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By Alastair Reynolds
Alastair Reynolds was born in Barry, South Wales in 1966. He has lived in Cornwall, Scotland, and - since 1991 - the Netherlands, where he spent 12 years working as a scientist for the European Space Agency. He became a full-time writer in 2004, and recently married his long-time partner, Josette. Reynolds has been publishing short fiction since his first sale to Interzone in 1990. Since 2000 he has published eight novels: the ‘Inhibitor’ trilogy, British Science Fiction Association award winner Chasm City, Century Rain, Pushing Ice, and The Prefect. His most recent novel is House of Suns. His short fiction has been collected in Zima Blue and Other Stories and Galactic North. In his spare time he rides horses.
By the time I reach the road to Zvezdniy Gorodok acute hypothermia is beginning to set in. I recognise the symptoms from my training: stage one moving into two, as my body redirects blood away from skin to conserve heat – shivering and a general loss of coordination the result. Later I can expect a deterioration of vasomotor tone as the muscles now contracting my peripheral blood vessels become exhausted. As blood surges back to my chilled extremities, I’ll start to feel hot rather than cold. Slipping ever further into disorientation, it will take an effort of will not to succumb to that familiar and distressing syndrome, paradoxical undressing. The few layers of clothes I’m wearing– the pyjamas, the thin coat I stole from Doctor Kizim - will start feeling too warm. If I don’t get warm soon they’ll find me naked and dead in the snow.
How long have I been out? An hour, two hours? There’s no way to tell. It’s like being back on the Tereshkova, when we slept so little that a day could feel like a week. All I know is that it’s still night. They’ll find me when the sun is up, but until then there’s still time to locate Nesha Petrova.
I touch the metal prize in my pocket, reassuring myself that it’s still there.
As if invoked by the act of touching the prize, a monstrous machine comes roaring towards me out of the night. It’s yellow, with an angled shovel on the front. I stumble into the path of its headlights and raise a wary hand. The snowplough sounds its horn. I jerk back, out of the way of the blade and the flurry of dirty snow it flings to one side.
I think for a moment it’s going to surge on past, but it doesn’t. The machine slows and stops. Maybe he thinks he’s hit me. It’s good - a robot snowplough wouldn’t stop, so there must be someone operating this one. I hobble around to the cab, where the driver’s glaring at me through an unopened window. He’s got a moustache, a woollen hat jammed down over his hair and ears, the red nose of a serious drinker.
Above the snorting, impatient diesel I call: ‘I could use a ride to town.’
“Troika” by Alastair Reynolds. © 2008 Alastair Reynolds. Published by kind permission of the author.
In science fiction, nothing says sensawunda like a Big Dumb Object—a colossal, extremely powerful machine of unknown purpose and origin. It’s that feeling that editor Jonathan Strahan was after when he asked six of today’s finest authors to write for Godlike Machines. And they succeed brilliantly!
• Alastair Reynolds unlocks the secrets inside an alien spaceship—secrets that could change the world…if only a repressive regime would believe its last surviving explorer.
• Stephen Baxter sends wormhole builders to Titan, but what they discover there may fuel their wildest dreams...or destroy them.
• Cory Doctorow turns the idea of godlike machines on its head with replicating machines that turn cities back into wilderness.
• Sean Williams leads a spacer agent through a subterranean Structure...and into space-time itself.
• Robert Reed—in a story about the ancient, Jupiter-sized Great Ship—looks at a strange passenger who has been onboard far longer than seems possible.
• Greg Egan gives us an alien technology only he could imagine—a wandering world that’s inexplicably warm enough to support life.
Made from the pure stuff of SF, these unique, all-new adventures are nothing less than awesome!
Hardcover Book : pages
Publisher: Bookspan ( September 10, 2010 )
Item #: 12-175859
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 inches
Product Weight: 17.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
This is truly a collection of okay, boring, and simply pointless stories all collected and advertised as that of being "GREAT". But be not fooled! Don't buy this book and expect the big named authors or all of the hype to send you flying through the pages. Buy with the expectation of curiosity and nothing more because only about two of the stories are actually worth reading!
Godlike Machines is an anthology edited by Johnathan Strahan that explores the concept of "big dumb objects," or "God-like Machines." Tthough these machines are enigmatic and potentially deadly, they need not be inimical or particularly menacing. All of these authors are masterful and masterfully write compelling stories that should inspire tomorrow's generation of writers imagine original stories of their own. Certainly well worth the price and well worth reading, I would not be surprised to see them as springboards for discussion in workshops for new writers. Fans of Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kizhe,will get a kick out of Troika. Return to Titan is gritty. For some reason, Emory reminds me of Beowolf Schaeffer, but no story with Bey would have ended this way. Cory Doctorow takes the reader on a richly imagined romp. Alone is gripping and sad and awesome. The Structure is a unique approach to questions of time and space. In Hotrock, explorers can leave their bodies at home. The Godlike Machines here challenged me to stretch my own ossified concepts and grow. Well done.
Reviewer: mike r
I was hoping for the Neutronium Alchemist, I got a boring set of stories (admittedly from some of my favorite authors) about boring scenarios, with uninspired, uninspiring characters. If you must, go to the library.
I was really impressed with this collection. All the stories were top notch with the exception of one (which I'll get to in a moment). I agree 100% with the 1st reviewer: Cory Doctorow's story is simply AMAZING. It's worth buying the book just for that one alone. I liked the Great Ship story as well, but Doctorow took the spotlight IMHO. However, just like that greatest hits album that has the one crappy song you've never heard before, "A Glimpse of the Marvellous Structure" sticks out like a sore thumb. I found it predictable, absolutely tedious, and anticlimactic. The characters were utterly flat, and the attempted suspense was just dull. When you buy this (and buy it you MUST), skip this story and save yourself some disappointment.
I bought this book because of the familiar names from short story science fiction. The editor asked them to write a story about any kind of godlike machine, perhaps something enormous or all-powerful. The quality of the stories is excellent throughout, I kept turning pages on this one until I was done. Cory Doctorow stands out with a small story crying out for a full novel. But the most personally appealing to me was Robert Reed's work. I have read a number of his "Great Ship" stories, set on an unknown alien worldship that humans have taken to settle. This is by far my favorite of his work thus far, and he's a prolific writer. Worth the purchase just for his story alone, and I loved most of them. Get it and be thrilled with science fiction all over again!