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Fast Forward: future fiction from the cutting edge

edited by Lou Anders

(Pyr, US$15, trade paperback, 2007; ISBN: 9781591024866.)

Review by Peter D Tillman

cover scanThis is the first volume of a projected annual series of original SF stories. It has a couple of standout stories, and is pretty good overall (though not as good as the hype).

The standout story is Ken MacLeod's amazing "Jesus Christ, Reanimator". It takes place in present-day Israel (in part at Meggido) and opens: "The Second Coming was something of a washout, if you remember." Truly a KILLER story, MacLeod's best short to date, I'd say. Enthusiastically recommended. Look for it on the awards ballots.

My second-favorite story is Paul Di Filippo's entertaining (if slight) "Wikiworld," conveniently available online at Pyr. It's pretty much what you'd expect, but very nicely done. Recommended.

Past this we get into good, pretty-good, and "eh" stories. Here's the TOC, with comments:

  • "YFL-500", Robert Charles Wilson. Eh. Can't remember a thing, two weeks later.
  • "The Girl Hero's Mirror Says He's Not the One", Justina Robson. Pretty good, if very slight.
  • "Small Offerings", Paolo Bacigalupi. Unpleasantly gory, but a decent story.
  • "They Came From the Future", Robyn Hitchcock. Poem, sorta kinda. Eh.
  • "Plotters and Shooters", Kage Baker. Gamers in Spaaaace! Pretty good, really, if slight.
  • "Aristotle OS," Tony Ballantyne. OK but very slight.
  • "The Something-Dreaming Game", Elizabeth Bear. Pediatric autoerotic asphyxiation. Well-written but icky.
  • "No More Stories," Stephen Baxter. Forgotten already.
  • "Time of the Snake", A.M. Dellamonica. Violent, nihilistic and slight.
  • "The Terror Bard", Larry Niven & Brenda Cooper. Sequel to "Kath & Quicksilver"; pretty good.
  • "p dolce", Louise Marley. Channeling into Brahms; good.
  • "Jesus Christ, Reanimator," Ken MacLeod. KILLER story, best by far.
  • "Solomon's Choice", Mike Resnick & Nancy Kress. Weird aliens, except they're not. Good.
  • "Sanjeev and Robotwallah", Ian McDonald. Exotic violence & fashion in a future India. Good.
  • "A Smaller Government," Pamela Sargent. Literally so, and very amusing.
  • "Pride", Mary A. Turzillo. Bringing up a sabertooth kitten. Very good.
  • "I Caught Intelligence", Robyn Hitchcock. Poem. Eh.
  • "Settlements", George Zebrowski. "Helpful" aliens; a downer (what a surprise!). Eh.
  • "The Hour of the Sheep", Gene Wolfe. I just don't get Wolfe.
  • "Sideways from Now", John Meaney. Interesting novella from the Nulapeiron guy.
  • "Wikiworld, Paul Di Filippo". Second-best, and available online, too.

Bottom line: worth checking out for the standouts, but not really worth your $15, in my opinion. Too many "read once & forget" stories. Other opinions:

Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing: "some stupendous stories"

Jakob Schmidt, SF Site: "Fast Forward 1 is slightly disappointing"


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