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Engineering Infinity

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This science-fiction anthology collects together stories by some of the biggest names in the field including Stephen Baxter, Charles Stross and Greg Bear.

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This science-fiction anthology collects together stories by some of the biggest names in the field including Stephen Baxter, Charles Stross and Greg Bear.

30 review for Engineering Infinity

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    I keep anthologies for reading on my phone because I'm not often without my eReader and the shorter stories are good for the short times where I only have my phone as a reading device. I've been reading this one off and on for the whole of December. This isn't my first Infinity Project anthology; I actually started with the second one Edge of Infinity because I wanted to read an award-winning novella from that collection. I'm actually glad that that was the way I started, because had I read this I keep anthologies for reading on my phone because I'm not often without my eReader and the shorter stories are good for the short times where I only have my phone as a reading device. I've been reading this one off and on for the whole of December. This isn't my first Infinity Project anthology; I actually started with the second one Edge of Infinity because I wanted to read an award-winning novella from that collection. I'm actually glad that that was the way I started, because had I read this one first, I'm not sure I would have continued. There are a few good stories in this one, but overall I felt the quality was uneven and the theme to be lacking. Standouts for me were The Invasion of Venus by Stephen Baxter (I'm not normally a fan of his; now I'm wondering if I should check out more of his shorter works) and The Birds and the Bees and the Gasoline Trees by John Barnes. I also enjoyed the Peter Watts story that kicks off the anthology (Malak), but it's just a riff on Watts' normal themes around humanity and inhumanity, which I personally love, but is far from everyone's taste. From a negative point of view I found the John C. Wright, David Moles and Robert Reed stories nearly unreadable. From a should-be-noted point of view this collection contains Bit Rot by Charles Stross which is a story between Saturn's Children and Neptune's Brood in the Freyaverse books. Read if you're a completist or a Stross fan, but this is a skippable volume in this series.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

    Engineering Infinity is a fantastic collection of hard sci-fi. I'll admit, there's concepts in here that go over my head, but when they're wrapped up in an enjoyable story, I can live with that. I suspect no matter your preference on flavour, as long as you like science fiction in general, you'll find something in here that works for you. After all, we've got: -combat drones learning the shades of grey that make up a morality -bunkers that are only an explosion away from being something else altoge Engineering Infinity is a fantastic collection of hard sci-fi. I'll admit, there's concepts in here that go over my head, but when they're wrapped up in an enjoyable story, I can live with that. I suspect no matter your preference on flavour, as long as you like science fiction in general, you'll find something in here that works for you. After all, we've got: -combat drones learning the shades of grey that make up a morality -bunkers that are only an explosion away from being something else altogether -a love story between a deep space server and a dragon -ROBO SPACE-ZOMBIES -Mesopotamian deities warring between worlds And there's a whole lot more between these pages, so don't just take me at my word - come in and discover for yourself.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bee

    Wow. Some real gems in this collection. There was only one story that wasn't great, the rest were all brilliant. Incredible concepts, well written. Damn, if only all short story collections had such a high great to suck ratio

