21st Century Science Fiction

BOOK: 21st Century Science Fiction
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David G. Hartwell
is widely acclaimed as the most influential SF editor of the age, and lives in Pleasantville, New York.
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
, called by the
Washington Post
‘one of the most literate and historically aware editors in science fiction’, lives in Brooklyn, New York. They have both won the World Fantasy Award and multiple Hugo Awards for their editorial work.

TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
SCIENCE FICTION

Edited by

DAVID G. HARTWELL and

PATRICK NIELSEN HAYDEN

 

 

Constable & Robinson Ltd.

55–56 Russell Square

London WC1B 4HP

www.constablerobinson.com

First published in the US by Tor®, a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC., 2013

First published in the UK by Robinson,

an imprint of Constable & Robinson Ltd., 2013

Copyright © David G. Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden, 2013 (unless otherwise stated)

The right of David G. Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden to be identified as the authors of this work has been asserted by them in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

All rights reserved. This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events or locales is entirely coincidental.

A copy of the British Library Cataloguing in

Publication Data is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978-1-47211-242-2 (paperback)

ISBN: 978-1-47211-438-9 (ebook)

Printed and bound in the UK

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

Cover design:
mark-cavanagh.co.uk
; Cover photo: Shutterstock

COPYRIGHT ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

“The Education of Junior Number 12” copyright © 2011 by Madeline Ashby

“Strood” copyright © 2004 by Neal Asher

“The Gambler” copyright © 2008 by Paolo Bacigalupi

“Plotters and Shooters” copyright © 2007 by Kage Baker

“The Waters of Meribah” copyright © 2003 by Tony Ballantyne

“Tideline” copyright © 2007 by Elizabeth Bear. First published in
Asimov’s
, June 2007.

“Toy Planes” copyright © 2005 by Tobias S. Buckell

“Balancing Accounts” copyright © 2008 by James L. Cambias

“Savant Songs” copyright © 2004 by Brenda Cooper. First published in
Analog
.

“One of Our Bastards Is Missing” copyright © 2009 by Paul Cornell

“Chicken Little” copyright © 2010 by Craphound, Ltd.

“Erosion” copyright © 2009 by Ian Creasey

“Second Person, Present Tense” copyright © 2005 by Daryl Gregory

“Third Day Lights” copyright © 2005 by Alaya Dawn Johnson

“The Prophet of Flores” copyright © 2007 by Ted Kosmatka

“Evil Robot Monkey” copyright © 2008 by Mary Robinette Kowal

“A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel” copyright © 2011 by Yoon Ha Lee

“Tk’Tk’Tk” copyright © 2006 by David D. Levine

“The Calculus Plague” copyright © 2009 by Marissa Lingen

“The Algorithms for Love” copyright © 2004 by Ken Liu

“Finisterra” copyright © 2007 by David Moles

“The Albian Message” copyright © 2005 by Oliver Morton

“His Master’s Voice” copyright © 2008 by Hannu Rajaniemi

“Bread and Bombs” copyright © 2003 by Mary Rickert

“The Tale of the
Wicked
” copyright © 2009 by John Scalzi

“To Hie from Far Cilenia” copyright © 2010 by Karl Schroeder

“Infinities” copyright © 2009 by Vandana Singh

“Rogue Farm” copyright © 2003 by Charles Stross.

