- Publisher: Wyrm Publishing (2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1890464074
- ISBN-13: 978-1890464073
- Package Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,118,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Tides From the New Worlds Hardcover – 2009
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"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Pre-order today
Caribbean born novelist Tobias Buckell established himself as a gifted new voice in science fiction with his stunning first novel Crystal Rain. Now, in his first collection, Buckell demonstrates his strengths in the short form, offering readers a collection of stories that are compelling, smart, wonderfully imagined, and entertaining.
Tides from the New Worlds contains 19 stories that range from multicultural science fiction to magical realism, some in print for the first time.
Table of Contents: * Fish Merchant * Anakoinosis * Aerophilia * In The Heart of Kalikuata * The Shackles of Freedom (with Mike Resnick) * Shoah Sry (with Ilsa Bick) * Her * In Orbite Medievali * Four Eyes * Trinkets * Spurn Babylon * Death's Dreadlocks * Smooth Talking * Tides * Something In The Rock * A Green Thumb * All Her Children Fought * Necahual * Toy Planes
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Despite having already read it online in .PDF format, I went ahead and reread the first work, "The Fish Merchant," which marked Buckell's first professional publication, to the now-defunct Science Fiction Age. In the collection's wonderful, stylish script, the story was even better the second time around. Before each story -- and writers will especially enjoy this -- Buckell gives readers a glimpse into what inspired each particular work in the collection. It's often surprising just how many different ideas and influences coalesced to form a story -- or, even just how few, and how simple, others came about.
Buckell explains that, like many of his most cherished works, "The Fish Merchant" came about by combining the influence of the classic science fiction he loved growing up -- notably Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End, among others -- along with his nautical and Caribbean background. The result is a story that examines the mind of working class humanity -- China, specifically -- and the collateral damage that might occur in the wake of a government receiving a transmission from beyond Earth's atmosphere. It's a good first contact story, but it's the characters, and the eventual tragedy, that make this story so impacting.
Buckell explores the vast realm of speculative fiction to find his own voice in the field in all of these stories, but I believe that it's his science fiction that really shines. He manages to recall more traditional, classic sci fi while still bringing something new and memorable to the industry. "In the Heart of Kalikuata" examines life as an oppressed woman living aboard a cramped, working-class space station in the not-too-distant future. It makes for a strong story, but I found the descriptions and the ending in this story to be its most powerful points.
"Io, Robot" is obviously an homage to the fiction of automaton maestro Isaac Asimov, but Buckell again surprises the reader with an impressive ability to examine some new facet of the technological age of the future. Instead of concerning itself with the nature of robotics and their relationship with humanity, the story instead shifts the focus toward the nature of humanity by blurring the line between machine and organism, an idea that has been becoming more and more popular as a topic of discussion among the science and science fiction intelligencia. I, for one, am fascinated with the question of what criteria denote an organism in the presence of advanced -- cybernetic, I dare say -- technology. I grew up watching the G1 Transformers cartoon series on television and VHS, and it's stuck with me through the years. Optimus Prime, diesel-for-blood or not, is a very ideal human being in my eyes. What is the nature of life? Buckell doesn't claim to know, but the way in which he poses the question in this delightful story is a joy to experience.
"Anakoinosis" is a brilliant alien-focused story that examines the slave/oppressor dynamic that humankind has employed in times of colonialism by placing a band of prospectors on a planet inhabited by very interesting, diminutive beings with a very unique method of reproduction and learning. The use of an alien as the point-of-view character sheds a dark, yet luminous light on the nature of humanity.
"The Shackles of Freedom," co-written with Buckell's Clarion mentor Mike Resnick, was probably my favorite piece in the collection, excluding perhaps "The Fish Merchant." The story is told from the perspective of a doctor who knows that technology allows him to heal a great many ailments, but who is forced not to utilize them because he serves a colony planet inhabited by the Amish, who believe death to be a God-willed act, not something humanity should attempt to interfere with. It makes for one of the most human, emotionally gripping tales in the collection. The ending was very poetic and stuck with me for days.
"In Orbite Medievali," Buckell's winning story for the Writers of the Future contest, is an exciting, somewhat bizarre retelling of Christopher Columbus -- the Anglic misnomer for Spanish explorer Cristobal Colon -- and his odyssey to the literal edge of the world. Cutting the corners of known physics, for the sake of avoiding his characters' instantaneous deaths by suffocation, among other complications, Buckell explores the possibilities of ancient sailors' seafaring adventures across a planet which was, in fact, square like a map. It makes for an interesting story, and I'd say it deserved the win, but I'm of the opinion that his fiction has improved vastly since Buckell wrote this work.
Stories like "Four Eyes," "Spurn Babylon," "Trinkets," and "Death's Dreadlocks" are literary collisions of Buckell's dabblings in fantasy, children's folktales, and dark fantasy with his rich, fond experiences growing up among the islands of the Caribbean. The stories have a lot to teach the reader, regarding the history, myths, and livelihood of Caribbean peoples, and more importantly, they are terrific tales.
In the final third of the book, Buckell stretches his imagination to the limit to produce some truly bizarre tales, giving his own unique examination of dryads/tree nymphs, historical (fantastic) fiction, and more of the Caribbean-flavored space opera that Buckell has certainly mastered -- "Necahual," in fact, takes place within the Xenowealth universe, like "The Fish Merchant" and his novels Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin, and Sly Mongoose. In his introductions, he explains that "Tides" was inspired solely by a painting, "A Green Thumb" by a television commercial, and "Something in the Rock" by listening to rock and roll for a change of pace from his usual preference for rap or reggae.
In sum, I'd call Tides from the New Worlds a grand, diverse showcase of Buckell's increasingly brilliant, always enjoyable short fiction. Some of the stories, like the zeppelin-jacking-by-a-rampant-cyborg tale "Aerophilia," didn't quite tickle my fancy, but were nevertheless substantive and well-written. I found "Shoah Sry" interesting, but so confusing it will eventually require a reread, at least to accomodate my own comprehension.
I'm still a huge Stephen King fan, and he'll always be one of my favorite authors -- I'm really looking forward to his upcoming collection Full Dark, No Stars -- but I think that I may have recently discovered my new favorite writer. In a world that's finally coming to terms with the fact that humanity is not constituted solely by old, white intellectuals in tweed jackets, and that is beginning to acknowledge the ills of reckless colonialism and its toll on the developing world, I find Tobias Buckell's fresh, exciting perspective on the genre of speculative fiction to be a breath of fresh, revitalizing air.
Additionally, this Kindle edition is loving hand crafted with an elegant cover art and a very well laid out Table of Contents. Pick it up and whisked away to New Worlds on the incoming Tide.
In the collection you get stories that range all over the speculative spectrum; social science fiction, a little science fantasy, a space opera, several magical realism tales, a couple alternate histories and even a strait up fantasy/sword and sorcery tale. Its hard for me to pick a favorite among these 19 stories; all the stories present a well imagined setting and characters that are really relatable because they aren't the big hero, they are not the paragon of virtue... he writes about characters that are the everyman and they have concerns, feelings and desires that I could empathize with. I say that even about all his viewpoint characters even the robot who was reacting to programming and to his aliens who's outlook was actually pretty alien.
Any one of the stories is worth 2.99 and this would be a great introduction to him if you have not read his work yet.