Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Geoff Ryman (ed) When It Changed (2009)


I can't review this, more's the pity, because I'm in it. But you shouldn't let that put you off: the stories, mine aside, are all good and some are superb. Don't you consider Geoff Ryman's name, editorially, there, a gold-standard of sf-lit quality? Are you crazy? Here you go:
How much of Science Fiction is genuine science? Take away the fantastical clich├ęs of space-travel, time-travel and artificial intelligence, and how much of what remains accurately represents contemporary scientific thinking?

When It Changed is an attempt to put authors and scientists back in touch with each other, to re-introduce research ideas with literary concerns, and to re-forge the alloy that once made SF great. Composed collaboratively – through a series of visits and conversations between leading authors and practicing scientists – it offers fictionalised glimpses into the far corners of current research fields, be they in nanotechnology, invertebrate physiology, particle physics, or software archaeology. From Planck's Length (the smallest indivisible distance) to Plankton (potential saviours of the Earth's ecosystem), from virtual encounters between Witgenstein and Turing, to future civilisations torn asunder by different readings of the Standard Model, together these stories represent a literary 'experiment' in the true sense of the word, and endeavour to isolate a whole new strain of the SF bug.

WRITERS: Justina Robson, Paul Cornell, Sara Maitland, Ken MacLeod, Gwyneth Jones, Adam Marek, Geoff Ryman, Michael Arditti, Simon Ings, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Kit Reed, Chaz Brenchley, Liz Williams, Patricia Duncker and Adam Roberts.

SCIENTISTS: Dr Andrew Bleloch, Dr Rob Appleby, Dr Jennifer Rowntree, Dr Richard Blake, Dr Kai Hock, Dr Vinod Dhanak, Emmanuel Pantos, Dr John Harris, Dr Matthew Cobb, Dr Tim O’Brien, Dr Steve Williams, Dr Sarah Lindley, Dr Steve Furber, Tim O’Brien and Dr Rein Ulijn.
The book was, last time I checked, the 19,759th bestselling amazon-dot-you-'kay title (what a number! And this despite being on sale at a cut-comma's-own-throat £5.99!). We can do better than that, people! Move it up the rankings!

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