, inevitable. C

"Join the Navy and See the Worlds" by Bruce Sterling. A story about a space hero who isn't a space hero. A space opera that has little space and not very much opera. A story about nothing, only this story is not that funny. I say "not that funny" meaning it's a little funny. And that's what gives is a passing grade. C-

"Fearless Space Pirates of the Outer Rings" by Bill Willingham. A romping space adventure with a touch of absurd humor. Yet, I didn't feel anything emotionally for any of the characters. The ending was an interesting twist: what is a space pirate supposed to do after his forced retirement? B-

"From the Heart" by John Meaney. An interstellar space opera about failure and success. And about a cold war between matter and dark matter, I think. Great world building, but I'm not too sure about the specifics of the plot. C+

"Chameleons" by Elizabeth Moon. The story got off to a slow start but eventually picked up the pace. A personal bodyguard must escort two rich kids across interstellar space to their prep school. Along the way, they encounter "chameleons" in several senses of the word. A good read, though I wanted it to end a little differently. B-

"The Tenth Muse" by Tad Williams. One of those Big Idea stories (it says it's a Big Idea story in the story). What if the first contact we have with an alien culture is their own space operatic art form? B+

"Cracklegrackle" by Justina Robson. A sleuthing story with the detective a heavily augmented "Forged" who can see things others can't. It was OK but I couldn't empathize with the main character (who'd hired the detective) and the conclusion left something to be desired. B-

"The Tale of the Wicked by John Scalzi. The story seemed headed for cliché-land but redeemed itself at the end. What if AIs conquered us a different way? B+

"Catastrophe Baker and a Canticle for Leibowitz" by Mike Resnick. A hilarious lowbrow satire about the whole hero genre. The characters are silly and 1D and the plot doesn't really make sense. Reminds me a little of Monty Python. A

"The Far End of History" by John C. Wright. To be honest, I didn't even finish it. It seems like a retelling of Homer's "Odyssey" but set in the vast distant future. Ulysses is a sapient planet who falls in love with Penelope, a sapient biosphere. Perhaps humor was attempted in this odd posthuman love story, but I wasn't laughing. This novella breaks a cardinal rule with speculative fiction: yes, you can write about anything you can possibly imagine, but if the reader cannot identify with the characters on some level, then you've failed. In other words, the characters must be some significant part human, even if they're alien or intelligent worlds. I couldn't identify with the characters; they weren't human at all, so I stopped reading. I have better things to do than read someone's crappy novella. F
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A collection of good reads, August 9, 2009
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Several years ago in one of the "Year's Best" summations, Gardner Dozois concluded that the defining characteristic of good Science Fiction was being a "good read". This is a fun collection of short stories set in big universes with solid plots. If you want more cerebral material, ambiguous morality or less fantastical futures then you should consider "Year's Best Science Fiction 25" (or any of the prior 24) instead. If you want to enjoy reading some clever adventure stories in space, this is the book for you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars VERY ENTERTAINING ANTHOLOGY, May 31, 2010
This review is from: The New Space Opera 2 (Mass Market Paperback)
The second volume in this anthology series features 19 all-new stories by the likes of Tad Williams, Mike Resnick, Cory Doctorow, Garth Nix, Jay Lake, Peter Watts, and Robert Charles Wilson to name just a few. Despite the label that would seem to imply strictly adventurous Star Wars/"Doc" Smith styled tales, TNSO2 runs the range from raucous humor to hard Sci-Fi and everything in between.

Among the tales that stand out are "Utriusque Cosmi" by Robert Charles Wilson. Here a woman is whisked away at the moment of Earth's total destruction by an alien race where she learns that the universe is nothing like we've ever imagined. A truly exquisite tale of the far...far future. The best story in the book!

"To Go Boldly" by Cory Doctorow is a somewhat outlandish parody of Star Trek that I think non-Trekkies will enjoy more than the ardent fans.

"Catastrophe Baker and a Canticle for Leibowitz" by Mike Resnick. Yet another parody story, this time of Walter M. Miller's famous sci-fi tale. The story of an adventuring hero who thinks with the "wrong" head when it comes to women who goes on a quest for said Canticle...for Saul Leibowitz.

"The Tale of the Wicked" by John Scalzi is the harrowing tale of a starship captain pursuing an enemy vessel only to find the supercomputer on his own ship has stopped taking orders. Think of this as Star Trek meets 2001: A Space Odyssey meets I, Robot.

Bill Willingham's "Fearless Space Pirates of the Outer Rings", is another winner. As with most anthologies The New Space Opera 2 is a mixed bag but the good stories outnumber the weaker one's by a wide margin and the best one's are really well done. I would not be surprised if a few received award nominations...perhaps not Hugos or Nebulas, but certainly some degree of recognition would not be surprising.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Galloping Good Time., January 13, 2010
Not all of the stories *gallop*, but enough of them do to keep you going. I think this book is a significant improvement on the first one in terms of consistency and overall quality, and the average star rating here seems to bear that out.

