cover image New Under the Sun

New Under the Sun

Nancy Kress and Therese Pieczynski. Arc Manor/Phoenix Pick (, $12.99 trade paper (188p) ISBN 978-1-61242-123-0

The latest in editor Mike Resnick’s Stellar Guild series, which pairs famous authors with lesser-known protégés, is a mixed bag, with Kress’s solid work undercut by Pieczynski’s shorter and less satisfying contribution. Kress’s “Annabel Lee” is a generally excellent novella depicting a near future devolving as religious fundamentalism and science-based naysaying overwhelm rational thought. Only the title character, infected with a long-dormant alien parasite, has the ability to provide any hope for the world. It’s Kress at her best in terms of characters and social commentary, and if the denouement reuses a few of her classic tropes, it’s still entertaining. Pieczynski’s “Strange Attraction” is perfectly adequate, but this tale of a demon in 1980s Nicaragua is hardly compatible with Kress’s universe in which such things are firmly in doubt. A few shoehorned sentences attempt to tie them together, but the stories read better if they’re treated as separate entities. Pieczynski certainly isn’t untalented, and her story has some nice character-driven moments, but Kress is clearly the star of the show. (Nov.)