Monday, August 18, 2008

Book Review: Seeds of Change by John Joseph Adams

Every Monday, I'll be doing spoiler-free, bite-sized book reviews.

It's only after going through Seeds of Change that I realized this is the first purely science fiction-themed anthology that I've read and as far as it goes, despite the political or hard SF nature of the book, it's actually quite accessible. One of the things that stood out for me is the language and whether you're talking about computerized governments or energy transference, readers will have no problems following what the authors want to convey. Another common element is that all the stories are grounded on character, with the narrative revolving around a sympathetic protagonist. I did appreciate all of the stories, although discerning which are my favorites is difficult mainly because the quality of the writing is pretty much consistent and all of the stories are competently written (but arguably doesn't go beyond that).

"Resistance" by Tobias S. Buckell stands out the most for me. Initially, my first reaction is that this is another computer-dominates-world story yet Buckell avoids the pitfalls of cliche. The story has two protagonists yet Buckell's choice of picking the point of view of the more vulnerable one is deliberate and fits the overall thesis of the piece which ends with the right amount of ambiguity. As I said before, all of the stories are firmly grounded in character but perhaps the piece that lives and dies with characterization is "Arties Aren't Stupid" by Jeremiah Tolbert. The concept isn't anything too groundbreaking although Tolbert's skill in presenting us a setting and complex characters is what carries the narrative and wrenches your heart as we approach the end. "Drinking Problem" by K. D. Wentworth has a more comedic and light-hearted approach towards the future which gives Seeds of Change a different tone while still being faithful to the subject matter. Overall, Seeds of Change isn't a meaty anthology (as far as length goes) but it more than makes up for it with the consistency of its nine stories. (Incidentally, two out of my three favorite stories can be read for free at the Seeds of Change site.) I wouldn't say this is one of the best sci-fi anthologies of the year, but the stories are easy to read and enjoyable.

Rating: 3/5.

Rating System:

1 - There are better ways to spend your time.
2 - Ho hum books, usually typical of its genre. Probably only recommendable to die-hard fans.
3 - A cut above the rest, usually with one or more elements that sets it apart from the norm.
4 - Highly recommended and is easily a pioneer of the genre.
5 - A classic or it will be.

No comments: