- Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Solaris; Reprint edition (November 27, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781781080566
- ISBN-13: 978-1781080566
- ASIN: 1781080569
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #536,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Edge of Infinity Mass Market Paperback – November 27, 2012
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About the Author
Jonathan Strahan is an editor and anthologist. He co-edited The Year's Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy anthology series in 1997 and 1998. He is also the reviews editor of Locus. He lives in Perth, Western Australia with his wife and their two daughters.
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Top Customer Reviews
EDGE OF INFINITY is the second book in editor Jonathan Strahan's Infinity project. The third book, REACH FOR INFINITY, has been promoted closer to the top of my to-read list, and the fourth book, MEETING INFINITY, is set for publication later this year. I wasn't overly fond of ENGINEERING INFINITY, the first book of the project, but EDGE OF INFINITY was terrific, and has me looking forward to more books in the project.
The stories in EDGE OF INFINITY explore the future of humanity in our Solar System. Every story takes place there, and the anthology covers a wide range of topics and themes, which makes sense, given the vastness of the Solar System. There should be all sorts of stories on all sorts of worlds. And, where I was a bit disappointed in more than a few of the stories in ENGINEERING INFINITY, I had almost no issues with any of the stories in EDGE OF INFINITY. Maybe that's because of the focus of the stories, maybe not. But it is so nonetheless.
Strahan doesn't waste any time, leading the book of with 2013 Hugo Award Winning novelette "The Girl Thing Who Went Out for Sushi". This is one of three or four stories that I have read and reviewed elsewhere, and upon a second (or maybe third) reading of this Pat Cadigan gem supports and strengthens my positive feelings about this story. Other stories that have appeared (and I have read elsewhere) include Hannu Rajaniemi's "Tyche and the Ants", Gwyneth Jones "Bricks, Sticks, Straw", and Bruce Sterling's "The Peak of Eternal Light". As with the Cadigan, multiple readings of these stories have made me like these stories more than I did before - especially when I may not have liked them as much the first time around.
The authors of the rest of the stories in this anthology reads like a Who's Who of the field: Alastair Reynolds, Stephen Baxter, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Paul McCauley, Elizabeth Bear, John Barnes, and James S.A. Corey. There are names that are new to me as well. For the most part they are good, solid, readable, and enjoyable stories.
Rusch's "Safety Test" is a glimpse into the workday of a guy who tests the ability of space pilots; think the guy at the DMV who rides in the car with the teenager looking for his or her first license. "Vainglory", by Alastair Reynolds, gives us a look at an artist looking to leave cement his legacy in a way that has unintended consequences (or are they?). "Macy Minnot's Last Christmas on Dione, Ring Racing, Fiddler's Green, the Potter's Garden" by Paul McCauley follows Mai Kumal looking to respect her father's last wishes upon his death, and in the process learns about the life and people he left earth for. John Barnes' "Swift as a Dream, Fleeting as a Sigh" gives us a bit of a look at an AI psychotherapist, and what happens when that AI does some things that really shouldn't have been done. James S.A. Corey gives us "Drive", a prequel to the popular Expanse series that follows Solomon Epstein and his invention of the Epstein drive. "Obelisk", by Stephen Baxter, explores how a man's vision to honor a legendary explorer can come at a huge cost.
There are other stories here, and while not all of them were as terrific as the stories I've talked about, their all of above average quality. There really isn't a bad story in the bunch. This is why I've moved REACH FOR INFINITY up my to-read list, and I'm looking forward to reading it and MEETING INFINITY.
The stories mostly deal with the early centuries of humans exploring and colonizing the various planets and moons of our solar system. There are stories that take place on Mars, Mercury, Earth's moon and the moons of Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune. It was interesting to see how the authors imagined humans adapting themselves to live on worlds with different temperatures, atmospheres, resources and gravity than Earth. Colonists often would develop new cultures that differed from anything on Earth, and in some stories people had their bodies surgically modified to live on alien worlds. Many stories worked as a snapshot showing one possible obstacle people might face when colonizing new worlds, such as how to deal with limited resources or the bureaucracies that develop in any organization of people.
