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The Starry Rift by Jonathan Strahan

The Starry Rift

by Jonathan Strahan (Editor)

Other authors: Stephen Baxter (Contributor), Cory Doctorow (Contributor), Greg Egan (Contributor), Jeffrey Ford (Contributor), Neil Gaiman (Contributor)11 more, Kathleen Ann Goonan (Contributor), Ann Halam (Contributor), Margo Lanagan (Contributor), Kelly Link (Contributor), Paul McAuley (Contributor), Ian McDonald (Contributor), Garth Nix (Contributor), Alastair Reynolds (Contributor), Tricia Sullivan (Contributor), Scott Westerfeld (Contributor), Walter Jon Williams (Contributor)

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» See also 3 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Very good collection of longer sci-fi short stories. ( )
  Guide2 | Oct 24, 2016 |
Overall Summary: I think the following quote from the prologue best sums up what this book's about: "The futures we imagine today are not the same futures that your grandfather's generation imagined or could have imagined." The Starry Rift, therefore, asks a number of YA science fiction authors to provide a tale of the future - in whatever form they think it might take. The result is a collection that spans sci-fi as a genre, with spaceships and AI and nanobots, but also spans the globe and draws on a unique multicultural basis for its tales.

Story Summaries and Reviews: - "Ass-Hat Magic Spider" by Scott Westerfeld involves a kid who is selected to be part of the first colonizing mission to Mars, on which body and luggage must meet stringent weight requirements, necessitating some tough decisions about what can and can't be left behind. I liked this one a lot, it was short and sweet and a perfect way to start a collection that's mostly going to appeal to book nerds.

- In "Cheats" by Ann Halam, two siblings hack into the software of their favorite virtual reality games, only to find that what's outside the system can be dangerous in reality as well. An interesting story that didn't go the way I expected it to, although I suspect I'd have liked it more if I were either a coder or more of a gamer.

- "Orange" by Neil Gaiman was the only story that I'd read before (in the anthology My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me), but this bizarre little story of a girl whose sister becomes addicted to self-tanner is just as weird, and just as good, the second time around.

- "The Surfer" by Kelly Link is a story of a boy who is on a flight to Costa Rica, to serve as a doctor for a cult headed by a man who has been visited by aliens and who claims they are going to return. During their flight, however, news of a world-wide pandemic gets out, so they are quarantined at the airport, and can do nothing but watch and wait. This story had a lot of good ideas - maybe too many good ideas, given its length and how hard it was to summarize - but it went on for too long, and didn't take all of those ideas somewhere fully satisfactory.

- "Repair Kit" by Stephen Baxter involves a spaceship on a test flight for a new drive, which leaves without a backup of a critical piece... but has a mysterious box that can seemingly repair anything. This was a great concept, and very funny, but either Baxter hadn't quite thought through all the metaphysical ramifications of his device, or else he was intentionally leaving things ambiguous. (Although I suspect it was the former.)

- "The Dismantled Invention of Fate" by Jeffrey Ford is the story of an astronaut and his alien bride, torn apart by circumstance, and brought together by circumstance even more unlikely. This was not one of my favorites in the collection; the language was lofty and distant, and I just didn't connect with it at all.

- "Anda's Game" by Cory Doctorow is a take on the idea of "gold farming" in online multiplayer games. The heroine gets invited to join an exclusive club of players, who get sent on increasingly violent missions... although she starts to wonder if the in-game enemies she is blowing up are really the true bad guys.

- "Sundiver Day" by Kathleen Ann Goonan exists in a world where human cloning is possible, if still frowned upon, and involves a girl whose older brother has recently been killed in a war. I loved this one. It does a great job evoking its setting (the Florida Keys), a nice job of world-building without a lot of exposition-dumping, and has a really solid emotional core, especially for anyone with siblings.

- "The Dust Assassin" by Ian McDonald is a not-quite-Romeo & Juliet-type story of two warring families in a future India where AI and genetic engineering are common, and one little girl has been raised her entire life being told that she is a weapon against her family's enemies. An interesting story with a few twists I didn't see coming, plus I really enjoyed that this managed to be thoroughly sci-fi without being all "white men in space" about it.

