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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Mix of Augmented Reality Stories, 16 Aug 2012
By 
Killie (Armadale, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mirror Shards: Volume One (Kindle Edition)
"Mirror Shards: Volume 1" is an anthology of thirteen short science fiction stories, edited by Thomas K. Carpenter who also contributed one of the stories. The stories themselves have been written by a variety of authors and all of them included some aspect of Augmented Reality. For those of you that don't know, Augmented Reality is the process of utilising technology to enhance and expand upon what we see in the real world.

Whilst this common element is present in each story, the way in which the individual authors have used it does vary quite substantially. This means that the stories themselves are all very different in style and substance. For example, whilst one story may be a fast paced thrill ride, the next would be poignant and thoughtful. I felt that this ensured the reader would not get bored as they read through the stories. Quite simply, the collection really does provide an enjoyable taste of what Augmented Reality could be used for in the future, both the positive and negative.

The positive sides of Augmented Reality are specifically shown in the story, "Of Bone and Steel and Other Soft Materials" which is an exciting and action packed look at a woman utilising the technology to try and survive an encounter with a Russian crime syndicate. Another story that touched on the more positive aspects is "Gift Horses" is an enjoyable journey that follows the attempts to overthrow a corporate dictatorship.

"Bellow the Bollocks Line" however really highlights some of the more negative aspects with a short but amusing look at advertisers hurtling constant commercials at people who are given no real way to avoid them. This is then supported by "The Sun is Real" which is one of my favourites in the collection and follows a prisoner of war who is subjected to unusual forms of torture and subterfuge that Augmented Reality could be used to inflict.

The story I enjoyed the most however in the collection has to be "The Cageless Zoo" by Carpenter himself which was very reminiscent of Jurassic Park. The story is based around a woman and her two children visiting a zoo which has utilised Augmented Reality in a rather novel way to ensure the various predators living there don't see the people and therefore won't try to attack them. Of course things quickly go wrong and a thrilling adventure unfolds as the family tries to escape the zoo.

Overall, Carpenter has pulled together an enjoyable and satisfying collection of science fiction stories that look at Augmented Reality from many different perspectives. The entertaining mix of styles, ideas and pacing kept me hooked and I am looking forward to further instalments in the series and reading other literature by the authors included. I highly recommend this to fans of speculative fiction and those interested in the future of Augmented Reality.
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