cover image Starlight 1

Starlight 1

Patrick Nielsen Hayden. Tor Books, $13.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86215-2

This auspicious debut for a new SF anthology series edited by four-time Hugo Award finalist Hayden gathers some of the genre's finest talents in a themeless collection of never-before-published stories. Maureen F. McHugh's shocking and frighteningly believable story of a futuristic peace corps project is set on the long-lost Earth colony that will also form the background for her forthcoming novel, Mission Child. Robert Reed's brief tale of an alien invasion is crammed with enough savagery and surprise to mesmerize and satisfy the most jaded Independence Day fan, while Michael Swanwick offers a modern-day modest proposal for today's economic woes: Why not hire the dead? Hayden fulfills his introductory promise of presenting fiction that expands the limits of the genre: Susan Palwick's tale of personal redemption in a small Southern town is laconic, reflective and reassuring with just the tiniest tinge of the fantastic to justify inclusion; Martha Soukup's new version of a classic fairy tale delivers enchantment to any office's sleepy staff; and Jane Yolen reveals the extraterrestrial inspiration for one of Emily Dickinson's most famous poems. Unlike many other anthologies that try to impress by their bulk, this has only 12 stories. But each one is stellar, and together they show the fullest range of writing in the field. (Oct.)