In 1982, Donald Fagen had a hit song entitled “I.G.Y.” which referred to the International Geophysical Year, a collaborative science project launched in the ’50s. While reading this anthology I suddenly found myself humming the song and grinning! With lyrics like “Get your ticket to that wheel in space” and “a just machine to make big decisions”, the song predicts, “What a beautiful world this will be, What a glorious time to be free”. Well if you liked that song, you’ll love these stories! Not to drop any spoilers, but sometimes I felt that the authors here must have listened to IGY too!
The collection is filled with literary gems that I am sure I will be wanting to re-read many years from now. Sure, there are a couple of duds which in my opinion don’t deserve to be in this collection, but you be the judge. It’s more fun that way. And quite frankly, I would have titled this collection “the human chronicles”, because these stories mostly try to predict how humans behave when a new form of “life” appears on the planet. How will humans react to robots? What of humanity falls apart, and what endures?
The themes are eternal – the lust for power, the search for meaning, the instinct for parenting, the pain of betrayal. These themes can be found in other genres, and so what sets these stories apart is that they are located in a future that, as David Simpson says in the foreword, is almost upon us. How does mankind adapt? Are the reactions of the characters in these stories true to form? For the most part, I think the authors nailed it. And it’ll surely be fun to look back in a few years to see whether or not they got it right.