cover image Galactic Empires

Galactic Empires

Edited by Neil Clarke. Night Shade, $17.99 trade paper (636p) ISBN 978-1-59780-884-2

This hefty anthology of imperial SF covers great space battles, small dramas within an empire, hopeless bureaucracy, and even living space stations, zooming in and out to capture every nuance as protagonists return a lost princess of the empire (Melinda M. Snodgrass’s “The Wayfarer’s Advice”) or rebel against subjugating aliens (Tobias S. Buckell’s “A Cold Heart”). Some stories truly span empires. Brandon Sanderson’s “Firstborn” tells the story of a young man whose only military talent seems to be an uncanny ability to fail spectacularly, and how he uses this weakness to defeat the greatest military strategist the galaxy has ever known. Robert Charles Wilson’s “Utriusque Cosmi” spans eons as a strange force sweeps over the entire universe. Others have a more intimate scope. Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s “The Impossibles” deals with a single case in an interspecies court and what loss or victory might mean to an overworked lawyer. In Ruth Nestvold’s “Looking Through Lace,” a linguist immerses herself in trying to understand a mysterious culture. The diverse array of stories ensures that there’s plenty of interest for any fan of large-scale SF. (Jan.)