The Forest of Time and Other Stories, Michael Flynn

Tor, 1997, 381 pages, C$33.95 hc, ISBN 0-312-85526-5

In recent years, Michael Flynn has become one of Analog Magazine’s brightest writers, with tales of Hard Science-Fiction exemplifying what the genre is capable of doing nowadays. After a collaboration with Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (Fallen Angels, an infamous homage to fandom incidentally never mentioned anywhere in this anthology), a story mosaic (The Nanotech Chronicles) and two novels of his own (In the Country of the Blind and the critically acclaimed Firestar), Michael Flynn offers us this collection of ten tales, all published in Analog between 1982 and 1994.

Most of the ten tales are Hard-SF, even if there are a few borderline cases. There is an interesting variation of styles, from the tall tale (“On the High Frontier”) to the social satire (“Grave Reservation”) to alternate histories (“The Forest of Time”) to ambiguous SF/fantasy (“The Feeders”). A few stylistic tricks don’t overly complicate the usually straightforward style. The whole book is readable pretty quickly. A few stories are predictable.

There is an introduction, and story notes for each tale. Readers will be pleased or annoyed by their elitist tone, (especially when Flynn talks about Hard-SF) but Flynn’s explanations are sometimes revealing.

It’s an interesting book, and an adequate anthology. Flynn fans and Hard-SF enthusiasts should throw themselves on the paperback.

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