Bridging Infinity by Jonathan Strahan
Published: Solaris (Rebellion) (Nov 8, 2016)
Posted: Sep 15, 2016
(5 / 5)
Bridging Infinity is the latest science fiction anthology from the Infinity Project by Johnathan Strahan. His well-written introduction poses a question that forms the basis for the anthology’s tight scope. In an age of understanding, with advanced scientific tools, can engineering concepts found in sci-fi help us solve the problems we face today?
This anthology provides readers with 16 speculative short stories by some of the greatest authors in the field. The topics in these stories run the gamut of sci-fi’s most beloved themes. Post-humanism, artificial intelligence, mind uploads, psychology, environmental activism, apocalyptic scenarios, engineering solutions to better human life, and many others. All of the stories feature scenarios addressing real world problems.
Bridging Infinity is extremely insightful. While not all of the stories are ultra-hard sci-fi, all of them have practical significance to the reader. Many of the stories deal with space and engineering constructs built there either as an escape or as an expansionary measure. While others are truly new to the Infinity Project and involve Earth and its environment. Those stories are extremely realistic and relatable for science fiction.
A small sample of my top favorite stories include:
“Your dad,” said D-Mei, “is still butthurt about the Singularity.”
“The Singularity … it was like fun while it lasted, right?”
“Everything is fun while it lasts,” D-Mei said. “And nothing lasts forever.”
~ Sion and D-Mei (Rager In Space)
RAGER IN SPACE (Charlie Jane Anders) – after some great stories by Alastair Reynolds and Pat Cadigan (the author of the Rock On short story & Synners), Anders tones down the seriousness of Bridging Infinity with this awesome high-tech story of Cali girls gone wild… in space. Hilarious and well-written, Anders explores the [fantastic] idea of a failed singularity and the disasters that occur because of it. GIF lipstick and descriptive storytelling? Sold.
THE VENUS GENERATIONS (Steven Baxter) – describes efforts to control heat on Venus for terraforming purposes. It’s a surprisingly human tale in an alien setting. The story features awesome geoengineering efforts, the productive use of CO2, solar shielding, future economies, and vanity at the expense of human lives. The descriptions are beautiful and captivating.
THE MIGHTY SLINGER (Tobias S. Buckell & Karen Lord) – Over the course of hundreds of years, the Rovers – a societal-aware calypso band – are resurrected time and again to sway the minds of concertgoers. Two megacorps fight for dominance, each promising a different solution to a dying Earth. Will the development of a super structure in space be the salvation the people need? This space opera is a surprisingly human tale of engineering and rebirth.
COLD COMFORT (Pat Murphy & Paul Doherty) – Global warming is exacerbated by pockets of methane trapped in permafrost. This story explores the notion of beneficial ecoterrorism, an engineering endeavor to break methane down to a more usable form, and also features cool mobile lifestyle. The descriptions of the north were great.
MONUMENTS (Pamela Sargent) – This environmental disaster story is set in New York. As an actual New Yorker, I felt that there were many parallels to 9/11. The tone is emotionally heavy as the story itself deals with severe depression. In tune with the overall theme of Bridging Infinity, many great engineering feats are attempted to divert the flow of oceans and cut back on heat from the sun.
SEVEN BIRTHDAYS (Ken Liu) – I saved my favorite story for last. This is a deeply emotional tale about a daughter’s quest to improve the lives of others in her mother’s honor. “A mother whose love is difficult to understand even more difficult to misunderstand.” It features stellar writing and epic ideas. Fans of Bradbury and Stross will love the post-singularity aspects of the plot. Such aspects are very reminiscent of the Sobornost in Hannu Rajaniemi’s Jean le Flambeur series.
There are just too many great stories in Bridging Infinity to cover them all. If you a find a story you enjoy, chances are you’ll find others like it with similar subject matter. Although many of the stories are science heavy, none contain lengthy “info dumps” or tread into the realm of tedious. Truly terrific story choice for this anthology.
Bridging Infinity is a finely woven tapestry of some of the best, new sci-fi shorts to date. I highly recommend it to fans of speculative fiction. The story selection, ordering, and well defined scope mark this Infinity Project anthology as my favorite. It easily scores a 5/5!
(This book was received from the publisher for a fair and honest review.)