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21st Century Science Fiction [Paperback]

David G. Hartwell , Patrick Nielsen Hayden
2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

21 Nov 2013

A fantastic collection of recent stories from some of science fiction's greatest up-and-coming authors, including many award-winners.

David Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden have long been recognised as some of the most skilled and trusted arbiters in science fiction, but Twenty-First Century Science Fiction presents fans with a first opportunity to see their considerable talents combined, and also to get a unique perspective on what's coming next in the genre.

The anthology includes authors ranging from bestselling and established favourites to incandescent new talents, including Cory Doctorow, Catherynne M. Valente, John Scalzi, Jo Walton, Charles Stross, Elizabeth Bear and Peter Watts. The stories selected include winners and nominees of all of the science fiction genre's major awards.

Stories include Bacigalupi's 'The Gambler' (Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon and BSFA nominee), Bear's 'Tideline' (Hugo and Sturgeon winner), Cooper's 'Savant Songs' (Sturgeon nominee), Cornell's 'One of Our Bastards Is Missing' (Hugo nominee), Gregory's 'Second Person Present Tense' (Sturgeon nominee), Mary Robinette Kowal's 'Evil Robot Monkey' (Hugo nominee), David Levine's 'Tk'tk'tk' (Hugo winner), David Moles's 'Finisterra' (Hugo nominee, Sturgeon winner), Hannu Rajaniemi's 'His Master's Voice' (BSFA and Sturgeon winner), Rachel Swirsky's 'Eros', Philia, Agape (Hugo and Sturgeon nominee), Peter Watts's 'The Island' (Hugo winner, Sturgeon nominee).


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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Robinson (21 Nov 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1472112423
  • ISBN-13: 978-1472112422
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.2 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 199,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Hartwell has produced a pool of anthologies that attempt to stand as definitive volumes. The Science Fiction Century is another such successful landmark collection.

(Publishers Weekly)

A superb survey for the uninitiated and a definitive sampler for confirmed fans. (Booklist)

This ranks as one of the definitive anthologies of the genre - and it makes the perfect introduction to the field of science fiction . . . The Science Fiction Century shows great breadth and range . . . Editor Hartwell succeeds by including a wide range of authors, styles, and themes. (The Des Moines Register)

We are in the hands of a loving expert. (John Updike on The Hard SF Rennaissance)

A first-rate selection of some of the best short SF and fantasy of recent years.

Locus Magazine on New Skies and New Magics

(Locus Magazine)

The finest collection of SF short stories published specifically for young adult readers in recent memory. (VOYA on New Skies)

Superior - Nielsen Hayden deserves a medal. There hasn't been an original anthology series so consistently satisfying since Damon Knight's Orbit. (Kirkus Reviews on Starlight 3)

The finest collection of SF short stories published specifically for young adult readers in recent memory. (Voice of Youth Advocates)

A bumper crop of 34 stories from authors who first came to prominence in the 21st century, compiled by two of the most highly respected editors in the business . . . Grab this book. Whether newcomer or old hand, the reader will not be disappointed. (Kirkus Reviews)

Book Description

Ambitious, definitive . . . the best short-form SF published this century so far.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Science Fiction From Our Century 11 Dec 2013
By John M. Ford TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
There are thirty-four science fiction stories in this book, all published in or since the year 2000. If you both of the "Best of the Year" collections you will have seen seven or eight of them before. They were selected as the best of our century by David Hartwell and Patrick Hayden. I am not familiar with the second editor, but this volume meets my expectations for a Hartwell anthology. Most of the stories are good and I actually learn something about the author from the one-page-or-so introduction to each story.

Here are seven that stood out:

Vandana Singh's "Infinities" follows Abdul Karim through his life, with occasional side trips into the realm of mathematics where he finds refuge from it. A bonus for readers is how much we learn about the actual mathematics of infinity and prime numbers.

Paolo Bacigalupi's "The Gambler" shows us future tools for mining global information flow and the kind of audiences, reporters and celebrities who are shaped by them. There is still room for more than one view of what is important.

John Scalzi's "The Tale of the Wicked" evokes those feelings we sometimes have that our office computers are really running things--and that their errors are intentional.

Mary Robinnette Kowal's "Evil Robot Monkey" asks whether animals are made more human by increasing their intelligence or by increasing our empathy.

