bookrev: Seeds of Change edited by John Joseph Adams
This collection edited by slush god John Joseph Adams contains stories of paradigm shifts in the future (this review is based on an Advanced Reader Copy; the anthology is scheduled for release late August 2008). From his introduction:
I asked the contributors to this anthology to write about paradigm shifts – technological, scientific, political, or cultural—and how individuals and societies deal with such changes. The idea is to challenge our current paradigms and speculate on how they might evolve in the future, either for better or for worse.
Many of the stories, instead of being about future paradigm shifts, are projections of current issues or ailments (racism, global warming, corporate spies and piracy) into the future but also contain new shifts brought about by new technology and ethical issues about usage (how should we or even should we not) of these new technologies.
The anthology starts with a bang, with a story of future prejudice. Of the nine stories Endosymbiont by Blake Charlton, Spider the Artist by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu and Drinking Problem by K.D. Wentworth were my personal favorites.
- N-Words by Ted Kosmatka; eloquently captures the passion and pain of past and current prejudice and echoes them onto a future where a certain type of clones have become the latest persecuted ethnics.
- The Future by Degrees by Jay Lake; a solution is developed for efficient energy usage (little waste heat, high efficiency) and everyone will kill to get it;
- Drinking Problem by K.D. Wentworth; DNA coded one-per-customer-per-lifetime beer bottles with AI chips and various conversational modes make this story more horror than scifi for a committed beer drinker like myself.
- Endosymbiont by Blake Charlton; virtual medicine plus the ability to upload people’s consciousness into “nueroprocessors” are the technology that supports Blake Charlton’s story of creating a new type of post-human. The main character is a young girl who was suffering from cancer, and was the first “uploaded”, before the technophobes pushed through laws governing such creatures, to make sure they didn’t pull a Terminator and take over the world. This was a superbly written story revolving around well-defined characters with excellent science to back it up.
- A Dance Called Armageddon by Ken MacLeod; the fifteenth winter of the Faith War, a reminder of the never-ending struggle between Christianity, Muslims and Jews fighting for who’s interpretation is most correct, and a reminder that though only a small percentage of us are there, wars affect us all. Nice description of the Sony Ericsson Cyber-sight upgrade glasses as well.
- Arties Aren’t Stupid by Jeremiah Tolbert; genetically manufactured classes of “humans”, some braniacs, some tin-men, some thicknecks and some arties (artistic), break out their mold, freeing themselves and inflicting change upon the order of their world. The wording of the conversation got in the way a little (arties aren’t stupid, but they do talk funny), but the story was quite excellent.
- Faceless in Gethsemane by Mark Budz; if you could have surgery to remove the impression of faces, would you? What would you see, and how would not jumping to first impressions about how someone looked or what color their skin is change you? There is an air of prejudice and persecution in this story that I’m not sure I agree with (would people really protest because other people modified how they perceive other’s faces?) but the concepts are interesting, the story well written…and it reminds me of when I rubbed my closed eyelids and saw colors and visions (Mr. Budz, I thought it was just me.)
- Spider the Artist by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu; a beatutifully written story about man (woman) and machine, set what Nigeria is and may continue to become: a country raped and pillaged for it’s oil, where it’s people lose hope but continue somehow to search for hope…and find it amongst the aritificially intelligent keepers of the pipelines. Music soothes the savage AI beast, it seems.
- Resistance by Tobias S. Buckell; Pepper, of Mr. Buckell’s Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin and the forthcoming Sly Mongoose, is hired to take out the dictator of a techno-democracy. Similar to a society in Sly Mongoose, this world (Haven) gave everyone a vote on everything; but they tired of that and created AI’s to vote as they would. Then the AI’s created the ruler “Pan”. Was it their own vote, or did the AI take over? The only Pepper story I’ve read with a low (zero) body count.