This brilliant single-author collection of stories comes to you from Dr. Stanley Schmidt, the long-time editor of ANALOG Science Fiction / Science Fact Magazine. Stanley Schmidt has been writing even longer that he's been editing, and his skill and experience show. Here are many of his favorite and best stories, ranging from the hardest of hard science fiction to the exploration of complex philosophical ideas. What is the nature of time? Is it best for humanity to be on top of the food chain, or would it keep us on our toes if we let someone else be the top predator? If extinction can be reversed, should it be? The author's introduction to the collection tells the stories behind the stories, explores his approach to fiction, and reveals one or two tricks of the trade along the way. It's a single-author collection that belongs on the shelf of every serious reader of short-form science fiction.
Nature, advanced technology and the strange impulses of human beings all come together in this collection of 11 short stories published between 1972 and 2000 from Analog editor Schmidt. In the poignant title tale, Robert/Robby/Rob relives the idealism of his youth via a series of letters sent though time in which he makes statements about the Vietnam War, aging and family relationships. Three stories "Johnny Birdseed," "Floodgate" and, in its own quirky way, "Not Even a Chimney" sensitively deal with interpersonal relationships as well as human interaction with nature. The author makes some telling points about how best to preserve nature, provoking the reader into thinking about how people tend to go with what suits them best, not what might be best for the world as a whole. One brief, pun-laden story, "A Midsummer Newt's Dream," provides comic relief, while several solid SF stories, notably the memorable "The Man on the Cover," treat the aliens-among-us theme. Some tales amount to scientific wish-fulfillment, while others have the feel of straight biography with a dash of SF thrown in. All possess an easy, intimate tone, though the names of certain characters have a Dickensian oddness to them. In his unpretentious introduction, Schmidt describes the origins of the individual tales. The author may not be a pioneer in the field and some of his fiction is a tad dated, but overall this a good, representative compilation that shows his ability to write as well as edit.