cover image Zen and the Art of Spaceship Maintenance and Other Stories

Zen and the Art of Spaceship Maintenance and Other Stories

Tobias S. Buckell. Apex, $18.95 trade paper (324p) ISBN 978-1-955765-09-1

These 15 thinky hard sci-fi tales from bestseller Buckell (Halo: The Cole Protocol) explore the confluence of man and machine and provoke contemplation on what it means to be human. In the title story, a starship’s crab-like maintenance robot is forced to save the life of a warmongering human—but the robot gets the last laugh. The touching “A Jar of Goodwill,” set in a dystopian future ruled by the corporate-minded alien Gheda, follows genetically engineered Alex Mosette and Beck, a Hive-minded drone, as they work to uncover whether a distant planet’s newly discovered alien life is intelligent. A return to the Gheda universe in “Chi’s Cargo” riffs on the classic dilemma of Tom Goodwin’s “The Cold Equations”: What should be done about a stowaway on a ship that can’t handle the extra weight or extra fuel? In “Io, Robot” an antiquated robot refuses to believe that the two mechanically enhanced beings who recently crashed on Io are actually humans who need its help. The humorous “Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex” takes readers to a depressed near-future Earth where a Manhattan cab driver accidentally kills a high-class interstellar tourist. Throughout, Buckell creates detailed worlds and delivers emotional payoff in few words. Readers are sure to be impressed. (Apr.)