Book Review: Beyond the Sun
Reviewed by: Marianne Dyson
Title: Beyond the Sun
Editor: Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Publisher: Fairwood Press
Date: August, 2013
Retail Price: $17.99/$5.99
Beyond the sun is an anthology of 18 stories on the theme of space settlement and travel beyond the Solar System. All but three of the stories are original to this anthology. One of the three reprints includes Robert Silverberg’s 1974 story “The Dybbuk of Mazel Tov IV” which is a classic that many of today’s readers will happily encounter for the first time. The anthology includes the following stories:
- “Migration” by Nancy Kress has a delightful twist on the exotic pets trade and the idea that humans know enough to recreate any animal’s native habitat, even our own.
- “The Hanging Judge” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch addresses some unexpected consequences of administering justice both fairly and inexpensively on far flung colonies.
- “Flipping the Switch” by Jamie Todd Rubin deals with the emotional toll of relativity on a starship captain who ages far less than his Earthbound family.
- “The Bricks of Eta Cassiopeia” by Brad R. Torgerson explores the usefulness of prison labor from the point of view of a laborer who tries to do the right thing when a fellow prisoner escapes into a harsh, alien landscape.
- “Far side of the Wilderness” by Alex Shvartsman takes an unusual twist on the idea that Earth occupies a special place in a believer’s heart.
- “Respite” by Autumn Rachel Dryden is about a woman who chose the space frontier to have the freedom to “conceive and bear children when and with whom she wanted,” but who finds herself doubting her choices as the time comes to give birth on a dangerous new world.
- “Parker’s Paradise” by Jean Johnson shows the folly of promising something that is not subject to the “rules” of faith alone.
- “Rumspringa” by Jason Sanford is a story involving Amish on the space frontier, where technology can lure people into a kind of addiction that obscures the truly important things in life. “Those who have everything, have no way of missing anything.”
- “Elsewhere Within Elsewhen” by Cat Rambo involves embracing a new perspective on an alien world that changes a man’s feelings for his lover because “here in this new place, he should become something new.”
- “Inner Sphere Blues” by Simon C. Larter is about answering a distress call that turns out to be something else when human assumptions are applied to alien behaviors.
- “Dust Angels” by Jennifer Brozek is a first contact story that leads to a somewhat unbelievable coexistence between competitors for resources.
- “Voice of Martyrs” by Maurice Broaddus is about the role of the military and religious freedom in a “push or be pushed” kind of universe.
- “One Way Ticket to Paradise” by Jaleta Clegg concerns the definition of sentience and what might happen if humans interfere with an environment they don’t understand.
- “Gambrels of the Sky” by Erin Hoffman hypothesizes that an alien studied by a AI built by humans is more likely to see the human traits in the AI than the humans.
- “Chasing Satellites” by Anthony R. Cardno is about living versus waiting for rescue.
- “Soaring Pillar of Brightness” by Nancy Fulda warns humans not to jump to conclusions about alien culture based on incomplete information. “No one can understand everything. It is foolish to try. It leads to incomplete knowledge which is more dangerous than ignorance.”
- “The Dybbuk of Mazel Tov IV” by Robert Silverberg proves that even when dealing with an alien world, the beliefs and superstitions we take with us may divide or unite us, depending on how we interpret what happens.
- “Observations Post” by Mike Resnick is a rather predictable story of an alien misinterpreting our TV shows and movies as if they are real.
Editor Bryan Schmidt has done an admirable job of choosing stories that each have something unique and interesting to say about issues and aspects of humans settling the space frontier. This book is highly recommended for all space enthusiasts.
© 2014 Marianne Dyson
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