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‘Anthologist Jonathan Strahan presents an extraordinary assemblage of hard science fiction stories in Reach for Infinity, the latest phase of a great undertaking that started with a simple idea six years ago and has gone from strength to strength since.’ (Tor.com)

Présentation de l'éditeur

An original collection of new short science fiction from the biggest and most exciting names in the genre. The latest in the Infinities collections edited and comissioned by multiple award-winning anthologist Jonathan Strahan.

What happens when humanity reaches out into the vastness of space? The brightest names in SF contribute new orginal fiction to this amazing anothology from master editor Jonathan Strahan. Including new work by Alastair Reynolds,Greg Egan,Ian McDonald, Ken Macleod, Pat Cadigan, Karl Schroeder, Hannu Rajaniemi, Karen Lord, Adam Roberts, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Aliette de Bodard Peter Watts, and others!


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16 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Science fiction meets humanism 29 mai 2014
Par G.L. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
“Reach for infinity” is yet another interesting anthology of hard (or at the very least mildly squishy) science fiction. Edited by Jonathan Strahan, it features mostly optimistic stories of humanity in space. The sub-genres vary from hard science fiction with sleek metal androids to tales for young adults. All of them are beautifully written, guaranteed to appeal to just about any audience and provide a refreshing humanist perspective on the frequently dark and gloomy tropes of science fiction.

Brief (and spoiler-free!) story synopses:
“Break My Fall” by Greg Egan – running a space shuttle from Earth to Mars isn’t the safest job. A tale of a space-faring captain.
“The Dust Queen” by Aliette de Bodard – if you could numb your brain and block certain memories forever, would you? And how much would you be willing to sacrifice to recover those memories later on?
“The Fifth Dragon” by Ian Mcdonald – a tale of two women working on the moon. Love, friendship, money and grandiose plans combine in this bittersweet story.
“Kheldyu” by Karl Schroeder – yet another short story featuring Gennady Malianov, a Ukrainian contractor who specializes in cleaning up other people’s messes (even if involves shooting radioactive camels in the Gobi desert). In this story, a seemingly innocuous launch of a giant CO2-filtering tower in Siberia is only a prelude to something much bigger…
“Report Concerning the Presence of Seahorses on Mars” by Pat Cadigan – a highly detailed and fleshed-out human interest story about human settlements on Mars and how they’d develop after decades spent away from Earth. A very light read that ends up covering a subject one doesn’t see a lot in science fiction.
“Hiraeth: A Tragedy in Four Acts” by Karen Lord – no matter how hard you try, once you leave Earth, sooner or later you’ll get hiraeth (space psychosis). The only viable option is to make yourself less human and more cyborg… A rather sad story about a prototype cyborg and his journey.
“Amicae Aeternum” by Ellen Klages – when you’re about to embark on a centuries-long journey to another planet, how do you say goodbye to Earth or to your best friend? A touching young adult story.
“Trademark Bugs: A Legal History” by Adam Robers – probably the most unusual story in the entire anthology. If you don’t mind the somewhat dry style, you’ll enjoy this tale of pharmaceutical companies who make their money by infecting (and curing! eventually…) people on regular basis. The story itself is a summary of legal cases for and against this development. Dark, clever and entirely plausible in this strange new world of ours.
“Attitude” by Linda Nagata – a young adult-ish story about an immensely popular brand new sport that’s played in zero gravity on a giant orbital platform. The profits are used to expand the platform, but what happens when the organizers of the game that prides itself on ethics and integrity have to choose between profits and fairness? This story would have made a great novella – it feels like the author had to chop off a few parts due to its length.
“Invisible Planets” by Hannu Rajaniemi – inspired by Italo Calvino’s book “Invisible Cities,” this story is about a spaceship talking to a part of its programming about all the strange and different planets they’ve visited.
“Wilder Still, the Stars” by Kathleen Ann Goonan – a tale of replicant-like artifically altered humans who have incredible talents but no rights, no egos, no self-awareness. A 130-year-old woman who dreams of stars makes it her goal to help her new friends.
“The Entire Immense Superstructure: An Installation” by Ken MacLeod – in a futuristic world where one can’t get by without cybernetic lenses, where the rich live in orbital hotels and the poor survive in self-regulating nanotechnological WikiThing compounds, an artist who suffered a nervous meltdown after an expedition to Antarctica decides to go off the grid and make a statement.
“In Babelsberg” by Alastair Reynolds – a beautifully written and increasingly creepy story about a space-faring android tasked with exploring the Solar System.
“Hotshot” by Peter Watts – in a world where the existence of free will has been disproven and Earth is becoming uninhabitable, thousands of kids are conditioned to take part in a (very) long-term space diaspora project.

