Saturday, November 3, 2018

Infinity's End, edited by Jonathan Strahan

★★★★☆ All Good Things Must Come to an End; 4 RSR-recommended stories + 6 others out of 14

(SF) The final volume of the Infinity Project features stories that explore the question of what it means to operate on the scale of the whole solar system. (94,393 words; Time: 5h:14m)

"Infinity's End," edited by Jonathan Strahan, published on by .

Review: 2018.610 (A Word for Authors)

Finish Up Strong

Jonathan Strahan gave these instructions to authors for this final volume of stories in his Infinity Project:
I asked the writers creating new stories for this book to try to open up the solar system, to look again at its vastness, it's incredible scale, and at how humanity in different ways might fit successfully and happily into its nooks and crannies.
Most of the authors seem to have followed these instructions--except for the "happy" part.

Of the 14 original stories here, we recommended 4 (average would be just 2) and recommended against 3 (which is average), so we decided to give the anthology as a whole 4 stars. That constitutes going out on a high note!

Vision of Light and Visions of Darkness

The stories divide into two groups, and we recommended two stories from each group.

The first group (eight stories) shows people we can relate to (for the most part) living their lives in a future that really does span the solar system. The stories themselves, however, focus on particular episodes in the lives of the heroes; the scope of solar-system spanning civilization is part of the background, but not generally at the forefront. These are mostly stories about people, not places, and they're mostly cheerful tales.

The second group (six stories) are about endings. A man chooses when to end his life after thousands of years of exploration. Or all intelligent life in the solar system faces doom in a post-human future. These are almost all dark stories.

Specially Recommended

These were the two five-star stories: one bright and one dark.

With "Intervention," Kelly Robson tells a sweet little tale about a woman raising her last crèche of children on Eros, a group she's named "The Jewel Box." It's moving, it's uplifting, it's a great read.

"Prophet of the Roads," by Naomi Kritzer, takes us to Triton, where a woman is trying to recreate "The Engineer," an AI tyrant that used to dominate all of humanity. There's a whole cult of people who think the same thing, but she has a functioning fragment of the real thing.


Almost as good, the two four-star stories; also one bright and one dark.

"Once on the Blue Moon," by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, tells the story of a precocious 12-year-old girl who manages to make life utterly miserable for the space pirates who hijack the cruise liner her family is on.

Last but not least, "Kindred," by Peter Watts. One does not expect a cheerful tale from the author of Blindsight, and one is not surprised. We hear just one side of a conversation between a mass mind that rules the entire solar system and a single human mind it has resurrected for some purpose, and as the conversation evolves, we gradually figure out what has really happened and just how high the stakes are.

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