Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mudanespotting Welcome to the Greenhouse

Posted by frankh at 11:03 AM
This is my first ever mundanespotting of a freebie review copy--WELCOME TO THE GREENHOUSE, edited by Gordon Van Gelder. This is an original anthology of 16 stories about "climate change," featuring several Big Name SF Writers. What a welcome relief from all the wish-fulfillment and thumb-twiddling bullshit that regularly gets published as SF--never mind the straight fantasy that now dominates.

During the Golden Age of SF, there was a consensus that atomic power and rocketry were big things in our future. It was just a matter of how the science and society would play out. Well, that has all pretty much played out, and sorry, we do not have a libertarian space age with unlimited resources. Now, as then, we need to make do with scientific reality. That reality now includes "climate change." The stories in this anthology speculate about how things will play out with that.

1) "Benkoelen" by Brian W. Aldiss -- Does a rising global tide sink all boats, even the upper middle class ones? This story takes a look-see.
2) "Damned When You Do" by Jeff Carlson -- What if a fantastic savior is born to fix things? I would give this one satirical mundane credit if it wasn't so sketchy
3) "The Middle of Somewhere" by Judith Moffett -- How to cope with tornadoes in the very near future? Quite thin on sf content, but creepy to read after the recent tornadopacalypse so I'll let it through the mundane filter
4) "Not A Problem" by Matthew Hughes -- What an intriguing idea! maybe aliens with ftl can help?
5) "Eagle" by Gregory Benford -- Here's a small hint about what geoengineering will be like.
6) "Come Again Some Other Day" by Michael Alexander -- What to put between Benford and Sterling? Mercifully short time travel crap.
7) "The Master of the Aviary" by Bruce Sterling -- Here's a look at the future of The Philosopher after The Fall; amusing, with good insights, but a bit sketchy towards the end
8) "Turtle Love" by Joseph Green -- Here's one about how the bureaucracy might handle the rising tide
9) "The California Queen Comes A-Calling" by Pat MacEwen -- Rising tide again, this time things are pretty bleak, but the legal system survives, like the postman in The Postman
10) "That Creeping Sensation" by Alan Dean Foster -- a nice short speculation about how nature might respond to the Big Changes
11) "The Men of Summer" by David Prill -- fantasy romance irrelevantly set in the future of climate change; I might welcome this in F&SF or Interzone but the space is wasted here
12) "The Bridge" by George Guthridge -- a good look at things falling apart in Alaska
13) "FarmEarth" by Paul Di Filippo -- maybe there is a video game solution to the problem; I'm a sucker for coming of ages stories, so I liked this
14) "Sundown" by Chris Lawson -- the sun stops working so well, and then our current climate problems don't seem at all bad; escapism, but nonetheless interesting speculation
15) "Fish Cakes" by Ray Vukcevich -- a very virtual life amidst the big time warming is what somewhat happily awaits us here
16) "True North" by M. J. Locke -- longer survivalist story in a very warm and bleak future; does our hero win? you'll have to read to find out

So that's it. Four out of the sixteen did not even get the coveted mundane label. Nonetheless, there's some good speculation here, and a fair amount of variety. This is a good mundane value for a $17 list price. It's too bad there is wasted space because some of the stories needed more room to develop. None of the stories really excited me, but some of the Big Name ones are at least worth a second read. I'm glad this book is available, and now I can get back to my regular mundanespotting rituals.