Daryl Gregory's "Second Person, Present Tense" is one of those teen identity stories with a bratty, first person narrator. Actually, it's the second person, in the first person. But the first person isn't in there anymore. Much. Anyway, she really hates her parents.

Yoon Ha Lee's "A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel" is a reference book from the far future.
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1.0 out of 5 stars what a let down ! 29 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
apart from Peter Watts award winning literary gem of a story 'The island'...which is one of the best SF short stories of recent times, nothing else in this hefty round up comes close, in fact the majority of these stories i wouldn't even class as SF. Boring, unimaginative and bereft of any sense of wonder, this collection left me decidedly antagonistic toward what constitutes good SF nowadays.......purchase at your peril....
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good selection of great stories; horrible synopses 23 Nov 2013
By G.L. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As anthologies go, this is a good one. The stories were hand-picked to feature sci-fi writers that have come to prominence since the turn of the century. Because of that, there's no unifying theme among these stories, and reading them can feel like a bit of a rollercoaster since they differ from one another quite a lot. While I didn't like some of the stories, there were several that I loved - I'll be reading everything I can find from those authors.

I'm taking 1 star off because of the odd story arrangement (weepy stories in the first half, great hard sci-fi in the back) and the fact that the story synopses were a bit too revealing, ruining the element of surprise to the point where I started skipping them entirely. Here's a brief (and spoiler-free!) description of the stories in this collection:

"Infinities" by Vandana Singh
If Lifetime ever takes over the SciFi channel, the resulting TV shows would look a lot like this story. A tale of a mathematician's sad life, with a lot of math and not a lot of science fiction. A bit of a downer and an odd choice as the anthology's opening story.

"Rogue Farm" by Charles Stross
A hilarious short story about hillbillies of the future, their pot-smoking dogs and rogue space-faring collective farms.

"The Gambler" by Paolo Bacigalupi
Another growth&development story, this time about a Laotian refugee. Well written, but the sci-fi elements almost seem to be an after-thought.

"Strood" by Neal Asher
What would our lives be like if super-advanced aliens came a-knocking? Neal Asher's story sounds more plausible than most - and it has a great twist!

"Eros, Philia, Agape" by Rachel Swirsky
A moving story about a woman, her robot lover, their daughter and the dynamics of that relationship.

"The Tale of the Wicked" by John Scalzi
A witty story about the dangers of making your spaceship too smart. An oldie but a goodie that originally appeared in the "The New Space Opera 2" anthology in 2009.

“Bread And Bombs” by M. Rickert
A disturbing story from the point of view of a kid growing up in a world plagued by a war fought with futuristic technology and people with atavistic prejudices.

“The Waters Of Meribah” by Tony Ballantyne
A creepy, slow-paced but enthralling story about a convicted rapist sentenced to get his human body replaced with an alien one, one part at a time.

“Tk’tk’tk” by David Levine
The adventures of a software salesman on an alien planet. And you thought communication barriers between humans were bad!

“The Nearest Thing” by Genevieve Valentine
A rather tragic tale of a programmer who creates robots capable of imitating your loved ones. The tone and the main character reminded me of the protagonist of Neil Stephenson's Cryptonomicon.

“Erosion” by Ian Creasey
A supposedly deep story about a 22nd-century Brit who goes through extensive body modification to colonize a new world, goes soul-searching on his last night on Earth and gets in a world of trouble. Personally, I had a hard time buying the emotional epiphany at the end - it felt as fake as Nathan Petrelli's sudden religious awakening in season 3 of Heroes.

“The Calculus Plague” by Marissa Lingen
A great concept that isn't fully developed. The story abruptly ends without any resolution.

“One Of Our Bastards Is Missing” by Paul Cornell
An interesting story set in a futuristic world where the 19th-century empires never collapsed. This is the second story in the series, which is probably why certain things aren't fully explained. Still a good story, though.

“Tideline” by Elizabeth Bear
A moving story about the friendship between a dying combat robot and a feral teenager.

“Finisterra” by David Moles
If you like science fiction stories that build entire worlds and populate them with strange alien creatures, you'll love this one. This story is a bit like Moby Dick, except it's set in space. On a Jupiter-like planet. Oh, and the whales are miles long and know how to fly.

