The universe of the mind is a limitless expanse of wonders, filled with worlds and secrets that cannot be fully explored within the pages of a single novel. Here, science fiction's most beloved and highly honored writers revisit their best-known worlds in perhaps the greatest concentration of science fiction ever in one volume.
Silverberg (The Alien Years) now does for SF what his recent anthology Legends did for fantasy, collecting new tales by a number of the world's greatest SF writers set in the universes of their best-known series. Some entries such as Ursula K. Le Guin's "Old Music and the Slave Women," from her Ekumen series; Dan Simmons's "Orphans of the Helix," a further tale of the Hyperion Cantos; and Greg Bear's "The Way of All Ghosts," set in his Thistledown universe stand more or less independent of what has preceded them. Others such as Joe Haldeman's "A Separate War," set in the future of The Forever War, or Orson Scott Card's "Investment Counselor," which relates an episode in the early life of Ender Wiggin are essentially engaging footnotes, filling in worthwhile bits of information that never made it into previous novels. Still others, David Brin's "Temptation," for example, from his Uplift series, continue an author's on-going stories beyond the reach of the major works. Also included are a new tale by Nancy Kress, set in the world of the Sleepless; an interesting addition to Frederik Pohl's Tales of the Heechee; an early episode in Gregory Benford's Galactic Centers series; a new story by Silverberg himself, set in the alternate universe of Roma Eterna; and the first solo tale of the Ship Who Sang that Anne McCaffrey has written in years. All the stories are, at a minimum, very good, and several are outstanding. The Le Guin and Simmons contributions are particularly worthy of award consideration. This is an important anthology that should appeal to all serious readers of SF. (May) -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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November 22, 2005
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Excerpt from Far Horizons by Robert Silverberg
A SEPARATE WAR
by Joe Haldeman
Our wounds were horrible, but the army made us well and gave us Heaven, temporarily. And a fortune to spend there.
The most expensive and hard-to-replace component of a fighting suit is the soldier inside of it, so if he is crippled badly enough to be taken out of the fight, the suit tries to save what's left. In William's case, it automatically cut off his mangled leg and sealed the stump. In my case it was the right arm, just above the elbow. They say that for us women, losing an arm is easier than a leg. How did they come up with that?
But it was amazing luck that we should both get amputation wounds at the same time, which kept us together.
That was the Tet-2 campaign, which was a disaster, and William and I lay around doped to the gills with happyjuice while the others died their way through the disaster of Aleph-7. The score after the two battles was fifty-four dead, thirty-seven of us crips, two head cases, and only twelve more or less working soldiers, who were of course bristling with enthusiasm. Twelve is not enough to fight a battle with, unfortunately, so the Sangre y Victoria was rerouted to the hospital planet Heaven.
We took a long time, three collapsar jumps, getting to Heaven. The Taurans can chase you through one jump, if they're at the right place and the right time. But two would be almost impossible, and three just couldn't happen.
(But "couldn't happen" is probably a bad-luck charm. Because of the relativistic distortions associated with travel through collapsar jumps, you never know, when you greet the enemy, whether it comes from your own time, or centuries in your past or future. Maybe in a millennium or two, they'll be able to follow you through three collapsar jumps like following footprints. One of the first things they'd do is vaporize Heaven. Then Earth.)
Heaven is like an Earth untouched by human industry and avarice, pristine forests and fields and mountains but it's also a monument to human industry, and avarice, too.
When you recover and there's no "if"; you wouldn't be there if they didn't know they could fix you, you're still in the army, but you're also immensely wealthy. Even a private's pay rolls up a fortune, automatically invested during the centuries that creak by between battles. One of the functions of Heaven is to put all those millions back into the economy. So there's no end of things to do, all of them expensive.
When William and I recovered, we were given six months of "rest and recreation" on Heaven. I actually got out two days before him, but waited around, reading. They did still have books, for soldiers so old-fashioned they didn't want to plug themselves into adventures or ecstasies for thousands of dollars a minute. I did have $529,755,012 sitting around, so I could have dipped into tripping. But I'd heard I would have plenty of it, retraining before our next assignment. The ALSC, "accelerated life situation computer," which taught you things by making you do them in virtual reality. Over and over, until you got them right.