Monday, October 18, 2010

Review: The Best of Kim Stanley Robinson

Review The Best of Kim Stanley Robinson
Edited by Jonathan Strahan
Night Shade Books
389pp HC

The first recommendation I could make about this collection is that if you are not all that familiar with Mr. Robinson's works then this volume is for you. Editor Strahan is noting if not an excellent technician and in light of this collection has proved that he will accept nothing but the best and it shows many times over in this Best Of.... Night Shade, Strahan and of course KS Robinson should all be pleased with the project.

Right from the first story, you know you're in for a reading treat.

"Venice Drowned" is a near future tale of life in an all but drowned Venice brought on by steadily rising sea levels many of the other low laying town have already succumbed, but the inhabitants of Venice, living off the bones of the towns already dead, refuse to give up.

And that is just the beginning! Alternate histories of the long past and the not so distant past. How about a mind warping tale of a bent reality where everyone is dreaming and awake at the same time? I loved the story "The Translator" just because it's something everyone thinks just once. Is the translator really saying what was said or embellishing or flat out lying?! What if his efforts could stop a war? Its a funny and fascinating story at the same time.

Robinson will often flip ideas on their heads. Like what would the last days be like if instead of global warming, we enter a new ice age? Some of the tales are short focus like a night spent on a mountain top in a raging blizzard. Its clear that Robinson has spent a great deal of time in areas as pristine as possible. It colors so many of his stories.

Overall I really enjoyed the book. My only observation because it really isn't a complaint is that maybe the collection could have been shorter because it really seemed to loose steam towards the last quarter. The last part of the book is a bit chaotic almost as if to fill up the last few pages. It clearly came to a point when I really didn't want to read anymore. That might be completely different for other readers. I just feel that the collection could have done without the last 78 pages or so.

That being said however, this book will not be a waste of your time. It shows Robinson in a good light, showcasing a great talent and a wry sense of humor. I would recommend checking this one out.


Stevenodd said...

I know what you mean about KSR wearing out a topic. The first two volumes of the Mars Trilogy are facinating. Blue Mars runs out of gas pretty quickly with endless decriptions of the color of rocks (which are all red) and boring explainations of the charactors emotional states. All that being said, it's still an intellegent and believable account of our possible future. I look forward to reading "The Best of."

Beam Me Up said...

Thanks for the comment Stevenodd
Overall I think you will find Best of a positive experience.