NEW DREAMS FOR OLD
by Mike Resnick
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
Mike Resnick's new collection New Dreams for Old could have just as easily been named for Resnick's story "His Award-Winning Science Fiction Story." The twenty stories included in the collection have netted Resnick thirty-two award nominations and a dozen awards. Furthermore, the stories included demonstrate Resnick's wide range of writing.
Several of the stories have their basis in the Africa Resnick has described so often in works like Kirinyaga, Inferno, and other books and stories. "The Burning Spear at Twilight" looks at Jomo Kenyatta and a propaganda campaign against the British which could equally stand in for propaganda campaigns against the modern United States. "Mwalimu in the Squared Circle" sets Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere against Idi Amin in a boxing ring to demonstrate how not to take on an overwhelming force. "For I Have Touched the Sky" is one of the Kirinyaga stories, focusing on a girl, Kamiri. Her society is completely unable to deal with her intellectual gifts.
Resnick is just as capable of setting his stories in other milieus than Africa, however. "The 43 Antarean Dynasties" is a travelogue on another world, providing the tourists and readers with a history lesson of an alien civilization. "The Elephants on Neptune" is a bittersweet story of a dying breed. "Old McDonald Had a Farm" is a story about genetically modified food animals. One of the underlying themes that run through these and other stories in the book is the manner in which humans deal with other species, and, by extension, other cultures of humans. Unfortunately, the human track records presented in both Resnick's stories and in history is not the greatest.
Even where Resnick has a powerful message to present, he does it in an entertaining way. Sometimes his messages are heavy-handed, but the stories demonstrate Resnick's awareness that if a story isn't going to amuse the reader, the message the story is trying to get across will fail because the reader won't get far enough. On the other hand, sometimes, as with "The Kemosabee," humor and entertainment is Resnick's primary goal.
New Dreams for Old provides an excellent introduction to the range of Resnick's writing and his interests. His transparent writing style allows the reader to fully enjoy the wide variety of stories, which range from personal introspective tales to galaxy-spanning adventures and morality plays. This collection, with ten Hugo-nominated stories (and two winners) and three Nebula-nominated stories is a wonderful addition to any sf collection and a reminder of the vast scope of modern science fiction.
|Robots Don't Cry||His Award-Winning Science Fiction Story|
|The Elephants on Neptune||For I Have Touched the Sky|
|Travels with My Cats||Unsafe At Any Speed|
|A Princess of Earth||The Pale Thin God|
|Down Memory Lane||Mwalimu in the Squared Circle|
|The Chinese Sandman||Here's Looking at You Kid|
|Guardian Angel||The Burning Spear at Twilight|
|Old MacDonald Had a Farm||The Kemosabee|
|The Amorous Broom||The 43 Antarean Dynasties|
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