Side Quest: from The Copenhagen Interpretation to a Response from EST17


The next 10 stories in my Side Quest:

The Copenhagen Interpretation by Paul Cornell.  A steampunk espionage story, where the great powers have learned to fold space-time.

The Invasion of Venus by Stephen Baxter.  Two alien species fight a war in our solar system, but ignore Earth.  This could have been a nice flash fiction, but instead a framing device (a relationship between two ex-lovers) used the majority of the page space.

Digging by Ian McDonald.  Colonists are digging a giant pit on Mars so they can have breathable air pressure at the bottom.  This is one of the very few “science fiction” stories I’ve read recently that actually revolves around a sci-fi idea.  Unfortunately, I didn’t really get caught up in the story about a young girl taking a trip with her grandmother and then there’s some kind of technical malfunction.  The ending was kind of interesting, but I’m undecided whether it could have used more elaboration.

Ascension Day by Alastair Reynolds.  A spaceship takes off.  That’s it.  Really.  There is a described setting, but absolutely no plot.  If there were any characters, I can’t remember them.

After the Apocalypse by Maureen McHugh.  A mother and daughter are refugees after the US economic collapse, brought about by a dirty bomb terrorist attack on Disney World.

Silently and Very Fast by Catherynne Valente.  This story had some fairy tale stuff, some virtual reality stuff, and some AI stuff.  It was too artsy-fartsy for me, and way too long.

A Long Way Home by Jay Lake.  An immortal man wakes up to find that the millions of other people inhabiting a colony world have vanished overnight.  It’s pretty interesting to follow the character around for a while, but the author wusses out and never hints at a cause for the disappearances.

The Incredible Exploding Man by Dave Hutchinson.  An accident at a supercollider messes with space/dimensions/whatever.

What We Found by Geoff Ryman.  An extremely long family drama.  The author tries to throw in a science bit by having one of the characters be a researcher, but that’s probably less than 1% of the story by length.

A Response from EST17 by Tom Purdom.  Two competing human probes discover sentient aliens on a planet.  Most of the story is told from the alien point-of-view.

My average rating (5 star system) of the above stories:  2.60

Suggested use for this collection:  patent it as a cure for addiction to sci-fi short stories.


  1. That Venus Invasion story sounds like an interesting idea. I kind of like the idea that an alien invasion force comes along and just sort of bypasses Earth.

    1. Sorry for the late reply — I’ve been out of the country. This is the second story with that theme in the collection.

  2. […] of my side quests.  I’ve already covered the first ten stories in this collection, then ten more and ten more.  I’ll cover the last five stories here, then have some final thoughts on the […]

  3. […] What We Found by Geoff Ryman.  I read this story earlier in my side questing. […]

  4. Reading your summaries always makes me feel like I’m much better at short story writing than I think I am, and I can see why I haven’t published any. I have actual characters, plot, etc. (You know, story)

  5. […] After the Apocalypse by Maureen McHugh.  I read this story earlier in my side questing. […]

  6. […] The Invasion of Venus by Stephen Baxter.  I read this story earlier in my questing. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: