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Engineering Infinity Paperback – 6 Jan 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Solaris; 1st edition (6 Jan. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1907519513
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907519512
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 296,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Johnathan Strahan is an editor and anthologist. He co-edited The Year's Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy anthology series in 1997 and 1998. He is also the reviews editor of Locus. He lives in Perth, Western Australia with his wife and their two daughters. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Format: Paperback
Just in time for New Year, a nice selection of stories to clear the head. The book contains stories by 14 different authors, and the description above is rather misleading. For the record, the editor is Jonathan Strahan, and it contains stories by Stross and Baxter (also by Peter Watts, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Karl Schroeder, Hannu Rajaniemi, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Damien Broderick and Barbera Lamar, Robert Reed, John C Wright, David Moles, Gregory Benford, Gwynneth Jones and John barnes - but not, as far as I can see, by Bear).

The stories are nicely varied - the foreword discusses them in the context of "Hard SF" but admits that not all of them satisfy the criterion in the classic sense. I have to admit I don't really care about that, I simply enjoyed them as stories - there's a dash of quantum time travel, some deep space stuff, some pessimistic visions of the future (I liked Rusch's account of a marriage falling apart against a background of creepy genetic augmentation - all at a price, of course - which tells a very human and familiar story in a new and fresh way).

The stories are all high quality, with the best easily worth 5 stars, and only a couple below 4. Those that especially stood out for me were (beware: a couple of spoilers follow) "Malak" by Watts, a sort of recast
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By John M. Ford TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 11 Jun. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
This is an odd little collection of fifteen science fiction stories. For one thing, the table of contents is on the last page. I have no idea why. I also can't see what the theme of the collection might be. The editor, Jonathan Strahan, outlines the history of science fiction from Hugo Gernsback to the present. The field has matured beyond the restrictions of early hard science fiction and become something wider, richer, and apparently harder to define.

What about the stories? "[S]ome of the stories are classic hard SF, some are not. [I]t is part of the ongoing discussion about what science fiction is in the 21st century." Since the stories are not related in any systematic way, perhaps the collection is a celebration of diversity. I am never sure what people mean by that, either. Ah, well. The stories are all pretty good, each in its own way. Four stood out for me:

Hannu Rajaniemi's "The Server and the Dragon" has no human characters. But it is rich with motives and emotions that humans have no trouble understanding. From two, one.

Robert Reed's "Mantis" is two stories, edited. A man and a woman exercise and watch another man and woman meet on the street outside. Between the two couples a high tech window subtly alters what they see of each other. Oh, and there's a bug.

In Gwyneth Jones' "The Ki-anna" a fraternal twin investigates his sister's death on a war-torn planet. An accident or a murder or the self-sacrifice of a seasoned anthropologist?

In John Barnes' "The Birds and the Bees and the Gasoline Trees" the growth of a huge undersea structure is investigated by a nearly-indestructible genetically engineered woman who has been recalled to Earth from the environment she was designed for.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Engineering Infinity is a collection of modern science fiction which gives a broad view of the work being produced towards the hard end of the spectrum. Starting with a nod to the classic cyberpunk anthology, Mirrorshades, it is a highly contemporary selection, with a number of stories which could be categorised as being part of the post-human sub-genre, but which is also very firmly grounded in the work of classic writers.

The heartbreaking "Watching the Music Dance", a story of a little girl damaged by illegal implants which boost her musical ability, could easily have been written by a modern Phillip K Dick, using science fiction as an instrument to explore current issues. In this case, this is a tale of the damage over zealous parents can inflict on themselves and their offspring.

"Mercies", by Gregory Benford, on the other hand recalls classic Asimov, with a tale of a time travelling assassin, changing alternative pasts by despatching historical serial killers before they commit their crimes.
Thirdly, Stephen Baxter mines a very British seam reminiscent of Arthur C Clarke with the "Invasion of Venus", a story of mysterious alien incursion into the Solar System, seemingly oblivious of the human race.

Moving forward (in terms of writers), "Malak", a stunningly good tale about a military drone given a conscience, is very much, in its combination of very near future and high technological focus, on the Cyberpunk playing field.
That Cyberpunk feel is also to be found in "Laika's ghost", which is additionally reminiscent of Ken Macleod or Adam Roberts, bringing in themes of post-Soviet revolutionary politics.

Probably the most outright entertainment is to be had from Charles Stross's "Bit Rot".
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