Nielsen Hayden, Patrick (ed): New Skies

And now back to the catching-up. First in the queue we have New Skies, edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden. This is an anthology of short science fiction designed for the teen market but readable by anyone—indeed, I strongly recommend it to anyone like me who isn’t opposed to the general concept of short science fiction, but doesn’t subscribe to the magazines or buy every yearly anthology to keep up with it. New Skies is a compact collection of excellent stories of the last twenty-odd years.

Like Chad, there were only two stories I wasn’t crazy about. I was also underwhelmed by Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Arthur Sternbach Brings the Curveball to Mars,” and the Orson Scott Card story, “Salvage,” is probably just not my kind of thing. The rest were all very good indeed. What’s more, the best of the stories should dispell any qualms that this is a fluffy kiddie anthology: “fluffy” cannot be applied to any collection with Connie Willis’s “A Letter from the Clearys,” David Langford’s “Different Kinds of Darkness,” or Nancy Kress’s “Out of All Them Bright Stars.”

I have a tendency to feel vaguely guilty that I don’t read more short fiction. Reading this year’s Hugo nominees actually reduced that guilt somewhat, because I found them a distinctly mixed bag. While I’ll probably try to keep up with award nominees in the future, I feel better knowing that in the meantime, PNH has shaken out much of the best recent stuff and distilled it into handy book format for my enjoyment.


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  1. For a long time I thought of myself as someone who didn’t like short fiction, based on reading anthologies and generally shrugging at them; but I eventually realized that short story collections by authors I like (Egan, Brin, Asimov, Gaiman, and it’d be cheating to include Chiang) are almost uniformly enjoyable, so I think it’s really just that there’s a lot of weak short fiction out there, even in the “good stuff.”

    (The Starlights, though, are the exception to the anthology rule, in that they manage to be near-uniformly excellent with a variety of authors.)

  2. Reading this year’s Hugo nominees actually reduced that guilt somewhat, because I found them a distinctly mixed bag. Oh good; now I feel less guilty about not reading them at all this year. Not that my guilt can go away entirely, since voting is one of the main reasons I get supporting memberships.

  3. Well, there are some good ones; see the reviews below. And other people have said they found it a strong year; what do I know?

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