Cyborgs have been used to thrill, frighten, inspire, and educate us about just what it is to be human. Since the term was first coined in 1960—by Manfred Clynes and Nathan S. Kline—the science has finally caught up with the theory. There are cyborgs among us. Hugo Award-winning editor and cyborg, Neil Clarke has assembled here twenty-six of their stories as imagined by some of the best and brightest science fiction writers today. Among them are winners and nominees of the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Yinhe, Theodore Sturgeon Memorial, and Campbell Award for Best New Writer, among others.
Madeline Ashby, Elizabeth Bear, Helena Bell, Tobias S. Buckell, Erin Cashier, Jason K. Chapman, Seth Dickinson, Amanda Forrest, Greg Egan, Erin Hoffman, Xia Jia, Rich Larson, Yoon Ha Lee, Ken Liu, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Greg Mellor, Mari Ness, Chen Qiufan, Robert Reed, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Rachel Swirsky, E. Catherine Tobler, Genevieve Valentine, Peter Watts, A.C. Wise, E. Lily Yu.
All stories are original to this anthology.
Longtime magazine editor Clarke (Clarkesworld), inspired by the experience of becoming a "cyborg" after getting an implanted defibrillator, decided to explore new takes on cyborgs, and this anthology largely succeeds in presenting interesting twists on the concept. The best is Helena Bell's haunting "Married," in which an experimental technology called "Sentin" gradually replaces an entire body, causing a woman to question her husband's humanity. Yoon Ha Lee's "Always the Harvest" overcomes a simple plot with magnificent world-building and turns of phrases like "A braidweave splendor of limbs." The anthology ends with a typically brutal Peter Watts story ("Collateral") followed by an unexpectedly gorgeous and humanistic one by Greg Egan ("Seventh Sight," about the implication of enhanced vision on aesthetics), ensuring that even the pickiest readers are satisfied. There are plenty of other highlights including excellent stories by A.C. Wise and Chen Qiufan, the latter translated by Ken Liu, who also contributes an excellent tale of his own and few missteps worth noting beyond an underwhelming contribution from headliner Elizabeth Bear. Clarke's first themed anthology will leave readers hoping for more.