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tomislav

    I read this first of a series of seven science fiction anthologies in kindle format. Jonathan Strahan is a veteran anthology editor, and this Infinity Project series is intended to trace an arc from near-future to far-future in all-original hard-sf. These are not re-prints! Now, in my mind, hard-sf should be science fiction that emphasizes the hard sciences – physics, chemistry, space, and the natural sciences. But that does not seem to be the common thread. These are stories of the type that mi I read this first of a series of seven science fiction anthologies in kindle format. Jonathan Strahan is a veteran anthology editor, and this Infinity Project series is intended to trace an arc from near-future to far-future in all-original hard-sf. These are not re-prints! Now, in my mind, hard-sf should be science fiction that emphasizes the hard sciences – physics, chemistry, space, and the natural sciences. But that does not seem to be the common thread. These are stories of the type that might have been written before the trend towards the social science fiction of the 1970s, whether it be hard science oriented or not. The quality of the stories is a mixed bag, of course. This is not a “best of” anthology, but more closely resembles the kind of digest magazine that used to be more popular when I started reading sf. My favorites were “Laika’s Ghost” and “A Soldier of the City”. Your mileage may vary. Here’s a brief comment on each story: “Malak” by Peter Watts – **** An automated military weapon is given an algorithmic adjustment in order to evaluate collateral damage, and to independently optimize its success rate. The logical conclusion of that is not what the designers intended. Classic Frankenstein theme. “Watching the Music Dance” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch - ** The cost of a young girl’s genetic engineering and implants drive her parents to divorce. But when he tries, her father finds that it is too late to give her a normal childhood. “Laika’s Ghost” by Karl Schroeder - ***** Ambrose is a young American under federal protection traveling to Kazakhstan, coincidentally accompanied by UN Weapons inspector Gennady Malianov. Ambrose has run afowl of a cadre of aging enthusiasts and who have created an online community around datamined Soviet records, and dreams of a place where Soviet glory can be restored. “The Invasion of Venus” by Stephen Baxter - *** A cozy British tale of alien invasion, that puts humanity in its humble place in the universe. “The Server and the Dragon” by Hannu Rajaniemi - ** This story explores the relationship between a mechanistic server and the fanciful dragon that lives in it. I imagine it could be a statement on the relationship of fantasy and science fiction, as well. But unraveling the complex vocabulousity and conceptulousity leaves not more than a meager plot. “Bit Rot” by Charles Stross - **** Survival of posthuman intelligence aboard an interstellar craft depends on available resources. The lead character is an interesting derived descendant of Freya, from Stross’s Saturn’s Children. “Creatures With Wings” by Kathleen Ann Goonan - *** Set in Hawaii, it is a first person story of the drunk/widower/ex-doctor/buddhist Kyo. Eventually, he finds himself on an alien world, in the final days of other sentient species. “Walls of Flesh, Bars of Bone” by Damien Broderick and Barbara Lamar - ** A time travel causality yarn that mixes postmodern art with quantum mechanics. Sorry, but the artistic perspective completely dominates, and is just borrowing credibility from science. “Mantis” by Robert Reed - *** Explores the concept of “infinity windows” which is a system of mutual viewing between two locations, but with content editing. Nice character development but weak plot. “Judgement Eve” by John C. Wright - * Powerful beings wield their powers at the justifiable end of humanity. It mimicked very accurately a style of science fiction I made myself slog through, even when it was current. “A Soldier of the City” by David Moles – ***** A man, barely aware of the universe beyond his family life and his civic responsibilities, witnesses an attack on his city. He is drawn into a technologically advanced war between galaxy-spanning civilizations. The story is made more interesting by the cultural context of evolved Buddhist and Hindu traditions. “Mercies” by Gregory Benford - **** A time traveler goes back in history to execute serial killers. But there is an aspect to it he has not considered. Creative riff on an old trope. “The Ki-Anna” by Gwyneth Jones – **** A man travels to a far planet seeking the true reason for his twin sister’s disappearance. What he finds is a very alien human-derived society living in temporary refuges away from their war-damaged planet. “The Birds and the Bees and the Gasoline Trees” by John Barnes - ** The story explores a project to save the Earth from climate change by stimulating a bloom of sealife, by crashing iron-laden meteors into the ocean. I know characters are secondary to concepts in hard-sf, but the love triangle of the three central characters here felt completely phony.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brainycat

