Almost uniformly excellent—but then when was an anthology from Hartwell ever less?


Award-winning editor/anthologist Hartwell rounds up a sparkling selection of science-fiction stories from 2012.

Standouts: Gregory Benford’s “The Sigma Structure Symphony,” about a future where CETI’s problem is no longer detecting alien signals, but interpreting them; Yoon Ha Lee's "The Battle of Candle Arc," a splendid space-warfare yarn; Gwyneth Jones’ “Bricks, Sticks, Straw,” in which virtual personalities become cut off from their human primaries; and Aliette de Bodard’s “Two Sisters in Exile,” covering the wrenching death of an intelligent spaceship. All four cry out to be expanded into novels and perhaps will be. Not far behind are Paul Cornell’s unusual and thoughtful time-travel variant; Linda Nagata’s chilling look at a future where it may be a crime not to die; Sean McMullen’s charming Napoleonic steampunk yarn; and Eleanor Arnason’s clever and subtle “Holmes Sherlock: A Hwarhath Mystery,” wherein an alien who understands human literature investigates a mystery—no prizes for guessing what the inspiration is. Elsewhere, Megan Lindholm looks at the future of smart cars; Robert Reed ponders smart guns, artificial intelligence and war; a young female investigator enters an ultralibertarian future. Also here: AIs as human therapists; a tidally locked planet with alien life; artificial reality; future medicine; humor from Lewis Shiner (a PC’s revenge), Catherine Shaffer (an ex-CIA operative joins a literary society and gets more than she bargained for) and C.S. Freidman (virtual reality); Andy Duncan stomps on the traditional advice not to write about UFOs; Ken Liu extrapolates humanity into the far future; Paul McAuley observes Antarctica as the ice retreats; plus precognition, satire, physics, ecological collapse, the nature of marriage on Mercury (it’s stranger than one might think) and more.

Almost uniformly excellent—but then when was an anthology from Hartwell ever less?

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-763-3815-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.


Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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