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This collection was based on a project Geoff ran that encouraged SF writers and scientists to correspond about science, and then the writers produced short stories to which the scientists penned afterwords. The stories are mostly (all?) by British writers, and the list is starry: Michael Arditti, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Chaz Brenchley, Paul Cornell, Patricia Duncker, Simon Ings, Gwyneth Jones, Ken MacLeod, Sara Maitland, Adam Marek, Kit Reed, Adam Roberts, Justina Robson, Geoff Ryman, Liz Williams. The collection is called after Joanna Russ's book of the same title, and Geoff's foreward explains all of this in an interesting essay about how fiction and science respond to change.

This is a very interesting collection of very good science fiction short stories. Standouts for me were Robson's Carbon, questioning the project, Parts 1 and 2 of which bookend the anthology; Maitland's The Moss Witch, perfectly integrating the science into the story; and Arditti's savage denunciation of motives for cloning a child in In the Event Of.

It isn't just the anthology title that responds to the history of sf. Several of the stories are in conversation with the genre: to my mind Brenchley answers to Mieville with his floating city; Arditti to LeGuin's clones; others to others of the genre's tropes.

There were two very interesting stories by Duncker and Brenchley, both new to me with this anthology, and their beautiful voices mean I will be looking out for both in future despite my feeling that the stories here do not entirely work as sf. Duncker's The Bellini Madonna struck me as an impressionistic squib. Brenchley's White Skies is a horror story written as sf, where the sf is superb but the horror does not convince.

The scientists' afterwords were interesting in themselves, and worth having. All were interesting, and some informative. I preferred the few that considered the use made of their science in the corresponding story to the majority that commented on the state of the science.

The scientists are introduced in their afterwords, the authors in a list at the back.

Worth reading.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
la_marquise_de_
18th Sep, 2014 12:43 (UTC)
I still haven't read this: must do so.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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Caroline M

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