- "The Star Surgeon's Apprentice" by Alastair Reynolds involves a young boy who gains passage aboard a ship by volunteering as the surgeon's apprentice, only to find out that the surgeries mostly involve disassembling and reassembling the part-human, part machine cyborgs that run the ship... and that that's not even the darkest secret aboard. This story was engaging and well-written, and I liked the notes of horror story that crept in among the edges, but I also feel like I've seen that plot done before (in the first two episodes of Star Trek: TNG, for one.)

- "An Honest Day's Work" by Margo Lanagan was a strange one. It's basically a story about whaling, and a boy going to serve on the crew that strips down the carcass into useable sections, except instead of whales, it's giant aquatic humans. This story on its own merits was fine, but it felt out of place in this collection. Most of the rest of them had a very clear path from the present to their vision of the future, but this story was never clear about what was going on, where the whale-humans came from, if it was even Earth, etc.

- "Lost Continent" by Greg Egan is a story in which refugees from the war-torn Middle East can hire drivers to take them, not to a different country, but to a different time... although the process of naturalization from refugee camps remains much the same. I liked the set-up of this world, and appreciated the fact that it was clearly motivated by current events without being explicitly political. However, it ended in a weird place, without enough resolution to the main issues of the story.

- "Incomers" by Paul McAuley is another story of cultural conflict, only this time it's between the original interplanetary colonizers, and the new settlers, played out between a group of boys and an old man they're pestering. I feel like McAuley didn't bring up the differences between the two groups early enough to be entirely effective, and that it also got a little too moralizing by the end.

- "Post-Ironic Stress Syndrome" by Tricia Sullivan is a story in which future interplanetary wars are fought using duels between champions, where each part of a champion's body is mapped to some part of the faction's resources and territories. This story managed to have a gigantic expository info-dump in the beginning, yet still be confusing by the end. I didn't really get how the mapping worked, or how on earth anyone decided that it would be a good idea, so it was hard for me to really get involved in the story.

- "Infestation" by Garth Nix is a vampire story, mostly, but they're vampires created by alien technology, so that's okay. In this world, volunteers can sign up as hunters to take out vampire nests, but the protagonist is a step above the average hunter... and a leap apart, as well. This was a bit of a stretch to fit into this collection, but it was a very engaging story, so I'll give it a pass.

- "Pinocchio" by Walter John Williams imagines a future where celebrity is everything, and feedback is instantaneous - even more so than it is today. A boy who is a persistent internet celebrity and trendsetter must face what it takes to keep his key demographic happy, and how much of himself he's willing to give up to make that happen. This is another story where I feel like I've seen a lot of its main points covered by Scott Westerfeld or Cory Doctorow before, but it was an interesting world, funny, and sympathetically told. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: I think this collection should appeal to folks who are looking for a sampling of the current state of the sci-fi genre, as well as those who like YA anthologies like Geektastic. ( )
1 vote fyrefly98 | Nov 7, 2011 |
4Q 3P An Honest Day's Work by Margo Lanagan. "The incoming appeared on the horizon like a small, weak sunrise. The workers stirred and gestured, and another layer bobbed above the shirt-stripes, of smiling teeth, of wide, bright eyes. My Jupi barked into the talkie, and the two tugboats crawled out from the headland's shadow. They sent back on the breeze a whiff of diesel, and many noses drew it in with delight -- a breakyard is *supposed* to be all smells and activity. How long had it been since Portellian smelled right and busy? Long enough for all our savings to be spent. Long enough for us to be half a sack of pease, a quarter of a sack of drumflour away from starting starving." p. 318 ( )
  TeenbookReader | May 30, 2010 |
I was quite surprised, when I began reading this book, to reach the end of the introduction and find that it was signed off: “Jonathan Strahan – Perth, Western Australia, 2007.” It wasn’t so much that I was surprised to discover a sci-fi anthologist based in my hometown, but rather a sci-fi anthologist who pulled names like Neil Gaiman, Cory Doctorow, Stephen Baxter, Alastair Reynolds and Ian McDonald.

