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wealhtheow

wealhtheow

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The Theory of the Leisure Class (Modern Library Classics)
Thorstein Veblen, Alan Wolfe
Eclipse 4: New Science Fiction and Fantasy - Jonathan Strahan A collection of sf and fantasy stories.

Andy Duncan's "Slow as a Bullet": told in a sort of pseudo nineteenth century Western style, this is the story of how one lazy man developed gun powder that shot bullets incredibly slowly in order to win a bet.

Caitlin Kiernan's "Tidal Forces": a black hole forms in a woman's stomach and grows ever larger. Weird concept told in a disjointed style, but it works.

Damien Broderick's "The Beancounter's Cat": Starts well (a talking cat adopts a lowly beancounter) but halfway through transforms into a trippy mess that only pretends to be deep.

Kij Johnson's "Story Kit": Sometimes Johnson's risk taking pays off. Here, it doesn't; it's just weird-for-the-sake-of-being-weird, pomo ridonculousness.

Michale Swanwick's "The Man in Grey": one of the people who works behind-the-scenes, creating the world for humans to live in, steps "on stage" for a moment to save a girl's life. Interesting concept, told pretty well, though the end is weak.

Nalo Hopkinson's "Old Habits": a ghost forever haunts the mall where he died. He and the other ghosts are starving for sensation. So sad, but interesting.

Gwyneth Jones's "The Vicar of Mars": An alien visits a woman who as come to Mars to die. But even as he tries to give her comfort, her troubles begin to haunt him, as well. Creepy as hell.

Rachel Swirsky's "Fields of Gold": A man dies and finds himself in at a party full of dead people. Eventually he comes to terms with his own wasted life, and goes skipping through the meadow with his beloved dead cousin. Apparently this was also a Twilight Zone episode? Regardless, I didn't like this: Dennis is deeply unpleasant and being inside his head made me depressed.

Eileen Gunn's "Thought Experiment": Ralph Drumm is the first person to discover how to travel through time. But of course he runs into trouble in the past, and of course the changes he makes to history have long reaching consequences. Great, with a particularly fantastic ending. My favorite of the collection.

Jeffrey Ford's "The double of my double is not my double": A man helps his doppleganger kill his doppleganger's doppleganger. Another pointless story with a depressingly annoying main dude character whose life is weird for no reason.

Emma Bull's "Nine Oracles": 9 unnamed modern women who knew the future. The first 7 are good, the last one is full on bad. It's not that #9 is bad, actually, it's that it's clearly a much longer story crammed into two pages, and that basically destroys it.

Peter Ball's "Dying Young": A (genemodded) dragon enters a (future) saloon filled with gunslingers. Years ago, Paul's father was killed by the Doc, who now controls the town because he can fix people up. Paul has to decide whether to help the dragon kill the Doc, thus destroying the semblance of civilization that the Doc maintains, or whether to help the Doc kill the dragon, thus destroying his last hope for justice or vengeance. Cool world, with an actual plot and a nice twist.

Jo Walton's "The Panda Coin": A 10 dollar coin passes hand-by-hand through the economy of Hengist station. Lots of cool tidbits; my favorite were the prostitute-bots, who talk amongst each other only in the preprogrammed phrases they've been given ("Ooh yes, honey") but still manage to have full conversations.

James Patrick Kelly's "Tourists": Mariska nearly died getting from the Moon to Mars, and now she's a minor celebrity. She finds solace with a man gene-modded for the Martian environment, but all he wants is to leave Mars for the stars. I liked the characters and world building, but there were way too many infodumps about things I didn't care about and that the characters had no reason to think about. (No ordinary teenager on a date is going to think about the physics of a sky hook, let's be real.)