“Evil Robot Monkey” by Mary Robinette Kowal
A great exercise in creative writing, this micro-short story tells more in less than 1,000 words than most writers can fit in 10,000.

“The Education Of Junior Number 12″" by Madeline Ashby
A tie-in to Ashby's novel "vN" but it works perfectly fine as a stand-alone story. What happens to all the benevolent, unquestioning, slave-like self-replicating humanoid robots when the end of the world they'd been designed for fails to materialize?

“Toy Planes” by Tobias Buckell
Another micro-short story - this one is about an island nation that wants to join the space race. Not a lot of hard sci-fi here, more like a tale of independence

“The Algorithms For Love” by Ken Liu
A sad tale of what can happen when a brilliant expert on artificial intelligence becomes disillusioned in the very concept of intelligence, as well as free will.

“The Albian Message” by Oliver Morton
Yet another micro-short story. If super-advanced aliens left us a present a few million years ago, what would be in it?

“To Hie From Far Cilenia” by Karl Schroeder
One of the stories from the 2010 "Metatropolis" anthology. It's the longest story in this anthology and describes a complex near-future world where a Russian expert on radiation containment working for Interpol explores a vast underground virtual economy and the ethics of hijacking people's minds for their own good.

“Savant Songs” by Brenda Cooper
A brilliant autistic physicist tries to breach the walls of multiverse with her loyal assistant by her side. Told from the assistant's point of view, this story is equal parts about science fiction and relationships.

“Ikiryoh” by Liz Williams
A genetically engineered nanny (for some reason, I kept imagining her as Jar Jar Binks) exiled after a palace revolt is told to watch over a mysterious little girl. The story's take on the yin-yang balance isn't new, but the world it's set in is pretty interesting.

“The Prophet Of Flores” by Ted Kosmatka
If you like stories about alternate history, you'll love this one. In this story's world, Darwin's theory of evolution is considered a lie, all science is based on creationism and the main character, a young anthropologist/archaeologist, doesn't do what you'd expect him to.

“How To Become A Mars Overlord” by Catherynne M. Valente
A fun story told as an instruction manual for all the wannabe-overlords. It describes the many ways in which humans (and exotic aliens) have taken over Mars - or their local alien equivalents.

“Second Person, Present Tense” by Daryl Gregory
Most science fiction stories concentrate on the fiction part. This one goes against the trend and explores the science aspect. An all-too-believable story about the nature of human identity, a drug that takes away your conscious decision-making process and what can happen when you overdose on it.

“Third Day Lights” by Alaya Dawn Johnson
***DO NOT READ the anthology's synopsis for this story - it spoils one of the biggest surprises!***
One of my favorite stories in the anthology, it features a strange pocket universe and a moody alien queen with her quirky friends, as well as a mysterious not-quite-human man who wishes to court the queen by passing her 3 challenges.

“Balancing Accounts” by James Cambias
An interesting story where every main character is a space-faring robot. The protagonist is an entrepreneurial robot that does odd jobs in order to make a 6% annual return for its owners/investors back on Earth. Things change when a human enters the picture...

“A Vector Alphabet Of Interstellar Travel” by Yoon Ha Lee
One of my favorite stories in the anthology: a series of creative descriptions of space-faring alien races and how their spaceships work. (Or don't work, in some cases.) Short, sweet and unusual.

“His Master’s Voice” by Hannu Rajaniemi
In an overcrowded world where immortality is cheap, it's up to a hyper-intelligent dog and a cat (armed with quantum claws and Russian missile launchers!) to save their imprisoned owner. A+ for creativity.

“Plotters And Shooters” by Kage Baker
"Lord of the Flies" meets "Ender's Game" in this story about nerds and jocks charged with protecting the human settlements on Mars from rogue asteroids.

“The Island” by Peter Watts
As hard sci-fi goes, this story is harder than a diamond: a cynical human crew on a slower-than-light starship controlled by a sociopathic AI spends millions of years traveling the universe, setting up new stargates and seeing entire civilizations, monsters and gods appear and die as they pass by. This story features their encounter with something that surprises even them.

“Escape To Other Worlds With Science Fiction” by Jo Walton
Yet another little present for all the lovers of alternate history out there. In this world, the Nazis won, the economic boom of the 1950s never happened and things look pretty bleak for the working class. (Though not as bleak as they do for minorities...) This story is set in Walton's alternate history trilogy, which has just earned the top spot on my "to read" list.

