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Publishers WeeklyAt least as far back as H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, humans have demonstrated a fascination with the entities that will replace us, just as we replaced earlier hominids. This motif runs through science fiction and its progenitors and is continued in Kelly and Kessel's new anthology, which includes 19 stories and essays that draw on sources new (as in Hannu Rajaniemi's "The Server and the Dragon" and Charles Stross' "Nightfall") and old (as in Isaac Asimov's "The Last Question" and an excerpt from Olaf Stapledon's Odd John). Vernor Vinge's influential 1993 essay on "the Singularity," the "creation by technology of entities with greater-than-human intelligence," is prominently featured and speculates that this event will occur between 2005 and 2030. This theory was once described by Charles Stross as "this enormous turd that Vernor Vinge crapped into the punchbowl of sf science fiction writing," while others consider it to be a source of inspiration. Regardless, in the skilled hands of Kelly and Kessel (the duo behind The Secret History of Science Fiction), even the most inane ideas are treated respectfully and discussed sincerely, which allows for an anthology full of compelling and controversial stories.
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