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Stranded by Anne Bishop
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Stranded by Anne Bishop, Anthony Francis, James Alan Gardner features three science fiction novellas that share "stranded" as a common theme.
All of the stories feature young protagonists so this collection could easily be classified as YA.

In "A Host Of Leeches" by James Alan Gardner Alyssa is a young woman who wakes up, alone, after suffering from some sort of plague. She discovers she has been left on a space station and that all the other infected humans on the station are frozen. The station was originally set up for human habitation but is now only inhabited by war robots, who have been decommissioned to the space station. Alyssa is unexpectedly thrust into a conflict between two opposing robot leaders. I enjoyed this story the most and would very highly recommend it.

In "A Strand In the Web" by Anne Bishop, Willow is a restorer in training on an aging ship. She is learning to create ecosystems with balance on planets across the solar system. Willow is assigned trees as her specialty in her training team. When two members of her team sabotage the groups efforts on their project, jeopardizing the future for everyone, Willow takes a daring leap of faith and applies to be the sole restorer of a nearby island. Surprisingly, she is granted permission to create a balanced ecosystem for the island and calls upon a classmate, Stev, to assist her. I enjoyed this heartfelt story with a hopeful ending. I also enjoyed this story a lot and would very highly recommend it.

"Stranded" by Anthony Francis involves a genetically engineered Centauress from the advanced Alliance, traveling to a planet she wants to colonize - and to escape her accomplished grandmother's sphere of influence. She arrives only to have a group of feral children, who have broken into bands of boys versus girls, crash their spaceship on "her" planet. A conflict erupts as a struggle for power plays out between all the juveniles. This was the least successful story in the collection for me, but I would still recommend it.

Verdict: highly recommended as a collection

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Belle Bridge Books and Netgalley for review purposes.


"A Host of Leeches" James Alan Gardner Author’s Note:
If you were invited to write a science fiction story about someone getting “stranded,” I’ll bet your first thought would be, “Okay, somebody gets stranded on an alien planet.” Then, if you’re like me, you’d think, “So how do I do the opposite?” What’s the opposite of being stranded on a planet? Being stranded off a planet. I pictured a girl who wakes up all alone in a spaceship. That’s a good place to begin, but she needed characters to interact with. The only problem was that if she met other humans, she wouldn’t be alone anymore. What could she meet instead of humans? Robots. Or aliens. Or both. Mix together The Omega Man, The Wizard of Oz, and Kurt Vonnegut’s Slapstick or Lonesome No More!, and it all makes perfect sense. Location 24-30

She woke and heard silence for the first time in her life. No music. No voices. Not even the hum of machinery or the of distant traffic. When she breathed, she could hear air going in and out of her nose. She could even hear the slow beat of her heart. She was in a bed—she could feel that much—but the room was as black as a blindfold. “Balla?” she whispered. No answer. “Balla?” Her voice cracked as she tried to speak as if she hadn’t talked in a long, long time. Her throat was gummed with mucus. “Balla!” This time she managed a hoarse shout. The name echoed faintly, then the silence returned. It scared her. She’d never before been this alone. She sat up and brushed her left fingers across her right forearm, where Balla should have been. She felt her own bare skin, and the small stent-hole where Balla was supposed to jack into her bloodstream. The hole was plugged with a little plastic cap. Location 31-37; "A Host of Leeches" opening

"A Strand in the Web" Anne Bishop Author’s Note:
Many years ago, three things happened around the same time. I read a quote by Chief Seattle about humankind being one strand in the web of life. I was playing a game called Sim Park and not having much luck keeping my ecosystems balanced. And I saw a bumper sticker that said, “One Earth, One Chance.” I wondered what would happen if you could have a second chance. That wondering eventually became “A Strand in the Web.”

“Oh, yuckit,” Zerx said as she looked at the cup in her hand and made squinchy faces. “I asked for it hot, and this is barely even warm!” Location 883-888, opening "A Strand in the Web" (More at http://www.annebishop.com/ss.strand.html)

You couldn’t apply for a Restorer’s team until you proved you could work in real time and maintain Balance in your part of the project. So, we had waited and studied and done the computer simulations and watched our simulated worlds crumble into ecological disaster—much like the worlds the Restorers committed themselves to rebuilding. Now each team had part of a large island. Each part had a strong force field around it to prevent any accidents or disasters from going beyond the team’s designated area. Now we were working in real time. We couldn’t just delete plants and animals to make it more convenient when something got out of hand because we were given an allotment from the huge, honeycombed chambers holding the genetic material for billions of species from all over the galaxy. That allotment determined how many of each species we could deposit at our site. Now, every life counted—not just for our own final scores in the project, but for the well-being of the planet. I was assigned the trees for this project, which pleased me very much because my name is Willow. Location 908-915

"Stranded" Anthony Francis Author’s Note:
Almost a decade ago, I was working on a space opera starring a genetically engineered centauress from a supercivilization with all the toys. Wondering what her grandchildren would be like, I sketched a young centauress crossing a field of wheat towards impossible mountains, then drew her brother, a pudgier centaur with a straw hat reading a map of the universe … and carrying a staff that could take him anywhere. Almost a decade later, my editor Debra asked me for a science fiction story about young adults finding their way. I gave that young girl her brother’s staff and her grandmother’s morals, imagined what would happen if she met a bunch of refugee children who were every bit as good as her in their hearts but who didn’t quite have it all together, and made them all collide on that field of wheat before those impossible mountains. The result is “Stranded.”