Score: 5 stars
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A solid third installment to the Infinity anthologies 3 juin 2014
Par Han Jie - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
With the success of two ‘infinity’ themed anthologies under his belt (Engineering Infinity and Edge of Infinity), editor Jonathan Strahan pushes his science fiction agenda forward with a third. Presenting the third transitive point, Reach for Infinity (Rebellion Publishing, 2014) regards humanity’s future in the solar system and beyond. Familiar names return and new are added, making the fourteen stories in the third anthology as creative and enjoyable as the first two.

In the intro Strahan asserts that “hard sci fi has always sat at the heart of the science fiction field”. While the statement is contentious (see Shelley, Verne and Wells, Burroughs and E.E. Smith, Gernsback, et al), there’s no doubt it occupies a major slice of the genre pie. Opening the collection is perhaps the most extreme hard sci-fi writer the world has yet seen: Greg Egan. “Break My Fall” is the story of a group travelling in a hollowed out asteroid through the solar system’s transportation network. Being slingshot (slungshot?) along, they use the gravity of particularly spaced orbiting hubs to move outwards, that is, until a rescue is needed at one of the hubs. Further pushing the realities of science, albeit in situations closer to home, Ken Macleod’s “‘The Entire Immense Superstructure’: An Installation” and Karl Schroeder’s “Kheldyu” each create plausible superstructures that work with Earth’s environment in positive, practical fashion. Peter Watts’ “Hotshot”, while certainly not what one thinks of when the term ‘hard sf’ comes into the discussion, nevertheless tells a tale rooted in modern neuroscience. Replete with Watts trademark determinism, there is a light at the end of the tunnel—a big, bright, burning one.

Emphasizing characters and their relationships (social and intra-personal), and pushing the hard science elements to the background, there are also stories in Reach for Infinity like Ian McDonald’s “The Fifth Dragon”. Written in prose leaping like a fish, it is the story of two lovers living on the moon, the physical realities of the environment forcing the two to come to terms with their future. Aliette Bodard’s “The Dust Queen”, while perhaps more exposition on Vietnamese/Chinese culture than science fiction, and not exactly cutting edge regarding science’s current understanding of memory and emotions, is the story of a young rewirer (brain editor) who is asked to perform a task that goes against her deepest feelings. A straight-forward story that puts into perspective what leaving to live on a generation starship means, “Amicae Aeternum” by Ellen Klages is a short piece about two girls who must say goodbye that really tugs at the heart strings—not only for the parting, but equally so for the context. “Attitude” by Linda Nagata is the story of a young athlete trying to win a zero-g championship but discovers her main opponent is cheating. Kathleen Ann Goonan’s “Wilder Still, the Stars” looks at a populated solar system as normal; what lies beyond depending on perspective. Less social and more personal, “Hiraeth: A Tragedy in Four Acts” by Karen Lord looks at the effects of bionic augmentation of a young man’s psyche.

And there are outliers. Defying categorization is Adam Roberts’ “Trademark Bugs: A Legal History”. Reading like a university essay—including bibliography, this paper, ahem, story about the future of designer diseases highlights a lot of ugly truths about modern civilization from legal, financial, and pharmaceutical perspectives. Wonderful satire. “In Babelsberg” by Alastair Reynolds is a tale about mechanical sentience/AI and human exploration of the solar system. Though it would seem to fit into the pseudo-science category, the twists the story takes head more into confused fantasy land. Perhaps the most accomplished story in the anthology, “Report Concerning the Presence of Seahorses on Mars” delivers not only another great title from Pat Cadigan, but also a dense, engaging tale of reality tv on Mars. (Cadigan just keeps getting better with age.) And “Invisible Planets” by Hannu Rajaniemi is a conversation between a generational starship and one of its sub-minds about the planets it passes. Though capturing Strahan’s premise perfectly, if not overtly, it possesses a denouement rendering the proceedings a larff.

