Sunday, December 27, 2015

Mission: Tomorrow, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

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(Hard SF) These 19 stories explore the question "What will space travel look like in an age no longer dominated by NASA." Authors examine expanded roles for corporations, private citizens, and other governments. (95,451 words; Time: 5h:18m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆, Average

"Mission: Tomorrow," edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt, published on by .

A Hard SF Anthology with Good Stories

Although the description talks about increasing roles for other actors, most of the stories look at futures where NASA is irrelevant--not just not-dominant. In six of the stories, private companies have replaced governments in space. Six more focus on individuals making big differences, although they don't all eliminate government entirely. One focuses on Russia, one focuses on China, and the other two are hard to classify. It's a good enough mix.

Of the 17 original works, we gave three of them four stars or more, which near the average average (2.6). We gave six of them two stars or fewer, which is also average (5.92).

From the subject matter, you'd expect all the stories to be hard SF, but only ten of them met our definition of hard SF. However, these include all of the recommended stories.

Specific Recommendations

Malf, by David D. Levine, tells how a young man, Jorge, who is only three days away from making his fortune by delivering a processed asteroid to Earth, tries to cope with a host of last-minute problems.

In Rare (Off) Earth Elements (A Sam Gunn Tale), by Ben Bova, a patriotic young taikonaut, Song-li arrives at near-Earth asteroid 94-12 to claim it for China, but she find the notorious Sam Gunn is already there. She knows his reputation and is determined not to be corrupted, but we pretty much know how that's going to go. What's interesting is watching how it goes.

Tribute, by Jack Skillingstead is probably the strongest story in the volume. Karie's brother died in Martian orbit, and NASA died with him. She wants to see regular missions to Mars and a permanent Mars base, but she's had trouble getting anyone interested. Now she's got and offer of major corporate support, but there are strings attached.

Other Reviews: Search Web,

5- & 4-Star Total Stories: 3;  Estimated Time: 1h:09m (21K words)
Recommended By Stories: 5;  Estimated Time: 1h:32m (28K words)
Total Stories: 17;  Estimated Time: 5h:18m (95K words)
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Rating: 5 -> Hugo-worthy

Rating: 4 -> Recommended

Malf by David D. Levine  Time: 27m (8K words)  IssueMission: Tomorrow 
(Hard SF) In three days, Jorge's processed asteroid arrives on Earth, and it will make him wealthy enough to retire. But three days is a long time.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4
Rare (Off Earth) Elements (A Sam Gunn Tale) by Ben Bova  Time: 18m (5K words)  IssueMission: Tomorrow 
(Hard SF) When Song-li arrives at near-Earth asteroid 94-12 to claim it for China, she's surprised to find the notorious Sam Gunn is already there.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4
Tribute by Jack Skillingstead  Time: 23m (7K words)  IssueMission: Tomorrow 
(Hard SF) Karie's brother died in Martian orbit, and NASA died with him. Ever since, she's been lobbying for another mission, and now she has support from an unexpected quarter.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4

Rating: 3 -> Average

Airtight by Michael Capobianco  Time: 15m (5K words)  IssueMission: Tomorrow 
(Hard SF) When Lon lands on the comet Ondine, he'll stake a claim and make a fortune. He's almost there, but lots of things can still go wrong.
Around The NEO in 80 Days by Jay Werkheiser  Time: 25m (8K words)  IssueMission: Tomorrow 
(SF) Ultra-rich Phil Foggerty bet that he could fly around a Near-Earth Asteroid and return to Earth in just 80 days. He has a clever plan, but his enemies don't want him to get off the ground.
In Panic Town, on the Backward Moon by Michael F. Flynn  Time: 14m (4K words)  IssueMission: Tomorrow 
(Hard SF Mystery) Mickey works for the Martian Port Authority on Phobos. When a mysterious artifact goes missing, Mickey goes down to the surface to look for it.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [3]  Recommended By: GDozois
On Edge by Sarah A. Hoyt  Time: 14m (4K words)  IssueMission: Tomorrow 
(SF) As related by their admin, Cass, two "geniuses" trying to invent teleportation for bite off more than they can chew.
Ten Days Up by Curtis C. Chen  Time: 19m (6K words)  IssueMission: Tomorrow 
(Hard SF) Kenna works ten-day shifts on the space elevator. When she ends up trapped outside, she has to find a way back in before a solar flare hits.
The Race For Arcadia by Alex Shvartsman  Time: 20m (6K words)  IssueMission: Tomorrow 
(SF) At the end of the 21st Century, Nikolai flies Russia's first interstellar spaceship alone, hoping to beat the Americans and the Indians to the new planet, Arcadia.
The Ultimate Space Race by Jaleta Clegg  Time: 10m (3K words)  IssueMission: Tomorrow 
(SF Humor) In a future where space missions are funded by reality TV, Ethel and Henry watch the exciting conclusion of a four-month race to Mars and back.
Windshear by Angus Mcintyre  Time: 25m (8K words)  IssueMission: Tomorrow 
(Hard SF) Bruno has finished his work on a merleta, an airship in the Venusian stratosphere, and today he's going home to Brazil. Except there seems to be a problem with his transportation.

Rating: 2 -> Not Recommended

A Walkabout Amongst The Stars by Lezli Robyn  Time: 20m (6K words)  IssueMission: Tomorrow 
(SF) Earth sends Tyrille to investigate why the Voyager 1 spacecraft abruptly began broadcasting again--as if someone had refurbished it.
Excalibur by Jack Mcdevitt  Time: 13m (4K words)  IssueMission: Tomorrow 
(Hard SF) Gordon Kerr, writing a history of NASA, uncovers documentation about a mysterious unmanned mission that no one talks about.
Iron Pegasus by Brenda Cooper  Time: 09m (3K words)  IssueMission: Tomorrow 
(Hard SF) Cynthia mines the asteroids alone except for her robot companion, Harry. They respond to a distress call, although something seems wrong about it.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [2]  Recommended By: NClarke
Orpheus’ Engines by Christopher Mckitterick  Time: 28m (9K words)  IssueMission: Tomorrow 
(Hard SF) JoveCo hired Nina to figure out mysterious transmissions from the natives on Jupiter, who appear to be trying to sabotage their operation there.
Tartaros by Mike Resnick  Time: 13m (4K words)  IssueMission: Tomorrow 
(SF) Hiding from the police out in the Kuiper Belt, Tarter runs across a planet that shouldn't be there.

Rating: 1 -> Needs Improvement

Tombaugh Station by Robin Wayne Bailey  Time: 19m (6K words)  IssueMission: Tomorrow 
(Hard SF) James Dayton commands a Pluto base where the crew all came on one-way trips. After 18 years, there are starting to be some problems--and casualties.

Rating: Not Rated

1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. Thanks for the review. I've been looking for more books within our solar system, without aliens or FTL travel.

    This sounds like it should fit my needs.