First, I think I need to write an apology. Scrap notes for this review were initially published on December 15, 2014. That was in error.
Now, the review.
I received a copy of Futures Near and Far, by Dave Smeds, as a participant in Library Thing’s Early Book Review project. As with all Early Book Review’s, I will try and remain spoiler free. Futures Near and Far is a compilation of short stories.
These stories are amazing. Each one (there are 12) has a short introduction that explains the concepts behind the story and even some of the science. These stories do not weave together to form a cohesive narrative, but none-the-less, they are outstanding representations of what science fiction is and should be.
These stories don’t contain the high octane action that passes for popular in many books, but they do present insightful, slow burning ideas. Smeds uses science only as a means to explore the human condition, a trait his work shares with the best of science fiction.
Futures Near and Far calls back to the scifi I read as a child, books my father read to me as bedtime stories. Each word feels as if it matters, nothing feels entangled by extravagance.
Smeds worlds seem familiar, yet alien enough to make the reader uncomfortable. He offers enough details to fill in the gaps of the unfamiliar while retaining a tether to the world we know.
The fact this is a collection of short stories, sharing a theme, makes it easier to digest. The reader isn’t hurled from one far flung concept to another as the the writer explores different genres. The impact of this cannot be overstated. It is a subtle tool, which earns the readers acceptance, without outright asking for it. Instead of being subjected to an authors whims, the reader knows the universe and the expectations. There are no dragons or zombies hiding around the next corner. This is science fiction. Classic science fiction, without the modern trappings.
Futures Near and Far was published on November 25, 2014.