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by Orson Scott Card

A widely varied, immensely enjoyable, and historically important anthology, Future on Ice is a showcase for the hottest stories by the coolest SF writers of the 1980s. Complete with a preface, introduction, and story notes by Card himself, here are early stories from eighteen incredibly talented authors who have since shattered the face of science fiction.

Download Future On Ice (Future on Fire) epub
ISBN: 0312872968
ISBN13: 978-0312872960
Category: Fantasy
Subcategory: Science Fiction
Author: Orson Scott Card
Language: English
Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (January 1, 2000)
Pages: 432 pages
ePUB size: 1310 kb
FB2 size: 1886 kb
Rating: 4.9
Votes: 406
Other Formats: txt azw mobi lit

Anthology sci-fi short fiction is most enjoyable, and this one lives up to its name. The stand-out story is Octavia Butler's "Speech Sounds'; she was so gifted a writer, a person and a creative force to be reckoned with. It's a pity she's not celebrated more; do yourself a favor, pick up the book for her story alone and be enriched by the others as well.
It's been a long time since I read these stories. Shanidar by David Zibdell is the one that really stuck with me, and I recommend it for that piece alone. Blood Music is also widely considered one of the best short science fiction stories ever written.

People who think that we need to take the culture wars with us to the stars might enjoy the introduction. Personally I'm always glad to see actual ideas in science fiction, even though Card's are often wrong, and sometimes just silly. (No, Star Wars isn't a religion, no Christian fundamentalists aren't being oppressed, no, Clinton's affair with Lewinsky didn't sanctify him in the eyes of Democrats. These are all dumb ideas, try again.)

Anyway, Card is a gifted storyteller and he's well able to recognize quality in others. This book is a good read, whatever you think of his politics.
This anthology was planned as a companion to Card's Future on Fire, and together the two were meant to showcase the best short science fiction of the 1980's. For the most part his choices stand up brilliantly. This is quite legitimately an anthology which can stand on its own or with its companion as a "Best of the '80s": no doubt these aren't the very best 18 stories from that decade, but on any given day, they'll do.
My favorite story here, and in my opinion one of the best SF stories of all time, is Nancy Kress' "Out of All Them Bright Stars" (winner of the 1985 Nebula for Best Short Story). This quiet, quiet, story, about a waitress in a diner and her encounter with an alien, illustrates as clearly as I can imagine the use of SF to examine human nature. It's a story that simply wouldn't work without being SF, without aliens and the implication of star travel, but its theme is all about what's within us. Lovely writing, perfect characters: one of those stories that just stop me dead and makes me think for some time after I finish it.
Several other stories included won major SF awards. Among them, I think Greg Bear's "Blood Music" (winner of both Hugo and Nebula for Best Novelet), a truly terrifying story about the consequences of engineering bacteria-sized microchips, and using them to maintain the body's health, holds up best. In this story Bear took his idea and ran with it to the fullest extent, facing every implication. A story that is similarly chilling in implication, John Varley's novella "Press Enter []" (also winner of both the Hugo and Nebula), doesn't seem to hold up quite as well. His central notion of computers linking up and taking over really isn't very new (cf. Ellison's "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" for just one example), and his mechanism, while well-depicted and creepy, doesn't convince. Nor does the (well-depicted and engaging) love story quite convince. But the story is still a great read.
Also among my personal favorite '80s stories are "Speech Sounds" by Octavia Butler, "Snow" by John Crowley, and "The Pure Product" by John Kessel. The first is a moving story of life in near-future Los Angeles, after a plague has destroyed the speech centers of everyone. The horror of the loss of communication with other people is very well portrayed. "Snow" is a beautiful fable about memory and love. A woman of the jet set records incidents from her life over many years, and her one-time gigolo/lover/husband plays them back after her death. But the technology only allows random access to these "memories", and the memories degrade over time. The effect is quiet and profound. "The Pure Product" is quite another thing. A man (apparently from the future) goes on a rampage through '80s North America. The story is fast moving and scary. At one level it's a harder-edged take on the same theme as C. L. Moore's classic "Vintage Season", but at another level we worry that the empathy-deficient people from the future are us.
Any anthology which aims to be "definitive" will surely include prominent stories, like those mentioned above, and like George R. R. Martin's Nebula winner "Portraits of His Children" and Isaac Asimov's well-known late story "Robot Dreams". But I like an anthology to include some surprises, as well. Two good, less familiar, choices are S. C. Sykes' "Rockabye Baby", and Andrew Weiner's intriguing "Klein's Machine". Card also chooses stories by Lisa Goldstein, Gregory Benford, David Zindell, C. J. Cherryh, Walter Jon Williams, Karen Joy Fowler, Lewis Shiner, and himself. Probably the only story in the book which doesn't quite seem to me to belong is Asimov's slight, gimmicky, "Robot Dreams". This anthology eminently succeeds in presenting a selection which represents the short SF of the 1980s at its best, and at its widest variety.
OK, this is a pretty obvious anthology. It has LOTS of awards winners, lots of famos stories by famos names, etc, etc, etc.
But it's a really great anthology, one that you can't miss.
As for Orson Scott Card's introductions, they're nice, not all too informative, and well written (of course). The degree to which you'll enjoy them depends on how much you're willing to tolerate Card's well intentioned conservatism.
But it's the stories, not those who tell them. Other than Lewis Shiner's story, I liked all of them, but I'm gonna talk about the ones that made the most impression on me: Isaac Asimov's Robot Dreams, John Varley's Press Enter, Walter Jon William's Dinosaurs, and George R. R. Martin's Portraits of His Children.
I could probably write an essey that would be longer than the story about Asimov's Robot Dream. It is a dlightful return of Susan Calvin, one I wasn't aware of. It also continues the theme Asimov has had in his last decades, of the thinning difference between the human and the Robot. It isn't as full as 'That Thou Art Mindful of Him' or 'The Bicential Man', and Susan Calvin lacks her passion for Robots, but it is fascinating anyway.
I've read John Varley's story about 5 years ago, and I thought it was one of the best short fiction pieces I've ever read. It is every bit as good in the second reading. Varley writes a tale that is even more chilling today, in the days of internet, than it was in the 80s. He proves he understands History, Computers, Medicin - but most importantly, character.
Walter Jon William's Dinosaurs was an incredible surprise. I've read some of Williams's Wild Cards stories, and I've liked them well enough, but Dinosaurs is one a whole new class. It is a story as powerful as any SF short fiction, a real classic of the field, imaginative and page turning. Williams has immidiately become and author to watch out for.
And than we come to George R. R. Martin. I've left his story for the last, and so I'll also talk about it at the end. Martin is my favorite living author (Asimov is probably my favorite all time author, though it's a close call), but every time I get to read one of his stories, I think " It can't probably be THAT good", and yet, it allways is.
Portraits of His Children isn't a Science Fiction story - it is a Dark Fantasy/Horror story, but it is no less powerful for that. It is clever, unique, and most of all, touching. It has won its Nebula deservedly.
Those were my favorites, but they don't have to be yours. Greg Bear wrote a kick ess story about micro-aliens. Octavia Butler wrote a Hugo award winning tale about a post-apocaliptical world that is a place familiar in tone to all Butler fans, myself included. C.J Cherry(sp?) wrote POTS, a unique Space Opera tale that was the first of her works I've read, but surely not the last. And Orson Scott Card finishes the book with a story about the future of Civilazation - where the world might be different, but people aren't.
This is a unique anthology. I read all of it in record tim, and enjoyed it tremendously. It truly has some of the best SF stories out there - Viva the Eighties.