“Chicken Little” by Cory Doctorow
One of the longest (and most interesting, in my opinion) stories in this anthology. We all know how hard it is to buy a present for somebody who already has everything. What kind of a present (or better yet, pricey product) can you give to a functionally immortal quadrillionaire that's over 100 years old?
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A beginners guide on how to write SF. 9 Dec 2013
By Rick Panasci - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Most, but not all stories were less than polished. Some just meandered into an ending. Too many of them kept on using words that were supposed to be "non-human", especially names, but in reality make it damn near impossible to read. No smooth flow.
Saying that, there were some good concepts for story lines. It's good to see what a younger generation thinks SF direction can go. Most of the stories were dark. No good guys coming to the rescue. Everyone,"Me", likes to see a little payback.
Just so you can vent, I'm old,really old. I've read as much SF and Fantasy as I could get my hands on over the years starting in the 50's. I watched every black and white and grainy B movie ever made. This is where I came from, so maybe there is no relevance to "NEW" SF. That's my 2 cents worth or today maybe a quarter.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars got me interested in sci-fi again 6 Dec 2013
By Sneaky Burrito - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I have a love-hate relationship with science fiction. When I was younger, my local library had a special sticker they put on the spines of all science fiction novels that allowed me to find them, mixed in among the general fiction collection. I devoured anything and everything, with little regard for quality.

And then I got a science education (Bachelor of Science degrees in biology and chemistry and a Ph.D. in chemistry). Maybe I was just choosing the wrong books at this point, but it seemed like everything I picked up involved impossibilities of genetic engineering, impossibilities of the same physical constant (think e or pi) having different values in the same space, or battles between/among spaceships (which are fun enough to watch on TV or in a movie but which I hate reading about). My science education had made it impossible for me to enjoy science fiction.

It was thus with some trepidation that I approached this collection. I reasoned it was worth giving a try for two reasons: (1) short stories, unlike novels, simply don’t have time to get into nitty-gritty scientific details at a level that would annoy me and (2) I’d read a few of the authors (Jo Walton, Catherynne M. Valente, Alaya Dawn Johnson) and was curious about some of the others based on blogs, etc. (John Scalzi, Cory Doctorow).

In the end, I’m glad I gave this one a chance. The biggest benefit I got out of it (something I hadn’t anticipated) was that it made me think about IDEAS. Not even scientific ideas, in every case, but big-picture, philosophical ideas. For what it’s worth, the science was generally pretty good, too (although, in fairness, I am not an expert in artificial intelligence).

Themes are a little hard to pull out of this collection because the criterion for selecting stories was that the author came to prominence in the current century. Nonetheless, some concepts stuck in my head, mostly relating to questions of what it means to be human and/or what human relationships will (or might) be like in the future.

It is something of a given that (most) humans are motivated by survival instincts. “Balancing Accounts” by James Cambias turns this on its head a bit, in that the characters are all robots (there is one human who is in suspended animation the whole time). The robots are relatable and sympathetic and yet still somehow different (loss of body parts can be remedied fairly easily). The human/machine divide is partially -- but not fully -- broken down here. The details of Charles Stross’s “Rogue Farm” break down the divide a bit more; a human (?) who is lost can be reloaded from backups.

Several stories in the collection involve artificial intelligences specifically designed to look like and interact with others as though they were humans. Rachel Swirsky’s and Genevieve Valentine’s stories stand out here (and are particularly emotional), but several others from the collection also touch on this theme.

I mentioned survival instincts earlier, and that implies bodily integrity to a degree, but stories involving modifications to the body are also present in this anthology. In some cases, these are voluntary (Ian Creasey’s “Erosion”) and in other cases involuntary (Tony Ballantyne’s “The Waters of Meribah”). In Cory Doctorow’s “Chicken Little,” certain individuals have become immortal/corporations/sovereign entities, but at the cost of freedom of movement. They’re supremely powerful and influential but are also profoundly dependent on others. We are left wondering if the trade-off is worth it.

Thankfully, there were also a few lighter moments included in this collection. I enjoyed the tones of Scalzi’s “Tale of the Wicked” and Neal Asher’s “Strood,” for example, and had fun picturing my own dog and cats in the lead roles in “His Master’s Voice” by Hannu Rajaniemi.

