cover image Compostela: Tesseracts Twenty

Compostela: Tesseracts Twenty

Edited by Spider Robinson and James Alan Gardner. Hades (Firefly, U.S. dist.), $12.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-77053-148-2

This 20th iteration of the venerable Tesseracts series is a slightly mixed bag. The editors’ search for stories on “how humanity could be impacted... by a dependence on all things technological” yields a fair amount of chaff amongst the wheat, especially in the first half of the book. The clunkers include Robert J. Sawyer’s “The Shoulders of Giants,” a reprinted tale of space pioneers that’s hampered by a lack of momentum and an unsurprising conclusion. But these few lesser efforts only underscore how good the highlights truly are. Robinson (Very Hard Choices) and Gardener (The League of Peoples) write that they were shocked by “just how dark some of our dreams of the future are, these days,” but happily, not every story is a grim dystopia where humankind is “looking down the barrel of a gun held by robots, climate collapse, and late-stage capitalism.” Rati Mehrotra’s superb “The Shadowed Forest” echoes Philip K. Dick in its evocation of a society devoid of privacy. Matthew Hughes’s “Nature Tale” is an amusing detour into futuristic revenge and class warfare. Derryl Murphy’s affecting “In Memory Of” is a delicate and incisive dissection of the ravages of dementia and the lengths people will go to keep their loved ones alive, if only in memory. These tales, plus strong works by Eric Choi, Brent Nichols, and others, will amply award readers looking for innovative SF. (Mar.)