Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hell Yes It's Cool: FF1 on AICN

Ain't It Cool News has recently launched a book review section, where reviewer Adam Balm plans to "take fandom back to its root" by acting as a pointer to good SF. In his second review, he tackles Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting Edge, which I'm most happy to say he likes. Adam proclaims that "Pyr's going to be an interesting bird to watch, coming out of nowhere in the last year to fast becoming one of the big names in the industry, no small feat in a field made up of big publishers getting even bigger, as the market is getting smaller," and goes on to say of FF1 that "probably half the stories here would be fitting entries in a 'Year's Best' anthology." He calls out stories by Paolo Bacigalupi, Stephen Baxter, Ken MacLeod, Justina Robson, John Meaney, with a special place for Paul Di Filippo's "Wikiworld" (online here), of which he says, "Without a doubt, THE stand-out story (as has been mentioned at Boing Boing and other reviews) is Paul Di Filippo's 'Wikiworld'.... Honestly I haven't had this kind of vertigo after reading a short since Charle's Stross's 'Lobsters' in 2001, the first entry of what would become his Accelerando magnum opus. I really want to see Di Filippo explore this world he's created some more. This is too good for just one short."

In addition to FF1, Adam reviews The Antagonist by Gordon R. Dickson and David W. Wixon, and presents an introductory essay on his reasons for taking up the reviewer's role along with his opinions on the current state of science fiction. (He sees SF as being at a bit of a crossroads, a fractured field competing with fantasy and slipstream.) Something I said is falsely attributed to Damon Knight - I hate it when we're mixed up! (JK) - and he finds parallels between my introduction and one John W. Campbell's wrote for his own 1952 Astounding Science Fiction Anthology which I now need to hunt up.

All in all, I was impressed with the review and hope that AICN keeps Adam Balm long employed, as shortening the gap between media SF and literary SF is a personal crusade of mine. Meanwhile, I love that he describes FF1 as "a kind of time capsule of where hard science fiction is, in the first decade of the second millennium," though the line that really made me laugh was his description of Justina Robson as "she reminds me of a hard SF Neil Gaiman if Neil Gaiman was even more of a woman. " Add this to Cheryl Morgan's comment some time ago that Robson was "William Gibson with chocolate" and you can see just how special Robson is. Finally, on the question of SF's relevance in 2007, I agree with Adam that "while the world might change, that tool for making sense of that change does not change."


La Gringa said...

Lou, do you have any contact information for Andy Balm?

Lou Anders said...

I think Andy left a contact link at the bottom of his FF1 review actually.