    Brainycat's 5 "B"s : blood: 3 boobs: 1 bombs: 3 bondage: 4 blasphemy: 4 Stars : 5 Bechdel Test : PASS Deggan's Rule : PASS Gay Bechdel Test : FAIL Full review at booklikes.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    Superior hard-SF anthology: all the stories are readable, almost all are good, four are outstanding: * "Malak" by Peter Watts, heavily-armed AI warbird is developing a conscience. Sort of. https://rifters.com/real/shorts/Peter... * "The Invasion of Venus" by Stephen Baxter. Two inexplicable alien civilizations. * "The Ki-Anna" by Gwyneth Jones. Creepy aliens, creepier diet. http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/jones... * "The Birds and the Bees and the Gasoline Trees" by John Barnes, fertilizing the ocea Superior hard-SF anthology: all the stories are readable, almost all are good, four are outstanding: * "Malak" by Peter Watts, heavily-armed AI warbird is developing a conscience. Sort of. https://rifters.com/real/shorts/Peter... * "The Invasion of Venus" by Stephen Baxter. Two inexplicable alien civilizations. * "The Ki-Anna" by Gwyneth Jones. Creepy aliens, creepier diet. http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/jones... * "The Birds and the Bees and the Gasoline Trees" by John Barnes, fertilizing the ocean leads to an unexpected exodus. Best of the book, I thought. Reprint: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fic... You may have different favorites, and I might have a different list on reread. Not to be missed, if you like good hard-sf stories. 4+ stars. TOC: http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?3...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    I couldn't decide between 2 and 3 stars, but overall I just wasn't impressed with this anthology. Only 4 or the 14 stories do I consider really good, including: The Invasion of Venus by Stephen Baxter, Bit Rot by Charles Stross, Mantis by Robert Reed, and The Birds and the Bees and the Gasoline Trees by John Barnes. The other stories were either not SF (i.e. speculative, fantasy, etc.), poorly written, boring, or all of the above.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Raj

    This is a collection of short stories (mostly) with the theme of "hard SF", although this is never really defined (a point that the editor notes in the introduction) and some of the stories definitely stray outside this sub-genre. There were more hits than misses in the collection, but it's the misses that stand out for me, possibly because there was a string of them in quick succession in the middle of the book. There was Kathleen Ann Goonan's Creatures With Wings (a small Buddhist community is This is a collection of short stories (mostly) with the theme of "hard SF", although this is never really defined (a point that the editor notes in the introduction) and some of the stories definitely stray outside this sub-genre. There were more hits than misses in the collection, but it's the misses that stand out for me, possibly because there was a string of them in quick succession in the middle of the book. There was Kathleen Ann Goonan's Creatures With Wings (a small Buddhist community is saved/kidnapped by angels/aliens just before the end of the world) and Walls of Flesh, Bars of Bone which started off strongly with a drunken sociology professor seeing something impossible in a fragment of old 35mm film but quickly descends into incomprehensibility (for me, at least). But there are also some great stories. There's Charlie Stross's Bit Rot, set in the same universe as his novel Saturn's Children and the wonderfully named The Server and the Dragon which was an interesting story but really left me wanting to know more about the world that we got glimpses of in the narrative. I had the same problem (albeit moreso) with David Moles' A Solider of the City, which dropped tantalising hints of the world the story was set in but ignored them in favour of a very narrow story that I found unsatisfying compared to the world. Both Peter Watts' Malak and Stephen Baxter's The Invasion of Venus were fascinating reads because they had the Other at the heart of them. The former got us into the codebase of a non-sentient fighter drone aircraft whose program was altered to make it take collateral damage into account; and the latter had Humans getting really worked up about an incoming alien spacecraft and then feeling the let down when they realise that it wasn't heading towards Earth. A decent mix of stories but unfortunately it's the ones I didn't enjoy that I remember more than the ones I did.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Grady McCallie

