diumenge, 29 de novembre del 2015

Meeting Infinity - John Strahan (English version)

Disclaimer: English is my third language,  so I want to apologize in advance for there may be mistakes in the text below. If you find any, please let me know so that I can correct it. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks. You can read this review also in spanish here.

I've read lots of good reviews  of the anthologies of the Infinity Project, edited by Jonathan Strahan, and finally, I'm able to add my complimentary review.
In these anthologies the stories  talk about a general theme of the possible future of the human race, from the colonization of the solar system, to journey beyond the stars. In the case of the collection of which I speak today, Meeting Infinity, the central theme is the changes (cultural, biological or technological)  that could be carried out in humans to adapt to new conditions, either on our planet and in the near future, or in a possible settlement of an alien planet several centuries in the future.

The anthology consists of 15 stories, many of which are of very high standard. I'm not going to talk about all of them, only about the ones I liked most, which, fortunately, are the majority. There are many writers who I already knew and that I usually like their work; others were totally unknown to me and have been very pleasant surprises.

James Corey in Rates of Change presents the possibility of transplanting our central nervous system to other bodies that have been artificially created. The story also talks about generational conflicts over the use of new technologies. We will find a similar theme, but with a different approach, in Memento Mori by Madeline Ashby. In this case, besides transplanting consciousness, erasing memories is permitted, so that each time you change can start over. There are a couple of very surprising twists in the plot.

Yoon Ha Lee in The Cold Inequalities, tells the story of one of the guards of a ship fleeing a war on earth, loaded with memories and consciences of millions of human beings. The presence of a stowaway triggers a poetic and affecting story.

Nancy Kress demonstrates its solvency with the story Cocoon. In this case the changes in humans are caused by an infection of a parasite on a planet that mankind is colonizing. The story, for its subject, is a bit out of tune respect to the overall dynamics of the collection, but I liked it anyway. 

Aliette de Bodard also uses the resource of an infection of unknown origin in In Blue Lily's Wake. The story, set in the universe of Xuya, is a typical example of the style of the author: strong female characters of Asian origin, moral dilemmas generated by strict traditions and the presence of the intriguing Ships, protagonists of many of her stories.

And, to finish the female quota, another great discovery for me was Gwynneth Jones with Emergence, a narration with a very interesting and detailed setting where the author situates a hearthwarming but raw story about human longevity and the acceptance of the IA as living beings. 
Another author I did not know but whose story I loved is Sean Williams, with All the wrong places. Initially it seems very repetitive, but ends up being a very original story with a touch of classic science fiction and even a little romantic, since the story is about how a man pursues the woman he loves while she is dedicated to explore the solar system, first, and then other stars.

I want to emphasize the great atmosphere of Outsider, by An Owomoyela. It tells the story of the meeting of two separate human groups, and their differences in social and technological aspects.

In this kind of anthologies a story about a post-apocalyptic dystopian future is mandatory, and in this case is provided by Bruce Sterling with Pictures of the resurrection, an acid and pessimistic story, but very interesting, in a future that I hope will not arrive.
And finally what I consider the best story, The Falls, by Ian McDonald, located in the universe of his last novel, Moon, that I will soon devour. The author skillfully blends two histories, one of an AI that has consciousness and feelings and the other of a mother who lives in fear about the sports that practices her daughter, born on the moon.

In short: A fully recommended anthology, with many stories of quality and not much to criticize, maybe the distribution of the stories: in the first five there are three that I didn't enjoy much. Apart from this detail, many of the stories have left me eager to know more about their universes and their protagonists, a fact that I have in  much consideration to positively evaluate a brief story. I have known interesting authors who I will read more, for sure. I will be aware of the following anthology of this project, Bridging Infinity, as well as the three old ones.

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