Another retro review, this time of one of the many theme anthologies DAW books has done through the years.
Like most of them in my limited experience, the vast bulk of the stories are mediocre with one or two good ones.
From May 15, 2001 …
Review: Star Colonies, eds. Ed Gorman, Martin H. Greenberg, and John Helfers, 2000.
Exploring and colonizing the stars is the theme, a classic science fiction idea. But only a couple of stories here have any chance of becoming classics. Many are bland and mediocre .
Two classic science fiction tales, A.E. van Vogt’s “Far Centaurus” and Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Sentinel, provide the inspiration for a mediocre story and a bland story. The mediocre one is Robert J. Sawyer’s “The Shoulders of Giants” with a starship racing to a frontier already settled by humanity. The bland story is Eric Kotani’s “Edgeworld” with its discovery of an alien artifact.
Also on the bland side are Jack Williamson’s “Eden Star”, with family conflicts played out on a planet with light-worshipping aliens, and Edo van Belkom’s “Coming of Age” about colonists who discover that their children are doomed to permanent pre-pubescence. The weakest story, in terms of originality, is the entirely predictable “Full Circle” by Mike Resnick and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Even humor can not save this old plot about futilely trying to get rid of one noxious pest by importing another.
On the marginally interesting edge of the spectrum are Paul Levinson’s “The Suspended Fourth”, about a planet where birdsong may hold the key to avoiding disasters, and Alan Dean Foster’s “The Muffin Migration”, another of those stories where colonists rue ignoring the natives’ advice about the local fauna. Dana Stabenow’s “No Place Like Home” has a few plot holes but its black humor and mean-spiritedness make up for it in a tale weighing the relative values of human life and that of alien bacteria.
Both Allen Steele’s “The Boid Hunt” and Tom Piccirilli’s “I Am a Graveyard Hated by the Moon” are character centered stories. The Steele tale is a deadly coming of age story and an examination of courage before and during a hunt for alien predators. Piccirilli’s mixture of virtual reality, nanotechnology, characters who think they’re gods, and landscapes haunting characters doesn’t quite work but is an enjoyable story reminiscent of Roger Zelazny. Continue reading