cover image Murasaki


Poul Anderson. Spectra Books, $20 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-553-08229-6

A scaled-down verson of Medea, Harlan Ellison's shared-world anthology based on a scientifically created world, this effort is, unfortunately, smaller in every sense. The talent pool (six writers, as opposed to Medea 's 11) is limited to winners of the Science Fiction Writers of America's Nebula Award. Unlike the contents of Medea , these stories are linked and form a novel-like progression. The entries proceed chronologically, starting with the first humans to land on Genji and To no Chujo, the twin planets surrounding the sun Murasaki, and closing with the end of a centuries-long cycle involving both Genjians and Chujoans. Assorted conflicts among and scientific discoveries by the visiting humans constitute the middle sections. Although the contributors--Poulok Anderson, Greg Bear, Gregory Benford, David Brin, Nancy Kress and Frederik Pohl--are all accomplished stylists, one finds little distinctions among their six chapters. If the planet Medea was a playground for writers' imaginations, the star Murasaki seems a pigeonhole that writers must subordinate their imagination and style to fit. (Apr.)