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Other Earths Mass Market Paperback – April 7, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
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- Publisher : DAW; Original edition (April 7, 2009)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0756405467
- ISBN-13 : 978-0756405465
- Reading age : 18 years and up
- Item Weight : 5.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.26 x 0.86 x 6.8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #4,709,759 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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So I read Other Earths, a collection of new AH stories, with eagerness. Edited by Jay Lake and Nick Gevers, Other Earths includes stories by authors well versed in the genre, including Stephen Baxter, Paul Park and Robert Charles Wilson.
Like all anthologies, though, anthologies can all too often be very uneven in their quality. The very variety of the authors presented here means, necessarily, stories with wildly divergent styles, aims, and themes. Paul Park's story, "A Family History", has an almost dream like quality to it that is very alike to his Roumania novels. It is very different than the rigorous "The Unblinking Eye" by Baxter, which is really a puzzle story wrapped in the trappings of an alternate history. Liz William's "Winterborn" adds an element of fantasy to the alternate history.
And so all of the stories range in this way. What this meant for me, though, and likely will mean for you is that while you will undoubtedly find stories here you will like, its just as certain there are stories in this set of 11 stories that you will dislike, perhaps intensely.
It is a good line up of authors in the book, however, and if you are at all interested in Alternate history, I do recommend the book to you.
Unfortunately I was somewhat disappointed. Of the 13 (I believe) stories feature I found about half to be good to very good, with the other half being rather less than that. For example, I found "The Unblinking Eye" (about an Incan Empire that expanded to cover most of the Americas) to be quite good though sloppily written, while "This Peaceable Land" (about an America where the Civil War never happens) had promise but ultimately felt sodden. There were various editing mistakes throughout as well that lent a "rushed" feeling to the whole collection.
I'm glad this book is in my collection, but it's definitely not one of the gems.
Overall a decent read but didn't explore the theme as well as I'd hoped and several stories felt less like alternate history and more like entirely different worlds.
Of course, this approach has both positive and negative aspects to it. You end up with unexpected and unusual results when great writers work outside their comfort zones, but while some of those results will be brilliant, others will recreate the wheel or just plain fall short of one’s hopes.
I haven’t kept up with the alternate history genre in recent years, so I can’t comment on the originality of these works when compared with others. But overall I very much enjoyed this book. The stories are so different from each other that there are bound to be some you’ll enjoy more than others, but that’s normal with an anthology. In particular with this anthology I found I would have gotten more out of certain stories if I had a stronger knowledge of history, but that isn’t unusual.
While you can’t escape the usual anthology fact that you probably won’t be thrilled by all of these stories, Other Earths contains many solidly good stories and a few real standouts. If you enjoy the genre, then definitely give it a shot.
NOTE: Book provided free by publisher for review
Top reviews from other countries
The selection of authors is certainly a good one, including stories by Stephen Baxter, Jeff Vandermeer and Lucius Shepherd (this is me showing my personal prejudices in terms of my favoured authors!)
My favourite story in this is undoubtedly Lucius Shepherd's "Dog-Eared Paperback of My Life" though his style may be off-putting to some.
Briefly, here are the authors and the stories:
This Peaceable Land, or, the Unbearable Vision of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Robert Charles Wilson: The American Civil War never happened, examines the consequences of this (I recently read Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America and wouldn't say that it was my favourite novel ever).
The Goat Variations, Jeff VanderMeer: We see a variety of different versions of what George W. Bush was thinking in the 7 minutes after the planes struck the Twin Towers. I'm a fan of Jeff Vandermeer's writing, this isn't his best, but it's still worthy.
The Unblinking Eye, Stephen Baxter: Europe doesn't discover the Americas, which allows the Incan civilisation to rise to global prominence.
Csilla's Story, Theodora Goss: A fantasy story involving magical beings who suffer a great deal of prejudice.
Winterborn, Liz Williams: Really a fantasy, this one, involving a magical faerie queen. Not my favourite.
Donovan Sent Us by Gene Wolfe: German's win WWII because the Americans don't get involved.
The Holy City and Em's Reptile Farm, Greg van Eekhout: I can't quite remember this one: reptiles and an odd Las Vegas, as I recall.
The Receivers, Alastair Reynolds: I like this: an extended WWI prevents some famous composers from doing their most famous works, but their ("real") alternates work bleeds through realities to help them in the war effort.
A Family History, Paul Park: I realise now that I write this, that I can't remember this one. Something about choices!?
Dog-eared Paperback of My Life, Lucius Shepard: This is excellent. An authors alternate lives all converge on each other. He's usually an unsympathetic character, but I enjoyed this a lot. It has an excellent literary quality to it.
Nine Alternate Alternate Histories, Benjamin Rosenbaum: Not a story, really. It's writing about writing Alternate Histories.
Overall, this is recommended. You may have different favourites from me. However, as I say, the selection of authors is superb. Littel that is out and out awful, though there are a couple that I was less keen on.