The Starry Rift: Tales of New Tomorrows is an original sci-fi anthology edited by Jonathan Strahan and winner of the Aurealis Award, which I had to look up and discovered it’s an annual award given for excellence in speculative fiction (covering sci-fi, fantasy and horror). As the blurb says, Strahan asked the contributors to “look past the horizon of the present day”.
Why did I want to read it?
Well, I didn’t actually know that I wanted to read it as such, but last year I was lucky enough to get tickets to see Neil Gaiman’s performance/reading of The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains, and one of the other stories he read was the hugely entertaining Orange, which I wanted to hunt down and experience myself, and this is the collection it was written for (for which it was written?), (whatever). Of course it’s now been included in his new collection Trigger Warnings but I’m glad I found it here first because this is a really cool anthology.
What did I think of it?
Short story collections are always strange because they can’t help but be a bit uneven, whether they’re by a single author or a number of different writers; we have sixteen of them here. But I thought this was a really strong bunch of stories; a couple of them were definitely not to my taste in terms of theme but none of them were poor or badly written (IMHO at least) and I enjoyed dipping into this over several days. There is a wide range of futuristic subject matter covered, some set classically in space and others set here in contemporary (or near contemporary) Earth. Stand-outs for me (in addition to the aforementioned Orange, obvs) were:
- Cheats by Ann Halam – immersive gaming, using code to travel between worlds
- The Dismantled Invention of Fate by Jeffery Ford – love and fate in a tale inspired by the work of Michael Morrcock
- Sundiver Day by Kathleen Ann Goonan- loss and grief and possibilities, with added cloning
- The Star Surgeon’s Apprentice by Alistair Reynolds – cyborg space pirates!
- Infestation by Garth Nix – alien space vampires and their hunters!
A really enjoyable collection, very much worth your time.