Authors: Jonathan Strahan [Editor]
Tags: #Anthologies, #Science Fiction
Also Edited by
Best Short Novels
(2004 through 2007)
The Very Best of 2005
The Very Best of 2005
The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year:
Volumes 1 - 6
Eclipse: New Science Fiction and Fantasy (Volumes 1-4)
The Starry Rift:
Tales of New Tomorrows
Life on Mars:
Tales of New Frontiers
Under My Hat:
Tales from the Cauldron
Edge of Infinity
Reap the Whirlwind
With Lou Anders
Swords and Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery
With Charles N. Brown
The Locus Awards: Thirty Years of the Best in Fantasy and Science Fiction
With Jeremy G. Byrne
The Year’s Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy: Volume 1
The Year’s Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy: Volume 2
With Jack Dann
Legends of Australian Fantasy
With Terry Dowling
The Jack Vance Treasury
The Jack Vance Reader
Wild Thyme, Green Magic
Hard Luck Diggings: The Early Jack Vance
With Gardner Dozois
The New Space Opera
The New Space Opera 2
With Karen Haber
Science Fiction: Best of 2003
Science Fiction: Best of 2004
Fantasy: Best of 2004
With Marianne S. Jablon
Wings of Fire
Including stories by
JAMES S. A. COREY
STEPHEN D. COVEY
KRISTINE KATHRYN RUSCH
First published 2012 by Solaris
an imprint of Rebellion Publishing Ltd,
Riverside House, Osney Mead,
Oxford, OX2 0ES, UK
ISBN (epub): 978-1-84997-460-8
ISBN (mobi): 978-1-84997-461-5
Cover by Adam Tredowski
Introduction and story notes and arrangement copyright © 2012 Jonathan Strahan.
“The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi” copyright © 2012 Pat Cadigan.
“The Deeps of the Sky” copyright © 2012 Elizabeth Bear.
“Drive” copyright © 2012 Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.
“The Road to NPS” copyright © 2012 Sandra McDonald and Stephen D. Covey.
“Swift as a Dream and Fleeting as a Sigh” copyright © 2012 John Barnes.
“Macy Minnot’s Last Christmas on Dione, Ring Racing, Fiddler’s Green, the Potter’s Garden” copyright © 2012 Paul McAuley.
“Safety Tests” copyright © 2012 Kristine Kathryn Rusch.
“Bricks, Sticks, Straw” copyright © 2012 Gwyneth Jones.
“Tyche and the Ants” copyright © 2012 Hannu Rajaniemi.
“Obelisk” copyright © 2012 Stephen Baxter.
“Vainglory” copyright © 2012 Alastair Reynolds.
“Water Rights” copyright © 2012 An Owomoyela.
“The Peak of Eternal Light” copyright © 2012 Bruce Sterling.
The right of the author to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owners.
This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.
For my friend and colleague, Gardner Dozois, some pure quill SF!
I have loved working on this book and would like to thank my Solaris editor Jonathan Oliver, Ben Smith, and the whole team at Rebellion for all of their kindness, help, and consideration over the past year. Also for the absolutely kick-arse cover by Adam Tredowski, which totally nails the book. I would also like to thank all of the book’s contributors for letting me publish their wonderful stories: Daniel Abraham, John Barnes, Stephen Baxter, Elizabeth Bear, Pat Cadigan, Stephen D. Covey, Ty Franck, Gwyneth Jones, Paul McAuley, Sandra McDonald, An Owomayela, Hannu Rajaniemi, Alastair Reynolds, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Bruce Sterling. An extra thanks to Peter Hamilton and Peter Watts, who would have been part of the book if situations had allowed. As always, I’d like to thank my agent, the ever wonderful Howard Morhaim and his brilliant new assistant Alice Speilburg.
And, finally, an extra special thanks to my wife Marianne, who helped with this book, and to my two daughters, Jessica and Sophie, for their love and support.
