Stories that couldn’t be squeezed into 2005’s Volume 1: a baker’s dozen of novellas and short novels, 1985–2002, arranged chronologically.
Some of these tales originally appeared as standalone books, such as Robert Silverberg’s “Sailing to Byzantium” (a man from the 1980s adrift in a future so remote that technology has become magic), and Michael Swanwick’s “Griffin’s Egg,” wherein new brain chemicals enable controlled mental evolution. Others were expanded into full-length novels: Joe Haldeman’s reality-shifting “The Hemingway Hoax,” Nancy Kress’s sleepless “Beggars in Spain” and Maureen F. McHugh’s wayfaring “The Cost to Be Wise.” Others represent the forefront of the new British invasion: “Tendeléo’s Story” is Ian McDonald’s take on post-colonial Africa; Ian R. MacLeod's “New Light on the Drake Equation” rescues the last and forgotten advocate of SETI from the depths of drunken despair; and Alastair Reynolds extends his far-future Demarchist/Conjoiner universe to look more closely at the incomprehensible alien Pattern Jugglers. If these aren’t sufficiently diverse, Walter Jon Williams’s researcher, in “Surfacing,” struggles to communicate with cryptic marine animals while being distracted by romance and a god-like alien. James Patrick Kelly’s “Mr. Boy” depicts a world where parents deliberately render their children’s bodies permanently juvenile. Veteran writer-editor Frederik Pohl weighs in with “Outnumbering the Dead,” examining the role of mortality in a world of immortals. Ursula K. Le Guin returns to planets Werel and Yeowe and its South African–descended populace, in “Forgiveness Day.” And Greg Egan, famed for his hard sci-fi, offers “Oceanic,” in which a young boy's religious convictions are put to the test.
No question as to the quality of the material here; the drawback is overfamiliarity.