    I think this started out to be a hard-science anthology, but that's not what it ended up as. These are some great writers, and the collection was mostly entertaining, but most of the stories are pretty experimental, in choice of narrator or style of prose, or are heavily mytho-poetic, and the science is there to support the Ideas about identity, time, or other Heavy Things. Probably worth a look if you like imaginative settings and plots, and have a high tolerance for postmodern fables. That sai I think this started out to be a hard-science anthology, but that's not what it ended up as. These are some great writers, and the collection was mostly entertaining, but most of the stories are pretty experimental, in choice of narrator or style of prose, or are heavily mytho-poetic, and the science is there to support the Ideas about identity, time, or other Heavy Things. Probably worth a look if you like imaginative settings and plots, and have a high tolerance for postmodern fables. That said, a couple of the stories I particularly liked were David Moles,'A Soldier of the City', which reminded me of Zelazny's Lord of Light, with people living historic earth mythologies far in the future - I'd love to read a full length novel in this setting; and Gwyneth Jones, 'The Ki-Anna', which pushes the tropes of police procedurals into an extra-terrestrial context for a great short story. The last story, John Barnes, 'The Birds and the Bees and the Gasoline Trees', works on several interesting levels - the overall frame is hokey, but the characters are fascinating and would also support a longer novel.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    An interesting variety of stories built around a theme of basically some chunk of gee-whiz technology. Interestingly, two of the tales involve Buddhism, although rather peripherally in one case. There's also a very tasty Charles Stross follow-up to Saturn's Children, and in the final story, John Barnes uses an idea that I recognized immediately from Larry Niven's Known Space. John C. Wright's contribution makes me think the man is incapable of writing actual dialog. It didn't hurt his "Awake in An interesting variety of stories built around a theme of basically some chunk of gee-whiz technology. Interestingly, two of the tales involve Buddhism, although rather peripherally in one case. There's also a very tasty Charles Stross follow-up to Saturn's Children, and in the final story, John Barnes uses an idea that I recognized immediately from Larry Niven's Known Space. John C. Wright's contribution makes me think the man is incapable of writing actual dialog. It didn't hurt his "Awake in the Night", because that was an imitation of stories written in a deliberately archaic voice. (Wright is a conservative Catholic off the deep end; a venue I frequent on-line usually references his material with the tag "memetic prophylactic recommended".)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Geoff

    Visceral and fast-paced story revolving around the ethics of artificial intelligence and drone warfare. Excellent read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    James

    Having started with the second one in this series, and then pushed on with it, it was good to come back to the start. It feels like this one had less of a theme than the later ones - I'm assuming that Strahan didn't realise it was going to be a whole series at this point. Certainly not the strongest I've read so far - it loses its way a bit in the middle, and some of them feel decidedly un-SF let alone Hard SF, but there are still some good ones on there too...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    http://idearefinery.blogspot.com.au/2011/03/back-and-engineering-infinity.html I found this one to be a bit patchy. There were some stories in it that I really enjoyed, but just as many that didn't really grab me. It's billed as hard science fiction, but Strahan notes in the introduction that the anthology "moved away from pure hard SF to something a little broader." I actually think this is perhaps its biggest weakness. It isn't laser-focussed, so I couldn't really read it as a bunch of different http://idearefinery.blogspot.com.au/2011/03/back-and-engineering-infinity.html I found this one to be a bit patchy. There were some stories in it that I really enjoyed, but just as many that didn't really grab me. It's billed as hard science fiction, but Strahan notes in the introduction that the anthology "moved away from pure hard SF to something a little broader." I actually think this is perhaps its biggest weakness. It isn't laser-focussed, so I couldn't really read it as a bunch of different authors poking around the same ideas. Conversely, it wasn't really broad enough to entertain me with variety. This kind of thing works fine in best-of-the-year collections, where each story is a gem, but I think I prefer more (or less) focus in my general anthologies. As I say, though, it did have some stories in it that I really enjoyed: -- "The Invasion of Venus", by Stephen Baxter. What happens when aliens rock up in our solar system, but they're only here to exchange fire with other aliens living on Venus? I think I liked the sheer size of the conflict in this one, coupled with the way it was told from the very personal perspective of two old friends on Earth. Interesting also because I'm not usually a huge fan of Stephen Baxter. -- "The Server and the Dragon", by Hannu Rajaniemi. A sentient server in a galaxy-wide network drifts lonely and unused around a star on a very wide orbit, until it is one day visited by a (digital) dragon. I'd call this one a hard space opera story, and that's probably why I liked it. I'm a sucker for that sort of thing. -- "The Birds and the Bees and the Gasoline Trees", by John Barnes. A novel take on the panspermia theory. Cool things here were the central idea -- big and dramatic, and a new take on an old bit of SF -- and the partially-explored background of one of the main characters, an android created for the purpose of solar system exploration. I don't think I've read anything else by John Barnes, so I'll have to see what I can find. Honorable mentions go to Kristine Kathryn Rusch's "Watching the Music Dance" (a nice bit of anthropological SF), Peter Watts' "Malak" (perhaps the most typical hard SF story of the bunch), and both Karl Schroeder's "Laika's Ghost" and Charles Stross' "Bit Rot" (for the sheer gonzo joy of them).

