Friday, December 19, 2014

Lots and Lots of Short Stories

Well, I finished the Tor eBook of 150 short stories which I talked about starting here. I used this as filler when I was babysitting Uncle Bruce - still going on after 9 months. It's getting really old. Hopefully turning my mind down to a 3YO level a couple of days a week for this long won't have a lasting effect. Meanwhile, he's really blossomed in that time: mall walking up to 3 miles, trolling for hugs and kisses the whole time; and spending the night with us in Lexington 6 times so far, including trips to Patchen Pub for the blues jam.

For the money (free), this was a very nice collection of stories. Ha ha, that's a cheap shot, it was a nice collection regardless of the price. I should have blogged the most noteworthy stories as I went, but, we'll just have to go from memory. Stories of note:

  • "A Clean Sweep With All The Trimmings" by James Alan Gardner, written in the style of Damon Runyon, was nicely odd and a lot of fun.
  • The Steven Gould story set in the "Jumper" universe, "Shade" was very enjoyable. I have his latest novel in this universe "Exo" in my iPad, but there's 20 other books to read there as well, so I'm not sure when I'll get to it.
  • I'm going to pan the stories by Peter Orullian. I just read the 1st one, "Sacrifice of the First Sheason", and the writing was so stilted that I did not read the other two of his stories that followed. That was the only time I did this.
  • The 2 stories by Jay Lake (now deceased) are very good.
  • I always like Robert Reed's short stories, and his 3 in this book do not disappoint. All of them kind of make you think.
  • I always think I should like Rudy Rucker's stuff, I'm afraid I just don't think he's a very good writer. All 3 of his stories in this volume are kind of stupid.
  • The John Scalzi story set in the "Old Man's War" universe is pretty good. I think it is one of the ones that wound up in "The Human Division". The other 2 are kind of dumb - I think Scalzi has trouble at times keeping his snark under control.
  • The 3 Charles Stross stories I had already read. I don't think Charlie could write a bad story if he tried.
  • The 6 Michael Swanwick stories are all good.
  • I particularly enjoyed all 4 stories by Rachel Swirsky. All very well written, all with real emotional content, all on very different themes in very different settings. I think I'll go right now and see what else she's written. Ok, I'm back. Too bad, no novels yet. One collection of short stories and poetry from 2010, "Through the Drowsy Dark". Kobo didn't have it so I had to just purchase the Kindle version.
  • The 7 Harry Turtledove stories are all enjoyable.
I also read another collection, "Hieroglyph", subtitled "Stories and Visions for a Better Future". This collection appeared to be largely the brainchild of Neal Stephenson. The idea was, let's get away from cranking out Yet Another Dystopian Future, and instead write stories about bright, shiny new futures.

The stories are all pretty good, and it was indeed nice to get some positive views. I remain an optimist about our future, although it is hard sometimes. I'll comment on a few of the stories - SPOILER ALERT for the Karl Schroeder story.

  • "Atmosphaera Incognita", by Neal Stephenson, gets the stories off to a strong start. It's about building a 20km tall tower.
  • "Girl in Wave : Wave in Girl", by Kathleen Ann Goonan is particularly inspiring. It's about using brain nanos, developed to help autistics, to improve everyone's intelligence. That is a thought I've had many times: that if we're going to make it, we're going to have to get smarter. I see our smartphones as a step in the right direction. And I've said many times that, as soon as I can get my smartphone as a chip in my head, I'm going for it.
  • "The Man Who Sold the Moon", by Cory Doctorow I found very touching, particularly in describing a death. He pulls in a lot of his Burning Man experience - I doubt I'll ever make it.
  • "Degrees of Freedom", by Karl Schroeder I really liked. Millennials use big data and social media to basically replace the government. I've really been wondering if this is how that generation would go, given that they don't seem to vote. I really hope that works out. I don't know if it does - the old lizards still own all the raw materials. But maybe Blockadia lets them sidestep that.
  • "The Man Who Sold the Stars", by Gregory Benford, seemed like I had read it before. Some of that good old school libertarian-fu, but still enjoyable.
  • "Entanglement", by Vandana Singh, is a very hopeful story, with technology connecting and strengthening people all over the world who are fighting the good fight.
  • "Covenant", by Elizabeth Bear, has a repaired serial killer as it's protagonist. Hard to have a story about a serial killer without it being at least a little creepy, and this story is that.
  • "The Day It All Ended", by Charlie Jane Anders. I think I've liked other of her stuff. This story is kind of a heartbreaker tho. You wish it were true, but you know, it's probably not.
One thing that is a little scary in this collection is that a number of the stories assume that we have had to try geoengineering to fight global warming. But, still, very hopeful, very enjoyable, I recommend it highly.

1 comment:

greg said...

Hi, Chris. Expand your liberal echo chamber: