World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology winner Patrick Nielsen Hayden brings his supreme talents as the industry's leading anthologist to a new collection of outstanding short works of science fiction for young adults. From an immense catalog of brilliant, ground-breaking works spanning the last twenty years --a remarkable period of time that many feel was witness to a kind of high renaissance in SF's quality, depth and thematic range--Nielsen Hayden has collected dozens of the most outstanding. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
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September 14, 2003
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Excerpt from New Skies by Patrick Nielsen Hayden
What if the world were different
What if aliens arrived Or if a world war disrupted all our lives What if we colonized Mars, and learned to play baseball there What if children could divorce their parents Or if the South had won the American Civil War
Science fiction stories ask these questions, and then try to answer them. And what a good science fiction story shows is that once you start asking questions, it's hard to stop. What if aliens did arrive Would they mean well toward us Would we treat them fairly How would we feel if it turned out that they were wiser and smarter than we How could we be sure they were what they seemed How could they be sure of us And that's just the beginning. All of these questions are as much about us as they are about the made-up aliens. We may actually encounter real aliens someday. But right now what we have is ourselves, the world of human beings, and imagining aliens and humans confronting one another turns out to be an interesting way of thinking about ourselves, about how we think, how we react, how we tick.
Science fiction is like that. It's very definitely about the future, the far horizons of adventure and discovery. But it's also about ourselves, at home, trying to figure out a world in which things often don't seem to be the way they ought to be. Sometimes, the ways school and work and home are set up seem as strange and alien as any distant planet. Science fiction often helps us think about that, too.
It's a big world, and the things that seem normal and permanent in one neighborhood often turn out to be utterly strange in another. Science fiction constantly reminds us of this, which is one reason readers of all ages have been turning to it for stimulation, for recreation, for imagination, for as long as science fiction has been published.
In these pages you'll find a selection of some of the best science fiction stories of the last two decades. All of them ask questions, imagine answers, and ask more questions in turn. Get on board, enjoy the ride -- and feel free to ask your own questions.