|Charles Stross is principally a novelist, but he started his
writing career in the shorter length market and makes the occasional foray there still. Wireless
is a collection of nine of his previously published short works from 2000 to 2008 a
couple of novellas, two or three short stories and the rest novelettes.
This was an
entertaining collection as each of the stories was a gem, or semi-precious stone at least,
in its own right and for most of the works there was an authors note about the
story. An added bonus was the authors own introduction to the collection where he
gave his view on the whys and wherefores of writing; of short works against novels; and a
bit of SF history besides.
Apart from having the same author and being SF (or SFnal), there was no unifying theme
to this collection. Some of the works were written to get an idea out, some were in
response to a commission, and others were test pieces for novels. One is a companion piece
to The Atrocity Archive, another an attempt at a P. G. Wodehouse pastiche.
All are worth the time to read.
If you enjoy or just merely like Mr Strosss novels, then I whole-heartedly
recommend this book to you. If you like short SF then a copy of this book should be on
your shelves. If you are in the group that likes neither then I doubt you have read this
-- Simon Litten
Anthologies generally have some of the qualities of a curates egg very
mixed, some stories being good, some not so good. Im not going to accuse any of
these stories being badly written. Its more than they are an eclectic bunch of
styles and subjects, and some will definitely appeal to some readers more than others.
The collection is book-ended by two massive award-winning novellas, Missile Gap
which won the 2007 Locus Award for Best Novella, and Palimpsest which won the
2010 Hugo Award for Best Novella (as I predicted not that means much, since it was
the only literary award I picked correctly). I was sure that Id read Missile Gap
before, though I cant remember where, and it wouldnt have been another story
like it, because you can believe me when I say that this story is absolutely unique
mainly due to the unusual megastructure which acts as the setting. Ive already
written about Palimpsest elsewhere its an excellent piece of SF
writing and one of those highly complex time travel stories that really make your teeth
ache. The other stories include Trunk and Disorderly a strange, yet
definitely humourous tribute to PG Wodehouse, and A Colder War wherein the legacy
of Lovecraft meets the Cold War. My personal favourite is Down on the Farm one of
his "Laundry" stories, set against the same background as Overtime
which was nominated for the 2010 Hugo Award for Best Novelette. I liked that one too, and
so Im hunting down more.
-- Jacqui Smith