THE WRECK OF THE GODSPEED AND OTHER STORIES by James Patrick Kelly, cover by Bob Eggleton. Urbana, Il; Golden Gryphon Press; 2008. 1st edition hardcover.
For thirty years James Patrick Kelly has been writing award-nominated and -winning short fiction, and these thirteen stories of his recent work are of the high quality and cutting style that is synonymous with him. In Nebula-winner “Burn” a supposedly idyllic world comes to grip with environment responsibility and environmental terrorists, coupled with the personal decisions that are never clear or easy. In “Men Are Trouble,” nominated for the Nebula award, “devils” have eliminated men from Earth and “seed” woman for procreation; the story revolves around the search for a missing person and the discovery of an underground that is seeking to reestablish the “way things were.” In the Hugo nominated “The Best Christmas Ever” mechanicals must keep the last man on Earth happy, and do so by throwing him the best, and possibly last, Christmas ever. In the Hugo-nominated, morality tale “Bernardo’s House” we meet a high-tech house and artificial woman, controlled by an AI, pining away awaiting the return of Bernardo—that is, until someone does visit. A HAL-like interstellar ship and a colorful group of pilgrims seek new worlds to explore in “The Wreck of the Godspeed,” but is the ship’s AI acting a bit strange? Is the AI going insane, or is something unique happening? The man who killed the last mammoth; will he be remembered as the hero, with “Luck”? To what extent will TV programs of the future go to get ratings? Ask the sentient “The Leila Torn Show.” In “The Dark Side of Town” the problems and temptations of a happy virtual reality versus a dismal real life are examined. What would like be like if one had to pass a test before one could become a “Mother”? A colony ship’s captain is behaving weirdly on “Dividing the Sustain,” and the ship needs a fully functional captain. Where is he, and how will he make his appearance? The Garden of Eden story is retold from the serpent’s view, in “Serpent.” What hath God wrought? Where is “The Edge of Nowhere” and what is past nowhere? “The Ice is Singing” in harmony? Does it sing to you? This collection of Kelly’s recent work provides the reader with new insights into the human psyche, as well as some of the best speculative SF fiction available.
Fine in fine dj.