Review: The Far Reaches
It seems like my social media feeds have been getting slammed lately by ads for this new anthology of science fiction stories put together by Amazon. Almost seemed to double in frequency after I got them, oddly enough. Sometimes it just boggles my mind how much money must flow through the coffers of social media ads, and I can’t help but wonder how much of it goes to absolute waste. In this case, it got me to pick them up, but everything since then? Yeah.
You’ll notice that our image doesn’t match the name of the collection. Yup. Thank you e-book collections. So, instead I just included the cover for the best story in the group. Hint hint. Wink wink. Nudge nudge.
THE FAR REACHES looks to be a one-off collection put together by someone at Amazon from a group of relatively well-known (at least to this reviewer) of science fiction authors. At the time of this writing, it looks like if you’re an Amazon Prime member, then you can read them all for free. Now hold up there, turbo! You might want to calm your asteroids and stick around to see what we thought about each of these offerings before you go and grab them your own selves.
Due to the fact that there are only six stories in the anthology, I decided to write up a short blurb/review for each story and give it a rating. As with most offerings of this type, there was a fairly large range of goodness to be found here.
How it Unfolds by James SA Corey
Humanity uses “heavy light” to duplicate and then teleport starships and their crew to numerous potential celestial destinations (at the speed of light) in hopes that they will find habitable space. One of the crew members on the initial ship brings a previously used engagement ring with him, in hopes that his ex-wife, who is also a member of the crew, will re-marry him in one of the veritable thousands of instances of them that are sent out among the stars. Fun science. Great format. Romantic. Such good reading.
Void by Veronica Roth
Ace works on a star freighter that takes trips between the Sol and Centauri systems and has to deal with clogged toilets, moody co-workers, and – oddly enough – dead bodies. When a nice old man celebrates the unclogging of his toilet with her and is soon afterward killed, Ace decides that she needs to figure out who offed him. Didn’t really understand the motivation of the MC to search out the murderer, given the fact that someone else had already been assigned and they were two days from finishing their trip to Earth. A largely Speculatively Lite story that takes a hard left turn near the end and had to stretch for an emotional ending that actually does need the science. Pretty mediocre all the way through, but the ending did catch me pretty good, even if it felt like it was out of left field.
— Mediocre Top
Falling Bodies by Rebecca Roanhorse
A young man is court ordered to attend a college-level school on a far away planet instead of being incarcerated because he has an important alien senator for a father. He’s adopted. He lasts about a week, waltzing a dance of mundanity. Despite being on probation, he meets a girl that encourages him to break the rules, and ultimately she gets him into trouble. Again. For the most part, I enjoyed reading this one, but the more I thought about it afterward, the less I liked it. Especially because of how it ended. Completely unjustified and unexpected. Definitely Speculatively Lite.
The Long Game by Ann Leckie
A slug-like alien has an existential crisis and talks his way through it with his human liaison, who is trying to keep humanity from coming in and taking over the alien’s planet. Didn’t much care for the way that this one was written, or for the content, which was largely boring. On the edge of being Speculatively Lite, if just for the fact that this alien has a very short life cycle. Not something I’d ever care to read again.
— Didn’t Like
Just Out of Jupiter’s Reach by Nnedi Okorafor
Seven dark-skinned diverse individuals are selected for a ten-year science experiment that will include them each traveling in their own organic spaceship. If they survive, they’ll be paid lots of money. After five years, they meet just above the surface of Jupiter for a week-long reprieve from being by themselves. If they try to communicate during any other part of the trip, they forfeit all their money. Why? Who knows? This felt very much like the other stories I’ve read from this author. Very random and kind of all over the place without any real point as to what happens or where it ends.
— Didn’t Like
Slow Time Between the Stars by John Scalzi
A self-aware, very-long-range, unpopulated starship is tested and then launched into the void, in hopes that it can find a habitable planet and start human life on it. Very dense. Very idea heavy. Also, mostly dry and pretty boring. Pretty much science fiction to a T.
In this case, it’s nice that readers can get each of these stories on their own. Use my suggestions above to strategically select which of these you read as you may. Your mileage will likely vary, as it did for every single one of the characters in these stories.
- Recommended Age: 14+
- Language: A flock of f-words
- Violence: Some murder, some death. Nothing gory or detailed.
- Sex: Several general references to sexual activity
One of the stories includes a scene of suicide