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Accomplished editor Adams (The Living Dead) explores a host of galaxy-spanning empires in this breathtakingly rich anthology. Lois McMaster Bujold's elegant, elegiacal masterpiece "Aftermaths" brings grace and sorrow into the silence between stars. Clever and subtle, Alan Dean Foster's "Pardon Our Conquest" examines how diplomacy is perceived by the losing side. Even Harry Turtledove's "Someone Is Stealing the Great Throne Rooms of the Galaxy" far surpasses what one might expect from the pun-filled adventures of a space hamster named Rufus Q. Shupilluliumash. Newer writers also contribute standouts: Trent Hergenrader's "Eskhara" is poignant, masterful and terrifyingly relevant to modern life, Georgina Li's "Like They Always Been Free" is a harsh, bright vision of futuristic love and Catherynne M. Valente's "Golubush, or Wine-Blood-War-Elegy" smoothly transforms mundane copywriting into a linked series of flash fictions. Superior writing, fantastic storytelling and creative adherence to the theme will keep readers enthralled. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.