I received an ARC from Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.
This is a really cool anthology of Grand Tradition science fiction. There were stories I definitely liked better than others, but I enjoyed the range of pieces included. On the whole, the stories contained realistic and 3-dimentional female characters,which I absolutely loved. James included a brief description of the style of the piece as well as a short biography on the author preceding each story. This worked ready well and added depth to the book as a whole. There was not a single story that I did not like, some I felt were just okay, most were good, and a few were extremely amazing. Four fell into the last category and include "Compositon in Death Minor", "Spaceman Barbeque", "From a Stone", and "A Trip to Lagasy". I would strong recommend these four stories. Here is my review for each story individually:
"Open for Business" (Sam S. Kepfield)- 2 stars- This was were much a Jules Verne style piece that had a good plot, but overall I didn't find very interesting.
"Composition in Death Minor" (K. G. Jewell)- 5 stars- Great storyline, beautiful imagery, poetic yet violent. And Sophie was a total bad ass.
"Spaceman Barbeque" (Peter Wood)- 4 stars- Very funny. Charming story.
"Obsidianite" (Kat Otis)- 3 stars- Pretty good. I liked the character development and plot issues.
"Starship Down" (Tracy Canfield)- 2-stars- One of my least favorites. The story did not interest me very much, but it had amazing world setup and great descriptions.
"Backscatter" (Gregory Benfold)- 2-stars- Another one I couldn't really get into. Really good characters though.
"A Game of Hold'em" (Wendy Sparrow)- 3-stars- This one was definitely strange. It was good, but at times I felt the author tried too hard.
"From a Stone" (Eric Choi)- 4-stars- Really cool story. Very open-ended, which was a little disappointing but a fantastic piece nonetheless.
"Charnelhouse" (Jonathan Shipley)- 3-star- Another cool story with a disappointing cliff-hanger ending. Really confusing though. Didn't seem to go into enough depth in characters' backgrounds.
"Bear Essentials" (Julie Frost)- 3-stars- Cute. A little predictable.
"The Vringla/Racket Incident" (Jakob Drud)- 3-stars- Really cool epistolary setup but the storyline was really confusing.
"A Trip to Lagasy" (Barbara Davies)- 4-stars- Great story. I love the different time frames going on between past and present.
"Saturn Slingshot" (David Wesley Hill)- 3-stars- Nice adventure plotline but lacked character development.
Overall I thought this was a great SF anthology and highly recommend it.