A wide range of topics and diverse styles characterizes this enjoyable collection of science-fiction stories.
While mediocre science fiction fails to work on any level other than the conceptual, the best of the stories in this new Solaris anthology successfully navigate both conceptual and emotional territory. In Stephen Baxter’s "Last Contact," one of the collection’s best, an astrophysicist and her widowed mother convene to witness the end of the universe, while in "C-Rock City," a joint offering from Jay Lake and Greg van Eekhout, an orphaned son returns to his birth planet to search for his mother. Other entries make pointed comments about spirituality and society, such as the clever, entertaining "Personal Jesus," by Paul Di Filippo, in which computer researchers accidentally stumble upon a chip that channels God, only to immediately begin marketing it as a personal device called the "godPod"; and Adam Roberts’s "A Distillation of Grace," in which a society designed to be winnowed down over many generations to one person is threatened by the free will of one of its members. The anthology also features plenty of whimsy–for example, "Jellyfish," by Mike Resnick and David Gerrold, a brutally funny satire of the sci-fi field, and James Lovegrove’s "The Bowdler Strain," an amusing take on the role of language in our society. Both Tony Ballantyne’s "Third Person" and Mary Turzillo’s (the sole female author in the anthology) "Zora and the Land Ethic Nomads" succeed at the level where science-fiction has excelled since the inception of the genre: pure narrative energy. Editor Mann has gathered a collection that should appeal to science-fiction buffs, and make a worthwhile introduction for novices.
Stands as proof that science fiction is alive and well.