One Million A.D. Hardcover – 1 Jan 2005
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I'll just make a few minor additions to what's already been said here:
"Good Mountain" is by a long distance the weirdest contribution to this volume. In it, we join a man on a train ride through hell, an attempt to escape a planetary disaster in progress. It reads initially like bizarre fantasy, but what *might* be a scientific explanation slowly emerges.
SF stories often involve present-day humans uncovering ancient alien ruins and artifacts. Less often, we see stories of future humans uncovering artifacts from present-day humanity. (Quoth Charlton Heston: "God damn you to Hell!") "A Piece of the Great World" is a sort of love story/travelogue that has far future uplifted simians uncovering earthly artifacts that post-date humanity.
Nancy Kress is a talented SF author, but her novella "Mirror Image," is probably the least interesting piece in this volume.
Reynolds' "Thousandth Night" features an opulent far-future setting vaguely reminiscent of John C. Wright's GOLDEN AGE (minus the strange cognitive stuff and the classical mythology). It introduces the characters Campion and Purslane who are also the protagonists of the later novel HOUSE OF SUNS. The pair realize that something fishy is going on at their family reunion, and eventually find that the suspicious activity involves not only murder but also a galaxy-spanning conspiracy. It's more a preliminary sketch for HOUSE OF SUNS than a prequel.
In Charles Stross' "Missile Gap," he displays both his familiar satirical touch and his obsession with spies, secretive bureaucracies, and bizarre, evil conspiracies that go way deeper than virtually anybody realizes. Like much of Stross' work, this is more a clever exercise than a satisfying story. And it really doesn't belong in this volume; Stross cheated.
Greg Egan's "Riding the Crocodile" begins with the line, "In their ten thousand, three hundred and ninth year of marriage, Leila and Jasim began contemplating death." They undertake a final adventure, attempting to contact "the Aloof", an alien species true to its name. I'm not a big fan of Egan's, but this one's pretty good.
I wouldn't pick this collection over one of the "best of" volumes that Dozois edits each year, but it's still a shame that it's not available in paperback.
The conceit of each of the stories in the collection is the far far future, a relatively recent idea as the editor points out in the foreward. What we want from this is a sense of true difference, even humans at that point should be incredibly alien.
Though all stories are good, there are some better and some worse. Robert Reed's story though truly alien with the setup of an earth undergoing total tectonic collision and giant worms providing transport was perhaps the least strong. Charles Stross' story though good was the least alien, transporting cold war era earth to the future on a huge discworld. I thought the Kress story about the clone sisters was both sufficiently alien and sufficiently strong. The Alistair Reynolds story was also top-notch in portraying betrayal amongst an immortal clone family in a post-scarcity far future, a future where they gather together every 200,000 years and it is nothing for one of them to spend thousands of years preparing the venue. The Silverberg and Egan story fall in the middle, both good stories and reasonably alien in their point of view of uplifted species and humans in another apparently post-scarcity human/computer hybrid future respectively.
This book really should be in print and offered to a mass audience.
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