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.


Mundanespotting F&SF March/April 2011

Posted by frankh at 11:00 AM
And here's the latest F&SF, crammed with 11 stories.

1) "Scatter My Ashes" by Albert E. Cowdrey -- fantasy
[that leaves 10 more, but I've abandoned the issue, sorry]


Mundanespotting Asimov's April/May 2011

Posted by frankh at 10:48 AM
Here's a double issue of Asimovs, featuring 11 stories.

1) "The Day the Wires Came Down" by Alexander Jablokov -- counterfactual boredom
[10 more to go, but I've abandoned the issue (though I might have finished it, don't remember), sorry]


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Mundanespotting Analog May 2011

Posted by frankh at 11:42 AM
The big three are back for another round. Analog is the thinnest so I will start with that. Blanket Spoiler warning: surprising alien twists!

1) "Tower of Worlds" by Rajnar Vajra -- humans and aliens are in some big tower doing stuff for many, many pages
2) "Boumee and the Apes" by Ian McHugh -- an elephant clan confronts the horror of a planet of apes! or something like that; not sure why this is in Analog; maybe this is our forgotten past or our elephant supremicist future, but I'm not going to read it to find out
3) "The Wolf and the Panther were Lovers" by Walter L. Kleine -- cowboy western in which, pinch me! the strange animals turn out to be aliens
4) "The Old Man's Best" by Bud Sparhawk -- jaded space workers out at Jupiter make homebrew to stick it to the Man
5) "Ellipses" by Ron Collins -- suburban neighbors turn out to be, what a shock! aliens
6) "Blind Spot" by Bond Elam -- fourth paragraph: "Effie is strictly software. She doesn't have a body of her own, so she's taken to commandeering the building's maintenance bot whenever she feels the need to assert herself physically."

So that one's a total bust.