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The New Space Opera

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The New Space Opera

The New Space Opera edited by Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan (e)

Table of Contents

Story Survey

"Saving Tiamaat" by Gwyneth Jones

     I had reached the station in the depth of Left Speranza's night; I had not slept. Fogged in the confabulation of the transit, I groped through crushing eons to my favorite breakfast kiosk: unsure if the soaring concourse outside Parliament was ceramic and carbon or a metaphor; a cloudy internal warming -- now what was the message in the mirror? Something pitiless. Some blank-eyed, slow-thinking, long-grinned crocodile-
     It was my partner. "Don't do that," I moaned. The internal crocodile shattered, the concourse lost its freight of hyperdetermined meaning, too suddenly for comfort. "Don't you know you should never startle a sleep-walker?"

"Verthandi's Ring" by Ian McDonald

     After thirteen subjective minutes and five hundred and twenty-eight years, the Clade battleship Ever-Fragrant Perfume of Divinity returned to the dying solar system. The Oort-cloud web pulled the crew off; skating around the gravity wells of hot ft gas giants and the swelling primary, the battleship skipped out of the system at thirty percent light-speed into the deep dark. Small, fast, cheap, the battleships were disposable: a football of construction nanoprocessors and a pload crewof three embedded in the heart of a comet, a comet it would slowly consume over its half millennium of flight. So cheap and nasty was this ship that it was only given a name because the crew got bored five (subjective) minutes into the slow-time simulation of Sofreendi desert monasticism that was their preferred combat interface.
     The Oort cloud web caught the crew, shied hem to the construction yards skeined through the long, cold loops of the cometary halo, which flicked them in a stutter of light-speed to the Fat Gas Giant relay point, where the eight hundred habitats of the new Clade daughter fleet formed a pearl belly chain around the planet; then the Cladal Heart-world herself, basking in the coronal energies of the senile, grasping, swollen sun, and finally into fresh new selves.

"Hatch" by Robert Reed

     Yes, the galaxy possessed an ethereal beauty, particularly when magnified inside the polished bowl of a perfect mirror. Every raider conceded as much. And yes, the rocket nozzle on which they lived was a spectacular feature, vast and ancient, its bowllike depths, filled with darkness and several flavors of ice laid over a plain of impenetrable hyperfiber. Even the refugee city was lovely in its modest fashion, simple homes and little businesses clinging to the inside surface of teh sleeping nozzle. But true raiders understood that the most intriguing, soul-soaring view was found when you stood where Peregrine was standing now: perched some five thousand kilometers above the hull, staring down at the Polypond -- a magnificent, ever-changing alien body that stretched past the neighboring nozzles, reaching the far horizon and beyond, submerging both faces of the magnificent starship that itself was larger than worlds.

"Winning Peace" by Paul J. McAuley


"Glory" by Greg Egan

An ingot of metallic hydrogen gleamed in the starlight, a narrow cylinder half a meter long with a mass of about a kilogram. To the naked eye it was a dense, solid object, but its lattice of tiny nuclei immersed in an insubstantial fog of electrons was one part matter to two hundred trillion parts empty space. A short distance away was a second ingot, apparently identical to the first, but composed of antihydrogen.

A sequence of finely tuned gamma rays flooded into both cylinders. The protons that absorbed them in the first ingot spat out positrons and were transformed into neutrons, breaking their bonds to the electron cloud that glued them in place. In the second ingot, antiprotons became antineutrons.

A further sequence of pulses herded the neutrons together and forged them into clusters; the antineutrons were similarly rearranged. Both kinds of cluster were unstable, but in order to fall apart they first had to pass through a quantum state that would have strongly absorbed a component of the gamma rays constantly raining down on them. Left to themselves, the probability of them being in this state would have increased rapidly, but each time they measurably failed to absorb the gamma rays, the probability fell back to zero. The quantum Zeno effect endlessly reset the clock, holding the decay in check.

  • Reviewer: Fritz
  • Reviewer Comments: "Glory" starts with one of the best narrative expositions that I have ever encountered.

"Maelstrom" by Kage Baker


"Blessed by an Angel" by Peter F. Hamilton


"Who's Afraid of Wolf 359?" by Ken Macleod


"The Valley of the Gardens" by Tony Daniel


"Dividing the Sustain" by James Patrick Kelly


"Minla's Flowers" by Alastair Reynolds


"Splinters of Glass" by Mary Rosenblum


"Remembrance" by Stephen Baxter


"The Emperor and the Maula" by Robert Silverberg


"The Worm Turns" by Gregory Benford


"Send Them Flowers" by Walter Jon Williams


"Art of War" by Nancy Kress


"Muse of Fire" by Dan Simmons



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