REVIEW SUMMARY: A very good group of stories that’s better than many best-of-the-year anthologies.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Original anthology of six far-future SF novellas.
PROS: 4 standout stories
CONS: 1 mediocre entry
BOTTOM LINE: Four out of six is a very good score.
I’ve been reading lots of short stories and it amazes me how original anthologies can sometimes be better than some best-of-the-year types. I suppose it stands to reason that the best-of anthologies are the opinion of (usually) one editor whose tastes might differ from that of the reader. On the other hand, given the law of averages, an anthology of original stories should be equally hit or miss.
Along comes Between Worlds edited by Robert Silverberg. Two of these stories were chosen for Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best Science Fiction #22: “Shiva in Shadow” by Nancy Kress and “Investments” by Walter Jon Williams. I did not re-read them this time around. Pity I didn’t take better notes on the Kress story, though, which I thought was perfect.
Standouts in the collection were “Between Worlds” by Stephen Baxter, the Kress story, “The Colonel Returns to the Stars” by Robert Silverberg and “Keepsakes” by Mike Resnick. Four out of six is a very good score. The weakest story in the bunch, by my reckoning, was mediocre. But then again, that was the Williams story that got chosen for the Dozois best-of anthology. So what do I know?
In addition to providing an excellent story, Silverberg tasked each of the other writers with providing a snapshot of life in the far future and far from Earth. I don’t know that all of the writers met that challenge as life remains pretty much the same. Or maybe that’s the point? No matter, there are some really top notch stories in this anthology.
This makes the second original anthology I read this year from the Science Fiction Book Club that is well worth the read; the other being Down These Dark Spaceways, which also featured stories that have since gone on to be collected elsewhere and nominated for awards.