After reading Rollback and not caring for it all that much (see my review
), I decided to give Mr. Sawyer one more chance by reading this collection of short stories. Unfortunately, these short stories reinforced my original view of his works as liberalism masked as sci-fi.
There are some good stories in here: "Mikeys" was quite well-done; "Kata Bindu" was an interesting take on the typical moon colony story; and "Flashes" was a very good thought experiment about the Earth suddenly receiving "pages" of the "Encyclopedia Galactica".
However, too many of his stories take a post-religious view of the future, either outright denying the existence of the soul in favor of some nebulous definition of humanity ("Shed Skin") or mocking (and even villainizing) those who hold religious beliefs ("O Come All Ye Faithful").
There's also the ridiculous notion (as I mentioned in my previous review) of current fads and dubious theories being presented as real and enduring ("Emails from the Future"). There's even a "post-government utopia" story ("The Right's Tough") that is such utter nonsense that it is laughable that someone would conceive of the Earth functioning that way for more than a week.
Another problem I have with his stories are the hit-or-miss quality of them. There are some, as I said before, that are good, but others are like lesser-quality "Twilight Zone" episodes ("Ineluctable", "Driving a Bargain", ) or the insipidly bad "The Good Doctor" (yes, I get what he was doing there - it just failed miserably). Even the first and last stories ("Identity Theft" and "Biding Time"), which are detective stories that take place in the Martian colony of New Klondike, are intriguing, but leave something to be desired. While I was surprised by the perpetrator (and their motive) in one story, the other one I saw coming a long way before the big reveal.
I know I shouldn't expect every short story in any anthology to be a great story. However, I would hope that more than half of the stories would be less blatantly "trans-human and post-religion is the future" frustrating and would be more entertaining.
This is the last time that I take a book off the library shelf just because I think I recognize the author's name.