Strahan’s intention with this anthology was to recreate the golden age of sci-fi, to feature stories that would “offer today’s readers the same kind of thrill enjoyed by pulp readers fifty years ago.” He carefully avoids mentioning “children” or “young adults,” but many of the authors have chosen to interpret his mission statement as such, so the majority of stories in The Starry Rift feature teenage protagonists. Only a few of them try to recreate the space opera feeling of Heinlein juveniles, which I think is what Strahan was going for.

Neil Gaiman was the only author whose work I’d read before, and so the stories in this book offered an excellent sounding board to see which big-name sci-fi authors are worth further investigation. Stephen Baxter earned himself an immediate toss onto the rejection pile, with a poorly written space opera jaunt called “The Repair Kit,” full of wooden characters and the apparent belief that every noun must be preceded by at least two adjectives. I was ready to throw Cory Doctorow there too, as his smugly-titled story “Anda’s Game” featured an Australian stereotype on the very first page (I wonder what Strahan thought of that?), but he surprised me by telling an entertaining and thought-provoking story about MMORPG economies.

Kathleen Ann Goonan’s “Sundiver Day” was a story about human cloning that featured beautifully visual writing but did not particularly grab my attention. “Orange” by Neil Gaiman confirmed by belief that he is a fairly talented writer who is simply not my cup of tea. “Lost Continent” by Greg Egan was a thinly-veiled attack on the astonishing vitriol Australia treats refugees with, the politics of which I strongly agree with, but which was obviously shoehorned into the science fiction genre.

“The Star Surgeon’s Apprentice” by Alastair Reynolds was a promisingly creepy story about a kid hitching a ride of a vessel crewed by cyborgs where all is not as it seems, but which fell apart in the final act. “Infestation” by Garth Nix was a fairly interesting story about vampire hunters in which the vampires are actually insectoid aliens. By far the best story on the anthology is Ian McDonald’s “Dust Assassin,” set in a futuristic India with cyberpunk technology and evocative descriptions reminiscent of William Gibson’s Neuromancer. McDonald is the one author from this book whose other works I will most definitely be seeking out.

The rest of the stories are somewhat interesting but largely forgettable. Overall, The Starry Rift is an easy science fiction read and a good way to sample the works of some well-known authors in the genre, but if you die without reading it your life wasn’t neccesarily a waste. ( )
1 vote edgeworth | Nov 12, 2009 |
Reviewed by Christina Tsichlis for TeensReadToo.com

THE STARRY RIFT is truly a collection of stories about today's ideals, dreams, and philosophies. Strahan did an amazing job collecting stories written by modern science fiction masters. The authors write beautifully, uniquely, and intriguingly.

This anthology is masterful in representing different worlds and conceptions of worlds, covering everything from the real world to gaming to dreaming. The exploration of themes in the book cover everything from philosophy to the growing epidemic of obesity, from what is truly important to a person to who is truly important to a person, and from world economics to love.

It is a book that really looks at the human spirit with hope and sees the future as a reality. Each story draws the reader in and makes them a part of the tale. There is a story for virtually every mood and topic one can come up with. Overall, it is a beautiful anthology. ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 13, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
The editor, Jonathan Strahan, did a fantastic job in pulling this together, and it couldn't come at a better time.
added by lampbane | editBoing Boing, Cory Doctorow (Apr 17, 2008)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Strahan, JonathanEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baxter, StephenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Doctorow, CoryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Egan, GregContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ford, JeffreyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gaiman, NeilContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Goonan, Kathleen AnnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Halam, AnnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lanagan, MargoContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Link, KellyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McAuley, PaulContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McDonald, IanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nix, GarthContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Reynolds, AlastairContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sullivan, TriciaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Westerfeld, ScottContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Williams, Walter JonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Truly successful science fiction does two things: it gives credible glimpses into the future while entertaining the reader. With this in mind, anthologist Jonathan Strahan asked sixteen of today's most inventive, compelling writers to look past the horizon of the present day and to the future of science fiction.… (more)

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