Top critical review
A mixed bag of stories
on March 27, 2014
A mixed bag.
This collection was somewhat spotty for me, some good stories, a number of so-so's and a few duds.
1. Utriusque Cosmi - Robert Anton Wilson
2. The Island - Peter Watts
3. Events Preceding the Helvetian Renaissance - John Kessel
4. To Go Boldly - Cory Doctorow
5. The Lost Princess man - John Barnes
6. Defect = Kristine Kathryn Rusch
7. To Raise a Mutiny Betwixt Yourselves - Jay Lake
8. Shell Game - Neil Asher
9. Punctuality - Garth Nix
10. Inevitable - Sean Williams
11. Join the Navy and See the Worlds - Bruce Sterling
12. Fearless Space Pirates of the Outer Rings - Bill Willingham
13. From the Heart - John Meaney
14. Chameleons - Elizabeth Moon
15. The Tenth Muse - John Williams
16. Cracklegrackle - Justina Robson
17. The Tale of the Wicked - John Scalzi
18. Catastrophe Baker and a Canticle for Leibowitz - Mike Resnick
19. The Far End of History - John C Wright
How you find these stories will depend on what you look for in space opera. My preference is not for classic space opera, but rather stories crafted in a wide universe, far in the future. Stories which are just set in this future, but whose protagonists are all to contemporary just do not work for me. Neither does technology that is used as stage props.
The stories I really liked were:-
To Raise a Mutiny Betwixt Yourselves
From the Heart
The Far End of History
In particular, I really loved "The Far End of History", a story that strongly evoked a far future, glimpsed darkly, yet richly textured. I hope to read more of this future.
"Defect" was also one of my favorites, although this could have been included in any hard SF collection, not just a space opera themed one. "Cracklegrackle" was also very good, set in a very interesting solar system universe that I would like to read more about, with post humans and extensive body modifications.
Overall, not a bad read, but I think the mixed quality of the stories was just used to fluff out the collection so that it looked like good value on a pages/$ basis.