The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction

Posted by : atcampbell | On : September 4, 2007

The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction edited by George Mann

This meeting drew ten people to A. T.’s home. Our topic was an anthology of original fantasy stories, the first book from new publisher Solaris. Most of the authors represented in the book are relatively new and seem to have books forthcoming from Solaris. Seven of us had started the book, with only two finishing.

The stories in this anthology do not have a common theme, but we found that many of them were memorable. We enjoyed “C-Rock City” by Jay Lake and Greg van Eekhout, which explores futuristic history on an asteroid colony. Several of us were entertained by “Jellyfish”, Mike Resnick and David Gerrold’s humorous riff on a famous 60s science fiction writer. The imagery of Ian Watson’s “Cages” was striking, although most of us could not figure out the plot. Stephen Baxter’s “Last Contact,” a touching character story about two women facing the end of the world, has a classic sf feel, although some of us found flaws in the story’s physics. Paul Di Filippo’s “Personal Jesus” cleverly explores issues with religion and iPods.  Peter F. Hamilton’s “If At First…” is a well-executed, though predictable, time travel story. James Lovegrove’s “The Bowdler Strain”, about a virus that affects language, was hilarious to some of us but left others cold. We were disturbed by Simon Ings’s horror story “The Wedding Party.” “Third Person” by Tony Ballantyne, a military sf story that plays games with point of view, was confusing at first but ultimately interesting and satisfying.

This was an unusual anthology. Usually the first and last stories in an anthology are its best, but we found neither the opening “In His Sights” by Jeffrey Thomas nor the closing “The Farewell Party” by Eric Brown to be anything special. None of the book’s stories had stereotypical American happy endings, which we attributed to the editor and many of the authors being British. In general we thought many of these stories were good, but we don’t expect to see any of them nominated for a major award.

After the meeting, several of us had a nice dinner at Mongolian Grille.

— A. T. Campbell, III