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Federations
edited by John Joseph Adams
Prime Books, 379 pages

Federations
John Joseph Adams
John Joseph Adams is the editor of the anthologies Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse (Night Shade Books, January 2008), Seeds of Change (Prime Books, Summer 2008), and The Living Dead (Night Shade Books, Fall 2008). He is also the assistant editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from The University of Central Florida in December 2000. He currently lives in New Jersey.

John Joseph Adams Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Wastelands
SF Site Review: Wastelands

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Greg L. Johnson

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Ask most people who don't read or watch much science fiction what it's all about and they'll probably mention spaceships and aliens, massive explosions and techno-babble speaking geeks, not necessarily in that order. That impression comes mainly from television shows and movies, of course, but as much as those of us who read SF might wish otherwise, the mainstream's impression of science fiction is based in large part on Star Trek and Star Wars. But stories set in an interstellar space filled with competing civilizations have long played a part in SF of all kinds, whether it's found on a big screen, a little screen, or in the pages of a book. That's the kind of science fiction celebrated in Federations, and the stories collected therein do a good job of illustrating just how wide a range of stories can be built around such a common theme.

For example, compare Orson Scott Card's glorification of authoritarianism in "Mazer In Prison" with the subversive revolutionary spirit depicted in "My She" by Mary Rosenblum. The cosmic sweep and historical depth of John C. Wright's "Twilight Of The Gods" contrasts nicely with the more personally intimate "Symbiont" by Robert Silverberg. Star Trek fans will recognize Jeremiah Tolbert's "The Culture Archivist" as a story about a Federation gone bad, one with no constraints about interfering in other cultures. And if you're looking for a little humor amidst all the drama, Harry Turtledove's "Someone Is Stealing The Great Throne Rooms Of The Galaxy," which tries way to hard to be funny, is balanced by James Alan Gardner's "The One With The Interstellar Group Consciousness," which actually is.

About one-third of the stories in Federations are reprints, the rest are original to the anthology. The reprints are mainly by established writers like Robert J. Sawyer, Alastair Reynolds, and Anne McCaffrey, the originals provide an opportunity for the reader to be introduced to newer names like S.L. Gilbow and Trent Hergenrader. There are a few duds along the way, K. Tempest Bradford's "Different Day", for instance, is a short look at a theme that James Tiptree Jr., for one, explored in much greater detail and depth. But overall, Federations is a good collection of the kind of stories of which most science fiction readers are always ready for more. And if you know someone whose familiarity with SF is limited to shows like Stargate SG-1 and Star Trek: The Next Generation, Federations would serve as a good introduction to the idea that this stuff is fun to read, too.

Copyright © 2009 by Greg L. Johnson

Because of a life-long infatuation with SF, reviewer Greg L Johnson is one of those people who is more likely to look up in to the night sky and see ancient civilizations and galactic empires than legendary constellations. His reviews also appear in the The New York Review of Science Fiction. And, for something different, Greg blogs about news and politics relating to outdoors issues and the environment at Thinking Outside.


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