Simon Bisson (sbisson) wrote,
Simon Bisson

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The Sunday Morning "Listening to the Archers" Review: Swift Thoughts

George Zebrowski is one of SF's more adventurous writers, exoloring many more themes at a short length than his handful of novels might indicate. While Macrolife and Stranger Suns are seen as minor classics of the genre, we need to journey to the small presses to find an adequate summary of Zebrowski's short fiction. Luckily for us, we have Golden Gryphon, and their Zebrowski collection Swift Thoughts.

Swift Thoughts gives us 24 short stories from nearly 30 years of writing, writing that explores everything from Vingean singularities to worlds where dreams are real, and worlds where words fall from the sky. These are stories written for magazines, original anthologies and for scientific journals (the collection ends with a piece, The Holdouts, written for Nature).

All these stories are wonderful, all are challenging. LIke scalpels, shining in the light of the operating theatre, they cut to the heart of the issue. In "This Life and Later Ones" we see what the Extropian dream of uploaded personalities may mean to the first copies, the desperate dead reaching out to life. There's alternate history, exploring the depths of Zebrowski's immigrant roots in "Lenin in Odessa" (alternate history that doesn't change the world one little bit). "Swift Thoughts" itself, is a melancholy tale that leaves us whistfully looking at the world that is left behind after a hard Vingean singularity, as failed experiments inherit an empty Earth.

As we climb the side of the Spike, we need writers like Zebrowski. In his novels and short stories he explores the dangers and wonders of transendence. Thinking the unthinkable he shines a torch into our possible futures, giving us a map of tomorrow. In our personal theories of everything we need dissent like this. Wonderful words. Wonderful worlds. And like all Golden Gryphon collections put together with a sense of the beauty of the book as artifact.

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