The girl-thing that went out for sushi by Pat Cadigan ****
This is initially uncomfortable to read. The cyberpunk? style, needing translation itself, lends to the difficulty of interpreting the post-human characters and their participation in the plot. It seemed there may have also been a gender issue being thrown around, but most of the allegory was fairly shallow. I am pleased I gave myself a break to muster some objectivity, contemplating that the relationship between this narrative and most contemporary authorship may be compared with the relationship between the possible day-to-day speech of working people in the outer planets many decades hence and the way we speak today. The comparison is similar and made me aware that this initially difficult story is in fact very insightful. As the story dealt with the change associated with progress, the associated manipulations of the power players, the exuberant intoxication of the youthful and strident, and the fall-out on the quotidian players in history, I was captivated. The post-human marine "things" were more human than the "two steppers", the understated allegory made me start with the casual reference to binary thinking and secured this powerful little story four stars.
The Deeps of the Sky by Elizabeth Bear **
Rolling metaphor, wondrous names, slow unwrapping of the substance of a tale, alas these do not make a story. Something does happen, but it's predictable and fails to make a slab of glossy prose any less boring. Two stars and a strong coffee.
Drive by James SA Corey *****
At last, the short story format applied ideally. Good characters, interesting themes and a compelling story. A Mars setting usually works and the accompanying political jitters are as old as Kim Stanley Robinson. Corey assembles these and good hard sci-fi to provide a memorable take home message. Not a quiet moment. Five stars and I'll be checking out more of his work.
The Road to NPS by Sandra McDonald and Stephen D Covey ****
Another stronger plot and characterization, McDonald and Covey develop a tension and inevitability in a story spanning from Samoan sand to Europan slush. Enjoyable characters are tested to a soporific conclusion.
Sweet as a Dream and Fleeting as a Sigh by John Barnes ***
Serious AI navel gazing faster than human thought, this story is probably targeted at AI readership. Conversely, forays into human feelings and motivation lead to a slow read (for humans at least), although the conclusion is a giant leap from any intelligence. "I can Remember it for You Wholesale" without the cred, one hundred and one stars in binary.
Macy Minnot's Last Christmas on Dione, Ring Racing, Fiddler's Green, the Potter's Garden by Paul McAuley****
Strong perennial characters and reflections on lives lived fully make McAuley's story one worthy of his reputation. Wandering the solar system illuminates what it is to be human as a character disperses her father's ashes. Real people, fine allegory pulls an easy four stars.
Safety Tests by Kristine Kathryn Rusch****
Drill down into small facet of space travel - pilot testing. Observing the human element and variables is both interesting and communicated expertly by Rusch to four stars.
Bricks, Sticks, Straw by Gwyneth Jones**
Decaying AIs become erratic after being stranded off Earth, I think, but one feels stranded in this similarly erratic story where you count the pages to the end. This author can do better and the editor needs to rely less on reputations and push for a sound product.
Tycho and the Ants by Hannu Rajaniemi *
Fantasy mumbo jumbo - I'm afraid I read this on remote control, finding engagement a struggle.
Obelisk by Stephen Baxter ***
It doesn't hint at Baxter's good work but this Mars-based human story is reflective and a welcome step up in this anthology.
Vainglory by Alastair Reynolds ****
Reynolds's comfortable style renders this creative solar system spanning tale of love and fate a worthwhile read. The technical elements meet the Reynolds usual standard and remind me why I like his work. The plot hangs together but does not stand very tall - obviously he is an author who needs space to get wound up and found this collection undemanding.
Water Rights by An Owomoyela ****
Technically well secured, this story is a little erratic in style but remains true to the theme of this anthology, that of near future and technically feasible plots.
The Peak of Eternal Light by Bruce Sterling ****
This begins as an odd tale exploring the marriage customs of post-human inhabitants of Mercury. It develops well with interesting allegory and sound technical detail. The bicycle elements show how much a story can grow in quality with the luxury of a few more pages, Sterling's contribution being longer than the others in this anthology.