Book Review – Far Orbit compiled by Bascomb James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This modern science fiction anthology is in the classic style, with a positive feel and no dystopias, at least not in a grim pass the razor blades sort of way. I really enjoyed the collection and there are authors in there that I need to go and see what else they’ve written.
I bought this anthology because I am thinking about submitting stories for publication, and I saw an article that there would be a follow-up anthology called Apogee from the same anthologist. Also I like reading science fiction, and short stories are easier to read when I’m studying (and I’m in the middle of B203, which is a real monster). Having read the anthology I was inspired, I’ve outlined a story and written a couple of thousand words towards it.
I started reading this just before Christmas, and read the stories in one or two sittings each over the Christmas break, largely in snatched chunks between other things. A week or three after reading them a number still stand out. I’ll outline them in order in the kindle version I read rather than ranking by preference.
‘Open for Business’ by Sam S Kepfield
A very believable take on how asteroid mining might start. A group of university friends with the right sort of degrees and work experience hatch a plan for grabbing an asteroid and putting it in orbit so that it can be mined. The consequences were very entertaining and absolutely what you might expect.
‘Starship Down‘ by Tracy Canfield
A lovely take on intervention with less advanced aliens. In both cases. Humans are tasked with helping out a race of space rabbits (not actual rabbits, but their behaviours are similar) by more advanced aliens in return for technology. The main character is out on her own thousands of miles from the next nearest human and giving medical aid to the bunnies. She’s also trying to teach them things that might be useful to advance themselves, like a concept of time and numbers bigger than ‘some’. It reminded me of some of the Iain M Banks stuff I’d read in terms of the consequences of intervention in others affairs (although I cannot imagine Banks going there with giant bunnies!)
‘A Game of Hold ‘Em‘ by Wendy Sparrow
This is one that could just as easily be set in the pre-civil war Southern states of America. However it isn’t a tale that’s just had its setting switched. It shows a futuristic take on slave holding and the methods to keep people in thrall and a nail biting attempt to escape. Very thought provoking.
‘From a Stone’ by Eric Choi
How do you tell if something is natural or constructed by intelligence? This is a take on funding constrained scientific exploration of the solar system and an unexpected find. Bureaucracy gets in the way of a time constrained scientific mission, stopping on the way back from somewhere else the mission has 72 hours to catalogue the asteroid. After that the window for return to Earth is closed. The story is a detailed and believable first person one from the scientists. You get a sense of their wonder and excitement and wish to know more.
PS this isn’t all the stories in the volume, just the ones that made me think and/or stuck in my head. I don’t think any of the others were bad or not worth reading, these just stood out for me. Your mix may well be different.
2015 Reading Count
Technically about half of this was in 2014, but Goodreads will count it in the year that it is finished. So the score so far (including things I’ve not yet reviewed) is:
Kindle 4 – Paper 0
I have started on the Martian, in paperback, and plan to follow it with finishing off the Psychopath Test.