Saturday, October 1, 2016

Galactic Games, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

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(SF Sports) Twenty stories of sport and contest in various settings--fron Earth to space, with competitors ranging from human to alien. (81,800 words; Time: 4h:32m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆, Average

"," edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt, published on by .

Winners and Losers

Of the fifteen original stories in this collection, we recommended five, which is twice as many as expected, given our year-to-date ratings. On the other hand, we recommended against seven, which is also about twice as much as usual.

Specially Recommended

Minor Hockey Gods Of Barstow Station, by Beth Cato, involves a human hockey team whose dreams of winning an interstellar competition fell apart with their financing, and who ended up stranded on an alien space station far from home. They missed the big games, but they get a chance to compete in an unexpected way. Strong writing, strong plot, strong characters, emotional payoff--gold medal for this one.

Also Recommended

Advantages, by Louise Marley. A baseline human has a hard time competing when the other contestants have been modified even to the extent of having extra arms and legs. Even winning a moral victory requires looking noble, not pitiful. But there's more to it than that.

For The Sake Of The Game, by Gray Rinehart, features a referee as protagonist, not a player. In this story, a fragile peace agreement requires that a sporting championship be held between Earth and the aliens we just finished fighting. If the games aren't held, the peace deal may unravel, and someone is trying to bump off the human referees.

Pompoms And Circumstance, by Esther M. Friesner, pits a teenage cheer-leading team against bloodthirsty aliens. One of the aliens wants to learn how to be a cheerleader, and humans aren't in a position to say no. "With great pompoms comes great responsibility." Funny and scary all at once.

With Fones, by Todd McCaffrey, makes a hero out of one of the staff members who helps organize the Earth team. Much of the fun in this humorous tale is in her reactions to the things that go wrong--especially when they seemed to be going right.

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