  14. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    Engineering Infinity is a collection of modern day hard science fiction stories, of a number of different styles and authors. It's the usual mixed bag here, maybe a little better than just a random short story collection, or one of a single theme or author, but there were still some stories I didn't connect much to, and some I really liked. Unfortunately a number of the ones I really liked I'd already read, but that's hardly the fault of the collection, even if it does somewhat affect my persona Engineering Infinity is a collection of modern day hard science fiction stories, of a number of different styles and authors. It's the usual mixed bag here, maybe a little better than just a random short story collection, or one of a single theme or author, but there were still some stories I didn't connect much to, and some I really liked. Unfortunately a number of the ones I really liked I'd already read, but that's hardly the fault of the collection, even if it does somewhat affect my personal enjoyment. I was very slightly disappointed in a misapprehension I had going in, I thought with a title like "Engineering Infinity" there would be a running theme of some sort of large scale (either in size or time) projects, ancient technological civilizations and giant starships, and there is some of that sort of thing, but there are also some smaller stories where it's just, say, a conventional mystery set on an alien planet, or the development of a single new piece of technology. I guess they all (more-or-less) qualify under hard SF, but I was hoping for a little more sense of wonder, Big Dumb Objects in space, mega-engineering stories as well. Still, it was pretty good. My favorite stories were probably, "Malak" by Peter Watts, "The Ki-Anna" by Gwyneth Jones, and "Mercies" by Gregory Benford. But even in some of the other stories there were a few things I really liked, and only a couple that left me almost completely cold. Worth a look particularly if you're interested in modern hard SF, although if you've already read a lot of short story collections from this century you'll probably also see a lot of overlap. That may be the reason I'm only rating it 3 stars instead of 4... if they were new to me, I'd have enjoyed it a lot more (although even so it's probably closer to 3.5).

  15. 5 out of 5

    Russ K

    I was pleased with the variety of stories in this collection. You've got aliens, robots, time-travel, all the main sci-fi tropes are hit upon at one point or another. I got this as a gift from someone who knew I like Gaiman and Dick, and I hadn't heard of any of these authors so I wasn't really sure what to expect. The opener, "Malak" by Peter Watts is a great story looking into the mind of a machine. "Walls of Flesh, Bar of Bone" by Damien Broderick and Barbara Lamar was another one of my favor I was pleased with the variety of stories in this collection. You've got aliens, robots, time-travel, all the main sci-fi tropes are hit upon at one point or another. I got this as a gift from someone who knew I like Gaiman and Dick, and I hadn't heard of any of these authors so I wasn't really sure what to expect. The opener, "Malak" by Peter Watts is a great story looking into the mind of a machine. "Walls of Flesh, Bar of Bone" by Damien Broderick and Barbara Lamar was another one of my favorites, and one of those stories where you can't tell which "type" of story it is until you're already invested in the characters. Like you're halfway through this character's short adventure and you suddenly go, "Oh, so THIS is what this story is going to be about." Honestly there were a couple I didn't finish all the way through. I couldn't get into Charles Stross's "Bit Rot," even though on the front and back cover he's one of the top-billed writers. But as I read some of the other stories I realized, maybe I'm just not into the space stories right now. And that's okay. Some people are really into complex world-building, I'm into characters and more realism (if that makes sense in sci-fi). Now this just means I can put this on my shelf and re-read them another time.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Paige Ellen Stone

