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Across the Sky Paperback – January 1, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Rich turns out new wrinkles on common genre themes in this eloquent debut collection. There's some entertaining satire—such as The Real Thing, where cash is a dirty word and clones are sent out as dating surrogates—but more impressive are the ruminations on human-alien connection. In the particularly notable Forever Down the Ringing Grooves, astronaut and diplomat Jack Lackstrum rushes jealously back to Earth after the alien Transtellars ignore his welcome signals and begin communicating directly with anyone they meet, but he finds first contact is nothing like he imagined. This diverse collection also includes Smoking Gun, a well-constructed and clever SF mystery, and plausible political struggles over the future of humanity's space ventures in Impossible Alone and The Never-Winner. Readers who enjoy old-fashioned SF will appreciate these short, straightforward tales. (Jan.)
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Rich’s stories—gathered from Analog, Asimov’s, and elsewhere—range from the thoughtful and serious to completely off the wall. The collection opens, in “Across the Sky,” with the conversation that might transform the relationship between humans and the alien Stooka, and concludes, in “The Apples of Venus,” with an extraordinary vision of seeding Venus with life and the politics surrounding humans who’ve lived their whole lives in low-gravity environments vis-à-vis earthbound humans. In “Overdue,” in which human lives are checked out like library books by some mysterious other, Rich muses on memories of libraries. The collection also includes several pieces of poetry, miniature musings on the same kinds of themes Rich approaches in the stories. As is often the case, introductory notes constitute a welcome addition and provide a bit of insight into the author’s attitudes and inspirations for each piece. --Regina Schroeder
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