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Posts Tagged ‘jonathan strahan

Holding On For Tomorrow

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A decade ago, I started reading The Space Opera Renaissance as a short story project. I haven’t finished it yet so apologies if you’ve been waiting for that. However, from time to time I have read a story and sometimes even a book.

I’ve just read Tomorrow’s Parties: Life in the Anthropocene, edited by Jonathan Strahan, and wanted to leave a few thoughts here:

‘Drone Pirates Of Silicon Valley’ by Meg EllisonA Cory Doctorow YA story. Nuff said :(11
‘Down & Out In Exile Park’ by Tade ThompsonThe characters and set dressing were enjoyable but Thompson was in search of a plot and a purpose.32
‘Once Upon A Future In The West’ by Daryl GregoryArchtetypes of the old West updated for the 21st Century in a snappy, clever story that stays just on the right side of contrivance.
‘Crisis Actors’ by Greg EganA reverse ferret of a story that tries to be clever and doesn’t really land either the psychology of denialism or its twist.
‘When The Tide Rises’ by Sarah GaileyA nicely observed story about the paralysing crush of corporate capitalism but really could have been set in any context.
‘I Give You The Moon’ by Justina RobsonThe first story to really nail the brief and happily it is a lovely piece of writing too. Maybe hopepunk is okay!
‘Do You Hear The Fungi Sing?’ by Chen Qiufan (translated by Emily Jin)What if Air by Geoff Ryman but magic mushrooms? There was lots to admire here but didn’t quite click for me.
‘Legion’ by Malka OlderCommunity theatre two-hander where the author’s thumb jabs the scales harder and harder. Nothing to do with the brief.
‘The Ferryman’ by Saad Z HossainA good companion piece to Robson’s story. Would have been 20% better without the single footnote.42
‘After The Storm’ by James BradleyMid-21st Century slide of life that is simultaneously powerful and a bit dull.35

So a better an average original anthology in terms of quality, I would say, with Gregory and Robson probably my favourite. But it is really notable how few writers really engaged with the brief. These are interestingly imagined near future but not “glimpses of what life might be like… as we live with climate change” as set out in Strahan’s introduction and as framed by Bradley’s opening interview with Kim Stanley Robinson. That interview quotes the aphorism that “it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism”; what this book suggests is that it is easier to imagine the implications of capitalism than the implications of climate and too much science fiction is caught on the twin prongs of apocalpyse and dystopia.

Written by Martin

8 September 2022 at 12:13

Posted in books, sf

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Third Wave Fantasy

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My review of Swords & Dark Magic, edited by Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders, is up now at SF Site:

So Swords & Dark Magic is an excellent showcase for both its contributors and the subgenre itself. If epic fantasy is generally considered to be most comfortable with a word count measured in the millions, sword and sorcery proves to be the perfect genre for the short story. Like their protagonists, the authors follow the adventurers’ code: get in and get out. The result is an anthology with a remarkably high hit rate. In fact, this is probably the single best original fantasy anthology I’ve read. More please.

It turned out to be a cracker but I initially requested a copy of Swords & Dark Magic because of an increasing interest in commercial fantasy, its substance and its taxonomy. This was also the subject of two earlier posts:

Edit: I gave Gene Wolfe’s contribution, ‘Bloodsport’, short shrift in my review since I don’t think it really fits with the anthology. However, I did discuss it in detail here.

Written by Martin

16 August 2010 at 16:08