September 23rd, 2010

reading

Somebody is out there!!!

... well, maybe.

I love the Fermi paradox. Where is everybody, given the number of stars that might have planets? It's marvellous ground for any SF writer, so Nich Gevers and Marty Halpern had the brilliant idea of an anthology around the idea: Is Anybody out There? I've been dying for some good hard sf, and this seemed like a good option. Happily, there were some good stories here - and one awesome one.

Alex Irvine starts off the anthol with "The Word He was Looking for was Hello." This is one of those stories that combines both a very personal story - Dalton is a lonely man - with an immensely varied imagining of how aliens might be attempting to communicate with us.

Now I know every story I love I love for personal reasons, but I love Michael Arsenault's "Residue" for more personal reasons than perhaps usual: it's because it reflects conversations that my darling and I have had, could have, and undoubtedly will have at some stage in the future. He captures the relationship between this couple perfectly, for mine.

"Permanent Fatal Errors" is Jay Lake's view of a genetically altered space crew, and their interactions. The thing I liked about this anthology was that sometimes the reference to Fermi was blatant, and sometimes it was tangential while still vital. This story falls into the latter category.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch contributes "The Dark Man." Set in Rome - which doesn't get nearly enough of a look-in when it comes to SF, in my mind - it neatly deals with both the Fermi paradox and with the crazies who get attracted to the idea of aliens. The characters are wonderful.

Finally, Pat Cadigan's "The Taste of Night" is one of those stories that makes me want to flail my hands in the air and sputter a bit, because explaining why it's good is just hard. It reminded me a lot of James Tiptree Jr's "Your Faces, O My Sisters! Your Faces Filled of Light", which probably helps explain its appeal. Like Irvine's, it combines the intensely personal with suggestions of there being something more. The characters are wonderfully delineated, the poignancy is not overdone, and the sf elements are subtle as well as necessary. Magnificent.