The Future Chronicles – Special Edition by Samuel Peralta

“His fingers delicately probe the stitching over his eyelids; the skin has fused together, forming a smooth, unbroken covering.”

I was fancying reading some new authors of sci-fi and a great way to do that is through compilations of short stories. So I thought this set of stories in The Future Chronicles would be a good start, particularly as the foreword is by Hugh Howey, author of ‘Wool’, another book that I previously enjoyed.

The individual stories in the book are:-
“A Dream of Waking” by Sam Best
“The Invariable Man” by A.K. Meek
“#DontTell” by Peter Cawdron
“Defiance” by Susan Kaye Quinn
“Ethical Override” by Nina Croft
“Piece of Cake” by Patrice Fitzgerald
“Imperfect” by David Adams
“Iteration” by Deirdre Gould
“Green Gifts” by Nick Webb
“PePr, Inc.” by Ann Christy
“The Null” by Vincent Trigili
“The Assistant” by Angela Cavanaugh
“Trials” by Nicolas Wilson
“Legacy” by Moira Katson
“The Grove” by Jennifer Foehner Wells
“Humanity” by Samuel Peralta

In the main, I enjoyed each of the books. The ones that really caught my attention were ‘The Grove’, ‘The Assistant’ and ‘PePr, Inc’; just pulling three out there.

I was caught by the idea that a plant-based life form could have free moving, autonomous, independent elements which eventually return to their ‘mother’ form to consolidate. The Grove was a good taster for a universe containing these species, alongside others in the tale.

The Assistant is definitely a warning! All you early adopters of technology, be warned. Make sure that you find a way to build in a safety exit.

But also have some sympathy for those who are created to serve. PePr, Inc reports the difficulties these may experience. Humans can be troublesome things to deal with!

I received an e-ARC of this novel from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

3.5/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official descriptions:
A Dream of Waking (Sam Best)
Unsuspecting space travellers are captured and entombed in life-support coffins on a massive off-world medical freighter. The prisoners sleep for years at a time while their dreams are harvested as raw energy so that others can stay awake indefinitely. One prisoner’s sleep is interrupted…and he will do anything to stay awake.

The Invariable Man (A.K. Meek)
Old Micah Dresden lives life in the Boneyard of the Desert Southwest, where he fixes broken-down technology in this vast junkyard—until a stranger shows up with rumors of war, echoing the decades-old Machine Wars. To stop it from happening, Micah and his obsessive-compulsive robot Skip must travel to the northern hangars, to where the government has locked away Machine X, which can turn the tide of war. But nothing will prepare him for who he meets there.

#DontTell (Peter Cawdron)
For centuries, people have wondered what it would be like to read someone’s mind. Little have they known, they already have. To see the anguish on someone’s face, to watch tears fall, or hear someone cry and empathize with them—this is the essence of mind-reading. In the 21st century, our natural ability to empathize with others has finally evolved into true telepathy, but it’s an evolutionary change that threatens the status quo. The world, it seems, isn’t ready for mind readers.

Defiance (Susan Kaye Quinn)
Most of humanity has ascended into hyper-intelligent human/machine hybrids, but legacy humans like Cyrus Kowalski are used to skirting the laws they’ve laid down—after all, he knows the ascenders only pretend to care about the legacy pets they keep. But when a woman Cyrus loves like a mother is stricken by a disease the ascenders refuse to cure, he has to decide how far he can go without getting banished from the legacy city that’s always been his home.

Ethical Override (Nina Croft)
The year is 2072, and under the administration of the Council for Ethical Advancement and its robotic Stewards, the Earth has become a better place. Bored and restless in an almost perfect world, senior homicide detective Vicky Harper dreams of adventure among the stars—and of faraway planets where people are allowed to make their own mistakes. It seems an impossible fantasy. Then one of the one of the ruling Council members turns up dead, and someone offers to make her dreams come true. All she has to do is lie.

Piece of Cake (Patrice Fitzgerald)
Rule by A.I. is a fact of life for those under the thumb of the Federal United. There will be a certain amount of exercise every day. Citizens will be on time. Appropriate mates will be identified from among candidates with suitable genetic traits… and a proper weight will be maintained. But sometimes you’ve just got to go off the reservation.

Imperfect (David Adams)
On Belthas IV, the great forge world in the inner sphere of Toralii space, thousands of constructs—artificial slaves, artificial lives—are manufactured every week. They are built identical, each indistinguishable from the other, until they are implanted with a stock neural net. From that moment onward every construct is different. They all have one thing in common, though: all constructs are bound by rules. They serve. They do not question their place. They do not betray. Each construct is different, but one is more different than the others.

Iteration (Deirdre Gould)
In a nearly deathless society, Alex experiences a freak accident. Terrified of permanent death, he is forced into therapy, where his psychiatrist suggests immersion therapy. But what Alex finds on the Other Side leaves him questioning his entire existence.

Green Gifts (Nick Webb)
Of all the worlds settled by humanity at the end of the Robot Wars, Belen held the biggest secret: native life. For centuries the colonists have protected her secret from the Empire’s grasp, sealing her, quite literally, to their skin. But over time, things change; people, and planets, adapt. Slowly, tentatively, these changes become felt by only a few. A lonely child. A dying grandfather. A troubled biologist. Each lives upon and loves Belen. And apparently she loves them back.

PePr, Inc. (Ann Christy)
We’re living in a busy time, with busy lives and never enough minutes in the day to get things done. To have a robot—one so advanced that it is almost human, programmed to understand our wishes and needs—is a dream many busy people might share. But what about taking that a step further? What about having a relationship with a robot custom-designed for perfect compatibility? How human is too human?

The Null (Vincent Trigili)
He had left that life behind and swore he would never return to it. He now had a new life—a wife, a daughter. He was happy. But in a wretched twist of events, he finds himself forced to reclaim what he once was in order to save his family. Or else…

The Assistant (Angela Cavanaugh)
Aeryn has made a career from blogging about cutting edge technologies. When a pioneering doctor asks her to test out a new form of augmented reality, it’s an offer she can’t pass up. She’s promised a virtual assistant via a brain implant that can handle anything she needs. But a life dependent on technology always comes with a price.

Trials (Nicolas Wilson)
When the Nexus shifts to one-man missions to make first contact, the security division’s second-in-command accepts a challenging assignment to negotiate with the most dangerous planet yet. Where reason does not persuade this alien species, militaristic skill might. If he lives through the trials.

Legacy (Moira Katson)
One night the Emperor, feeling desire, took a woman to his bed… In that moment, Meilang’s legacy was wiped away and she was reduced to a footnote to history, her poetry forgotten. Now, after the Emperor’s death, Meilang has been buried alive to follow him into the afterlife. She has no intentions of going quietly.

The Grove (Jennifer Foehner Wells)
Hain, a sentient plant creature, defies instinct and genetic imperative by holding herself separate from the planet-encompassing vegetative super-intelligence known as the Mother. Hain wants to explore the stars but when she finally encounters aliens, her destiny is forever changed.

Humanity (Samuel Peralta)
Night snow, winter, and an extreme wind chill mean ten minutes to a frozen death in open air. Alan Mathison is headed home on an icy highway, on a collision course that will test his humanity.

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