The often-used Forrest Gump quote "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get" may be true in many circumstances, but when it comes to Alastair Reynolds's very first short story collection, longtime fans of the former astrophysicist turned science fiction novelist (Pushing Ice, Revelation Space, Redemption Ark, et al.) know exactly what they're in for: ambitious, hard science fictionpowered story lines that are dense with ideas and laden with visionary speculation.
Noteworthy selections in Zima Blue and Other Stories include "Beyond the Aquila Rift," which follows a wayward starship to a space station 150,000 light-years from home; "The Real Story," about the first man on Mars -- the legendary Captain Jim Grossart -- who happens to have multiple personalities; and the never-before-published "Signal to Noise," which chronicles a scientist's attempt to contact his recently deceased wife across quantum realities.
Reynolds's first short story collection isn't so much like a box of chocolates as a handful of breathtaking literary gems. The ten tales included are all compelling in their own right, and most have headlined various science fiction anthologies throughout the last decade. Fellow British author Paul J. McAuley wrote in the collection's introduction that this compilation shows exactly why, "fifteen years after we first met, [Reynolds is] still riding at the very cutting edge of science fiction." Discerning science fiction fans who have read Reynolds's mind-blowing novel-length works will undoubtedly agree with McAuley's assessment of this collection. This is the good stuff. Paul Goat Allen