Reach for Inifinity utilizes many of the genre’s trademark motifs, often in fresh fashion. Egan’s “Break My Fall” borrows heavily from the lush imagery of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey in its presentation of super-structures in space. Reynolds “In Babelsberg” and Lord’s “Hiraeth: A Tragedy in Four Acts” look at the use, perhaps even the need, to use robots or augmented humans for space exploration—ideas that have been bandied about for some time. Klages “Amicae Aeternum”, Rajaniemi’s “Invisible Planets”, and Watts “Hotshot” all look at the idea of a generation starship from three very different perspectives. Bodard’s “The Dust Queen” revives the classic notion of memory editing, while McDonald takes a very Silver Age view of lunar colonization—at least the corporate side of things, and embeds anything but a traditional relationship. And if ever there were a classic American sports tale, Nagata’s “Attitude” fits the bill, despite space being the playing field.

There is likewise a strong humanist element to Reach for Infinity—a very welcome perspective from an anthology about mankind’s relationship with the universe beyond Earth. Paralleling Arthur C. Clarke’s The City and the Stars, Alastair Reynolds’ main character in “In Babelsberg” can be quoted as: “But he was also a fellow who looked into the heavens and saw wonder. That’s not a bad legacy to live up to. You could almost say it’s something worth being born for”. (Side note: this quote is very strange given the manner in which the story plays out.) Brazenly eschewing the Singularity, a character in Egan’s “Break My Fall” states: “Humanity needs a permanent settlement away from Earth, and though some people want to postpone that until our descendants are bitstreams with much lower shipping costs, I don’t think we should pass up the chance we have right now.” McDonald, Goonan, Watts (interestingly enough), and Klages’ stories likewise possess positive hints regarding humanity’s hopes in the cosmos. None paint life beyond Earth in rainbows and sunshine, but attempt a middle road, much to their success.

As with all themed anthologies, the distance each story strays from the bull’s eye of theme can have an effect on reader resonance. Egan, Klages, McDonald, Rajaniemi, and Watts’ stories fully in line with what one would expect given the parameters for the anthology Strahan lays down in the introduction, there are others which strain to cover the gap. Schroeder, Roberts, and Macleod’s stories would perhaps be more at home in one of the first two Infinity anthologies for their Earth-bound concerns.

In the end, Reach for Infinity is a solid anthology that generally meets Strahan’s goal of capturing stories which see humanity pushing at the bounds of the solar system. A mix of female and male authors, personal stories, social stories, pure hard sci-fi, soft sci-fi, classic motifs and devices, and many other ideas, it covers a wide sweep of the genre. A couple stories may even have a chance at award nominations—Watts’ “Hotshot” and Cadigan’s “Report Concerning the Presence of Seahorses on Mars”, for example. But regardless of individual quality, there remains something for every reader of science fiction interested in humanity’s relationship with the solar system and beyond.

The following is the table of contents for Reach for Infinity:

Introduction by Jonathan Strahan
“Break My Fall” by Greg Egan
“The Dust Queen” by Aliette de Bodard
“The Fifth Dragon” by Ian McDonald
“Kheldyu” by Karl Schroeder
“Report Concerning the Presence of Seahorses on Mars” by Pat Cadigan
“Hiraeth: A Tragedy in Four Acts” by Karen Lord
“Amicae Aeternum” by Ellen Klages
“Trademark Bugs: A Legal History” by Adam Roberts
“Attitude” by Linda Nagata
“Invisible Planets” by Hannu Rajaniemi
“Wilder Still, the Stars by Kathleen Ann Goonan
“‘The Entire Immense Superstructure’: An Installation” by Ken MacLeod
“In Babelsberg” by Alastair Reynolds
“Hotshot” by Peter Watts
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
highly recommended third anthology 3 juin 2014
Par she treads softly - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
Reach for Infinity is the highly recommended third anthology of hard science fiction short stories in the Infinity series edited by Jonathan Strahan. The first two are Engineering Infinity and Edge of Infinity.

In the 14 short stories Strahan includes, he writes: "Many of the stories take place on Earth in the next hundred years, looking at points in time where people, or a person, look to make a critical difference and push forward towards something greater. Some of them take snapshots from places – deep within the future colonies of Mars or perched in the chromosphere of the sun – where humanity as a whole is pushing its boundaries and stretching its limits in order to achieve more. All of them are about, one way or another, reaching for infinity from within and without."

This collection presents a good variety of stories by accomplished authors from the hard science fiction genre. While all of the stories included are beyond a doubt well-written and great examples of the short stories you will find in hard sci-fi today, as in any anthology, some resonated more closely to my own preferences than others. All in all, this was a good collection and I enjoyed it immensely. To be honest, it was refreshing to tackle a shorter collection like this versus the usual huge and unwieldy "best of" collections that Strahan (and others) also edit.

