[Note: When rating an anthology, I usually weight the stories according to length: novellas count twice as much as novelettes, which count twice as much as short stories. Since I did not know for sure the lengths of the stories in this anthology, I weighted each one equally.]
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: 16 original stories of science fiction.
PROS: 4 standout stories; variety of styles and sub-genres.
CONS: 2 weaker stories.
BOTTOM LINE: More good stories than bad; worth the read if only to sample the variety sf has to offer.
The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction is the first book to be published by the Solaris imprint and aims to serve as their manifesto: to publish “outstanding science fiction and fantasy, whatever the form.” Like a large majority of anthologies, your story mileage may vary, but overall, they are off to a really good start.
The book’s brief introduction talks about science fiction’s short form and it is clear that editor George Mann values the “sparkling gems” the format produces. He succinctly cites what’s so exciting about the short form: the “single conceit”, neatly packaged for the bite-size consumption, long enough to explore that single idea (though some stories here could have used an extra page or two to provide better closure) and sometimes the launch pad for linked or longer stories. Short fiction delivers sense of wonder in its purest form.
Perhaps more important to regular short fiction readers is the publication of a promising new anthology that doesn’t add to the already-crowded “Best of…” or themed anthology set, but instead offers a various sampling of what the science fiction genre can accomplish. There are indeed many “gems” here. Standout stories included “C-Rock City” by Jay Lake & Greg van Eekhout, “The Bowdler Strain” by James Lovegrove, “Last Contact” by Stephen Baxter and “Third Person” by Tony Ballantyne.
Reviewlettes of the stories follow….