Future on Ice


A widely varied, immensely enjoyable, and historically important anthology, Future on Ice is a showcase for the hottest stories by the coolest SF writers of the 1980s. Complete with a preface, introduction, and story notes by Card himself, here are early stories from eighteen incredibly talented authors who have since shattered the face of science fiction.

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Future On Ice

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A widely varied, immensely enjoyable, and historically important anthology, Future on Ice is a showcase for the hottest stories by the coolest SF writers of the 1980s. Complete with a preface, introduction, and story notes by Card himself, here are early stories from eighteen incredibly talented authors who have since shattered the face of science fiction.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An excellent anthology." —Denver Post
VOYA - Sarah Flowers
This short story collection features most of the major science fiction writers of the 1980s. Orson Scott Card selected the stories and contributes one of his own, The Fringe, along with an intriguing introduction. Card believes that science fiction appeals to the intelligent reader because it "shows us a world of extraordinarily complex moral dilemmas in which there are few clear choices, and yet in which choices must be made."

This is certainly true of the stories in this collection. In Octavia Butler's luminous Speech Sounds, an illness has left people with the ability either to read and write or to speak-but not both. In George R. R. Martin's troubling Portraits of His Children, a writer must choose between having a relationship with his characters or his flesh-and-blood daughter. In S. C. Sykes's chilling Rockabye Baby, a quadriplegic has the opportunity to walk again-but it means giving up all his memories. In Nancy Kress's deceptively simple Out of All Them Bright Stars, a waitress makes the decision to be friendly to an alien. Greg Bear, C. J. Cherryh, Lewis Shiner, John Varley, and Lisa Goldstein are among the other authors also represented in this fascinating collection.

These stories will not be new to anyone who reads science fiction magazines and keeps up with the genre, but it would be a good place to point newcomers: those who find a story they like here can be directed to other works of a similar nature or by the same author. Although not an essential purchase, this book is a good choice where science fiction is popular, and provides a suitable companion to Card's earlier collection Future on Fire (Tor, 1989).

VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Will appeal with pushing, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12 and adults).

This is a collection of older SF short stories from well-known writers grouped together, as far as I can tell, because the editor, Orson Scott Card, liked them. I know that most have been anthologized before—most were written in the mid-1980s. Still, stories like "Robot Dreams" by Asimov, where robots become conscious of a sense of self and experience dreams of freedom, or Greg Bear's "Blood Music," where a science experiment goes awry and causes the entire world to be turned into a gigantic single organism, are worth reading any number of times. The point of this collection is, in my opinion, to make the reader reflect on things that we take for granted. Look at "Shanidar" by David Zindell, the story of a man who wanted to be more than himself, and who ended up with much less than that. Or think about "Speech Sounds" by Octavia E. Butler, the tale of a woman who can speak in a world stricken by a plague that destroyed the ability to communicate. All of these are really super stories by top-notch writers. Suitable for most readers, these classics of the genre will never grow old. KLIATT Codes: JSA—Recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1998, Tor, 432p, 21cm, 98-23524, $15.95. Ages 13 to adult. Reviewer: Susan Cromby; Acquisitions Dept., Mesa P.L., Mesa, AZ, July 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 4)
School Library Journal
YA-A popular YA novelist and sci-fi writer has put together a second anthology of 18 short stories by important SF writers of the 1980s. It is just as powerful as Future on Fire (Tor, 1991). Set in places uncannily familiar or disturbingly bizarre, the selections tell of family love, robot ambitions, language and loneliness, misguided political negotiations, and, of course, an assortment of very strange creatures. Card's notes tell in a particularly humorous and anecdotal tone about his encounters with the authors. The book is also worth having just for Card's introductory essay in which he takes an intriguing look at the way religious "ideas" can be and are often explored at some depth in this genre. Thought-provoking and illuminating reading, but best of all, entertaining.-Cynthia J. Rieben, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA
Kirkus Reviews
A collection originally intended as a companion to the 1989 volume Future on Fire (not seen), a showcase of 1980s science fiction stories; editor Card remarks on the hiatus but offers no explanation. He does, however, supply a hefty introduction that ties in such diverse topics as Star Wars, religion, science, and moral philosophy. Of these 18 pieces, 1983-87, several have gone on to fame and fortune: John Varley's computer paranoia, "Press Enter"; "Robot Dream," Isaac Asimov's metal Moses; George R. R. Martin's "Portraits of His Children" (which literally come alive); Lisa Goldstein's "Tourists" turned into a novel; Greg Bear's microscopic, intelligent computers that play "Blood Music"; John Kessel's "The Pure Product," which deals in corrupt futures; and "Out of All Them Bright Stars," where Nancy Kress's blue aliens choose Earth to visit. Other tales are less famous but almost as good. Quality material, if a dollar over and a decade late.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312872960
  • Publisher: St. Martins Press-3pl
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Series: Future on Fire Series , #2
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Meet the Author

Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card is the author of the novels Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead. Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead both won Hugo and Nebula Awards, making Card the only author to win these two top prizes in consecutive years. There are seven other novels to date in The Ender Universe series. Card has also written fantasy: The Tales of Alvin Maker is a series of fantasy novels set in frontier America; his most recent novel, The Lost Gate, is a contemporary magical fantasy. Card has written many other stand-alone sf and fantasy novels, as well as movie tie-ins and games, and publishes an internet-based science fiction and fantasy magazine, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show.  Card was born in Washington and grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He served a mission for the LDS Church in Brazil in the early 1970s. Besides his writing, Card directs plays and teaches writing and literature at Southern Virginia University. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kristine Allen Card, and youngest daughter, Zina Margaret.

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    1. Hometown:
      Greensboro, North Carolina
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 24, 1951
    2. Place of Birth:
      Richland, Washington
    1. Education:
      B.A. in theater, Brigham Young University, 1975; M.A. in English, University of Utah, 1981
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

FUTURE ON ICECopyright (Introduction to "Robot Dreams")

by Isaac Asimov

I've already written a lot about Isaac Asimov: how I think him the supreme practitioner of the American tradition of plain style. How I find his work, though he was an avowed atheist, some of the most deeply religious writing I've read. How, unlike many other writers, he seemed only to get better (and wiser) as he got older. Those essays were printed elsewhere; they're still true, in my opinion.

Asimov is dead now; his string of great science fiction writing has ended. A few books are being written in his name, continuing some of his stories, but those aren't Asimov novels anymore. None of us can match the brilliant clarity of his writing, and none of us will ever be able to approach issues and stories from his viewpoint, with his insights and wisdom.

Nowhere is Asimov more clearly revealed than in the story you're about to read. "Robot Dreams" is a morally recursive dilemma, forcing us to face the limits of tolerance and liberality even as we yearn to erase those limits. Asimov was often accused of not creating characters (a charge he tacitly accepted in an essay he wrote called "The Little Tin God of Characterization") but the charge was never true. There are characters here, powerful ones; great heroes, in fact, carrying the futures of species within them in their majesty. It's just that, like his style, Asimov's characterizations are so subtle that you aren't aware of them. He slips them into our memories unnoticed. But that's when they have the power to change us.

I met Asimov only twice, once merely to shake hands and say hi, the second time for a little longer. It was the Nebula banquet where he was given his Grandmaster Award and I received something or other—and I honestly don't remember what—but we stood side by side as they snapped pictures of us. With his typical modesty (the boasting was a public persona) he pointed to my Nebula and said, "That's the real award. This one"—his Grandmaster Award—"they gave me for not being dead yet."

I couldn't let that statement go unchallenged. I tried to tell him how wrong he was, what a giant he was, how we all learned from him, how—but he didn't want to hear it. I was embarrassing him. I stopped talking. It didn't matter: He either knew what he had accomplished, or he never would, certainly not from my babbling.

And later, I was invited to contribute a story to a Festschrift anthology in Asimov's honor. He had opened his fictional worlds to us. I was able to write a Foundation story. So I wrote about a brilliant old man who doubted the worth of his contribution to humanity, and received valediction when he least expected it. I wrote my judgment of Asimov, and my feelings about him, and set the story within his Foundation universe, at the very center, in the library on Trantor. I took one of Asimov's favorite themes, the need for scientists and scholars to break down boundaries between disciplines, and made it the heart of how the library worked. Every word was written to him.

And he never read it. I should have known. Word came back to me that Asimov simply wasn't reading any of the stories. Why? Because, with typical modesty, he was sure that we would have written Foundation and Robot stories that were better than his, and having read our work, he wouldn't be able to find the heart to continue with his own.

So...he never got my letter.

I can only hope he's not too stubborn to read it now.

FUTURE ON ICECopyright 1998 by Orson Scott Card

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Table of Contents

Preface 9
Introduction: Science Fiction and "the Force" 11
Robot Dreams 27
Portraits of His Children 35
Tourists 73
Blood Music 87
Time's Rub 113
Shanidar 129
Speech Sounds 151
Snow 167
Klein's Machine 183
Pots 199
Press Enter 229
Dinosaurs 289
Face Value 315
Cabracan 329
Rockabye Baby 347
The Pure Product 375
Out of All Them Bright Stars 397
The Fringe 409
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