The next 10 stories in my side quest:
The Cold Step Beyond by Ian MacLeod. A warrior-monk-girl-thing is sent on her latest monster-killing quest. The thing she’s sent to kill turns out to be herself in the past. Also, she’s the imaginary friend of a dead girl who took over the dead girl’s body. Possibly the imaginary friend was actually an AI programmed by the dead girl’s parents. You guys think I just make this stuff up, don’t you?
A Militant Peace by David Klecha and Tobias Buckell. The UN decides to invade North Korea using all this whiz-bang tech that allows them to establish impregnable refugee camps without killing any North Korean soldiers. They don’t do anything about those soldiers massacring civilians who try to reach the camps, for some vague political reason. A camp’s anti-artillery defenses are sabotaged, and a big self-propelled gun is about to blast it. One of the soldiers takes out the SP gun, killing 2 of its crew. She is threatened with prison and expelled from the military. I can’t tell if this story is satire about ridiculous policies and rules of engagement, or if the authors think it makes sense somehow.
The Ants of Flanders by Robert Reed. As stated by the anthology’s editor, this is the second story in the collection where aliens battle each other, with humans being inconsequential onlookers.
The Vicar of Mars. An alien atheist priest is the main character in a ghost story. Don’t ask me what an atheist priest is.
The Smell of Orange Groves by Lavie Tidhar. A perfect example of a story that a literature professor would give you an A+ for, while any other reader would be bored into a deep sleep, or possibly a coma.
The Iron Shirts by Michael Flynn. In this alternate history, some American Indians, who advanced technologically after absorbing the Newfoundland viking colonies, visit Ireland.
Cody by Pat Cadigan. A guy is a data courier, carrying the information in his body. Didn’t they make a movie of this, called Johnny Mnemonic?
For I Have Lain Me Down on the Stone of Loneliness and I’ll not be Back Again by Michael Swanwick. An Irish woman uses sex and mind-control music to get an American to smuggle explosives to an alien starport. He sabotages the explosives.
Ghostweight by Yoon Ha Lee. A girl on a revenge mission steals a soul-eating, origami-style spaceship.
Digital Rites by Jim Hawkins. A story of murders and corporate espionage between competing movie studio/tech firms, with a weak ending which says that the whole story was a movie. There’s a line that says something like “consumers don’t care about the special effects, just the art”, which I felt should have been followed by “said no one, ever.”
My average rating (5 star system) of the above stories: 2.60
Suggested use for this collection: enhanced interrogation technique not specifically proscribed by the Geneva Convention.