    I love anthologies, short story collections, whatever you might call them. You don't feel any press to finish it. You can pick it up, read a story, then put it down, only to pick it up later when the mood strikes. Jonathan Strahan has edited many collections and has won many awards for doing so. This is a great collection, some authors known to me, some not. That is part of the joy an anthology brings. The reader gets a taste of an author or two or more with whom s/he is familiar but also gets t I love anthologies, short story collections, whatever you might call them. You don't feel any press to finish it. You can pick it up, read a story, then put it down, only to pick it up later when the mood strikes. Jonathan Strahan has edited many collections and has won many awards for doing so. This is a great collection, some authors known to me, some not. That is part of the joy an anthology brings. The reader gets a taste of an author or two or more with whom s/he is familiar but also gets to sample new voices, new writing styles and so on. These stories are joined by a theme of utilizing the "hard science" of today around which each author is to write a speculative short work. The results are excellent. If you are a fan of current science fiction, then there is at least one story here for you. It is a carefully chosen collection. While I liked some stories more than others, I did not dislike any of them.There is play with time, with space, with physics and metaphysics and a lot of just plain old good story-telling. This is a good book to keep at the ready. I read two non-fiction books and two novels all while reading this book one story at a time, enjoying the break it gave me. I hope it does the same for you.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    I give this a three as a neutral kind of rating. Some people may like these and the writing is technically fine BUT... Here is the thing - I don't particularly get into these types of stories. Even the ones that other readers said were the best didn't do much for me. When the author takes a mechanical device or some other non-human and starts trying to make the story POV'd with it - I find that boring for the most part. I've read it too many times. Sometimes an author can come up with something n I give this a three as a neutral kind of rating. Some people may like these and the writing is technically fine BUT... Here is the thing - I don't particularly get into these types of stories. Even the ones that other readers said were the best didn't do much for me. When the author takes a mechanical device or some other non-human and starts trying to make the story POV'd with it - I find that boring for the most part. I've read it too many times. Sometimes an author can come up with something new enough to make it interesting, but if you are very SF well-read like I am, it will almost always feel staled and unoriginal. That is problem one I have with this collection. The second is when the SF element is so buried in the background that it is only an excuse to label the story SF - as in it has nothing to do with the story itself. There are times when some 'modern' SF writers seem to write up a story and it comes across as a Lit piece and no one is interested in it, so they add 'in the news - aliens arriving' or they move the boring story from a small town in nowhere to an orbiting space station. You know what you have then? Still a boring story.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Wersly

    A fun book: I'd say half the stories are creative, interesting, well-written, fun, and substantive, while the other half is composed largely of duds, or only half-ready story concepts. The distribution of stories is rather skewed, with most of the good stories in the first half of the book, and the lesser ones packed into the back end. The best story by far in this book is Hannu Rajaniemi's "The Server and the Dragon;" some other notable stories here include Peter Watt's "Malak," Karl Schroeder' A fun book: I'd say half the stories are creative, interesting, well-written, fun, and substantive, while the other half is composed largely of duds, or only half-ready story concepts. The distribution of stories is rather skewed, with most of the good stories in the first half of the book, and the lesser ones packed into the back end. The best story by far in this book is Hannu Rajaniemi's "The Server and the Dragon;" some other notable stories here include Peter Watt's "Malak," Karl Schroeder's "Laika's Ghost," Charles Stross' "Bit Rot," and Kathleen Goonan's "Creatures With Wings." John Wright's "Judgement Eve" is by far one of the most unbearable stories in here, with some of the most ludicrous, laughable, cringe-worthy dialogue I've read in a while. All in all, this is a quick, entertaining, and at times thought provoking read. Nothing special, but still a great load of fun. Would recommend highly to anyone looking for a smorgasbord sampler of many different shades of modern SF.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cara