I loved that the futures (or present times) envisioned in some of these stories seem plausible. For example, the viewer-driven news reporting of “The Gambler” by Paolo Bacigalupi is already occurring, in a sense. With the advent of Google Glass and Bitcoins, “To Hie from Far Cilenia” (in which whole nations with independent currencies exist and can be experienced simply by putting on a pair of glasses that augment reality) by Karl Schroeder doesn’t feel too far off, either.

Some of these stories work best as short fiction; others are packed with enough content that they could be expanded to full-length novels. (This has been done with at least one story in the collection already: “The Prophet of Flores” by Ted Kosmatka appears to have greatly influenced April 2013’s “Prophet of Bones.”)

Another thing I appreciated was that this volume contained a variety of voices. Authors were men and women, younger and older, of many different races and ethnic backgrounds, etc. Sure, there is still something of a bias in this collection in favor of white male authors, but the field is changing, giving other people the opportunity to be heard, as well. And yet, I got the sense that the diversity wasn’t included simply for the sake of diversity, but because good writing crosses these sorts of ethnic/gender/religious boundaries.

In the end, I am glad I picked this up. I am seeing some welcome changes in science fiction that may entice me, one day soon, to pick up a full-length sci-fi novel again. For someone like me, this book was an excellent way to get a feel for what’s out there without downloading 20 or 30 different samples to my Kindle. (I am grateful to the editors for doing all the hard work for me! I can tell that they know -- and love -- the field, and they’ve done a fine job selecting stories to include here. FYI, a complete list of stories and authors is available via “Look Inside.” Lack of mention of a story in this review is not intended to imply lack of interest, on my part. I just didn’t want to list titles here, when that information can be freely obtained elsewhere.)

Review copy provided by the publisher. Also reviewed for the Best Science Fiction Books blog.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Science Fiction From Our Century 11 Dec 2013
By John M. Ford - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There are thirty-four science fiction stories in this book, all published in or since the year 2000. If you both of the “Best of the Year” collections you will have seen seven or eight of them before. They were selected as the best of our century by David Hartwell and Patrick Hayden. I am not familiar with the second editor, but this volume meets my expectations for a Hartwell anthology. Most of the stories are good and I actually learn something about the author from the one-page-or-so introduction to each story.

Here are seven that stood out:

Vandana Singh’s “Infinities” follows Abdul Karim through his life, with occasional side trips into the realm of mathematics where he finds refuge from it. A bonus for readers is how much we learn about the actual mathematics of infinity and prime numbers.

Paolo Bacigalupi’s “The Gambler” shows us future tools for mining global information flow and the kind of audiences, reporters and celebrities who are shaped by them. There is still room for more than one view of what is important.

John Scalzi’s "The Tale of the Wicked" evokes those feelings we sometimes have that our office computers are really running things--and that their errors are intentional.

Mary Robinnette Kowal’s “Evil Robot Monkey” asks whether animals are made more human by increasing their intelligence or by increasing our empathy.

Daryl Gregory's "Second Person, Present Tense" is one of those teen identity stories with a bratty, first person narrator. Actually, it's the second person, in the first person. But the first person isn't in there anymore. Much. Anyway, she really hates her parents.

Yoon Ha Lee’s “A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel” is a reference book from the far future. It classifies several alien civilizations by their methods for moving through space. Many of these methods are intimately related to their civilizations’ core values.

Elizabeth Bear’s “Tideline” portrays the parental relationship between a boy and a damaged robot struggling to remember the past with honor.

I recommend the collection as worth buying, reading, and keeping.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great representation of modern SF! 3 Dec 2013
By Kriti Godey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY SCIENCE FICTION features stories from sci-fi authors that have risen to prominence since 2000. All of these stories are new to me (apparently I don't read enough short stories!) and the collection contained a pretty wide spread of subgenre and length of stories.

One thing that struck me about this collection is that more often than not, humanity is portrayed with such pessimism - apparently in the future, we're going to be more and more cold, power-hungry and selfish. Most of my favourite stories in this collection had robot protagonists. As a huge Star Trek fan, my default view of humanity has always been optimistic, so I found the onslaught of cynicism somewhat disconcerting. I wish the editors had varied the tone a little.

