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Monday, October 26, 2015

Review: Carbide Tipped Pens

I'll admit that when it comes to science fiction, I like the really hard stuff. Alastair Reynolds, David Brin, Arthur C. Clarke, etc. So when I saw that Carbide Tipped Pens billed itself as an anthology of hard science fiction, I checked it out of the library.

Now, what hard science fiction writers don't usually excel at are characters. But in a short story, you're just not going to miss it. The best story in the book, however, is Eric Choi's "She Just Looks That Way", which is an excellent psychology-based story.

The rest of the stories are milder, maybe with some traditional science fiction problem-solving stories. There are a surprising number of pessimistic stories, which is unusual for the genre.

There are several stinkers all tucked in right at the end of the book. "The Yoke of Inauspicious Stars" annoyed the heck out of me: if I wanted to read Romeo and Juliet, I'll read the real thing, not a science-fiction precis/pastiche thing. If you do get a copy of this book, stop reading at the story and pretend that the book ended there and you'll mostly be happy with it.

4 bad stories out of 17 is a pretty good track record for any short story collection, so I'll recommend this, especially if you're after light reading or frequently get interrupted while reading. The elephant in the room, however, is that Tor has chosen to price this collection at an insane price ($13.49 paperback, $14.99 kindle, and $21 hard cover). That made me glad I checked it out of the library. I would have felt cheated at full price.

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