Thursday, September 08, 2016

Year's Greatest Nightmare Stacks

Out and about with my youngest daughter and her 2 YO son, we went into Carmichael's Bookstore to kill time while waiting for our food order from Ramsi's. I wound up with not 1 but 2 hardcopy books.

1st, in hardback, Charlie Stross's latest Laundry Files novel (#7), "The Nightmare Stacks". I still buy all Charlie's stuff in hardcopy - I pass the Laundry Files books on to my son-in-law.

This one seemed less tired than the last one.

  1. It's a love story, between our vampire Laundry protagonist and our parallel-universe elven antagonist.
  2. Fun stuff, with a magic-based army taking on tanks and planes of the British military.
  3. An interesting, speculative example of how a human subspecies developing language later could cause a very different type of mind to be created.
2nd, in trade paperback, "The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Third Annual Collection", edited by Gardner Dozois. I look forward to this every year, but, again this year, after having read the Technology Review, Microsoft, and short story collections, there were 4-5 stories here I had already read. There were also stories that really did not seem to belong here.
  • "The Children of Gal" by Allen M. Steele is your standard, colony planet forgets science and substitutes religion. That is a really old idea, I think the original Star Trek used it at least a couple of times.
  • "Inhuman Garbage" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch is a police procedural with several threads that fail to come together by the end. So what was the point of including them?
The final story, which is often strikingly good, is the 2nd one in the collection by Aliette de Bodard, set in her oriental-themed space opera where humans are grown to become ship-minds. For whatever reason, these stories just don't do much for me. I guess that conceptually it is interesting for a space empire to have an oriental flavor rather than a western one (Ms. de Bodard is French-Vietnamese), but still, I'm kind of like "so what"?

There are some good and different stories, but no real standouts. I'm wondering if I should quit reading the other short story collections? I'm thinking not. I don't mind rereading the duplicates, they are mostly good stories. But 4 or 5 seems like too many.

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