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Edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer, The Hard SF Renaissance (2002) is a thematic sequel to their 1994 anthology The Ascent of Wonder. The first anthology argued that "[t]here has been a persistent viewpoint that hard [science fiction] is somehow the core and the center of the SF field." The Hard SF Renaissance asserts that hard SF has truly become the heart of the genre and supports its assertion by assembling nearly a thousand pages of short stories, novelettes, and novellas originally published between the late 1980s and early 2000s. A different theory says hard SF stories are engineering puzzles disguised as fiction; The Hard SF Renaissance repudiates this theory in regard to modern hard SF. Most of the selections have strong prose and rounded characters, several are classics, and gadget-driven clunkers are mercifully few.
Contributors to The Hard SF Renaissance range from SF gods like Poul Anderson, Arthur C. Clarke, and Frederik Pohl; to promising newcomers like Alastair Reynolds, Karl Schroeder, and Peter Watts; and to acclaimed SF writers not usually associated with hard SF, like James Patrick Kelley, Kim Stanley Robinson, Bruce Sterling, and Michael Swanwick.
You may have noticed the lack of women in that list. It reflects the book: the 30-odd contributors (some with two stories) include only three women (Nancy Kress, Joan Slonczewski, and Sarah Zettel, with one story each). Some eyebrow-elevating omissions are Eleanor Arnason, Catherine Asaro, Nicola Griffith, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Connie Willis, all of whom have written hard SF stories in the period covered by The Hard SF Renaissance. They've certainly written SF harder than the book's implicit definition (the book reprints Kim Stanley Robinson's fine story "Sexual Dimorphism," in which fossil DNA serves as a metaphor for the protagonist's failing relationship; a few cosmetic changes and this SF story would be mainstream). The absence of several crucial authors makes The Hard SF Renaissance a less-than-definitive anthology of late-20th-century hard SF. --Cynthia Ward --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Paul McAuley's tale of runaway technology ("Gene Wars") to Gregory Benford's story of evolution and murder ("Immersion"), the 41 stories in this annotated anthology provide a strong argument for the revival of hard sf as a major force in the genre in the 1990s. Showcasing short fiction by veteran sf authors like Kim Stanley Robinson, Joe Haldeman, Bruce Sterling, Nancy Kress, Ben Bova, and Arthur C. Clarke, the collection charts the emergence of trends in the genre. Primary among them are the movement away from a conservative, pro-military route and toward a more liberal-minded science, as well as the rising prominence of British and Australian authors. Each story is prefaced by brief commentaries that continue the arguments posited in the general introduction. For libraries wanting a definitive collection of hard sf written since 1990, this is a priority purchase. Highly recommended.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.