Sunday, December 4, 2016

Science Fiction by Scientists, edited by Michael Brotherton

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(Hard SF) Stories written by current or former scientists on topics that involve their actual expertise, each with a technical afterword. (70,895 words; Time: 3h:56m)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ Not Recommended

"Science Fiction by Scientists," edited by Michael Brotherton, published on by .

Some Excellent Hard SF, but . . .

As you'd expect, when scientists write Science Fiction, they nail the science part. As you might also expect, in many cases they flub the story-telling part. As a result, this anthology has the most unbalanced distribution of ratings of anything we've ever reviewed. We recommend three stories, which is double the average, but we recommend against eight, which is three times the average. Since the bad stories are so bad, we recommend against this volume as a whole, but the three recommended stories are good enough that it's almost worth the price for them alone.

The intermediate stories (three stars) are frustrating in that many of them seem to be great beginnings to longer stories, but then they just end abruptly.

Specially Recommended

Down and Out, by Ken Wharton introduces a relatable non-human protagonist on a very alien world. Their science has shown them that their world is a sphere, with ice at the bottom and rock at the top. Everyone is curious what might be "outside," and blasting through the rock up top is the obvious thing to do, but Ogby's calculations tell her that something very strange happens if you dig far enough into the ice.

Also Recommended

In Turing de Force, by Edward M. Lerner, two alien AIs from a whole AI civilization are attracted to Earth by the radio emissions and are shocked to find intelligent protoplasmic life. Or is it intelligent? They devise a test to try and find out for sure.

Neural Alchemist, by Tedd Roberts, deals with a university professor who unexpectedly becomes a zombie and who decides to do research on his condition, despite the discomfort this causes to his friends, colleagues, and students.

Other Reviews: Search Web, GoodReads.com



5 & 4 Stories: 3;  Estimated Time: 53m (16K words)
Recommended By Stories: 3;  Estimated Time: 53m (16K words)
Total Stories: 14;  Estimated Time: 3h:56m (71K words)
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Rating: 5 -> Hugo-worthy

Down and Out by Ken Wharton  Time: 19m (ShortStory)  IssueScience Fiction by Scientists 2016
(Hard SF) Trying to find "outside," Ogby's team digs into the ice at the bottom of the world, but Roov's team has been getting better results blasting rocks at the top.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [5]  Recommended By: RSR:5

Rating: 4 -> Recommended

Neural Alchemist by Tedd Roberts  Time: 21m (ShortStory)  IssueScience Fiction by Scientists 2016
(Zombie) Ever since he became a zombie, Professor Wissen has felt unwanted by the university, although some of his students think it's kind of cool.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4
Turing de Force by Edward M. Lerner  Time: 12m (ShortStory)  IssueScience Fiction by Scientists 2016
(Hard SF) Two extraterrestrial AIs arrive in our solar system and try to decide whether human beings are intelligent.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4

Rating: 3 -> Average

The Gatherer of Sorrows by J.M. Sidorova  Time: 29m (Novelette)  IssueScience Fiction by Scientists 2016
(Hard SF) Shelly finds that RNA determines if a person is cheerful or gloomy, but the implications of cheerfulness transplants are unexpected.
The Tree of Life by Jennifer Rohn  Time: 12m (ShortStory)  IssueScience Fiction by Scientists 2016
(Apocalyptic Hard SF) Even after the aliens arrived, she kept working in her lab, hoping to finish the most important project in her life: a very special apple.
Upside the Head by Marissa Lingen  Time: 15m (ShortStory)  IssueScience Fiction by Scientists 2016
(Hard SF) With money from their team, Catherine thinks she's close to a breakthrough treating the head injuries of hockey players.

Rating: 2 -> Not Recommended

Fixer Upper by Eric Choi  Time: 25m (Novelette)  IssueScience Fiction by Scientists 2016
(Hard SF) A Chinese industrialist hires a crew to rehabilitate the abandoned International Space Station for a new purpose.
Hidden Variables by Jed Brody  Time: 13m (ShortStory)  IssueScience Fiction by Scientists 2016
(Hard SF) Stephanie shares a physics breakthrough with her twin sister, Chloe, who's more into transcendental experiences.
Supernova Rhythm by Andrew Fraknoi2  Time: 05m (ShortStory)  IssueScience Fiction by Scientists 2016
(Hard SF) Eve thinks she sees an impossible pattern in supernovas in a distance galaxy, and she wants to organize her dissertation around it.
The Schrödinger Brat Paradox by Carl Frederick  Time: 24m (ShortStory)  IssueScience Fiction by Scientists 2016
(Hard SF) A physicist and psychologist run an experiment to see if some mental illness has a quantum-mechanical explanation.

Rating: 1 -> Needs Improvement

Betelgeuse by J. Craig Wheeler  Time: 08m (ShortStory)  IssueScience Fiction by Scientists 2016
(Hard SF) Betelgeuse is going to explode, and two Ais from Earth meet there to study it.
One for the Conspiracy Theorists by Jon Richards1  Time: 10m (ShortStory)  IssueScience Fiction by Scientists 2016
(Hard SF) A SETI scientist describes what it would be like to detect a signal from extraterrestrials.
Spreading the Seed by Les Johnson  Time: 12m (ShortStory)  IssueScience Fiction by Scientists 2016
(Hard SF) The first manned mission to another star departs on a 500-year voyage.
Sticks and Stones by Stephanie Osborn  Time: 25m (Novelette)  IssueScience Fiction by Scientists 2016
(Hard SF) Bad things are happening to the crew on the ISS, and there's not a lot of time to figure out what's causing them.

Rating: Not Rated




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