Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction

I'm a big fan of anthologies. Works like the Science Fiction Hall of Fame volumes constituted my primary introduction to the field, and I like the fact that in the space of one novel, I can be acquainted with the work of 15 to 20 different writers and be explosed to 15 to 20 different mind-blowing ideas. I don't expect to like every story in an anthology when I read it. In fact, if I do, the anthologist is doing something wrong, because that means he's collecting only birds of a feather and not challenging me enough or pushing the envelope, and when you have 15 - 20 stories and writers to play with, it's okay to take risks with a few of them. Anthologies also have their own character, and, like the mix tapes of the pre-iPod era, there is a certain artistry to putting them together.

As an ocassional anthologist myself, I'm also pretty hard on them. I'm not a fan of frivilous themes - Even More Stories About Vampire Cats, etc... - and my preferences run to anthologies that illuminate some particular facet of the field or which shine a spotlight upon some specific subject in the ongoing dialogue that is science fiction. Yesterday, I finished reading an anthology that answers a very specific question that I image I share with a lot of people right now, namely "What is this new Solaris Books imprint all about?"

This coming February, by way of introduction to their new line, the imprint will release The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, edited by George Mann. It's an unthemed collection of science fiction stories which includes writers like Neal Asher, Peter F. Hamilton, Mike Resnick & David Gerrold, and Brian Aldiss. My criteria for endorsing anthologies is that I have to appreciate more than 50% of the stories inside, so I'm happy to report that I enjoyed 12 of the 16 stories in this volume, or 75%. Enough that I can heartily recommend it here.

Standouts for me include Paul Di Filippo's "Personal Jesus," which introduces us to the perfect combination of spirituality and technology, the godPod, "Zora and the Land Ethic Nomads" which returns us to Mary Turzillo's Mars of indentured homesteaders, and James Lovegrove's absolutely briliant "The Bowdler Strain," about which too much said could give the game away, but which I will say was $#!+ fantastic! I also admired what Tony Ballantyne was doing with his "Third Person," laughed out loud at Mike & David's PKD pastiche "Jellyfish," and was quite taken with Jay Lake & Greg van Eekhout's "C-Rock City." I'm still contemplating the ending of Neal Asher's "Bioship," and wish that the Wakowski brothers final Matrix film had looked a little more like Keith Brooke's "The Accord," a very interesting little piece that strikes me as an attempt to justify the ways of Agent Smith to man. So, all in all, certainly enough here to get the Lou endorsement, and I recommend checking it out. Meanwhile, I understand a Solaris Book of New Fantasy is planned and I look forward to it enthusiastically.


The Solaris Team said...

Hey Lou,

Mark from Solaris Books here. Very glad you enjoyed the stories! There's a pretty wide range in there; for me, Neal Asher's "Bioship" was the most cracking read. A brilliantly subtle ending. There is indeed a Fantasy anthology in development, with some great authors too, including a mind-blower from Hal Duncan.

— Mark N

Anonymous said...

One of the things I love about collaborating -- I've had 43 different collaborators, and counting -- is that the end result never looks like something either of us would have done ourselves. This is especially true of "Jellyfish", my collaboration with David Gerrold, that appears in the Solaris anthology. There is a certain insane logic to it that I didn't think resided within either of us. Probably it's all David's fault.

Mike Resnick

Lou Anders said...

Hi Mark,
I'm still debating the degree of Sian's complicity as implied by Asher's last line. Uncomfortable.

Hi Mike,
Having read quite a few of your collaborations now, it's always interesting to see the "voice" that resuls from them, as its different each time.

Tim Akers said...

I'm really quite interested to see these, Lou. The whole Solaris line, in fact. It'll be interesting to see what an imprint that is an offshoot of BL does when not constrained by media-specific lines. Should be fun.

Lou Anders said...

Very interesting indeed. And we share some authors in common too. I'm particularly looking forward to their two Chris Roberson titles.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen the Solaris SF antho yet (probably either Andy or Sandy have received an ARC: I just need to buy it when it's released next year February), but I'm certainly interested.

And I can concur on the Hal Duncan mind-blower: we just accepted "The Whenever at the City's Heart", which is one of the four of what Al calls a 'story-sphere' (check out his blog here: ), and another of these four is "The Prince of End Times" (for the Solaris book of New Fantasy).

I've only read "The Whenever at the City's Heart", and if "The Prince of End Times" is of the same calibre, then it'll be a mind-blower indeed.