Mike Resnick, editor,
New Voices in Science Fiction
(DAW, 2003)

The title of this anthology is New Voices in Science Fiction. There's even a techno-esque cover image straight out of Gibson's Neuromancer. Being a stickler, this makes me think the anthology is entirely composed of science fiction short stories. This is not the case. Dictionary.com defines "science fiction" as a literary genre in which the stories are "typically based on speculative scientific discoveries or developments, environmental changes, space travel, or life on other planets." If you follow those guidelines, of the 20 stories included, only 10 are science fiction. The other half consists of six fantasy stories, three horror tales and one superhero yarn. Regardless of their category, most of the 20 stories are unique and entertaining.

There is comedic sci-fi, such as "Intergalactic Refrigerator Repairmen Seldom Carry Cash" by Tom Gerencer, whose work is very reminiscent of Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett. "Different Worlds" by James Van Pelt is a gripping account of an alien invasion with a twist. Or, if you like the Greg Bear end of sci-fi, there's "Bubbles and Boxes" by Julie E. Czerneda, which combines the meticulous hard science with great character interaction. "Extended Family" by Shane Tourtellotte is an emotional cross-generational tale of a child meeting the dead grandfather he never knew.

Of the non-sci-fi end, there are great tales, too. "Dressmaker to the Princess" by Robyn Herrington offers a new perspective on a wonderful Amazon superhero. "1-800-WICKED1" by Lisa Mantchev shows that even villains can't get decent customer service. "Messenger" by Mark M. Stafford is heartbreaking fantasy/historical fiction taking place in a Nazi death camp during the Holocaust.

There are so many more concepts that still haven't been covered -- alternate history, Orwellian societies offering new faces, sci-fi dragons (a really cool concept), Jewish vampires and a bar for the gods. New Voices in Science Fiction has something for anyone; and I mean anyone. Resnick has assembled a great group of writers. Hopefully these new voices will be heard and will offer many more entertaining tales.

Should a misleading title keep you from reading New Voices in Science Fiction? Not at all. That's the only quibble I have with this collection of short stories. Weighing that against how entertaining this book is, I'd say that ends up being a pretty small complaint.

- Rambles
written by C. Nathan Coyle
published 12 June 2004

Buy it from Amazon.com.