Destinies Volume 1 Number 1

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  • Stand Pat, Ruby Stone (Roger Zelany): a story of alien marriage. Interesting.
  • Old Woman By The Road (Gregory Benford): not my favorite author (given he wrote the worst book in Asimov’s Foundation universe, which is a bit of an achievement given some of the others. This story isn’t terrible, it just doesn’t go anywhere. There is a single small plot element, which has been repeated in many other books (for example The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, which predates this story by 12 years).
  • New Beginnings (Jerry Pournelle): a non-fiction column about design choices baked into our existing infrastructure which make it hard for it to be efficient, the failure to save for baby boomer retirement, and our need to be concerned about growing oil use and failure to find alternative energy sources like solar. The scary bit? This article from 1978 reads like it could have been written yesterday.
  • Transition team (Charles Sheffield): are we suited to life on a space station? A good short story.
  • Antimony (Spider Robinson): a pretty good cryonics story. Its a pity 1990 didn’t give me a personal flyer like he promised.
  • Very Proper Charlies (Dean Ing): a novelette about terrorism, specifically how terrorists really need media coverage to progress their agendas. A little dated, but still a good read.
  • Party Line (Clifford D. Simak): a longish story, this one didn’t really do much for me until about half way in. It got better though. What would aliens want from us if they met us?
  • Assimilating Our Culture, That’s What They’re Doing (Larry Niven): short, and good.
  • Science Fiction and Science, Part One (Poul Anderson): a bit dull to be honest.

Overall, this was an ok anthology, although not the best I’ve read. It also wasn’t themed, which I think is a weakness as an anthology. On the other hand, I would have been happy if I’d paid $1.95 USD for this as a magazine, especially given it only cost me $2 in the second hand store. The many, irrelevant, line drawings of naked women are a bit odd though. I guess that’s the 70s for you.

[isbn: 0441142818]

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Space Soldiers

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This is a collection of short stories about soldiers in space. Its not the strongest such collection I have read — Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow, Body Armor 2002 and Dogs of War are all better.

  • The Gardens of Saturn (Paul J McAuley): veterans with jacked up nervous systems encounter genetically engineered people in deep space.
  • Soldiers Home (William Barton): veterans and other castoffs from conflict struggle to find meaning in continued existence.
  • Legacies (Tom Purdom): a not particularly interesting story about the psychological impact of losing a parent to war. Oh, except we don’t really talk about the impact. We talk about the bureaucracy around getting permission to treat. Dull.
  • Moon Duel (Fritz Leiber): an interesting concept (interstellar criminals abandoned on the moon). A bit dated, but ok apart from that.
  • Saviour (Robert Reed): another good concept, but I don’t think this story is particularly well written.
  • Galactic North (Alastair Reynolds): a relativistic chase across deep space with a confusing terraforming gone wrong subplot.
  • Masque of the Red Shift (Fred Saberhagen): this is the second Berserker story I’ve read (the other is “What Do You Want Me To Do To Prove Im Human Stop” from Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow. It was ok, although I suspect I was meant to know more about the universe than I actually do.
  • Time Piece (Joe Haldeman): read before in Dogs of War, and I didn’t like it back then.
  • On The Orion Line (Stephen Baxter): I think this is the best story of the bunch. Its about expansionist humanity and their battle with aliens who can tweak the laws of physics.

[isbn: 0441008240]

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The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall

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This is an anthology of Pern stories. It doesn’t really stand on its own though, you’re much better off having read the other Pern books first. The stories are:

  • The Survey: P.E.R.N.: this story feels quite lazy. There are new characters, but they aren’t well introduced. They find the planet later called Pern, and explore it, but the story is entirely descriptive with no real plot to speak of. A story that’s only interesting if you’re obsessed with all things Pern. Its especially important that you’ve read Dragonsdawn before this story.
  • The Dolphin’s Bell: this story recycles characters introduced in Dragonsdawn to tell another side of the evacuation from Landing story. Its an ok story, but its not ground breaking.
  • The Fort of Red Hanrahan: covers the settlement of the second Hold on Pern. This story feels more like a real story, even if it is a bit shallow. Better than the previous two stories.
  • The Second Weyr: this is more of a traditional dragon rider story, and quite good. It doesn’t feel as much like an afterthought as the other stories, and was a good read. The title is a bit of a fib, as this story explains the existence of the next three weyrs.
  • Rescue Run: this was a good story too, covering why the settlers were never rescued.

Overall, I’d say this collecting was ok, but nothing particularly special.

