Edited by Brian M. Thompson
Orson Scott Card, Connie Willis, David Brin, John Varley, Anne McCaffrey, Greg Bear, and
Nancy Kress - this anthology is filled with some of the biggest names in SF today, award
winners all. What they also have in common is that some of their most famous novels began
as, or had their roots in, novellas, which provides the theme behind this anthology: collecting
those shorter original versions, then providing author introductions discussing the stories'
origins and their connections to the subsequent novels.
Although these stories are mostly twenty to thirty years old, they hold up very well.
The only real exception for me was Anne McCaffrey's "Lady in the Tower", the oldest of
the bunch by far. It's a lighter, character-driven, romantic work that felt dated because
of things like pervasive casual smoking, since it wasn't focused enough on ideas or science
to make that sort of detail seem unimportant. At the other extreme, Greg Bear's "Blood Music"
riffs off such ideas as "nanotechnology" almost thirty years before most people had even
heard the term.
Where I'd read both the source work and the subsequent novel, I found it interesting to
compare the two. Connie Willis' "Fire Watch" is an enjoyable, very human read, but I think
the additional development room in Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog
make for a much more satisfying read. On the other hand, I still think as I did twenty
years ago, that the novella version of Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game" blows away the novel.
Overall, this is a wonderful, very satisfying collection of stories that make it easy
to understand their authors' reputations. They'll make you think and feel with an impact
that will occasionally take your breath away and will probably continue to do so to readers
decades from now. They also cover an impressive range in just a few stories, giving a
real feel for what the genre is capable of. Recommended.
Science Fiction Anthology|