    Ratings of individual stories: - Malak by Peter Watts 5/5 - Watching the Music Dance by Kristine Kathryn Rusch 3/5 - Laika’s Ghost by Karl Schroeder 3/5 - The Invasion of Venus by Stephen Baxter 4/5 - The Server and the Dragon by Hannu Rajaniemi 4/5 - Bit Rot by Charles Stross 5/5 - Creatures with Wings by Kathleen Ann Goonan 2/5 - Walls of Flesh, Bars of Bone by Damien Broderick and Barbara Lamar 4/5 - Mantis by Robert Reed 3/5 - Judgement Eve by John C. Wright 2.5/5 - A Soldier in the City by David Mole Ratings of individual stories: - Malak by Peter Watts 5/5 - Watching the Music Dance by Kristine Kathryn Rusch 3/5 - Laika’s Ghost by Karl Schroeder 3/5 - The Invasion of Venus by Stephen Baxter 4/5 - The Server and the Dragon by Hannu Rajaniemi 4/5 - Bit Rot by Charles Stross 5/5 - Creatures with Wings by Kathleen Ann Goonan 2/5 - Walls of Flesh, Bars of Bone by Damien Broderick and Barbara Lamar 4/5 - Mantis by Robert Reed 3/5 - Judgement Eve by John C. Wright 2.5/5 - A Soldier in the City by David Moles 4/5 - Mercies by Gregory Benford 3/5 - The Ki-anna by Gwyneth Jones 3/5 - The Birds and the Bees and the Gasoline Trees by John Barnes 5/5 I enjoyed Bit Rot the most and would argue that it was the “hardest” hard SF story of the anthology, but the other bolded stories also captured and held my interest.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    Overall I liked it; as with any short story collection, some are hit and some are miss. Science Fiction writing has swung from bright-shiny adventures to seeing how characters in a SF setting deal with the circumstances they are in. These stories fall, for the most part, into the latter category - there is still plenty of hard science to be hard, though. My favorite stories: Peter Watts’ Malak - a military strike drone's reaction to a new conscience program. Charles Stross' Bit Rot - android-like p Overall I liked it; as with any short story collection, some are hit and some are miss. Science Fiction writing has swung from bright-shiny adventures to seeing how characters in a SF setting deal with the circumstances they are in. These stories fall, for the most part, into the latter category - there is still plenty of hard science to be hard, though. My favorite stories: Peter Watts’ Malak - a military strike drone's reaction to a new conscience program. Charles Stross' Bit Rot - android-like post-people on a long-duration star flight suffer from a mysteriously familiar malady. Damien Broderick and Barbara Lamar's Walls of Flesh, Bars of Bones - a depressed and despondent professor is sent a decades-old film reel and becomes invigorated as he investigates what he sees on it: himself.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I have to say I rather enjoyed this on the whole. It is hard SF collection by a lot of the usual suspects you'd expect to find inside one of these but with a few little surprises, but not always telling the stories you might think you would find. The theme is wide enough that it allows for these authors simply to tell the stories they want to and doesn't feel either repetitive or hammered into square holes. I didn't like them all (Wright's story, for example, failed to engage me) but there is en I have to say I rather enjoyed this on the whole. It is hard SF collection by a lot of the usual suspects you'd expect to find inside one of these but with a few little surprises, but not always telling the stories you might think you would find. The theme is wide enough that it allows for these authors simply to tell the stories they want to and doesn't feel either repetitive or hammered into square holes. I didn't like them all (Wright's story, for example, failed to engage me) but there is enough difference that if you aren't enjoying one you will find another interesting one waiting just around the corner. Recommended.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Konstantinos Georgokitsos

    3.5 stars in total though the good stories are well worth reading. I had not read an anthology in ages. I liked this one, but of course it was a mixed bag. Particular good stories from Schroeder, Baxter, Rajaniemi, Stross, Broderick Lamar, Benford and Barnes. I definitely disliked both Wright's “Judgement Eve” and Moles'"A Soldier of the City”. Both very similar in using far future unintelligible mumble jumble and a forced link to mythological Angels and Gods. I thought this was out of fashion e 3.5 stars in total though the good stories are well worth reading. I had not read an anthology in ages. I liked this one, but of course it was a mixed bag. Particular good stories from Schroeder, Baxter, Rajaniemi, Stross, Broderick Lamar, Benford and Barnes. I definitely disliked both Wright's “Judgement Eve” and Moles'"A Soldier of the City”. Both very similar in using far future unintelligible mumble jumble and a forced link to mythological Angels and Gods. I thought this was out of fashion ever since von Däniken.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Derek Tan