As per my usual anthology review format, I'm not going to talk about all the stories, just the ones I liked most and least. The stories I enjoyed the most:

"INFINITIES" by Vandana Singh

This opening story was set in India (where I'm from), and I was thrilled to read sci-fi written by an Indian writer. I have no idea if this story is objectively good, but it was cozy and familiar and poignant. It involves an old mathematics teacher who dreams of seeing infinity. The sci-fi aspect of the story is pretty subtle.

"EROS, PHILIA, AGAPE" by Rachel Swirsky

Anyone who says science fiction can't pack a deep emotional impact needs to read this story. It offers a fresh new twist on the trope of the robot wanting to be human, but backs it up with the real relationship of a robot, a human and their daughter.

"TIDELINE" by Elizabeth Bear

I've read and loved Elizabeth Bear's fantasy, and now I can't wait to read more of her sci-fi work. A forgotten military robot strikes up a friendship with a feral teenager, but her power is running out. Another moving story.

"EVIL ROBOT MONKEY" by Mary Robinette Kowal

This is a very short story - about two pages long, but it takes as incisive look at genetic manipulation and animal testing, while also managing to be touching.

"THE ALGORITHMS FOR LOVE" by Ken Liu

If pressed, this would probably be my favourite story of the collection. A designer of AI-like dolls is so successful that she starts to lose faith in free will and intelligence itself.

"IKIRYOH" by Liz Williams

An exiled genetically engineered being takes care of a disturbed little girl sent to her by the current goddess-ruler. The world of this story is what made me fall in love with it; the science fiction ideas are incidental, but seemed a little bit more like fantasy.

"SECOND PERSON, PRESENT TENSE" by Daryl Gregory

The protagonist of this story is a teenager who has overdosed on a drug that completely erased her personality. She's spent years being coached to be who she was before, but she just can't seem to do it. I loved the exploration of identity and consciousness, and it was very believable.

"BALANCING ACCOUNTS" by James Cambias

One of the most fun stories in the collection. In this future, there are so many robots that there's a robot society within human society, and our protagonist rocketship/odd job robot is one of them. His latest cargo seems like a lot of trouble, but he needs to make his human owners money, so he takes it on anyway. I imagined the world described to be kind of like the excellent game Machinarium [Download].

--

Other good stories: THE TALE OF THE WICKED by John Scalzi (Scalzi as a writer is kind of like Hugh Grant as an actor - he does the same thing all the time, but does it excellently), ESCAPE TO OTHER WORLDS WITH SCIENCE FICTION by Jo Walton (I need to read her books!), A VECTOR ALPHABET OF INTERSTELLAR TRAVEL by Yoon Ha Lee (a story in encyclopaedia form!), HOW TO BECOME A MARS OVERLORD by Catherynne M. Valente (a story in guide form!), THE GAMBLER by Paolo Bacigalupi (journalism in the future!), THE CALCULUS PLAGUE by Marisa Lingen (memories transmitted virally!), and HIS MASTER'S VOICE by Hannu Rajaniemi (a dog and a cat set out to rescue their master, armed with very cool technology).

The ones I wasn't as thrilled by:

"ROGUE FARM" by Charles Stross

I'm not going to say this was a bad story... I just didn't get it. I wasn't sure why the farm was called a farm; it seemed to just exist so we could be amused at the idea of a farm trundling towards a farmhouse. I didn't understand why the protagonist was so anti-farm even before he knew what it wanted to do (hillbilly joke?). This story wasn't for me.

"THIRD DAY LIGHTS" by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Another story that I was just plain confused by. A sci-fi story involving pocket universes and the future of humanity, but borrows heavily from fantasy tropes. I didn't get the romance, and I didn't get the pocket-universe creatures.

"THE ISLAND" by Peter Watts

This was a well-written and compelling story, but it just made me depressed to read it. The protagonist is a crewmember on a automated starship designed to make space travel gates, but they've been doing it for millions of years and seen civilisations rise and fall countless times, and the AI controlling the ship won't let them stop. In this story, they encounter something that they've never seen before (and that part is awesome!)

--

Overall, this is definitely worth buying. It's a great introduction to a lot of authors, as well as to the staggering breadth of SF.
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