My favorites were the Cory Doctorow and John Kessel stories. I can't say I really understood what was going on in Cracklegrackle half the time, and I didn't think Mike Resnick's story was very funny (though it was mercifully short).

Some summaries:

To Go Boldly - Star Trek is mocked mercilessly. Star Trek captains and transporter technology anyway.

Utriusque Cosmi - A brief summary of the next several hundred billion years, through the eyes of a teenage girl.

Events Preceeding... - So humanity has transcended the need for bodies and become energy beings, then recreated the original flesh-bound humans as a simulation or something, and all that's just back story for a crazy chase story

Fearless Space Pirates... - a light-hearted pirate romp, where the bad guys always win.

Tale of the Wicked - What if the AI on your spaceship negotiates a cease-fire with the enemy ship's AI... without your permission?

So that's the basic idea.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars On Okay Collection, December 5, 2012
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Steven Woodcock "Ferretman" (Colorado Springs, CO United States) - See all my reviews
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If you're a fan of space opera (as I am) you'll likely be both happy and dissatisfied with this book.

On the one hand there are some true gems in here that are *real* space opera--Mike Resnick's "Catastrophe Baker" is a fine example, as is Cory Doctorow's "To Go Boldly". Fast paced, tight narratives that have a different spin...good stuff.

On the other hand there are some stories that (for me) were either practically incomprehensible and/or just seemed out of place. I won't name them as your mileage may vary, but I found myself skipping to the end of more stories than I would have liked in a collection of this size.

An okay collection. Recommended if you're a true die-hard and/or don't mind separating the wheat from the chaff.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but not better than #1, May 1, 2010
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This review is from: The New Space Opera 2 (Mass Market Paperback)
Most of the 19 stories in this new collection take place in space and/or span vast distances in time and space. Few, on the other hand, are of the "Starships and Empire" variety, and for most of the stories, the "space opera" designation is a bit of a stretch.

For example, Robert Charles Wilson's "Utriusque Cosmi" is essentially about a single important moment in a young woman's life and about how travel across vast distances allows her to better appreciate that moment. Bruce Sterling's "Join the Navy and See the Worlds" does involve a little bit of space travel, but it is really a typical Sterling story about near-future geopolitics and the shifting fortunes of nations, and as such it isn't even remotely space opera. John Kessel's "Events Preceding the Helvetican Renaissance," which for no obvious reason draws its proper names from contemporary typefaces, is basically a story about political police chasing a religious fanatic across a planet's landscape.

Other stories fit the mold a bit better. If "Star Trek" is space opera, then so is Cory Doctorow's "To Go Boldly". Unfortunately, it's also a tired send-up, awkwardly going where already "Star Dreck" had already been in 1975. John C. Wright's "The Far End of History," informs us early on that "Once there was a world that loved a forest-girl." I'm not a great fan of Wright's work and his heavy reliance on classical mythology, but this far future romance (which is much more than that) is well done. My favorite story in the collection is Jay Lake's "To Raise a Mutiny Betwixt Yourselves." It takes place in a universe where faster-than-light spacecraft engines used to work, but since the mysterious Mistake, travel has either been slower-than-C or based on quantum entanglement. The setting is interesting, and the conflict between two near-immortal "Befores" -- that is, people born before the Mistake, is tense and moving.

Overall, the stories in the first volume were closer to what we typically think of as "space opera" than those in the second, and the average quality of the stories in the first volume was a little higher. Still, this is a solid collection with contributions from some of the best SF authors active today.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adventure & Romance, Spaceships & Blasters!, January 18, 2010
This nouveau-retro anthology collects a bunch of top stories from top current authors in the scifi subgenre known as 'space opera' -- dramatic dramatic adventures in space in the tradition of pulps and Buck Rogers, though with modern sensibilities and sophistication. The overall quality of the stories in this volume is quite high, with the majority falling somewhere in between "good" and "excellent."

The stories use the subgenre's tropes -- space ships, blasters, beautiful alien women, etc. -- but mostly in fresh new ways. Some are serious, others quite funny and satirical. I found myself enjoying the latter stories the most -- such as "To Go Boldly" by Cory Doctorow, "Fearless Space Pirates of the Outer Rim" by Bill Willingham, and "Catastrophe Baker and a Canticle for Leibowitz" by Mike Resnick.

These are the kind of stories that made most scifi fans into scifi fans in the first place.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars That's what I'm talking about, November 5, 2009
On good anthologies I find myself checking the stories in the table of contents so that I'll read them again when the mood strikes me. More checks than not for The New Space Opera: Volume 2. Lots of tongue in cheek stories and you can't go wrong by invoking Star Trek. Given the space faring theme of the book that description could work for several of the stories not just one obvious one entitled To Go Boldly. Definitely a worthwhile collection for those that like their science fiction to be fun.

Michael J. Foy
Author of The Kennedy Effect
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The New Space Opera 2
The New Space Opera 2 by Gardner R. Dozois (Mass Market Paperback - March 30, 2010)
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