cover image New Legends

New Legends

. Tor Books, $22.95 (378pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85930-5

In his introduction, Nebula and Hugo winner Bear makes some grand declarations about SF as ``a pretty lofty pulpit from which to scream and shout and dance out semaphores of warning'' to society. Questions of cultural clout aside, however, this is a solid anthology of original SF stories. The book opens with Mary Rosenblum's ``Elegy,'' a tale of biomedical research and squid. ``A Desperate Calculus,'' published under physicist and writer Gregory Benford's Sterling Blake pseudonym (coyly described as ``a new name with the vigorous voice of a seasoned writer'') sketches a sinister relationship between a superflu and the politics of global population control. As Benford, he also has an article, ``Old Legends,'' which is both a reminiscence about scientists such as Edward Teller and a speculation about SF's influence on--and possible responsibility for--atomic research. The piece is rendered even more poignant by Carter Scholz's brilliant ``Radiance,'' which precedes it. These two pieces, along with Poul Anderson's ``Scarecrow,'' a story that hypothosizes a God out of Chaos Theory, are the gems of the collection. Veterans Ursula K. Le Quin, Robert Silverberg and Robert Sheckley contribute new tales, too, rounding out a collection that often exhibits what editor Bear calls the ``Sense of Wonder'' that fuels the best SF writing. (Aug.)