Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Mission Critical, edited by Jonathan Strahan

★★★★☆ Mission Accomplished!

Stories where people, human or otherwise, were working on a mission or plan and something went terribly wrong (129,331 words; Time: 7h:11m)

"Mission Critical," edited by Jonathan Strahan, published on by .

Review: 2019.400 (A Word for Authors)

Mission Accomplished

The introduction states the theme and goal of the anthology as
Stories where people, human or otherwise, were working on a mission or plan and something went terribly wrong. . . . Smart, well-written science fiction, mostly hard science fiction, that shows everything the genre can do.
On the balance, it delivers what it promises. Out of fifteen original stories, I’d usually recommend two or three, but I actually recommended five. Normally I’d recommend against four, but I only recommended against three, so this is an excellent anthology.

Buckle Up!

There’s an interesting variety of genres and settings across these stories:
  • Genre
    • Eight are hard SF
    • One is future fantasy
    • One is alternate reality
    • Five are “soft” SF
  • Tone
    • Five are high-tension, edge-of-your-seat stories.
    • Five are moving in one way or another.
  • Place
    • One of them takes place on Earth.
    • Seven of them take place in our solar system
    • Seven of them take place elsewhere.
  • Time
    • Three take place in the near-future (< 100 years from now)
    • Six are in the mid-future (100 to 1000 years from now)
    • Six are in the far-future.
There should certainly be something to please everyone here.

Specially Recommended

By the Warmth of their Calculus,” by Tobias S. Buckell, takes us to a lost colony where the commander of a spaceship tries to save her crew from hunter-killer robots that have infested their system.


This is Not the Way Home,” by Greg Egan, tells the story of a woman and her infant child who try to escape from a lunar base after Earth apparently abandons them.

In “Devil in the Dust,” Linda Nagata tells the story of a team on Mars destroying one of the last nests of killer robots. A rare story that gets AI right and explores the real danger in it.

The Empty Gun” by Yoon Ha Lee is a space-opera where a woman bent on revenge acquires a very powerful gun with an unexpected side-effect.

Ice Breakers” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, takes us to an ice sheet on a cold planet in a terrific storm where an aging mining supervisor puts herself at risk to rescue people she doesn’t even know.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. This is linked over in the right sidebar as "Anthology: Critical Mission" ---->