Contents
Introduction by Jonathan Strahan
Break My Fall by Greg Egan
The Dust Queen by Aliette de Bodard
The Fifth Dragon by Ian McDonald
Kheldyu by Karl Schroeder
Report Concerning the Presence of Seahorses on Mars by Pat Cadigan
Hiraeth: A Tragedy in Four Acts by Karen Lord
Amicae Aeternum by Ellen Klages
Trademark Bugs: A Legal History by Adam Roberts
Attitude by Linda Nagata
Invisible Planets by Hannu Rajaniemi
Wilder Still, the Stars by Kathleen Ann Goonan
‘The Entire Immense Superstructure’: An Installation by Ken MacLeod
In Babelsberg by Alastair Reynolds
Hotshot by Peter Watts

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Solaris via Netgalley for review purposes.
You won’t be disappointed. 12 février 2015
Par Night Owl Reviews - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
When picking up an anthology of stories to read, there’s always a chance there’s a story in that book that the reader would not like. Some stories may strike the reader as extremely well-written, some may be awesome, and some may be thought-provoking. But there might be a story which doesn’t really pull the reader in. Or, maybe the story is written in a way that the reader doesn’t like. Then there’s the chance that the story may be too “boring” at the beginning, thus losing the reader’s interest.

And for the purposes of this review, two things must be shared: The book in the above case was the sci-fi anthology Reach for Infinity. And that reader was me, the reviewer.

I will not go so far as to call this anthology a “bad book.” Far from it. But, you see, there were stories in this book I tended to skip over. Some stories just didn’t grab me. They didn’t seem all that interesting. Or they were written in a way that I just don’t like reading stories.

But, you see, those are all personal misgivings about this book. It does not stand as the definitive analysis of such a collection of science fiction stories from some of today’s most respected writers. These are all just personal opinions, as any book review must be. I didn’t care for the book, but I didn’t hate it, either. There were some stories that I read from beginning to end. I cherished them. I loved them. I lauded them for their brilliance and creativity. They were GOOD! So, you see, while I didn’t like some stories in this anthology, there were some stories that I did like. Some that I would not hesitate to read again.

And that’s the reading experience one would expect from reading an anthology. Some stories may not fit the bill, while other stories will give a reader one of the most amazing reading ever. And for this reason, Reach for Infinity is certainly a book worth reading – if you love sci-fi. There’s something for everyone in there. Something for every reader. And when you find that gem you seek as you read this book, you’ll walk away from it seeing the world as you have never seen it before. The sci-fi writer attempts to recreate reality to push the idea that going out into the great beyond is not only possible, but rewarding in every way. And that’s what the good stories will give to you after you finish reading them. Read this book to find them. You won’t be disappointed.

Review by: DawnColclasure
Disclosure: Review copy from the publisher/author for an honest review.
Great collection 28 janvier 2015
Par Ian Mond - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
What’s It About

It’s the third anthology in Jonathan’s Strahan’s Infinity series. This one collects 14 short stories from writers like Ellen Klages, Adam Roberts and Karen Lord. It focuses on humanity taking the next big step forward – whether that be colonising Mars, coming to terms with Artificial Intelligence or the challenges of travelling in a generation ship.

Should I Read It?

Absolutely yes. While Jonathan might be a friend, I say without prejudice and bias that he is a magnificent anthologist. His strength – more than coming up with strong, clear, interesting themes – is finding a diverse range of high quality writers who bring different styles, perspectives and insights to the book.

Reach For Infinity only underlines this strength. While the theme of taking that next big step, of reaching for infinity, implies a collection of Hard SF stories about terraforming and slingshotting around asteroids – which the anthology does feature – Strahan mixes things up by including pieces that use the theme as a catalyst rather than a driver for the plot. Consequently, we get pieces that deal with the trademarking of pathogens (Adam Roberts), drug taking in sport (Linda Nagata), the fragility of memory (Aliette de Bodard) and the right to reproduce (Pat Cadigan).

And to top it all off, there are least five award worthy stories in the collection – which I’ll mention below in the Commentary.