, Jonathan Strahan
The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi
, Pat Cadigan
The Deeps of the Sky
, Elizabeth Bear
, James S. A. Corey
The Road to NPS
, Sandra McDonald and Stephen D. Covey
Swift as a Dream and Fleeting as a Sigh
, John Barnes
, Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Bricks, Sticks, Straw
, Gwyneth Jones
Tyche and the Ants
, Hannu Rajaniemi
, Stephen Baxter
, Alastair Reynolds
, An Owomoyela
The Peak of Eternal Light
, Bruce Sterling
ELCOME TO THE
Fourth Generation of science fiction.
A year or so ago I was working on
, a collection of stories intended to interrogate what hard science fiction means in the second decade of the 21
century. In the introduction to that book I made passing reference to the ‘Fourth Generation of Science Fiction,’ where I suggested that science fiction, having been born, had passed through adolescence, into adulthood, and then moved into a post-scarcity period of incredible richness and diversity.
My intention, in coining the term, was simply to highlight the depth and variety of science fiction today, both in terms of who reads and writes it, and in the breadth and complexity of what the field now encompasses in terms of style, topic, theme, setting and so on. Things are good, and the laboratory is bubbling! However, once
had gone to press and the time had well and truly arrived to move on to other projects, it occurred to me that the “Fourth Generation” was a good descriptor for something else happening in science fiction.
Science fiction publishing is a somewhat morbid sub-culture. It is rather obsessed with the death of SF and SF publishing. It is so obsessed with its own death that it feels honour bound to report that it is dying, will die, or in fact has already died rather a long time ago with monotonous regularity. I’ve not checked, but I’m fairly confident that my good friend and colleague, Gardner Dozois, has reported this fact in the introduction to almost every one of his nearly three dozen ‘best of the year’ anthologies published between 1977 and the present day. This isn’t because Gardner is a particularly depressive fellow, or that he relishes the aforesaid death of our field. It’s because science fiction, I realised, is being killed by science.
Not just today, but always. How? Well, every day scientists go to work developing new hypotheses, publishing new papers, and uncovering new facts. The bedrock of information upon which science fiction writers work is constantly shifting and changing, as it should. This is a fine and wonderful thing, and I doubt a single science fiction writer on the planet would complain about it. However, this constant barrage of fact can be the enemy of romance, and science fiction needs romance to survive.
Take Mars as an example. Percival Lowell, fascinated with drawings by Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli, fell in love with and helped to popularise the canals of Mars. That view of the world, scientifically reasonable for its time, formed the basis of Edgar Rice Burrough’s novel
A Princess of Mars
, which imagined the sweeping dead sea bottoms of Helium, populated by thoats and tharks and the setting for the sword-fighting, gravity-defying adventures of John Carter. By 1964 that image was dead, swept away by the tide of facts collected by the space probe Mariner, and by the late 1970s Mariners, Vikings and Voyagers had turned images of Helium forever to dust, and left us with images that looked nothing like nothing more than a stretch of washed-out desert that
wanted to kill you.
Not that science fiction hasn’t risen to the challenge set by science. It did and it continues to do so. A rash of novels in the 1980s, most prominently from Kim Stanley Robinson, with his austere, magisterial
trilogy, took on the challenge of making Mars a human place – a dangerous one, but a place where romance and adventure could flourish and where we could see a way back to the future. Others took up the cudgel, Greg Bear in
, Terry Bisson in
Voyage to a Red Planet
, and many more.
How does all of this connect to the Fourth Generation? Well, bear with me. It’s been said that with the publication of William Gibson’s
in 1984, co-incidentally published around the same time the Mars revolution was happening, moved science fiction from an outwards-focussed technological SF to an inwards-focussed look at cyberspace; innerspace, even. Cyberpunk came from the street, but its talk of uploading into cyberspace was also a turning away from the physical world and from science fiction’s journey to the stars, something that would have been unimaginable just a few decades earlier. As the years passed, and as more fact accumulated, travelling to the stars began to seem harder and less likely, and even leaving our planet seemed so fanciful that SF briefly spawned a Mundane movement to challenge it.