Escape Pod • 2020 • SF anthology by S.B. Divya and Mur Lafferty

★★★★☆

Escape Pod is a well known podcast which has been producing SF short stories since fifteen years. To celebrate this anniversary, the editors collected fifteen SF stories in this publication. It’s a mixup of previously published stories (e.g. from Liu, Scalzi, Kowal, and Doctorow) available on the online magazine, and some original stories.

The author lineup is just great and look at this awesome cover illustration! The authors contributed stories from a broad field of SF subgenres. There’s something in it for everyone with time travel, space opera, multiverse, near future, surreal, posthuman, science fantasy, and steampunk. While YA stories don’t fit to my taste, Mary Robinette Kowal’s and Tina Connolly’s stories might be just your thing.

One story is especially relevant in our days, and I found Broaddus’s take on BLM with his “City of Refuge” one of the best stories here. But there are also a couple of other great gems in it making the anthology not exactly a must-read but worthwhile, and I can fully recommend it. As usual, please find the detailed reviews in the links below.

Contents:

  1. ★★★☆☆ • Citizens of Elsewhen • 2018 • Time travel short story by Kameron Hurley • time travelling midwives help out in Roman times • review
  2. ★★★+☆☆ • Report of Dr. Hollowmas on the Incident at Jackrabbit Five • 2020 • Space opera short story by T. Kingfisher • Space Marine Midwive Corps in action • review
  3. ★★★+☆☆ • A Princess of Nigh-Space • 2020 • Multiverse short story by Tim Pratt • “Sudden Princess” in the Multiverse • review
  4. ★★★☆☆ • An Advanced Reader’s Picture Book of Comparative Cognition • 2016 • Near SF short story by Ken Liu • A father reads tales of alien life to his daughter • review
  5. ★★★★☆ • Tiger Lawyer Gets It Right • 2020 • Surreal short story by Sarah Gailey • a lawyer gets modded to win his case • review
  6. ★★☆☆☆ • Fourth Nail • 2020 • Posthuman SF short story by Mur Lafferty • A clone factory’s operator needs to decide upon an incoming replication file • review
  7. ★★☆☆☆ • Alien Animal Encounters • 2001 • SF flash fiction by John Scalzi • funny interviews with people encountering alien animals • review
  8. ★★★+☆☆ • A Consideration of Trees • 2020 • Science Fantasy short story by Beth Cato • A mediator between species investigates in a spooky forest • review
  9. ★★★★★ • City of Refuge • 2020 • BLM SF short story by Maurice Broaddus • an African-American ex-convict is confronted by his shady probation officer • review
  10. ★★★☆☆ • Jaiden’s Weaver • 2009 • YA SF short story by Mary Robinette Kowal • a girl does everything to get one of those precious riding pets • review
  11. ★★★★★ • The Machine That Would Rewild Humanity • 2020 • Post-Singularity short story by Tobias Buckell • an AI works on rewilding humans after their extinction • review
  12. ★★★★☆ • Clockwork Fagin • 2012 • Steampunk novelette by Cory Doctorow • orphanage kids manage themselves by turning their fagin into an automaton • review
  13. ★★★☆☆ • Spaceship October • 2020 • SF short story by Greg van Eekhout • Energy resources on a generation ship get scarcer • review
  14. ★☆☆☆☆ • Lions and Tigers and Girlfriends • 2020 • SF short story by Tina Connolly • hyperventilating teen is going to stage Wizard of Oz on a space ship • review
  15. ★★★★☆ • Give Me Cornbread or Give Me Death • 2019 • Science Fantasy short story by N.K. Jemisin • The government oppresses people of colour with dragons • review

Meta: isfdb, publication dates: 20.10. in the UK, and 17.11. in the US, both by Titan Books.

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4 Responses to Escape Pod • 2020 • SF anthology by S.B. Divya and Mur Lafferty

  1. There are some good looking gems here, and I might track them down individually at some point, but the number of 3 stars and below kinda makes me glad I passed on this anthology when offered a chance to review it. Doesn’t help either that I can be a pretty harsh critic when it comes to short stories 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andreas says:

      But three stars means I liked it, that’s my standard assessment.
      If one evaluated every random 20 pages in a novel separately, then there would be a couple of 2 stars in it.
      Individual tracking the best stories could be a problem as many of them are original and I doubt if they will be published elsewhere.
      Maybe you need to get more relaxed with short stories 😁

      Like

      • Yeah, 3 stars means I liked it/it was okay, but if the majority of the stories in an anthology are 3 I would consider it a dud 😦 I definitely prefer longer form where plot and characters can be more developed. Characters first!

        Like

        • Andreas says:

          Sure, character development isn’t a thing in short stories at all – I‘d even consider it as bad to have it there.
          When I have an anthology with mostly 3 and a couple of 4, I‘m happy as a cake 😆. This one has two 5 star stories, and I don’t know that many anthologies which have more of the good stuff. So, maybe I‘m too harsh as well 😆

          Like

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