cover image Free Space

Free Space

Edward E. Kramer. Tor Books, $24.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85957-2

A bit of political whimsy from William F. Buckley Jr. ushers in this uneven collection of original, libertarian SF. In his introduction, Linaweaver postulates that ""spacers"" of the future may be ""healthier and happier and smarter"" than planet-bound ""groundhogs."" In the 17 loosely linked stories and three poems presented here, spacers, groundhogs and ""jeffies"" from the space habitat of Nuovo Monticello coexist uneasily with each other and a handful of intriguing aliens. To explore the ramifications of political and economic freedom translated into galaxies far, far away, Linaweaver first contacted winners of the Libertarian Futurist Society's Prometheus Award. He then approached ""a wide variety"" of writers, enlivening this anthology with a wide sweep of styles. Most effective are stories that temper theorizing with humor, such as J. Neil Schulman's ""Day of Atonement,"" a sly skewering of near-future earthbound theocracy, and L. Neil Smith's ""A Matter of Certainty,"" a skillful sendup of the military-industrial mentality. By contrast, poems by Wendy McElroy (the only female author represented), Robert Anton Wilson and even SF great Ray Bradbury seem self-consciously preachy. Other big-name contributors include James P. Hogan, Gregory Benford and Poul Anderson; together with the other authors, they create worlds enough for plenty of fruitful speculation. (July)