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Cosmic Tales: Adventures in Far Futures by T.K.F. Weisskopf
Review by Gayle Surrette
Baen Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 0743498879
Date: 01 February, 2005 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Cosmic Tales II contains six short stories and one non-fiction essay. It was refreshing to find that all the stories were strong and held my attention. ?The Tree of Dreams? by James P. Hogan offers us a glimpse of explorers looking for worlds to conquer with consumerism and greed. Interestingly, the natives are not as docile and innocent as first suspected and some of the crew view the natives? lifestyle as better than the dog-eat-dog life they lead.

Mark L. Van Name?s ?Bring Out the Ugly? gives us tantalizing hints of a man?s past when he is hired to save the daughter of the head of a planetary corporation. This story has some interesting asides on the use of AI?s in everyday home appliances. ?On Suivi Point? by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald gives the reader a view of how much trouble two spacers can get into on shore leave without even trying. ?Genie Out of the Bottle? was a frustrating story of a young man with more money than common sense getting in over his head with a ?sweet young girl? who wants power and money. He finally finds himself as he learns to care about others and to think for himself. This story also gives the readers some interesting ideas to consider about uplifting animals for our convenience.

Paul Chafe in ?Botany Bay? gives an interesting twist on a murder mystery. A serial killer is stalking the colony and they need to find out who, before anyone else gets killed. The twist revealed in the story's title is that all the colonists are criminals sent to this planet as a second chance. They must work together to find the killer and determine what rules of law will be adopted for their colony and its future. The non-fiction essay was an overview of the science used as a basis for the story ?Botany Bay?.

In ?Beyond Pluto? by Gregory Benford, we are at the edge of our solar system and life or something close to it has been found on Pluto. Two scientific expeditions work together to try to learn where the life-forms are coming from and are they related to the cascade of energy approaching our system.

This is a strong collection and one that is sure to please the reader who enjoys hard science science fiction. There are good strongly drawn characters, well thought out plots, and ideas that you can think about for a long time after you finish the story. I know I?m still worried about what my washing machine might be telling other appliances about me.

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