—Dr. Anthony G. Francis, Jr. Stranded Sirius flinched as sizzling grey bullets tumbled around him in zero-gee. The grey dented veligen pellets rattled through the cramped innards of Independence’s life support plant, stinging his nose with the scent of bitter almonds. His hands strained at the yellow-striped master fuse. The girls shouted. They fired their guns again. More bullets twanged around him, ricocheting off the ancient, battered equipment, striking closer with every shot—but Sirius just gripped the hot, humming tube harder, braced both booted feet, and pulled. Location 1663-1674, opening "Stranded"

“No. Don’t waste a second of your life hurting yourself just because someone else ‘should’ do something. Accept the situation and make the best of it—” Location 2861-2862

( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
Stranded is an anthology containing three science fiction stories featuring young adult protagonists (16 years or so) who are stranded in space and placed in charge of their fate. Without condescending to the age group, we are given a moral message of right vs. wrong and how our actions influence not only our lives but the world around us too.

A Host Of Leeches
This story has a promising start. Alyssa wakes up after getting sick in an unknown hospital without memory how she got there. As she explores unknown space station populated with robots instead of people, we get to learn about what happened to her.
There are a lot of robots in this story: small, large, smart, slow, hostile, motherly, ... I am a fan of robots since R2D2 beeped those cute sentences from screen to me, so I enjoyed reading about them. Their antics and sometimes weird sense of logic always make me smile. My favorite was Og. He was the cutest of them all (ignore the fact that he is a giant doom machine).
James Alan Gardner did a great job writing this story. There are a lot of twists - some surprising and some not so surprising - but they make you read this story in a blink of an eye.

A Strand In the Web
Before this book, I only read books written by Anne Bishop. She and I have an ongoing love/hate relationship. I love her Black Jewels trilogy and hate her Ephemera series. So I did not know what to expect when I started reading her debut story to science fiction genre. Will I like it or not?
The answer is yes, this was a good story. We follow young Willow as she struggles with usual teenager problems: school assignments gone wrong, jealousy from class mates and project that is too complex for her to do it by herself. Also, we learn about scary (but possible?) future of Earth inhabitants if we do not take care about our planet better.

This was the last story and for me the hardest to read. I was excited when I read the summary. How many science fiction stories are there that feature young genetically engineered centauress? But unfortunately Anthony Francis has a style of writing that I found very hard to read. There are so many unknown terms and invented words in his sentences, crammed and unfinished ideas and plot elements, that my brain simply could not process all that and enjoy in the same time. This feels more like a draft for a novel than a fully developed novella.
But if we disregard that, this story is very interesting and original and it discusses some very serious subjects like gender equality and homophobia.

Disclaimer: I was given a free ebook by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. This text is also posted on Amazon and my blog. ( )
  bookwormdreams | Apr 10, 2013 |
This book features three novellas centered in a sci-fi universe, all connected with the theme of Stranded. Bishop's book has "Restorers" living on space ships. Their entire purpose is to create balanced and self-sustaining ecosystems on planets that they will never experience. Gardner's book begins with a girl who finds herself waking up on a space station full of robots. Francis' book begins with a genetically engineered centauress who is captured by a group of refugees.

I highly enjoyed Bishop and Gardner's stories. I found Francis' tale a bit harder to get into. Overall, this collection features some fascinating work. I would love to read a series set in Bishop's world (of course she is my favorite author). I think sci-fi fans will highly enjoy this book and its interesting ideas. ( )
  JanaRose1 | Dec 26, 2012 |
Three thought-provoking, short stories of young people stranded in some manner in space. Each story features situations that have to be dealt with by the teens/young adults who have been placed in charge of their lives in various ways, whether intentionally or not.

One is a "city-ship" from earth charged with atoning for the devastation visited on other species by humans, millennia in the past. This takes the form of carefully seeding other planets with everything needed to establish a balanced ecology from single-celled creatures to large, animals and everything they need to survive, using advanced technology which the people of the ship can no longer create. Each successive generation is trained to take over these tasks from the previous generation of adults... but technology can't last forever and all things come to an end.

One is an exploration ship on which the adults and many young people were stricken with a terrible disease and died, leaving a bare few children and teenagers to operate the ship as they grow up and try to figure out how to deal with a closed society, lacking any helpful instructions or ideas, as the ship voyages on, looking for a port where they can find help.

One is the story of a teenage girl who awakens by herself in a medical facility with no idea how she got there or where the rest of the people have gone. She must find her own way through the facility and try to find help, but encounters an unimaginable reality that she discovers is all too real and she, along with many other sleeping humans, are about to be destroyed by the human race because they are "infected" with an alien plague.

Three very different situations imagined by these excellent writers. Each story is brilliantly written without condescending to the age group it showcases. If you know a teenager who thinks "sci-fi" is for old fuddy-duddies, give them "Stranded" and see how the feel after they read it! I definitely recommend this set of short stories to young adult and other readers who enjoy YA.

I was given a free copy of this work by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This will be posted on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, LibraryThing and my blog at www.museofhellreviews.wordpress.com. ( )
  MuseofHell | Oct 11, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anne Bishopprimary authorall editionscalculated
Francis, Anthonymain authorall editionsconfirmed
Gardner, James Alanmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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