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The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction: Vol 2

by Various
George Mann (ed)

Vern was better than the others. He seemed to understand the hellish limbo where Sly lived – too smart to be with other chimps, but too much of an animal to be with humans"

Reviewed by Paul  Graham Raven

While the tsunami of themed anthologies shows little sign of abating, Solaris are calmly and quietly getting on with their rather unique little project: a series of unthemed anthologies of original short fiction. This second volume in the series collects a good variety of tales from some notable names from sf-nal pantheon. 

There are a few flops. Kay Kenyon's Space Crawl Blues is an example of an idea too big for the short fiction format, and cramming it into the space available makes for a trite betrayal tale that doesn't really hinge on the novum. Conversely, Eric Brown's Sunworld seems too long: its ending is telegraphed too early, its sensawunda lessened by that slow approach. Chris Roberson's The Line Of Dichotomy is a vanilla mil-sf yarn that fails to use the full potential of its setting, but which redeems itself somewhat with a sudden moral cliffhanger ending. 

There are some real successes, too. Mary Robinette Kowal's Evil Robot Monkey is the shortest piece and also the most memorable – it has followed me around for days, and promises to continue doing so for a while to come; Karl Schroeder shows signs of developing into BruceSterling2.0, embedding civilisational lessons we could do with relearning in the alt-history of Book, Theatre and WheelShining Armour by Dominic Green crams all the potential merits of short sf into one convenient parcel – it's fun, witty, full of spectacle and very human. 

And then there are all the others which, while they aren't phone-a-friend excellent, are still well worth the read – like the rambling cut'n'paste Jerry Cornelius time-slip of Michael Moorcock's Modem Times, Peter Watts' dark surveillance-society soliloquy The Eyes Of God, or Robert Reed's post-post-human love-story-in-disguise Fifty Dinosaurs

A cliché it may be, but there really is something for everyone here – and the roster of writers makes it an ideal bait to tempt those who only read novels to climb over the short fiction fence. Let's hope the economics of the market allow Solaris to keep this series running for some time to come.

(This review was first published in Interzone)

Paul Graham Raven  is a bedraggled museum library assistant by day, but at night he transforms into a freelance writer and webgeek-for-hire to the stars of genre fiction. He likes girls with tattoos and music with guitars, and hopes the trend for eighties retro fashion ends sooner rather than later.



Publication Date: March 2008

Paperback/Hardback? Paperback

First anthology?No

Authors: Brian Aldiss, Neal Asher, Tony Ballantyne, Stephen Baxter, Keith Brooke, Eric Brown, Paul Di Filippo, Jay Lake & Greg van Eekhout, Peter F Hamilton, Simon Ings,   James Lovegrove, Mike Resnick & David Gerrold, Adam Roberts,  Jeffrey Thomas, Mary Turzillo,  Ian Watson

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The Publisher's Website: Solaris




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George Mann (ed) "Solaris Book Of New Science Fiction Vol 1"

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