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New Under The Sun
Nancy Kress and Therese Piecynski
Phoenix Pick, 183 pages

Nancy Kress
Nancy Kress was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1948. She went to college at State University of New York at Plattsburgh, receiving a degree in Elementary Education, and spent four years teaching the fourth grade. Her first sale was a story, "The Earth Dwellers," to Galaxy in 1976. Her first novel, The Prince of Morning Bells, appeared in 1981. Nancy Kress moved on to write copy for an advertising agency, wrote fiction part-time, raised her children, taught at SUNY Brockport, and earned an M.S. in Education and an M.A. in English. In 1990 she became a full-time writer. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Nancy Kress Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Steal Across the Sky
SF Site Review: Dogs
SF Site Review: Crucible
SF Site Review: Nothing Human
SF Site Review: Crossfire
SF Site Review: Probability Space
SF Site Review: Maximum Light
SF Site Review: Savior
SF Site Review: Probability Moon
Interview: Nancy Kress
SF Site Review: David Brin's Out of Time: Yanked!
SF Site Review: Stinger
SF Site Review: Maximum Light
SF Site Review: Beaker's Dozen

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Greg L. Johnson

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New Under The Sun A changing, malleable humanity has long been a theme of science fiction. From H.G. Wells' The Time Machine to the latest post-human epic, the idea that humans could change into something else has been posited in many ways. In New Under The Sun, Nancy Kress, in her story "Annabel Lee," and Therese Piecynski, with "Strange Attraction" offer us two more glimpses of how a new humanity might emerge.

"Annabel Lee" is a story of genetic change, reminiscent of Greg Bear's Blood Music. When young Annabel falls into a crevice, she come into contact with an alien organism, not quite DNA based but close enough to survive in the environment of Annabel's body. As Annabel grows and learns, so does her internal rider, and eventually, changes are made. The story introduces us to several characters in addition to Annabel, including her crusading sister Hannah, her withdrawn mother, and her maybe boyfriend, and nearly begs for expansion into a full-length novel. There are people and themes here worthy of further exploration, and "Annabel Lee," in its present form, feels like a tantalizing glimpse of what could be.

Therese Pieczynski's companion piece, "Strange Attraction," is much more comfortable at its novella length. Paula Hunter is a young engineer working in Nicaragua, during the time of the contras. Events force her on a journey for help that becomes a search for inner reconciliation with a violent episode from her past. As she journeys violence flows around her, the speculative conceit coming from chaos theory, and the idea that human emotions could be influenced by a kind of strange attractor, with consequences in the physical world. There's a hint of magical realism in the air, and the story also manages to feel like a descendant from science fiction's pulp past, with monsters created from human emotions, and a possible confrontation with the unknown lurking just around the corner. It's a nice combination, and the character of Paula Hunter ties it all together.

These stories are published as part of the Stellar Guild Series, which pairs shorter-than-novel-length stories by established pros with pieces by the relatively new and unknown. They can be direct sequels, or, as in the case of New Under The Sun, thematically linked stories that share enough of a viewpoint to inspire reflection and balance. It's a good way to present stories that otherwise could fall into that publishing limbo between short stories and novels, and that's a good thing for readers, and writers. It's also a format that fits readily into a digital publishing format, so get out those Kindles, Nooks and other tablets, and start downloading now.

Copyright © 2013 by Greg L. Johnson

Reviewer Greg L Johnson is always on the lookout for something new under the sun. Greg's reviews have appeared in publications ranging from The Minneapolis Star-Tribune to the The New York Review of Science Fiction.


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