Originally published in 2011, Solaris Rising was one of the best short story anthologies I've had pleasure to read. Edited by Ian Whates, it showcased original works by quite a few SF titans including Peter F Hamilton, Stephen Baxter and Stephen Baxter. Predictably, the results were superb. The imagination was simply off the scale.
On 26th March, Solaris is coming out with second Solaris Rising anthology in the series (if you for a moment forget also excellent ebook only Solaris Rising 1.5), entitled Solaris Rising 2 (squared) and Ian Whates is once again at the helm. As Ian himself suggests in the introduction, collecting stories by the same SR1 clique for the second anthology would be the easiest way to ensure similar results but Ian decided to try something new and chalenging so this time we are facing stories by the entirely different set of authors. However, have no fear - after reading all the stories I can safely say that they perfectly capture the spirit of the original anthology and brilliantly showcase just how good science fiction writing is at the moment.
For me collection truly shines in the unexpected rather bleak first contact story by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Moving away from his celebrated "Shadows of the Apt" series, in "Feast and Famine" Tchaikovsky deals with astronauts visiting distant exoplanet crowded with strange crystal Anchorites which are borderline alive. Fantastic stuff.
I also especially enjoyed rather optimistic (it wouldn't be out of place in another great Solaris anthology "Shine") story by Paul Cornell entitled Tom which also deals with the first contact scenario, but this time taking place on Earth. Filled with bad alien/human sex, it is irresistibly charming and really forces huge grin upon your face.
Also worth nothing is rather bleak and emotional daughter/father parable by Nancy Kress set in the near future where socioeconomic circumstances take turn for the worse as well as "The Time Gun" by Nick Harkaway which in 10 pages succeeds what Nick usually does in his novel - you simply get your mind blown.
True strength of this collection also lies in the fact that you are probably going to leave the anthology with a list of new authors to discover. For me, I'm really grateful for the discovery of Vandana Singh, who I'll be checking out some more.
All in all, a fantastic addition of already impressive list of Solaris Books anthologies. Well done, mr. Whates!
Bring on SR3!