REVIEW SUMMARY: A good example of why I love reading short fiction.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The first volume of a new original fiction series – this one containing 19 stories and 2 poems.
PROS: 15 stories good or better; good sampling of the literary range sf has to offer.
CONS: 4 stories mediocre or worse. 2 short poems that escape me.
BOTTOM LINE: A promising start to a hopefully long-running series.
Fast Forward 1 marks the beginning of a bold, new, annual science fiction anthology series; bold because it is often said that the number of anthology offerings is already high, yet here it is. Its goal is to provide original, sf-only stories that offer “windows on the future”, as Editor Lou Anders’ insightful, reference-laden introduction puts it. Or, as the book’s subtitle puts it: “Future fiction from the cutting edge.” This first volume does indeed have some great contenders to add to the sf field, blasting the series off with a promising start. Take that, crowded anthology field!
It helps that Anders has assembled some of the field’s brightest stars, mostly veterans, and some newer voices, too. Having a cool John Picacio cover to get passersby to notice that is also a great help. The collection of visions depicted here is indisputable proof that science fiction is the literature of ideas.
Not all the stories worked for me, but it’s rare for any anthology to do otherwise. (Insert YMMV disclaimer here.) Even “Best of…” anthologies are hit and miss. But on the whole, Fast Forward 1 has lots to offer. Standout stories here include “The Something-Dreaming Game” by Elizabeth Bear, “p dolce” by Louise Marley and “Wikiworld” by Paul Di Filippo.
Reviewlettes follow, except for the reviews of Robyn Hitchcock’s two poems, “They Came From the Future” and “I Caught Intelligence”. Look, I’ve been a fan of Robyn Hitchcock ever since “Balloon Man“, but not even he can make me like poetry. On the bright side, anthology-rating-wise, the poems’ short-short length had no impact on the book’s rating.
On with the reviewlettes!
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