SF short stories - Livre d'Or — LiveJournal

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SF short stories
Friday, 30 December 2005 at 04:37 pm

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lethargic_man lent me the Starlight 2 anthology of SF short stories, cos he wanted me to read Raphael Carter's Congenital agenesis of gender ideation and Ted Chiang's Story of your life. In fact, the latter was already on my to read list cos coalescent recommended the anthology of which this is the title story. (Both stories are © their respective authors, 1998.)

Both stories are well written and I enjoyed them. And I'm really pleased to see some SF in which the science part is linguistics! The conceit in Story of your life is rather far-fetched but it's just within suspension of disbelief, and expounded in a really engaging way. Even within a relatively short space, the pacing of revealing what's going on is very nicely done. And the narrator and her relationships with the other characters are very vividly portrayed, and it works sensibly as a first contact story. Yay.

Congenital agenesis of gender ideation is very, very close to being a convincing imitation of a pop science account of genetics and psychology. There were one or two little details that broke the illusion slightly, but it's head and shoulders above most SF posing as non-fiction. I found the conclusion a little frustrating, though; what is the point of speculating about the philosophical consequences of entirely fictitious research?! I mean, yes, that's what pretty much all hard SF does, but the presentation made me much more conscious of it.

I've dipped into a couple of other stories while I have the book lying around: Martha Soukup's The house of expectations caught my eye because I thought it was going to be about a relationship falling apart. And even though that turned out not to be true, it makes a cute and rather disturbing little piece of near-future SF. And Susanna Clarke's Mrs Mabb, because, well, she's Susanna Clarke. That story disappointed me; it's too clever for its own good, really.

So yeah, I'm definitely going to look out for more of Chiang's stuff; thanks to both lethargic_man and coalescent for bringing him to my attention.

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