Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bridging Infinity, edited by Jonathan Strahan

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(Hard SF) Stories that look at super-engineering projects. (100,124 words; Time: 5h:33m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 4 RSR-recommended stories + 2 others out of 15

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"Bridging Infinity," edited by Jonathan Strahan, published on by .

Infinity and Beyond

The theme of this latest installment of the Infinity series of anthologies is super-engineering projects. The authors definitely took this to heart, describing projects ranging from fighting sea-level rise by bringing up magma to make islands higher, to using black holes to send messages via gravity waves, to building a base on the surface of the sun. All stories are SF (some harder than others) and the scopes include everything from near-future on the surface of the Earth, to millions of years from now across the galaxy.

We recommend 4 stories, which is more than double the average for an anthology of this size (fifteen original stories), and we recommend against 4, which is about average. Most of the stories we recommend against let the grand project eclipse the plot and characters. People who just want to read clever accounts of how enormous projects might be accomplished and don't mind the lack of much of a human-scale story may enjoy some of those as well. 


The Mighty Slinger, by Karen Lord and Tobias S. Buckell, pits an old Calypso singer against a group of property developers who want to destroy everything on the Earth and start from scratch to make desirable properties for rich people from Mars and Venus. 

Mice Among Elephants, by Larry Niven and Gregory Benford, takes us to a distant star system where an unknown species of aliens are operating a transmitter that's telling everyone else in the galaxy that human beings are bad news. And we've never even met them.

Travelling into Nothing, by An Owomoyela, tells the story of a woman who escapes a death sentence in order to pilot a very unusual starship. But the starship doesn't work quite as she expected, and she ends up marooned in empty space, facing starvation if she can't figure it out.

Seven Birthdays, by Ken Liu, recounts a million years of human development, in powers of 7 of one woman's birthdays. A heartwarming story that mixes the intimately human with the incomprehensibly grand.

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