Representative Paragraph

Because it made me laugh – this from Ellen Klages marvelous, Amicae Aeternum:

"Twenty Reasons Why Being on a Generation Ship Sucks, by Corrine Garcia-Kelly

1. I will never go away to college.

2. I will never see blue sky again, except in pictures.

3. There will never be a new kid in my class.

4. I will never meet anyone my parents don’t already know.

5. I will never have anything new that isn’t human-made. Manufactured or processed or grown in a lab.

6. Once I get my ID chip, my parents will always know exactly where I am.

7. I will never get to drive my Aunt Frieda’s convertible, even though she promised I could when I turned sixteen.

8. I will never see the ocean again.

9. I will never go to Paris.

10. I will never meet a tall, dark stranger, dangerous or not.

11. I will never move away from home.

12. I will never get to make the rules for my own life.

13. I will never ride my bike to a new neighborhood and find a store I haven’t seen before.

14. I will never ride my bike again.

15. I will never go outside again.

16. I will never take a walk to anywhere that isn’t planned and mapped and numbered.

17. I will never see another thunderstorm. Or lightning bugs. Or fireworks.

18. I will never buy an old house and fix it up.

19. I will never eat another Whopper.

20. I will never go to the state fair and win a stuffed animal."

Because it displays the breadth of imagery and imagination on display in this anthology – this from Peter Watts’ Hotshot:

"Not just a sea: an endless seething expanse, the incandescent floor of all creation. Plasma fractals iterate everywhere I look, endlessly replenished by upwells from way down in the convection zone. Glowing tapestries, bigger than worlds, morph into laughing demon faces with blazing mouths and eyes. Coronal hoops, endless arcades of plasma waver and leapfrog across that roiling surface to an unimaginably distant horizon."

Commentary

There are no duds in Reach For Infinity. While that doesn’t mean every story blew me away, there are at least five pieces I think should be considered for award season. They are:

Report Concerning The Presence of Seahorses On Mars by Pat Cadigan

Wilder Still, the Stars by Kathleen Ann Goonan

Amicae Aeternum by Ellen Klages

The Fifth Dragon by Ian McDonald

Trademark Bugs: A Legal History by Adam Roberts

Of the five, my favourite, without any hesitation or doubt, is the Klages. I’m ashamed that I haven’t read more of Ellen’s fiction because on the occasions I’ve been exposed to her writing I’ve fallen deeply and madly in love with the work. I remember having the same reaction to Goodnight Moons, Klages’ contribution to Jonathan’s Life on Mars anthology (also recommended). This story is simple in its plot and execution and yet it has depths. Two girls get together before dawn one morning because one of the girls – Corrine Garcia-Kelly – is about to embark, with her parents, on a generation ship. After this day, they will never see each other again. As the representative paragraph above indicates, Corrine is not keen on taking the journey. This puts her at odds with a number of us in the genre world who talk about Hard SF concepts like generation ships with a sense of awe and wonder. Klages, through the unvarnished perspective of Corrine, deconstructs the whole endeavor, injecting genuine human concerns and fears into the generation ship narrative. That might sound a bit cold and analytical, but the relationship between the two girls, as they spend these last few hours together, gives the story its vibrancy and heart.

If I had to pick a second favourite, it would be Adam Roberts’ Trademark Bugs: A Legal History. As with Ellen, my exposure to Adam’s work is unforgivably minimal (though Kirstyn and I did discuss his novelette Anticopernicus on the Writer and The Critic podcast. It’s very good). This story hits all my literary buttons in that it plays with structure and form while also saying something profound and disturbing. Written as a legal document, Robert’s describes a world where all diseases have been cured compelling pharmaceutical companies, in a bid to maintain and grow their market share, to infect the planet with their own pathogens which only they have the cure for. Sounds utterly evil, doesn’t it. And yet the brilliance of this story is how Roberts’ – by detailing the legal challenges against Big Pharma – nearly convinces us that maybe the planet would be better off if we allowed the pharmaceutical industry to takeover the world economy. Admirably, Robert’s never strays from the legal format. The language is cold and dispassionate and yet also entirely compelling. Magnificent stuff.

I could spend another 1,000 words discussing the other three pieces. But for the sake of brevity (though that horse has probably bolted) I’ll note that:
Pat Cadigan’s short story looks at the rights of reproduction in an environment where resources are scarce. It’s a warm and funny piece with a knock-out ending;

Ian McDonald is probably the first writer in history to marry together the Hard SF concept of deteriorating bone density in low gravity environments with a love story. McDonald proves that genuine Hard SF doesn’t have to be bereft of real people and raw emotion; and

Kathleen Ann Goonan’s story is an old idea – society struggling to come to terms with sentient Artificial People. However, the point of view of the piece – a 130 year old woman who has been and seen it all – gives the story its unique voice. Like the McDonald, it’s a very human piece, one that’s not afraid to wear its emotions on its sleeves.

I’m not sure if an anthology has ever won the PKD Award (anyone know?). But having now read two and a half of the nominated books, Reach For Infinity sets a high benchmark.
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