Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Solaris Rising 3: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction

Ian Whates (editor)
Solaris Rising 3: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction (2014)
I'm certain I remember enjoying previous Solaris anthologies, at least the three edited by George Mann, but this one just didn't do it for me. In fact so dispiriting did I find my route march through to the final page, that fuck it - I can't even be arsed to write about the bloody thing. Therefore here, for what little it may be worth, are the notes I made referring to the individual contributions as I went along, sentencised for ease of reading. Yes, that is a word:

I detect some craft to When We Harvested the Nacre-Rice by Benjanun Sriduangkaew, an elegant turn of phrase, but having read it I can't actually remember anything about it.

I liked The Goblin Hunter by Chris Beckett.

I also liked Homo Floresiensis by Ken Liu.

I couldn't finish A Taste for Murder by Julie E. Czerneda. It was too irritating.

Double Blind by Tony Ballantyne was okay, readable, although I couldn't really see the point.

I found The Mashup by Sean Williams hugely unsatisfying.

The Frost on Jade Buds by Aliette de Bodard: I hated what I managed to read of her novel Servant of the Underworld before giving up - about fifty pages I think it was. I didn't much care for this one either. It felt like career science fiction writing, calculated to hit certain literature buttons without any real inspiration behind the prose.

Popular Images from the First Manned Mission to Enceladus by Alex Dally MacFarlane is a story told as a series of descriptions of posters, or something of the sort. I didn't really get much from it.

Red Lights, and Rain by Gareth L. Powell: Hard to believe we could already have a time-travelling techno-vampire thriller which could be considered clichéd and predictable, and yet here it is.

They Swim Through Sunset Seas by Laura Lam was passable, but not very interesting.

Faith Without Teeth by Ian Watson: I had to sniff around online in order to deduce his political leanings, which are to the left, thus hypothetically framing this as a parody of a right-leaning science-fiction parody of left-leaning science-fiction; except I wasn't sure at which point I was expected to stop peeling back the layers, and it reads somewhat how I imagine the oeuvre of Vox Day and his pals must read, which seems counterproductive.

Thing and Sick by Adam Roberts was readable, although I had no idea what it was actually about.

I couldn't finish The Sullen Engines by George Zebrowski.

Dark Harvest by Cat Sparks seems to be military science-fiction reading in part like a Burroughsian cut-up of dialogue from the second Alien film, generically grizzled gun-toting grunts in cautious Vietnamesque investigation of weird alien village: Let's do this, Shit just got real blah blah blah... that sort of thing

Fift & Shria by Benjamin Rosenbaum communicates the alien by doing that thing of overloading the reader with references which only seem to make sense to the characters in the story. I have a feeling this one might be half-decent, but I found it difficult to concentrate past my burning need to get to the end of the collection and read something else.

The Howl by Ian R. MacLeod and Martin Sketchley is one of those alternate world Schrödinger's Vulcan bomber tales somehow relating to the Cuban missile crisis. It was difficult to follow but that may be due to the nature of the story which was in any case absorbing. In fact it's probably about forty times better than anything else here, and was the first story in the collection I could imagine reading a second time.

The Science of Chance by Nina Allan was nicely written, but seemed to go on a bit longer than necessary.

...and as for Endless by Rachel Swirsky: I couldn't follow this one at all.

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