New Skies contains short stories by some of the best modern science fiction writers. Among others, there are stories by Phillip K Dick, Orson Scott Card, Greg Bear and Jane Yolen. The back cover describes this anthology as “Imaginative stories for a new… younger generation of science fiction fans,” but adult short story readers will like this collection as well. The book starts with an amusing story by Terry Bisson called, “They’re Made Out of Meat” that shows how an alien culture might view us earthlings.
The story that most stands out in my mind is “Different Kinds of Darkness” by David Langley. To protect them from a type of visual terrorism, pictures that “crash” the human brain, children are implanted with a chip that lets adults control their vision. A group of kids find a way to desensitize themselves to these pictures. “Uncle Joshua and the Grooglemen” by Debra Doyle and James D MacDonald is another interesting one. What appear to be monsters coming down from the mountains to kill turn out to be something unexpected.
Although well written, “Brian and the Aliens” by Will Shetterley looks out of place in this book. While all of the other stories in this anthology are definitely geared towards young adult and adult audiences, this particular story seemed to be intended for a much younger reader. Greg van Eekhout’s “Will You Be an Astronaut?” also has a picture book style, but the author's description of an astronaut's possible future responsibilities makes it more for an older audience. In fact, what made that story work was the simplicity of style.
Editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden did a great job putting together the stories in this anthology. There is a balanced mix of the different science fiction styles, even an alternative history. Of course I had my favorites, but each story was worth reading. Even the ones I didn’t particularly care for I could appreciate for imaginative plots or stylish writing. If you like short stories, or just don't have the time to read a novel right now, I highly recommend this book.
New Skies is available at Amazon.com
I borrowed New Skies from the library