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The Fifth Science Fiction Megapack:
25 Modern and Classic Science Fiction Stories

edited by John Betancourt
Wildside Press, 649 pages

The Fifth Science Fiction Megapack: 25 Modern and Classic Science Fiction Stories
John Betancourt
John Betancourt was born in Missouri in 1963. He sold his first short story professionally at 16 ("Vernon's Dragon," in 100 Great Fantasy Short-Short Stories, edited by Isaac Asimov et al.) and his first novel at 19 (The Blind Archer, published by Avon Books). In college he became an assistant editor for Amazing Stories magazine, then co-editor and publisher of a revival of Weird Tales. He also worked on a freelance basis for such publishers as Avon Books, Signet Books (now part of Penguin USA), Tor Books, Bluejay Books and Berkley Books. His novels include Johnny Zed, Rememory, and Rogue Pirate. With his wife Kim, he runs his own small publishing company, Wildside Press.

Wildside Press Website
ISFDB Bibliography: John Betancourt
SF Site Review: Chaos and Amber
SF Site Excerpt: Roger Zelazny's The Dawn of Amber
SF Site Review: Double Helix: Infection

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cyd Athens

Wildside Press has done it again. The 5th volume in the Science Fiction Megapack ebook series presents 25 tales of high adventure through other worlds and times, including two award winners: Avram Davidson's Hugo-winning story, "Or All the Seas with Oysters," and Gardner Dozois's "The Peacemaker," which won a Nebula Award, and several nominees: Nebula Award finalist "The Eichmann Variations," by George Zebrowski; Hugo finalist "Code Three," by Rick Raphael; and,"May Be Some Time," by Brenda Clough, which was both a Hugo and a Nebula finalist.

This collection is a nice addition to the ebook reader on the headboard. Unfortunately, there are typos throughout. Though the publisher invites readers to contact them with information about the errors, in some stories they are jarring enough to confuse. Other instances are little more than annoyances.

For those who read ebooks from front to back, Allen Steele's "Agape Among the Robots," a story about robots that fall in love, leads off here. It's one of the more lighthearted pieces in this collection. "The Fire Eggs" by Darrell Schweitzer, a tale about a dying woman's interactions with aliens, brings up the rear. Sandwiched between these bookends are tales that run the gamut from a non-Asimovian take on the laws of robotics -- Cory Doctorow's "I, Robot" -- to a story of psychological manipulation in a first contact with aliens situation, "Join Our Gang?" by Sterling E. Lanier.

Several classics from the late 50s are also included. These works remind us how far science fiction has come in just a few decades. The oldest story here, celebrating its 60th year, is Robert Sheckley's "Cost of Living." This futuristic presentation of life and debt originally appeared in 1952.

"The Wasonica Correction" by James Stewart and "The Starship Mechanic" by Jay Lake and Ken Scholes tie for newest stories, both first published in 2010. The former is a twisted tale of drugs, tachyon communications, and murder; the latter concerns a malfunctioning alien.

The rest of the stories flit across the spectrum of speculative fiction. Most of them are fast reads. Since it is an electronic publication and can be updated, later versions will have fewer errors, thus making for a more enjoyable reading experience.

This edition is solid, with enough variety to please a broad audience, and a bargain at 99¢ US.

Copyright © 2012 by Cyd Athens

Cyd Athens indulges a speculative fiction addiction from 45° 29 30.65 N, 122° 35 30.91 W. The public library was Cyd's gateway drug.

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