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Starship Vectors by Stephen Baxter, Elizabeth Bear, Charles Colman Finlay, Gwyneth Jones, Nancy Kress, Sarah Monette, and Robert Reed
Edited by Allan Kaster
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Audio Text & Infinivox Audio CD  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781884612947
Date: 21 December 2010 List Price $32.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Great Techno-SIFI. Starship Vectors is a collection of short stories that have one thing in common ---a starship. It is a great read!! Both science fiction die-hards and neophytes will enjoy the wide variety of short stories.

I am fairly new to reading the science fiction genre, but I enjoy Techno-SIFI. After all, I am an engineer by profession. Starship Vectors, edited by Allan Kaster is a great read. Each story takes place on a different starship. Some are big—almost the size of a planet, others are smaller. Some are research vessels, others are pirate ships. The themes of the stories vary, from discovering new life forms, to spies and to changes on the ship over a multi-generation voyage.

I will summarize three of my favorites:

"Mayflower II", by Stephen Baxter, is a generation starship. The crew members have to flee their home planet to escape an enemy force that is about to attack and destroy their world. Being on a ship for thousands of years brings forth lots of issues that make perfect sense, but that I never really thought about. The ship must be maintained flawlessly. As the generations pass, the new crew members have no knowledge of the planet they left behind. Cooperation and camaraderie wanes and class systems begin to develop. The end is a huge surprise and I really enjoyed this story.

The first story, "Boojum", by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette, is interesting because the ship is alive. The crew are space pirates and the ship uses photosynthesis of its outside surface to generate the air and water that the crew needs to live. After the pirates pillage another ship, the pirate ship eats it. Very interesting. I work on metal waste disposal for a living, and this is a unique method of disposal!

"The Political Officer", by Charles Coleman Finlay, is a spy story where the political officer on the ship is trying to locate a traitor. What I find most interesting is that the ship has a female crew member, just as this civilization is incorporating women into their space force. I was part of the US Navy's integration of women onto ships back in the 1980s and I can empathize a lot with the woman crew member. She certainly has challenges in the changing environment. "The Political Officer" is very suspenseful, but ends kind of suddenly. I think the story would be excellent if expanded into a full novel with more plot detail and more character development.

I received the “book” from SFRevu as an audio CD set. Audio books are wonderful as car books. I listen to them as I drive. An audio book is great when you are stuck in traffic, as it occupies your mind instead of focusing your attention the frustration around you. Audio books work well on long trips too, to help stay alert and keep away from the monotony of driving. One of the advantages of short stories on CD over novels is that you can finish one on a quick trip back and forth to work.

I recommend Starship Vectors. Science fiction lovers will enjoy it because it covers a wide variety of plotlines. I think it fits best for the "techno-Nerds", including me. Newcomers to science fiction will love it because it allows you to sample short sorties and figure out the types of science fiction you enjoy without spending the time to read a lengthy novel.

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