The Hard SF Renaissance, Part 1

I’ve passed the quarter way mark in my reading of The Hard SF Renaissance, having read the first 10 of 41 stories in the book. It seems that this would be a good time to collect my thoughts on the first 10 stories.

"Gene Wars" by Paul McAuley. I like short stories, particularly ones that break that story up into even shorter little segments, so the form of this first sotry in the book immediately put it in my favor. 3 stars.

"Wang’g Carpets" by Greg Egan. There was an element of "post-singularity" confusion about the story. I’m still on the fence about "post singularity" stories. What can they say about the human condition? Nevertheless, this one didn’t bother me too much. It seems to me that thsi story was told better by Jack Williamson in his Terraforming Earth–and without all of the post-singularity stuff. 3 stars.

"Genesis" by Poul Anderson.  More post-singularity story-telling, although somewhat more comprehensible to me.  I haven’t read much by Anderson.  Mainly Tau Zero and Starfarers.  While the metaphor seemed a little too straight-forward in this story, I was impressed by the writing, the style, and the familiarity of themes that appear in his other books that I’ve read.  3 stars.

"Arthur Sternbach Brings the Curveball to Mars" by Kim Stanley Robinson.  How can you go wrong with baseball and science fiction.  This story could have been written by W. P. Kinsella.  It was well-written and fun3.5 stars.

"On the Orion Line" by Stephen Baxter.  I wasn’t sure I’d like this story at the beginning, but it hooked me and I found myself enjoying it more and more as I read it.  The voice of the narrator is key to the story I think.  3.5 stars.

"Beggars In Spain" by Nancy Kress.  I’ve already commented on this brilliant novella.  All I can add here is: wow!  5 stars.

"Matter’s End" by Gregory Benford.  It seems to me that they setting of the story (outside Bangalore) should have been more significant, given how much time was spent describing it.  Ultimately, it didn’t seem to matter and I was left to wonder what the point was.  On the up-side, the science elements were fascinating, per Benford’s usual, and the story seemed a distant cousin to Arthur C.Clarke’s "The Nine Billion Names of God".  3 stars.

"The Hammer of God" by Arthur C. Clarke.  Maybe it’s me, but I don’t think this story was up to Clarke’s usual standards for story-telling.  Usually his characters are a little more fleshed out.  Usually the science is a little more detailed.  I attribute these deficiencies to the fact that it was published in TIME Magazine and had to reach the widest possible audiences.  3 stars.

"Think Like a Dinosaur" by James Patrick Kelly.  The intro talks about this story being a reaction to Godwin’s "The Cold Equations", and throughout the story, I wondered how.  And then, just before the events unfolded, there was an "ah-ha!" moment, and I knew what was going to happen.  This is not a bad thing.  The realization sent chills down my spine, but the effect was not quite as strong or dramatic as Godwin’s story.  3.5 stars.

"Mount Olympus" by Ben Bova.  This was a just a fun, science fiction adventure story on Mars.  It featured astronauts, exploration, and a cocky pilot, and who couldn’t love that.  I really enjoyed this one!  4 stars.

So far, I am really enjoying this book.  David Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer have really put together a good collection of stories, with insightful commentary to go along with it.


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