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Three Stories
Gregory Benford
Philistine Press, 4009 words

Three Stories
Gregory Benford
Gregory Benford is a physicist and astronomer at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of a series of hard SF novels, beginning with In the Ocean of Night (1978) and following quickly with works such as Timescape (1980) and the popular Galactic Centre series, including Across the Sea of Suns, Great Sky River (1987), Tides of Light (1989) and Furious Gulf (1994).

Gregory Benford Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Anomalies
SF Site Review: The Martian Race
SF Site Review: Worlds Vast and Various
SF Site Review: Eater
SF Site Review: Deep Time
SF Site Review: Against Infinity
SF Site Review: Artifact
SF Site Review: Cosm
SF Site Review: Foundation's Fear

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Trent Walters

Gregory Benford has three stories released singly: Down the River Road and two from The former, which was first published in the Tolkien tribute, After the King, is newly revised and introduced with personal history and story origins, including photos. It's reminiscent topically of Mark Twain's stories of riverboats, but being Benford, of course, he spins this into a science fantasy based on the idea that "any technology indistinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced."

John is searching for his father, a father who is not as honorable as John might desire. He drives his skiff ashore to avoid a mercury-colored beast, only to bump into a man with a duckbill blunderbuss who has other plans for John. John evades those plans and encounters Stan, to whom he spreads tall tales of jewels and hydrogen hats uptime on the river. Stan takes John to Zoms, dead people converted into cheap, three-month labor. There John meets a Zom who may or may not be his father.

A river pilot corners John, tests him, and wants him as his boat's navigator. After all, John has come quite a ways alone down the timestream. As they sail, town to town, John seeks his father among the Zoms but learns his father may have been Zom trader, not a Zom. Amusingly, things thought to be lies, turn out to be true, and John does run into a man who might or might not be his father.

Three Stories This one is a must for any Benford fan. Observing Amazon reviews, one notes good stories disappoint readers, but this should satisfy most speculative readers, a solid four-stars. also published two of Gregory Benford's works: "Grace Immaculate" and "The Final Now." The first "Grace Immaculate," is a free ebook (also online), which is a price difficult to beat. It begins with a distanced narrator describing alien signals from hydra-like creatures who seemed to have no religion, but humans "poison" the alien minds. They think they've heard the last of the aliens.... The story unfortunately was all too short. Just when it gets interesting, it ends, feeling like the opening to a novelette or the prologue to a novel.

Three Stories The "The Final Now" (available in his latest collection, Anomalies) details a far future where beings have different concepts of names, memory, and time. A human being brought from the past to this future "now," to stand among the Creators who stand outside time, struggles to understand and be understood. As the universe collapses, they come to an understanding of the universe's laws. The idea predominates this work and provides a nice contrast with Down the River Road in terms of their differing views of time.

Perhaps Benford ought to gather his time stories into one collection. That said, any story collection from Gregory Benford would be prized. As mentioned earlier, one does exist, Anomalies.

Copyright © 2013 Trent Walters

Trent Walters teaches science; lives in Honduras; edited poetry at Abyss & Apex; blogs science, SF, education, and literature, etc. at APB; co-instigated Mundane SF (with Geoff Ryman and Julian Todd) culminating in an issue for Interzone; studied SF writing with dozens of major writers and and editors in the field; and has published works in Daily Cabal, Electric Velocipede, Fantasy, Hadley Rille anthologies, LCRW, among others.

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