Fast Forward 1: wonderful new sf anthology

Fast Forward is the first installment in a new, annual sf anthology series edited by Lou Anders. Anders is setting out to continue the tradition set in original sf anthology series like Damon Knight's ORBIT, which I was practically weaned on.

Volume one has some stupendous stories. In Kage Baker's humorous space opera "Plotters and Shooters," a dysfunctional space-station's cherished defense corps are upset by a tightly-wound otaku. In Elizabeth Bear's creepy "Something-Dreaming Game," a kid's game of autoerotic asphyxiation is the key to communications with an alien race. In Ken MacLeod's sacrelicious "Jesus Christ, Reanimator," the returned Christ has to convince a skeptical world that he's not just a nanotech Bush-robot. Ian McDonald's "Ranjeev and Robotwallah" takes place in the same world as his brilliant epic novel, River of Gods, a cyberpunk balkanized India haunted by AIs. Gene Wolf's "Hour of the Sheep" has the dreamlike feel of his best work. There are also great contributions from Sargent and Zebrowksi, Robert Charles Wilson, Mary Turzillo, and Justin Robson. At 400+ pages, there's plenty here for everyone.

There is, however, one absolute knock-out story in this that is among the most exciting pieces of fiction I've read in years: Paul Di Filippo's incredible "Wikiworld," a vividly imagined, funny and weird story about a world run on gifts, wikis, rough consensus and running code. Anders and Di Filippo have put the story online, so you can get an idea of what's in store for you with this excellent volume.

Anyway, this little islet would serve me well, I figured, as both home and base for my job–assuming I could erect a good solid comfortable structure here. Realizing that such a task was beyond my own capabilities, I called in my wikis. The Dark Galactics. The PEP Boyz. The Chindogurus. Mother Hitton's Littul Kittons. The Bishojos. The Glamazons. The Provincetown Pickers. And several more. All of them owed me simoleons for the usual–goods received, or time and expertise invested–and now they’d be eager to balance the accounts.

The day construction was scheduled to start, I anchored the Gogo Goggins on the western side of my island, facing the mainland. The June air was warm on my bare arms, and freighted with delicious salt scents. Gulls swooped low over my boat, expecting the usual handouts. The sun was a golden English muffin in the sky. (Maybe I should have had some breakfast, but I had been too excited to prepare any that morning.) Visibility was great. I could see drowned church spires and dead cell-phone towers closer to the shore. Through this slalom a small fleet of variegated ships sailed, converging on my island.