Embracing the Starlight (2003)

This is nearly a flawless collection of short stories by an author I’ve never read before. The writing is excellent and couldn’t be much better, but not all of the stories were equally of interest to me. The two Vietnam inspired stories that close the collection, the alternate history about the aging musician and some of the others just didn’t capture me.

And sometimes the endings felt too simplistic and convenient, for example the otherwise brilliant Suicidal Tendencies had a solution that just felt emotional unrealistic, the sudden revelation of the daughter not quite believable. The high point of the collection was IMHO Fearless, mixing virtual reality and karate in an interesting way. It somehow reminded me of the movie Best of the Best, because like it, instead of emphasizing the action aspect, it showed karate as a force of personal growth. For this story alone it was worth reading this collection.

Another highpoint of the collection are the extensive introductions to each story, I’d like to see other authors follow Smeds’s example. Overall, well worth reading.