lunes, 2 de junio de 2014

Reach for Infinity, edited by Jonathan Strahan

(Disclaimer: English is my second 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.) 

Review Soundtrack: I suggest reading this review while listening to Meteorites from the album Infinity by Yann Tiersen (Spotify, Youtube).

I've been closely following Jonathan Strahan's Infinity Project. I read Engineering Infinity when it came out and last year I read and reviewed Edge of Infinity. I enjoyed both anthologies a lot, and some of the stories, especially "The Server and the Dragon" by Hannu Rajaniemi and Hugo winner "The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi" by Pat Cadigan, have stayed with me since I read them.

But Reach for Infinity is another beast entirely. It is, hands down, the best of the three books and, I dare to say, the best anthology of original short science fiction to come out in the last few years. It is that good.

I thoroughly enjoyed all the stories included in Reach for Infinity. From the classic hard SF feel of Greg Egan's "Break my Fall" to the wild philosophical speculation of Peter Watts's "Hotshot"; from the intimate and moving "The Dust Queen" by Aliette de Bodard to the lighter "Attitude" by Linda Nagata; from the lyrical "Invisible Planets" by Hannu Rajaniemi to the acid critic of Adam Roberts's "Trademark Bugs: A Legal History". All of the short stories are at least good or very good, and the average quality is just amazing.

As you can imagine, it is thus very difficult for me to choose my favorite story from Reach for Infinity. In addition to the ones by Roberts, Watts and Rajaniemi that I have already mentioned, I would like to highlight Pat Cadigan's "Report Concerning The Presence of Seahorses On Mars". As suggested by the title, it is thematically and stylistically similar to the aforementioned "The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi" (I suspect it might be part of the same universe, although it stands completely on its own) and almost as good. It is still too early in the year to say, but some of these stories may very well end in my Hugo and Locus ballot. 

One of the things I liked the most about Reach for Infinity is that, although the stories are varied and diverse, they clearly share some topics and form a very cohesive unit. They can all be considered hard SF (my soft spot) and they all somehow address the problems and struggles that humanity will have to face in the next few centuries, especially regarding the Solar System exploration and colonization, and how this will affect both the individual and the society. "The Fifth Dragon" by Ian McDonald and "Report Concerning The Presence of Seahorses On Mars" by Pat Cadigan are really remarkable in this respect. 

Reach for Infinity is a model anthology in that it offers excellent stories that explore different aspects of an interesting and relevant topic. It is hard to find any issue with this book, but if hard pressed, I might say that I found that the ending of some of the stories was a bit abrupt. I don't know if there was a length limit that was not to be trespassed under any circumstance (with the exception of Karl Schroeder's and Kathleen Ann Goonan's stories, which are a bit longer, all the rest are below the 30 page count), but while reading the book, I sometimes had the feeling that the authors needed a bit more space to fully develop their plots and ideas. 

All in all, Reach for Infinity is an amazing science fiction anthology and I can't recommend it highly enough. Jonathan Strahan and his superb line-up of authors have truly reached out for infinity and in these pages they have handed out a piece of it for us to marvel.

7 comentarios:

  1. Ya me lo recomendaste el otro día por twitter y vista la review, va ganando posiciones en la lista de siguientes lecturas.

    Muy buena review!

  2. ¡Gracias! Espero que te guste :) Ya me contarás

  3. y la pila aumenta, y la pila aumenta....

  4. Muchas ganas de leerla.

    Esta tampoco tiene mala pinta:


  5. Participé en el crowdfunding de Upgraded y estoy esperando que me llegue. Tiene una pinta excelente. Ya lo contaré por aquí :-)