Portland/SF; Night Shade Books; 2004. 1st edition hardcover. From the Land of Lilliput to Jupiter Magnified In 2000, British author Adam Roberts published his first SF novel, Salt, to wide acclaim. Locus magazine described Salt as “... in the same vein as Frank Herbert’s Dune.” And in 2001, the beginning of a new millennium, Salt was named a finalist for the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award for best science fiction novel of the year. Now, five SF novels later, Adam Roberts presents us with Swiftly, his first short fiction collection. These twelve handpicked tales – eight published here for the first time – showcase Roberts’s authorial expertise at interweaving world-building with style, tone, and image. Roberts, whom award-winning author Jon Courtenay Grimwood calls “the king of high concept,” is the rare hard-sf writer who emphasizes character over construct. In “Swiftly,” the title story to this collection, mid-1840s Europe is at the height of its manufacturing prowess, due in large part to the finely honed skills of the enslaved Lilliputian-like people. But the French Army threatens the English shore, and one British citizen dares to assist the French in order to free the enslaved. In the sequel story, which closes this collection, “Eleanor” marries manufactury owner Jonathan Burton, only to observe her husband’s demise at the hands of his own Lilliputian workers. To learn if she’s been a good mother, a pregnant woman telephones her (unborn) daughter sixteen years into the future in “The Time Telephone.” (The telephone call cost more than $15,000, and several hundred digits needed to be dialed!) And when “Jupiter Magnified” fills the Earth’s skies, scientists’ opinions on the cause of the phenomenon abound, ordinary citizens contemplate the end of the world, and one man’s personal relationships become all-encompassing. From the psychological collapse of a prominent scientist (“Stationary Acceleration”) to the impact of a secret military experiment on its human host (“Blindness and Invisibility”) to an ascent from the levels of Hell (“Dantesque”), Swiftly transcends hard-sf as it conveys us to the heights and depths of the human condition. Contents: Swiftly. Dantesque. Stationary Acceleration. Tour de Lune. The Time Telephone. Blindness and Invisibility. The Siege of Fadiman. Allen Met the Devil. The Question of [?query term]. New Model Computer. Jupiter Magnified, Eleanor. Fine in fine dj.