Title: The Future Chronicles
Authors: Samuel Peralta, Hugh Howey, David Adams, Sam Best, Angela Cavanaugh, Peter Cawdron, Ann Christy, Nina Croft, Patrice Fitzgerald, Deirdre Gould, Moira Katson, A. K. Meek, Susan Kaye Quinn, Vincent Trigili, Nick Webb, Jennifer Foehner Wells, Nicolas Wilson
Published: September 16, 2015
The Future Chronicles has grown, from a single collection of robot stories, into a series whose unique take on major science fiction and fantasy themes – A.I., aliens, time travel, dragons, telepaths, zombies, immortality, galactic battles, cyborgs, doomsday – has made it one of the most acclaimed short story anthology series of the digital era.
Its companion series – Alt.Chronicles, The Illustrated Chronicles and Chronicle Worlds – are similarly ground-breaking in their coverage of less mainstream tropes such as alternative history and shared universes.
Created by award-winning author Samuel Peralta, and edited by some of the most-respected editors in the genre, each volume brings together work from visionary new voices and from the grandmasters of modern science fiction and fantasy.
This Future Chronicles – Special Edition volume is a compendium of stories selected from the Chronicles’ standalone titles, and includes five new stories, never before published, from some of today’s best writers in speculative fiction.
I’m ditching my usual review format because, as an anthology, this book doesn’t really fit into it.
This book starts out strongly with a particularly good foreword by Hugh Howey. I usually skip these because they tend to be wordy and self-indulgent but not this one. Howey really puts his finger on what I like about short stories.
As with any anthology, there are highs and lows. What’s more, my highs and lows will likely be different than the next reader’s. But I’m confident that most science fiction readers will find things to like in these stories.
Iteration by Dierdre Gould, PEPR Inc by Ann Christy, The Assistant by Angela Cavanaugh, and Humanity by Samuel Peralta were particular standouts for me. These stories showed me things I hadn’t seen before, and did it in an engaging way full of pathos and life. They immersed me into the situation and let me really feel them.
The theme of this book is both a boon and a bit of a quibble. On the one hand, we have a collection of stories that represents the broad range of styles and subjects of an entire series of anthologies, which is very cool. On the other, the stories are of course only loosely related under the idea of “the future,” which lessens the impact just a bit. I feel a little bad about mentioning it, since you can’t have one of those hands without the other, but I do prefer when an anthology has a tighter theme binding the stories together. It just gives more impact as a whole that way.
I had a little trouble deciding on a star rating. Let’s face it, star ratings are tough anyway. Weighing all the facets in a book and boiling down to a 1-5 rating is dicey for anything that isn’t exciting, unique, and absolutely perfect in every way (I’m looking at you, Pride and Prejudice). It’s even tougher for an anthology. So what to do? For the sake of consistency with my other reviews as a whole, I’m going with a 4, but I’m waffling on 4.5 because an anthology is a different thing. Considering only anthologies I’ve read, I’d go with 4.5. Well, heck with it, I’ll go with 4.5. I prefer to round up rather than round down for reviews.
But never mind the numerical rating. As Hugh Howey’s foreword described, these stories plant seeds in your mind and lead to interesting thoughts. If you’re a person who likes to ponder the potential of the universe, check this one out.
Favorite quotes from the book:
“It made her feel like she had forgotten to wear a skirt and had just now noticed she’d been walking around that way all day.” ~~from PEPR Inc by Ann Christy
“She began to gyrate menacingly, and made noises that I hoped were speaking, because otherwise I was pretty sure she was about to tear my limbs off and devour whatever was left.” ~~from Trials by Nicolas Wilson