    Pretty good, I loved almost all the short stories here, except a few but 1-2 miss among a series of well written, innovative or mind boggling stories is good. Noted favorites in no order:- The server and the dragon (An interesting view of interstellar routers) Bit rot (Chilling as usual, Charles) Judgement Eve (For a techno future, has a very a biblical feel) Malak (A drone AI, which you can help but root for) Laika’s Ghost (Difficult to make sense until the end, but even then it is hard to explain, k Pretty good, I loved almost all the short stories here, except a few but 1-2 miss among a series of well written, innovative or mind boggling stories is good. Noted favorites in no order:- The server and the dragon (An interesting view of interstellar routers) Bit rot (Chilling as usual, Charles) Judgement Eve (For a techno future, has a very a biblical feel) Malak (A drone AI, which you can help but root for) Laika’s Ghost (Difficult to make sense until the end, but even then it is hard to explain, kind of like the concept it introduces in the story, about quantum observation)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Willy Eckerslike

    As I have stated more than once in previous reviews, I am a great fan of short stories and they are one of the best means to experience unfamiliar authors. This anthology has a nice mix of the familiar & unfamiliar and most of the stories fit pretty well within my preferred sub-genre of ‘hard sf’ although, as the foreword admits, I would definitely categorise a couple of them as fantasy. Not that this matters; I thoroughly enjoyed reading them all and I will definitely expand my scope of aut As I have stated more than once in previous reviews, I am a great fan of short stories and they are one of the best means to experience unfamiliar authors. This anthology has a nice mix of the familiar & unfamiliar and most of the stories fit pretty well within my preferred sub-genre of ‘hard sf’ although, as the foreword admits, I would definitely categorise a couple of them as fantasy. Not that this matters; I thoroughly enjoyed reading them all and I will definitely expand my scope of authors as a consequence.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Katharine (Ventureadlaxre)

    Katharine is a judge for the Aurealis Awards. This review is the personal opinion of Katharine herself, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of any judging panel, the judging coordinator or the Aurealis Awards management team. To be safe, I won't be recording my review here until after the AA are over. There were a few stories that were interesting here - more so than a few other anthologies I've read lately - but as a whole, quite boring

  26. 5 out of 5

    John Maxwell

    This is the third anthology I've ever read, all of which have been from this author. Although I have read many hard sci-fi novels before, this anthology exposed me to some amazing and unique perspectives. Some were hilariously witty, others immensely contemplative. A couple of them put me in a future that sounded familiar and ancient, at the same time. Quite a rollercoaster. Strahan has done a very good job. By all means, take the opportunity to jaunt through this transect of possibilities.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    A great anthology showing that "hard" science fiction can also have a heart. The engineering in the title represents more tthan FTL drives, time machines, and SETI radio dishes. Fine pieces by Benford, Barnes, McDevit, and others all dedicated to Robert Heinlein who would appreciated the technology hand-in-hand with the humanity. You won't need to engineer an infinity to read this collection, but the stories will stay with you for a long, long time.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dan Carey

    This book bills itself as a collection of hard science fiction stories. Now, any collection is bound to be a little uneven. But some of the stories in here were in no way, shape, or fashion "hard" SF. And they weren't that good, either. But others particularly the first 2 and the last 1, had me thinking, "Yes! This is the stuff I fell in love with as a kid." So if you pick this book up, just know that you are in for some very disparate experiences.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Natasha Hurley-Walker

    Rather average collection of sci-fi short stories. Charles Stross' and Peter Watt's stories are the most impressive; some are almost unreadable (John C. Wright's, Kathleen Ann Goonan's), and the rest are fairly weak. The titular story, and the final story are both so expository and predictable that I was rolling my eyes throughout. TLDR: Read "Bit Rot" and "Malak" and skip the rest.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gedvondur

    Engineering infinity is a truly excellent collection hard science fiction. it's rare to find a collection like this where every story is actually a gem I truly enjoyed the entire book without reservation. the editor protest that this may or may not be hard science fiction but this is hard to science fiction as I've come across an excellent collection well worth the time in the read.

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