Review published on August 9, 2017.
Infinite Stars is a hefty collection of short stories and novellas, all coming under the heading of ‘space opera.’ While some are standalone stories, most are additions to existing fictional timelines, with authors contributing new stories from popular series; Orson Scott Card, for example, features with a new story from the Ender’s Game universe, while Frank Herbert’s Dune series is continued with a story co-written by his son.
I picked up Infinite Stars because I’ve been reading a lot of space-set books recently, and the subject fascinates me; I did, however, struggle with some of the stories here, primarily because many are set within fictional worlds with which I’m not familiar. There were several stories which didn’t suffer from this problem, and which I really enjoyed. Cordwainer Smith’s ‘The Game of Rat and Dragons’ pitches the reader into a peculiar world in which humans and cats fight interplanetary battles together, and ‘Duel on Syrtis’ by Poul Anderson benefits similarly from fierce pace, with a compelling and deadly game of hide and seek between a man and a Martian. The collection features plenty of conflict and diplomacy between planets and armies, but I was more intrigued by the strange and the intimate stories like these ones.
Not all the stories featured were written specifically for the collection, and it’s a pleasing reference point to see more classic stories like Anne McCaffrey’s ‘The Ship Who Sang’ from 1969, which provides a little spark of loveliness in a largely action-packed anthology. Among the novellas included, Nnedi Okorafor’s ‘Binti’, which I had already read, is a real standout; Okorafor’s brand of wildly inventive sci-fi is one of the reasons I read in the genre in the first place.
For fans of space opera, this is an obvious buy. For the more uninitiated, Infinite Stars provides a fascinating introduction to the genre, even if a little more research into some of the authors may be needed.
Katy Goodwin-Bates 4/4
Infinite Stars edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Titan Books 9781785655937 hbk Oct 2017