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Rocket Boy and the Geek Girls
Edited by Phyllis Irene Radford and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
Review by Cathy Green
Book View Cafe PDF  
Date: 18 December 2009

Links: Book View Cafe / Show Official Info /

Rocket Boy And The Geek Girls, the premiere anthology from Bookview Cafe's e-publishing arm is an eclectic collection of science fiction stories edited by Phyllis Irene Radford and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff. The stories, primarily reprints of out-of-print, hard-to-find short fiction, are grouped thematically in four sections, Space; Technology; Aliens and Humanity and written by authors of varying degrees of fame and popularity including Sarah Zettel, C.L. Anderson, Nancy Jane Moore, Judith Tarr, Pat Nagle, P.R Frost, Madeleine Robins, Amy Sterling Casil, Sylvia Kelso, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, Brenda Clough, Jennifer Stevenson, Irene Radford, Katharine Kerr and Vonda McIntyre.

The first section of the book, Space, not surprisingly, involves stories of space travel and space stations. However, the stories are generally not tradition space opera.

    For instance, Pat Nagle's "Emancipation" involves native Hawaiians and others living on a space station meant to be a Hawaiian resort in space that became essentially a generation ship cut off from Earth due to a catastrophic war. The story focuses on balancing the preservation of Native traditions and the efficient operation of the station and which traditions should be kept and which put aside due to circumstance.

    Sarah Zettel's "Kinds of Strangers" is a story of astronauts whose return to Earth from the asteroid belt is imperiled by multiple system and mechanical failures, but the majority of the story takes place in the head of one the characters rather than emphasizing the action involved in making repairs and other measures necessary to save the ship and get back to Earth.

    A highlight of this section was Nancy Jane Moore's "Blindsided by Venus in the House of Mars", which I assume owes its title in part to Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus, which is partly traditional space opera about a small independent cargo ship and its crew but is also about the relationship between the male pilot and the woman who is the sole crew member. Moore focuses on the characters' personal sense of morality how far each one is willing to go and where each draws the line. This is a theme that Moore has addressed in other stories as well, with her background in law and martial arts adding an interesting perspective to issues such as when to fight and where to draw the line (or at least that's what I took away from her short story collection Conscientious Inconsistencies and especially the commentaries written for each story).

The second section, Technology, contains stories about nanotechnology, genetic engineering, and recreated dinosaurs. Several of the stories, despite the technology hook are about parent-child relationships and traditional child-rearing concerns, with the issue of how and whether to take advantage of existing technology as a plot driver. A favorite story in this section was P. R. Frost's "Alien Voices", in which a prima ballerina teaches the nanobots that repaired her knees to become devotees of the art of the dance.

In the third section, Aliens, I particularly enjoyed Katharine Kerr's "It's Own Reward", which involved an SFPD homicide detective trying to solve a murder among a diplomatic delegation from another planet. Brenda Clough's story about a woman infected by an alien parasite and Sylvia Kelso's story of the romance between a woman and an alien water sprite/merman were also really good.

The fourth section, Humanity, featured a number of stories about people creating their own personal hells. I particularly liked Jennifer Stevenson's story about a used bookstore owner coping with two rival obsessive collectors.

Rocket Boy And The Geek Girls appears to be available exclusively as an e-publication. As I do not have a Kindle or other e-reader, I read the pdf version using Preview on my Macbook. I found the font choice and size easy on my eyes and the links embedded in the table of contents made it easy to skip from story to story (no need to page through in order from page 1 to page 391 unless you want to). I liked how the collection was organized thematically and there wasn't a bad story in the collection. I look forward to future e-publications from the Bookview Cafe.

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