“Eros, Philia, Agape” copyright © 2009 by Rachel Swirsky

“How to Become a Mars Overlord” copyright © 2010 by Catherynne M. Valente

“The Nearest Thing” copyright © 2011 by Genevieve Valentine

“Escape to Other Worlds with Science Fiction” copyright © 2009 by Jo Walton

“The Island” copyright © 2009 by Peter Watts

“Ikiryoh” copyright © 2005 by Liz Williams

CONTENTS

Preface

INFINITIES

Vandana Singh

ROGUE FARM

Charles Stross

THE GAMBLER

Paolo Bacigalupi

STROOD

Neal Asher

EROS, PHILIA, AGAPE

Rachel Swirsky

THE TALE OF THE
WICKED

John Scalzi

BREAD AND BOMBS

M. Rickert

THE WATERS OF MERIBAH

Tony Ballantyne

TK’TK’TK

David D. Levine

THE NEAREST THING

Genevieve Valentine

EROSION

Ian Creasey

THE CALCULUS PLAGUE

Marissa Lingen

ONE OF OUR BASTARDS IS MISSING

Paul Cornell

TIDELINE

Elizabeth Bear

FINISTERRA

David Moles

EVIL ROBOT MONKEY

Mary Robinette Kowal

THE EDUCATION OF JUNIOR NUMBER 12

Madeline Ashby

TOY PLANES

Tobias S. Buckell

THE ALGORITHMS FOR LOVE

Ken Liu

THE ALBIAN MESSAGE

Oliver Morton

TO HIE FROM FAR CILENIA

Karl Schroeder

SAVANT SONGS

Brenda Cooper

IKIRYOH

Liz Williams

THE PROPHET OF FLORES

Ted Kosmatka

HOW TO BECOME A MARS OVERLORD

Catherynne M. Valente

SECOND PERSON, PRESENT TENSE

Daryl Gregory

THIRD DAY LIGHTS

Alaya Dawn Johnson

BALANCING ACCOUNTS

James L. Cambias

A VECTOR ALPHABET OF INTERSTELLAR TRAVEL

Yoon Ha Lee

HIS MASTER’S VOICE

Hannu Rajaniemi

PLOTTERS AND SHOOTERS

Kage Baker

THE ISLAND

Peter Watts

ESCAPE TO OTHER WORLDS WITH SCIENCE FICTION

Jo Walton

CHICKEN LITTLE

Cory Doctorow

PREFACE

You hold in your hands an anthology of stories by what we believe are some of the best science fiction writers that came to prominence since the twentieth century changed into the twenty-first. That phrase “came to prominence” explains our approach. Many writers publish their first work long before they come to general attention. William Gibson exploded into the consciousness of science fiction, and then the world, with
Neuromancer
in 1984, but he had been publishing short fiction for years before that. Likewise, there are writers in this volume whose first stories appeared as early as the 1980s, but nobody in this book came to wide notice before 2000.

The idea of an anthology showcasing the SF voices of the new century seemed like a natural project for the two of us. Our tastes are not identical, but we can fairly well agree on good writers and good stories. And we are both students of the history of SF without holding all the same opinions about it. Neither of us is especially interested in being genre policemen, dictating what is and isn’t proper SF. And yet, both of us emerge from the core SF audience of the twentieth century—the SF subculture, professional and fannish, that emerged from the earnest and urgent desire to defend and encourage quality SF in the face of a dominant culture that seemed to hold it in contempt. Decades later, many of the battles of those days have been won. Others have become irrelevant. One of the interesting things about the stories presented here is that they were written in a world in which SF, far from being marginal, is a firmly established part of the cultural landscape.

This took a long time, longer than we wanted. We had hoped to finish the book in 2010 and publish it in 2011 or 2012. But perhaps the wait has made it a better book, because we had more time to think it through. We are even more confident about our choices than we were three years ago. And we are reasonably certain that you will find much to enjoy, engage with, and argue over in the pages that follow.

—D.G.H. & P.N.H.

 

 

TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY SCIENCE FICTION

 

 

V
ANDANA
S
INGH
Born and raised in New Delhi, Vandana Singh now lives near Boston, where she teaches physics at a small state college. Her SF stories have been appearing in print since 2002. She has written of herself that “being a card-carrying alien writing science fiction is an interesting experience; my distance from my native shores necessarily affects what and how I write.”

“Infinities” first appeared in her collection
The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet
, published in India in 2008. Many of her stories are set in India, or in futures influenced by the traditional figures of Indian literature. She says, “Physics is a way of viewing the world, and it is one of my most important lenses. One of the most exciting things about science is that it reveals the subtext of the physical world. In other words, surface reality isn’t all there is; the world is full of hidden stories, connections, patterns, and the scientific as well as the literary and psychological aspects of this multi-textured reality are, to me, fascinating.” In this story about a man who loves mathematics, Singh manages to convey something quite rare, in our genre or out of it—an authentic sense of what paradigm-shattering mathematical insight feels like from the inside. She does so without flinching from the fact that, on the other side of eureka, the world remains the world.

INFINITIES

An equation means nothing to me unless it expresses a thought of God
.

BOOK: 21st Century Science Fiction
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