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Edited by Robert Silverberg



482pp/$27.50/May 1999

Far Horizons

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

Last year, Robert Silverberg published the enormous anthology Legends, which features novellas by eleven famous fantasy authors set in their most popular world.  In 1999, Silverberg follows that anthology with Far Horizons, which takes eleven science fiction authors and gives them the space to further explore the universes they've created.

While many of the stories in Legends provided an introduction to their worlds, the stories collected in Far Horizons seem to assume that the reader has a prior knowledge of the world in which the stories are set.   The only tale which completely lost me was Greg Bear's "The Way of All Ghosts," which also happened to be part of the only series with which I am not familiar.  My enjoyment of the other stories seemed to be dependent on how much I've read in the earlier works as well.

The range of universes included is also interesting.   Joe Haldeman's "A Separate War" is set in the same universe as his award-winning novel, The Forever War.  So far, these are the only two works published in that universe (although in his introduction, Haldeman promises a second novel, Forever Free).  Robert Silverberg's own contribution, "Getting to Know the Dragon," joins a series made up entirely of as yet uncollected short fiction.  The remaining stories are set in universes with at least three novels describing them.

Naturally the quality of the stories varies as well.   Nancy Kress's "Sleeping Dogs" is the most rewarding story she has written about the Sleepless since her original novella version of "Beggars in Spain" was published.  On the other hand, Orson Scott Card's "Investment Counselor," which describes Ender Wiggin's first meeting with the computer Jane, leaves the reader with many more questions than it answers.

The issues these authors have chosen to investigate vary as widely as the milieux in which their stories are set.  Ursula K. Le Guin continues her examination of slavery on the planet Werel with "Old Music and the Slave Woman," but also introduces themes of rebellion and justice.  Gregory Benford's "A Hunger for the Infinite" takes a surprising look at the role of art in the mechanical and fleshly side of his universe.

While Legends was the perfect introduction to the authors' worlds, Far Horizons serves more as a way to get reacquainted with the worlds these authors have already described.  The authors attempt to give brief introductions to their worlds before each story, but these introductions don't really serve to set the stage with enough detail for the reader who doesn't already have knowledge of the universe he is about to enter.

Author Story
Ursula K. Le Guin Old Music and the Slave Woman
Joe Haldeman A Separate War
Orson Scott Card Investment Counselor
David Brin Temptation
Robert Silverberg Getting to Know the Dragon
Dan Simmons Orphans of the Helix
Nancy Kress Sleeping Dogs
Frederik Pohl The Boy Who Would Live Forevers
Gregory Benford A Hunger for the Infinite
Anne McCaffrey The Ship Which Returned
Greg Bear The Way of All Ghosts

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