One Million A. D.

{5/5} “With the passing of every reunion it seemed impossible that the wilder fringes of humanity could become any stranger, any less recognizable. Yet they always contrived to do so; oozing into every cosmic niche like molten lava, and then carving out new niches that no one had dared dreamed of before.”

One Million A. D. edited by Gardner Dozois, published in 2005

I read Arthur C. Clarke’s The City and the Stars not too long ago, which I loved, and so I was on the lookout for more stories set in the far future. One Million A. D. is an anthology edited by Gardner Dozois with six novellas from well-known authors.

“A Piece of the Great World” by Robert Silverberg — Nortekku had the opportunity to join Thalarne, whom he was having an affair with, on an exciting expedition. Supposedly some Sea-Lords had been discovered. The Sea-Lords were one of the Six Peoples of the Great World and, it was thought, had died out ages ago. Nortekku and Thalarne weren’t human — humans had died out before the Six Peoples. They were descended from apes, and their people had come out of cocoons 200 years ago after the Long Winter.

This story presents a fascinating future history for the planet. We follow the likeable main characters through their dealings with upper class members of their own society as well as people in other cities and people of other species. I haven’t read nearly enough Silverberg — I will remedy that soon.

“Thousandth Night” by Alastair Reynolds — The 999 Gentian clones were virtually immortal, and spent most of their time roaming the Galaxy seeking new experiences. Once every 200 000 years they all gathered together for a reunion. Each member of the line constructed a strand of what they’d been doing for the last 200 000 years. For 999 nights, each member’s strand was inserted into everyone’s dreams. On Thousandth Night, they voted on whose strand was the best. But this reunion was different — on Thousandth Night the identity of a murderer and the mystery of the Great Work would be revealed.

The reunion is an interesting event, the Gentians are fascinating people, and the Great Work is a mind boggling project. The anticipation of what will happen on Thousandth Night will keep you reading. I haven’t read any novels by Reynolds, but I will definitely do so.

These and the other stories in this anthology answer questions such as: Will humans still be around in a million years? If so, how much will the definition of “human” changed? Will whatever beings are around be aware of a million years of history? What amazing advances will science bring us?

If you want to read some imaginative and thought-provoking stories of the far future, this is the anthology for you.

This entry was posted on Saturday, April 14th, 2012 at 12:21 pm and is filed under Reviews of books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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