Nature is a well-known and well-respected science magazine. As editor Henry Gee notes, "...many, perhaps most, of the scientific discoveries that have shaped the world (and the minds of science fiction authors) first appeared as research papers in Nature's pages." Beginning in 1999 and for several years after, Nature also included short works of science fiction. This well-received feature hosted a range of authors, from `names' in the genre to an eleven-year-old first-time author.
The first volume in this series, Nature Futures: Science Fiction from the Leading Science Journal, collected ninety-seven of these short science fiction stories. This, the second volume, adds 100 more. Ten of my favorites from the second set:
Elizabeth Bear's "Annie Webber" introduces an unforgettable character from somewhere else.
David Berreby's "Eating with Integrity" explores a new level in healthy living and shows how much distress it can cause for someone hosting a dinner party.
David Blake's "To My Father" is a poignant message to an evacuated colonist about something he left behind.
Steve Carper's "A Kiss Isn't Just a Kiss" humanizes that pest control strategy of releasing sterile mosquitoes into the wild to interact with the rest of the population. Sort of.
Kathryn Cramer's "You, In Emulation" is for all of us who have checked a book out of the library without enough time to read it fully.
Robert Dawson's "Pop-ups" convinces us that an old woman in the future needs up-to-date protection from the virtual ads that keep trying to get past her defenses.
Marissa Lingen's "The Stuff We Don't Do" warns those who may invent a time machine about the emotional hazards of telling the wrong person about it.
Clayton Locke's "A Game of Self-Deceit" explores variations on the theme of identity theft. Possession is nine-tenths of the law.
Eric Stone's "The Greatest Science-Fiction Story Ever Written" is the very last word in a long-running joke between authors about writing the greatest science fiction story ever written.
Deborah Walker's "Glass Future" explores the relationships between a man who can see the future and everyone else who cannot.
This is a reasonably good collection of short science fiction stories. As a group, they are not as good as those selected for Nature's first volume. This is noticeable but not so much so that the reader feels cheated. I recommend putting it on your T0-Read list. But not at the top.
100 writers - including Neal Asher, Elizabeth Bear, Gregory Benford, Tobias Buckell, Brenda Cooper, Kathryn Cramer, David Langford, Tanith Lee, Ken Liu, Nick Mamatas, Norman Spinrad, Ian Stewart, Rachel Swirsky, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Ian Watson - offer their take on what the future will look like in Nature Futures 2, an anthology of sci-fi short stories from the award-winning Futures column in the science journal Nature.