By Adam Roberts | February 1, 2005
Categories: Book News
Two very handsome volumes arrived in the post. One is Constellations: the Best of the New British SF, edited by Pete Crowther (New York: Daw Books 2005) available currently at the frankly astonishing price of £3.73 from Amazon.co.uk. The theme of the collection is evident from its title, and Pete's introduction makes plain that he didn't start out intending to make a Brit-only collection, it just worked out that way. I'm happy with my own story, the rather chilly 'The Order of Things' -- one of my better stories, I think (the Foucauldian title only partly reflects the burden of the tale). But a much better reason to buy the volume is the high overall quality; several tales in particular are just superb. much better than mine: Stephen Baxter's 'Lakes of Light' is the very best of them; most novels published in the genre today have smaller ideas and less compelling workings-out than this short story. Roger Levy's haunting 'No Cure For Love' and Justina Robson's moving 'The Little Bear' are also excellent.
The other is The Mammoth Book of New Jules Verne Adventures, edited by Mike Ashley and Eric Brown (Carroll & Graf/Robinson 2005). The brief here was to write stories that continued or otherwise riffed-upon classic Verne originals; and a largely Brit crew of authors has risen to the challenge. Some of the tales are ripping, doing the derring-do thing, like Ian Watson's storming 'Giant Dwarfs', which revists Journey to the Centre of the Earth and finds occultist Nazis and strange time-travel goings-on. Some are more considered, or more jocular. James Lovegrove manages, sneakily, to insert a whole, wonderfully imaginative novel into the short story format by printing only fragments (which the reader easily stitches together in his/her imagination) of a fictional lost Verne novel 'Londres au XX!e Siecle'. My own piece picks up on a practically unknown Verne title, but one of my favourites: Hector Servadac.
I've also had a strange but intriguing email from a gentleman (at least, I assume the person in question is male ...) called Vole Pogrom, proposing a jointly-authored project. I'm mulling over the ideas Mr (Mrs?) Pogrom has suggested, and will report back soon.