Recent reading: The Big Book of Science Fiction, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

I got this for daughter but ended up reading almost all of it before her… 1162 pages of sci-fi.  I was frankly surprised at how bad a lot (most of which I had not read) of the stories were: poor prose, hackneyed themes. I guess if you were 15 in the era before computers, everything seemed new and possible, and the stories were thrilling to me back in 1977. So anyway, my six favorites (excluding Ted Chiang and Robert Reed and Ursula Le Guin who were going to win anyway….) from among the writers I had not previously read):

Baby Doll by Johanna Sinisalo: I got the idea right away, but this is a brave depiction of a near future world gone completely awry with hyper-sexualization of young girls. Farfetched? Just watch youtube.

The Slynx, by Tatyana Tolstaya: I was itching for more. Reminded me of Le Guin. The style is mix of fairly tale and anthropology, where futures are in many ways like the past, for us humans, we might well end up less informed and less smart in the dystopia to come as we collectively forget science (natural and social).

The Universe of Things by Gwyneth Jones: Quiet story about a small encounter. What would we think when alien life mixes and becomes ordinary. Better than Craphound I thought, which deals with same theme.

Crying in the Rain, by Tanith Lee: Good dystopia.

Bloodchild, by Octavia Butler: This was awesome. Thrillingly careful prose in my humble opinion.

Blood Music, by Greg Bear: This one more for the idea than the prose.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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