cover image Life Beyond Us

Life Beyond Us

Edited by Julie Nováková, Lucas K. Law, and Susan Forest. Laksa, $35 (582p) ISBN 978-1-988140-47-6

The European Astrobiology Institute follows up its 2020 Strangest of All anthology with a gratifyingly diverse selection of 27 stories of alien life, each paired with an essay that evaluates, contextualizes, or responds to the scientific ideas presented in the fiction. Mary Robinette Kowal’s “Still as Bright,” a welcome episode set in her Lady Astronaut universe, is followed up by José A. Caballero’s “—And the Moon Be Still As Bright,” a brief primer on “21st century exoplanetology.” Standout tales include the tender “Cloudskimmer” by Geoffrey A. Landis; the poetic “Lumenfabulator” by Liu Yang, trans. from the Chinese by Ladon Gao; the experimental “The Last Cathedral of Earth, in Flight” by Tobias S. Buckell; the intriguing “Forever the Forest” by Simone Heller, and the horror thriller “Devil in the Deep” by Lucie Lukačovičová. The essays are consistently strong and fascinating, making this clever conceit work well. Though any reader will be able to find something to enjoy here, this will be a particular treat for hard SF fans. (Apr.)