Home > Clement's Game > Science Fiction Round 72: Cosmic Powers

Science Fiction Round 72: Cosmic Powers


I recently read the Cosmic Powers anthology, which is a wild ride.  It’s a collection of stories from a delightful variety of authors, including a prequel story to The Stars Are Legion.  I have a couple of thoughts to share.

I’m not sure what these spaceships are on the cover, but they are colorful.

People, The Universe Does Not Work That Way

The short story “The Golden Ring” was thematically beautiful.  It has ties to another set of books by the authors, and includes the intriguing concept of a “lockstep fortress” in a world where faster-than-light travel really isn’t possib.e

The fortresses are where members of a civilization are in suspended animation while their comrades are travelling the stars at large fractions of the speed of light.  That way, culture can be shared by starfarers and the host civilization.  Nobody needs to worry about coming to a planet and not knowing who will be living there, or dealing with visitors a couple of centuries out of date.  I look forward to reading elsewhere about what the consequences of that are like.

That being said, it doesn’t line up with current cosmology.  Based on everything we know today, will be no Big Crunch and no recycling of our universe into another one.  Dark energy ensures eternal expansion, ending in heat death, or perhaps the Big Rip.  I know the idea of a cyclical universe is great for storytelling, but… yeesh.

The Heist Story

There are multiple heist stories in the book, including both the first and last stories in the anthology.  (I particularly enjoyed the last one, “The Frost Giant’s Data.”)  They include enough Caper Rationalization and generally amusing and clever hijinks to keep it interesting.

I’m a little surprised at the prevalence of this basic plot structure.  Is this just easy to get space opera scoundrels going with a good heist plot?  Or is it the fact that thieves are easier to sympathize with than more violent criminals?  Or something else?

Regardless, I was suitably entertained.

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