Others explore, with wit and style, connections between technology and humans, and medical advances that allow people to wipe their minds or experience full body transplants. One science-fiction story in the classic mode turns on vastly different perspectives of an interaction between a human and an alien. While the mode, subjects, and lengths of Villyard’s stories vary, possibly too much for readers who prefer their genres fully differentiated, the collection offers a welcome reminder of the diversity of contemporary speculative fiction, while showcasing Villyard’s talent for character, memorable ideas, and surprises that reveal theme and complicate expectations.
Villyard’s more powerful stories tend to be those exploring a world and how its characters find deep connection to others. The stars of the collection are stories about consciousness itself, each enlivened by striking detail: there’s the A.I. Alan and its shared devotion with its human programmer, an author of “sexually explicit Horatio Hornblower fanfic.” Other marvels: an android posing as a human to get a job to help pay the bills of his cancer-struck owner, and the tale of Karen and Charlie delving into what it means to be a mind in a body that isn’t one’s own—and the consequences that aren’t spoken of.
Takeaway: Short stories of deep connections across the breadth of the speculative fiction genres.
Great for fans of: Sequoia Nagamatsu’s How High We Go in the Dark, Kate Folk’s Out There.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A