Fast Forward 2
Edited by Lou Anders
Cover Artist: John Picacio
Review by Carolyn Frank
Pyr Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781591026921
Date: 21 October 2008 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Fast Forward 2 is an all-new all-science fiction short story anthology, following the success of the earlier Fast Forward 1. These fourteen tales are in the center of pure science fiction, addressing mankind's possible futures, alien beings' possible futures and the intersections of the two. This is the essence of modern science fiction, where coherent worlds are described briefly but believably, where simple awareness of modern science is sufficient to follow the story lines (not all of us readers are plasma physicists), and where gripping writing holds attention to the tale.
In "Cyto Couture" by Kay Kenyon, a boy with a cleft palate, Nat, is brought into a factory to care for plant-like organisms that are growing items for the haute couture trade. Lorelei, the chief designer had brought this loner in to care for her pet project, while her fat sister, Derinda, chaffs over her prospective marriage to one of her father's peers. Although Nat's job is only to mist the organisms with nutrients and rub them dry, he does start to see that there is more going on in this part of the factory than just growing fancy dresses.
In "The Kindness of Strangers" by Nancy Kress, aliens have arrived on earth, are encircling the largest cities on the planet and removing them completely. As each city is removed, working in descending population size order, people who have successfully managed to flee are ending up in small camps. Sharing the little provisions and tools they have brought, they survive. But why is this happening? And what will become of this new version of the world?
In "Molly's Kids" by Jack McDevitt, the first ship is being readied to be sent to Alpha Centuri. To enable it to address the possibly infinite variety of circumstances that it might encounter, the ship has been outfitted with an artificial intelligence, but the AI does not want to leave earth. As the ship's designers struggle both with the imminent potential loss of government funding and the recalcitrant AI, they slowly arrive at a more comprehensive solution.
Although the stories in this anthology vary widely in content, in vision and in readability, each tale brings a unique perspective to the genre. As most of the authors are well known and award-winning, a reader looking for real science fiction will find a great many stories herein to enjoy and to provide a positive jolt into alternative ways of thinking about other potentialities.