[isbn: 0345368991]

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A Separate War & Other Stories

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This is a short story collection. I like anthologies, and this one was pretty good. The stories are:

  • A Separate War: the end of The Forever War told from the perspective of Marygay.
  • Diminished Chord: love and music on an old harp like instrument.
  • Giza: genetic engineering to enable space mining.
  • Foreclosure: let’s get rid of those nasty squatters.
  • Four short novels: eventually it came to pass that no one ever had to die…
  • For White Hill: artists as collateral damage in an interstellar war
  • Finding My Shadow: biological warfare in Boston.
  • Civil Disobedience: global warming in a post Bush world.
  • Memento Mori: a very short story about modern medicine.
  • Faces: life as a draftee on a planet with a noxious atmosphere.
  • Heartwired: viagra for the soul.
  • Brochure: a badly polluted Earth reopens as a Disney resort.
  • Out of Phase: a shape shifting alien learns about power on Earth, to the detriment of the Earthlings.
  • Power Complex: the same shape shifting alien learns about real power.
  • Fantasy for Six Electrodes and One Adrenaline Drip: a script involving love (or at least sex) and murder in a world with immersion entertainment.

[isbn: 9780441015177; 0441015174]

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Burning Chrome

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This is a collection of William Gibson short stories. They’re gritty and real, and make more sense now that I’ve been to both the US and Japan. I read these stories as a kid and loved them, although their vision for the future isn’t a happy one. Its good to see I still like them as an adult. Stories in this collection:

  • Johnny Mnemonic
  • The Gernsback Continuum
  • Fragments of a Hologram Rose
  • The Belonging Kind
  • Hinterlands
  • Red Star, Winter Orbit
  • New Rose Hotel
  • The Winter Market
  • Dogfight
  • Burning Chrome

[isbn: 0441089348]
[award: nominee nebula_short_story 1981 (Johnny Mnemonic); nominee nebula_novelette 1982 (Burning Chrome); nominee nebula_novelette 1985 (Dogfight); nominee nebula_novelette 1986 (The Winter Market)]

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Dogs of War

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Another combat anthology, this time edited by David Drake.

  • Or Battle’s Sound (Harry Harrison): already read in Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow and Body Armor: 2000.
  • Liberty Port (David Drake): already read in The Complete Hammer’s Slammer’s Volume 1.
  • Straw (Gene Wolfe): steam punk mercenaries in a future which is more like the past. A good read.
  • Tomb Tapper (James Blish): this one has a nice twist at the end, although I found the underlying premise of the story hard to believe.
  • A Relic of War (Keith Laumer): already read in The Compleat Bolo.
  • Basic Training (Mark L Van Name): this one is a bit sad. Well, all of the stories in this book are sad, but I find this one a bit harder than others because the main character is about the age of my kids.
  • Witch War (Richard Matheson): an interesting little tale which doesn’t end up at all like you expect.
  • Transstar (Raymond Banks): I didn’t think this story was all that good when I was reading it the other night, but its the one I kept thinking about for the next day. There are lots of interesting issues raised here — arrogance, response, the cost / benefit of aggression.
  • Time Piece (Joe Haldeman): this story is very much like a small summary of The Forever War, which makes it disappointing in a way… The book is better, and this story glosses over many of the issues.
  • Clash by Night (Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore): this story is interesting because it prompted a sub-genre all of its own about mercenaries in the future. However, this story is entertaining by not earth shatteringly great.

[isbn: 0446610895]

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Body Armor: 2000

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I love a good anthology, although I’d read a few of these stories before:

  • Contact! (David Drake): this story is quite unlike the other stuff of his that I have read, mostly because its set in the Vietnam War, not the far future. A good story with an excellent twist.
  • The Warbots (Larry S. Todd): this one wasn’t for me. I’m not sure what point the author was trying to make, if any. Its just a long history of imaginary weapons.
  • The Scapegoat (C. J. Cherryh): this is long, being a novella, and a little hard to read in places because the story jumps around. Overall, a good read though. My first Cherryh, although I have a lot queued up on the shelf.
  • The Last Crusade (George H. Smith): this was a good story, and would have fit well in Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow as it has a similar war-is-hopeless tone.
  • Hired Man (Richard C. Meredith): there is a nice twist at the end of this one, although its obvious a few pages before it happens.
  • Early Model (Robert Sheckley): I was surprised by this one, its the first Sheckley story I’ve read that I didn’t hate. Its not fantastic, but its way better than Bill the Galactic Hero on the Planet of Bottled Brains or his story in Foundation’s Friends.
  • In the Bone (Gordon R. Dickson): this story is odd, and I’m not 100% sure what I think of it. It was entertaining, but also a little hard to believe.
  • The Chemically Pure Warriors (Allen Kim Lang): this was a good story, being quite reminiscent of Tilley’s Amtrak Wars series.
  • Right To Life (Thomas A. Easton): this story is in the same vein as Make Room, Make Room! and Logan’s Run, whilst still being distinct and interesting.
  • Or Battle’s Sound (Harry Harrison): appeared in Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow.
  • Hero (Joe Haldeman): appeared in Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow, and was turned into The Forever War.

