Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Review: Solaris Rising 3: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction

Solaris Rising 3: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction
Solaris Rising 3: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction by Ian Whates

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"These stories are guaranteed to surprise, thrill and delight," says the blurb, which also has a couple of other errors in it. I was surprised a number of times, but neither thrilled nor delighted. These are excellent stories, varied, original and well-written, but most of them are not a kind of story I particularly like, as a matter of personal taste. Hence the three stars; it's a subjective three rather than a more objective four, because I give four stars only to books I enjoy.

It isn't just that they're often dark, or tragic, or even pessimistic. It's more that I feel they set out to be shocking and disturbing, rather than just following their premises into shocking and disturbing places. Also, some of them just stop abruptly, rather than coming to a conclusion.

I spotted few errors. The introduction has "principal" for "principle", the last story has "wretched" for "retched", there are a couple of typos, and one of the stories refers to Sir Bolivar Walczak as "Sir Walczak," which is never correct under any circumstances. On the whole, though, it's well-edited, and the writers are competent at all aspects of their craft.

A number of the earlier stories, in particular, deal with colonialism and post-colonialism, and people's resistance to being ruled by outsiders (to the extent of taking actions that will harm themselves and their people rather than accept such rule). Several of the other stories have a parallel theme of sticking it to The Man or resisting authority. My lack of identification with those viewpoints (I'm a New Zealander of British descent, who's used to living in a colonised country nominally ruled from overseas but in practice independent) may have something to do with my lack of overall enjoyment of the stories.

In brief: I didn't like them, but lots of other people will.

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