Tuesday, June 16, 2009
SF Site on FF2
Okay, one more late review of Fast Forward 2, this one from Derek Johnson at SF Site, with due kudos to the editor:
In 2007 Lou Anders edited Fast Forward, one of the strongest original anthologies that science fiction has seen -- so strong, in fact, that after one closed the book one wondered if Anders would be able to match both the quality and the ambition of that volume in his next. After all, the anthology's very title indicated that Anders wanted to actually incorporate the Campbellian vision into a genre that, for all of its rhetoric about being a literature of the future, too often looks fondly over its shoulder at the trails blazed in the past. Even Dangerous Visions fought to bring the genre up to the speed of the present more than chart a path to the future. But Anders did it; Fast Forward not only met the challenge to look forward, but succeeded. And with Fast Forward 2, his follow-up anthology, Anders not only continues to forge ahead and actually push science fiction into the future, but also position himself as one of the genre's most dynamic and influential editors. A reader looking for the best in contemporary science fiction will find not a wasted story in Fast Forward 2's pages. This is the Stuff.
Anders starts out strong with his introduction. Titled "The Age of Accelerating Returns," where he discusses the genre's ever-increasing popularity and opinions by Joseph Mallozzi, Isaac Asimov, Brian Aldiss and Paolo Bacigalupi of science fiction's purpose (even futurist and The Singularity Is Near author Ray Kurzweil gets a citation) before citing what he sees as science fiction's four purposes: its predictive capability, its preventative possibility, its ability to inspire the future, and being "the literature of the open mind," which "acknowledges change and encourages thinking outside the box." And then presents fourteen tales which promise to do just that...
And then there are the standouts among the standouts. Chris Nakashima-Brown gives us a powerful, and quite funny, vision of bio-artists, sports, body enhancement and copyright law wrapped up in an air of Hemingwayesque melancholy in "The Sun Also Explodes." It's a story of gene-splicing gone amok that never lets up on the wow factor. Mike Resnick and Pat Cadigan, in "Not Quite Alone in the Dream Quarter," lead us through a surreal, haunting landscape where beings from human dreams have escaped, and try to learn what it means to be human. And in "An Eligible Boy," Ian McDonald returns to the India of River of Gods to tell the story of a young Hindu man looking for a suitable mate, and seeks out the advice of an artificial intelligence designed for a soap opera to help him traverse the hazardous terrain of dating in the twenty-first century. It is the anthology's most human, and most charming, story, a great love story without all of the sap one finds in such tales.
Also, check out the rest of the Pyr catalog, including Fast Forward 1, now available in Kindle edition.