book review: darwin’s bastards

Next week is the Vancouver International Writers Festival, and one of the sessions I’m going to has four writers from Darwin’s Bastards: Astounding Tales from Tomorrow, (editor) Zsuzsi Gartner’s collection of short stories. The idea was to get science fictiony stories from people who aren’t known for their sf work (apart from William Gibson).

William Gibson has a sort-of-ghost-story about Kitsilano in there (“Dougal Discarnate”), and Yann Martel’s story of the end “We Ate the Children Last”, and Anosh Irani’s acerbic countdown to birth story, “Notes from the Womb.” I also really liked Heather O’Neill’s robot love story “The Dreamlife of Toasters” and “The Divinity Gene” by Matthew J. Trafford (about cloning Jesi from miraculously appearing blood) and Timothy Taylor’s “Sunshine City” (a murder mystery set in a retirement home/golf-club).

Generally good stuff, there were only a few stories that seemed like someone trying to write sf who’d never done it and thought s/he was inventing the genre.

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