Sunday, August 30, 2015

Make a short story short

Here's another not-review of a book in the Summer Reading Program: under consideration is New Frontiers, a collection of stories by long-time, award-winning SF writer Ben Bova.

A golf tournament on the moon. An asteroid miner whose ship is under attack from pirates.  Cryogenically frozen billionaires. A road race on the moon. Virtual reality duels. Astronauts trapped on Mars. The aging leader of an interstellar empire considering the fate of Earth. It's like 1972 all over again - this one has enough nostalgie de la boue to fill a lunar landing module.
Maybe that's a little too much: some of the stories don't just echo with familiarity, but actually creak a little bit, as well. I mean, two guys fighting over which of them gets to take a woman to Aspen for the weekend? Women lawyers trying to desegregate the men-only bar at a private club? Isn't this stuff a little dated?

This summer's reading has comprised a lot of revisiting of old favorites and favorite styles in my favorite genres - as opposed to last summer, during which the reading list included almost exclusively non-fiction. There's a lot of fun to be had there - I don't need all or even most of my fiction to be "literary" - but I guess I don't want to just re-hash the past, either. Those were good times, but that was then and this is now. As much as we cherish what was good about the old stuff, we need to keep moving with times and freshen up the act.

(In a similar vein, I just read an excerpt from a Seven Soldiers of Victory comic published in 1941. As much as I would like to see more of that straightforward storytelling and art today, I certainly wouldn't want to reproduce its casual racism.)

In any case, this is a decent collection of short stories (with the emphasis on short) that come closer to what I used to read in high school than anything else I have encountered. Take that as an endorsement or warning or both.

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