Jonathan Strahan, editor: “Reach for Infinity” (c) 2014.
“Reach for Infinity” is one of “The Infinity Project” Anthologies, all edited by Jonathan Strahan. The SF stories are about people taking on scientific & technological challenges on Earth & beyond. The stories are original, written specifically for the project. Some of the stories have been reprinted in other SF anthologies.
The series began with the anthology “Engineering Infinity” (2012) and continues to evolve with each anthology having a basic guiding scientific concept, and different authors writing stories “as they see it.” The result is a diversity of SF stories written by award-winning master storytellers.
“Reach for Infinity” has stories by 14 writers. Each writer brings different ideas and concepts to the questions and challenges about going beyond Earth. Some stories are set on Earth, including environment and biological challenges; other stories are about traveling and living within the Solar System. And others are about going deeper into space. Some stories are set in the near future, others in the far future.
“Reach for Infinity” writers:
Greg Egan, Aliette de Bodard, Ian McDonald, Karl Schroeder, Pat Cadigan, Karen Lord, Ellen Klages, Adam Roberts, Linda Nagata, Hannu Rajaniemi, Kathleen Ann Goonan. Ken MacLeod, Alastair Reynolds, and Peter Watts.
*** Summaries of a few selected stories:
Pat Cadigan: “Report Concerning the Presence of Seahorses on Mars”
A story about life on Mars. Narrated by Rose of Finixity, Mars. Earth has strict statutes limiting population growth on Mars. Women on Mars are not allowed to have children. Then Governor Zeke of Finixity announces that he has been pregnant, and has just given birth to a baby girl, Juno Amara. A legal loophole. Other pregnant men on Mars, and women as well come forward. There are even a few people who already have children born on Mars…
Karl Schroeder: “Kheldyu”
Set in Siberia. Gennady, a hazardous materials expert, is hired by Achille Marceau to check out the solar updraft plants he had built some years ago and then closed.
The solar updraft plants were designed to simultaneously generate electricity and remove CO2 from the air. A gigaton of carbon out of the air every year. Then the economy changed and Achille had to mothball the plants.
Nadine Marceau is Achille’s sister, and UN arms inspector. She and Gennady have worked together on IAEA nuclear cleanup projects in the past. She is very suspicious of her brother’s real motives in re-opening the solar plants.
Karen Lord: “Hiraeth: A Tragedy in Four Acts”
Janik was born on the Moon. As a child, his eyes were permanently damaged when he fell. He has visual implants or cyborg eyes. He acquires other augmentations. And he becomes a Cyborg.
Like his parents and other settlers on the Moon and Mars, Janik suffers from “hiraeth”, a form of delusion, insanity, madness. He agrees to an experimental brain implant…
Kathleen Ann Goonan: “Wilder Still, The Stars”
On Earth, 2080: An astronomer and neuroscientist, May is 130 years old. Planets and stars have fascinated her from her childhood days. She has been to Mars and the Moon.
Her life takes another direction when she takes in homeless “APs” into her home. An “AP” is an Artificial Person, a technological wonder engineered from blank humanoid templates infused with DNA. The APs can work at many different jobs. Many are very smart. Savants. And many are simply cast off, made homeless by their owners when they are no longer useful or replaced by newer models.
As a neuroscientist May becomes deeply interested in their creativity, their intellectual abilities. But the APs are also feared and hated by many people. They are considered an affront to human dignity. And demonstrations mount against APs.
Peter Watts: “Hotshot”
In the far future: Sunday Ahzmundin is a 16-year old girl. A human being and a “Sporan” — designed, educated and trained to be able to travel into deep space.
The skin of the Sporans is implanted with photosensitive neurons, designed for collection of vast and complex bits of information. And their brains have the potential to transform and visualize vast and complex information. Each Sporan is different, and some will succeed in going into deep space, others will not.
Sporans are free to drop out from the program. Sunday struggles with doubts about the Sporan program. There is conflict within her, to rebel and leave the program, or to embrace it. Her moment of understanding and decision comes when she and her shipmates go on an intense (simulated) exploration of the Sun.