Writers of the Future, volume 21

edited by Algis Budrys
Reviewed date: 2006 Feb 2
517 pages
cover art

This is a great collection of short fiction. It's biggest failing is one instance of a copy editing failure: in My Daugher, the Martian the author uses the term jerry-rigged; the correct phrase is jury-rigged. Jerry-rigged is an incorrect phrase that arises from confusion with the term jerry-built. It's a common mistake and the author is not to be blamed: the fault lies squarely with the copy editor who should have known better.

  • In the Flue, by John Schoffstall - Rock climber hobbyist climbs down into Israel's huge solar flue power plant, to remove a bomb planted by terrorists.
  • Needle Child, by M. T. Reiten - Kass of the hedge people delivers a baby to a meadow-dweller family.
  • The Story of His Life, by David W. Goldman - Mankind spends its days acting out real-life stories written and directed by AIs, but agent Lawrence Turner is on the trail of criminals who interfere with the stories and disrupt the AIs' control.
  • Green Angel, by Sean A. Tinsley - Artificial life construct on Titan defends his eggs--containing Titan-derived DNA--from the Green Angel, who has been ordered by Luna to destroy them.
  • The Firebird, by Andrew Gudgel - Tomasz Windebanke creates a toy phoenix out of programmable matter (PM), but the fire-suppression algorithms he uses infect nearby PM.
  • My Daughter, the Martian, by Sidra M. S. Vitale - The leader of a Martian colony struggles to raise her fourteen-year-old daughter, and deals with resentment from the rest of the colony when she suspends the colonists' reproduction rights due to insufficient natural resources.
  • Meeting the Sculptor, by Floris M. Kleijne - A time sculptor offers Mark a chance to change the moment when his "life went to hell"--the moment twelve years ago when a tramp accidentally bumped into him.
  • Into the Blank Where Life is Hurled, by Ken Scholes - Harry Houdini goes go Hell.
  • Mars Hath No Fury Like a Pixel Double-Crossed, by Stephen R. Stanley - Woman's boyfriend cashes out her return ticket off Mars, leaving her stranded; she sets off to rescue a missing girl to earn the reward money and buy a ticket off Mars.
  • Blackberry Witch, by Scott M. Roberts - Nina tries to steal the magic from a wizard in her neighborhood but she discovers his son is a powerful source of magic, so she kidnaps him.
  • Betrayer of Trees, by Eric James Stone - A treemage who betrayed the trees now lives in exile. Now he goes to the big city to work on the Emperor's new palace, where he confronts the Emperor who years ago had sentenced him to death.
  • Deadglass, by Lon Prater - Father Holden Drury of the Holy Cathar Church traps sinners' souls in glass beads, to prevent them from joining the forces of Hell. But his latest trapped soul is innocent.
  • Last Dance at the Sergeant Majors' Ball, by Cat Sparks - Margaret puts her grandmother Elsie into a virtual reality nursing home, where she thinks she's still living in her house, and is visited every day by virtual characters with unlimited patience.
  • Annus Mirabalis, by Mike Rimar - Albert Einstein is visited by his future self, who shows him that if he publishes his theory of quantum relativity, it will lead to the destruction of mankind.
  • The Keeper Alone, by Michael Livingston - David is the lone human crewman on Seedship 4 to Epsilon Eridani. His biggest problem is loneliness and his only companion is the ship's computer Solomon, until an accident forces him to revive a colonist from her stasis pod in order to save her life.

Nonfiction essays:

  • Tomorrow's Miracles, by L. Ron Hubbard - The relationship between philosophy and science is thus: philosophy seeks after truth and unified ideas, whereas science takes those ideas and explores the specifics. Today's philosophy becomes tomorrow's miracles.
  • Seven Keys to Writing Success, by Nina Kiriki Hoffman - Seven practical ways to become a published writers, mostly focusing on writing as a community activity, not a solitary one. A writers' workshop keeps everyone accountable and working hard.
  • Style Points, by Stephen Hickman - An illustrator's job is to help sell books by producing interesting cover art. Hickman gives ten commandments to help the aspiring illustrator's career.

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