    [isbn: 0441069762]

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Buy Jupiter Short Stories

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This is another Asimov short story collection. The following stories appear in the book, although I have already read a couple as part of either the Robot short stories or the Nightfall collection of short stories.

To be honest these stories aren’t Asimov’s strongest. They entertaining, but they’re not as amazing as some of his other stuff. I guess its hard to be a genius all the time.

The following stories appear in this collection:

Buy Jupiter
1975
The Complete Robot
1982
Robot Dreams
1986
Darwinian Pool Room
Day of the Hunters
Shah Guido G.
Button, Button
The Monkey’s Finger
Everest
The Pause
Let’s Not
Each an Explorer
Blank!
Does a Bee Care?
Silly Asses
Buy Jupiter
A Statue for Father
Rain, Rain, Go Away
Founding Father
Exile to Hell
Key Item
The Proper Study
2430 A.D.
The Greatest Asset
Take a Match
Thiotimoline to the Stars
Light Verse

[isbn: 0575041994]
[awards: nominee nebula_short_story 1965 (Founding Father)]

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Foundation’s Friends

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I was excited when I found Foundation’s Friends the other day, because I thought I’d read all the Foundation books and did not know that this one existed. It is an anthology which celebrates Asimov’s 50 years as a science fiction author, and each author takes their own approach to the Foundation universe.

The stories are:

  • The Nonmetallic Isaac or It’s a Wonderful Life (Ben Bova): not really a short story, more of an inspection of the impact that Asimov’s non-fiction writing has had on the world.
  • Strip-Runner (Pamela Sargent): set after The Naked Sun, a young female strip runner meets Elijah Bailey.
  • The Asenion Solution (Robert Silverberg): a pretty standard science fiction short story.
  • Murder in the Urth Degree (Edward Wellen): I haven’t read any of the Doctor Urth mysteries, so to be honest this story seemed pretty weird.
  • Trantor Falls (Harry Turtledove): covers the fall and sack of Trantor at the end of the first Galactic Empire. This one is pretty good, and in keeping with the overall Foundation universe.
  • Dilemma (Connie Willis): Asimov deals with some three law robots.
  • Maureen Birnbaum After Dark (George Alec Effinger): I find Maureen’s character to be superficial and annoying. This story didn’t really do it for me.
  • Balance (Mike Resnik): Susan Calvin wonders if robots are a better date than men.
  • The Present Eternal (Barry N Malzberg): is it good to be able to see with 100% accuracy into the past? This story was a bit disjointed, and not the best in the book.
  • PAPPI (Sheila Finch): a colleague of Susan Calvin brings home a robot companion for her son.
  • The Reunion at the Mile-High (Frederik Pohl): what if a biological weapon had been pursued instead of a nuclear one at the end of world war 2? What if Isaac Asimov hadn’t been a science fiction author because he was drafted into the effort?
  • Plato’s Cave (Poul Anderson): the robot debuggers Donovan and Powell return to help with a confused robot on Io. This story was pretty in keeping with the original Donovan and Powell stories, which was nice as those stories are classics.
  • Foundation’s Conscience (George Zebrowski): a researcher looks for records of missing Seldon appearances.
  • Carhunters of the Concrete Prairie (Robert Sheckley): this story was written by one of the guys who did the Bill the Galactic Hero spinoffs — specifically Bill the Galactic Hero on the Planet of Bottled Brains. This story seems to suffer from similar problems — as best as I can tell its trying to be funny, but it doesn’t do it very well.
  • The Overheard Conversation (Edward D. Hoch): the Black Widowers meet for a dinner discussion. I haven’t read any other Black Widower stories, so I don’t have much of an opinion on this one, although it did seem like a pretty traditional pithy short story.
  • Blot (Hal Clement): explorers on icy Miranda interact with some cubes of unknown origin that appear to be communicating with each other.
  • The Fourth Law of Robotics (Harry Harrison): the Stainless Steel Rat meets Susan Calvin.
  • The Originist (Orson Scott Card): a scientist trying to determine the origin of the human race in the declining days of the Galactic Empire interacts with Hari Seldon and his Foundations.
  • A Word or Two from Janet (Janet Asimov): what is it like being married to Isaac Asimov?
  • Fifty Years (Isaac Asimov): Asimov reflects on 50 years of writing.

Obviously, being an anthology, some of these stories are better than others. However, this is a good collection with only a couple of stories I didn’t really like. I’m glad I found it.

[isbn: 0812509803]

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Bolos 6: Cold Steel

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This bolo book is different from the previous ones, in that it heavily focuses on the humans side of the story, instead of the bolo’s inner monologue. I’ve seen reviews online that say this makes it a bad bolo book, but I think that’s unfair. The bolos are critical to the telling of this story, and you do hear from them. More than that, ultimately a point about the relationship between bolos and humans is being made that would be a lot harder to make if the story was told from the bolo side of the fence.

This was a good book and I enjoyed it.

[isbn: 0743435494]

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