PrintE-mail Written by Alister Davison

Review: Solaris Rising 2 / Author: Ian Whates / Publisher: Rebellion / Release Date: April 11th

Editor Ian Whates has assembled a team of authors ranging from the experienced to the emerging to create Solaris Rising 2. All the usual themes of sci-fi are covered in this collection of 19 short stories, ranging from outer space exploration to dark near futures.  

There’s much variety here, all of the stories shining examples of how diverse the genre is, but there’s more to this collection than just a showcase of ideas. The stories offered are all of a high standard, each engaging the reader; while some are not as powerful as others, they still run deep and are well written, and there isn’t a story that doesn’t entertain as well as provoke thought. 

It’s difficult to pick out a ‘best’ story when all possess such quality, but there are two that leave the greatest impression. Of all the stories, Mike Allen’s Still Life with Skull is arguably the least human, yet it contains much emotion and some of the strangest – and therefore attention-grabbing – imagery I’ve ever read. In Martin McGrath’s The First Dance, the technology is relatively simple, a future that could be only a few years away, but it’s endowed with a gentle humanity that's likely to leave even the most hardened reader with a tear in their eye.

Other readers will have different opinions, but that’s the beauty of this collection; there’s something for everyone, no matter what their preferred sub-genre. The stories are united not only in their quality, but also in the fact that – at their many hearts – they all contain a rich message about the human condition, making the reader wonder ‘what if?’ Solaris Rising 2 proves that there’s more to the sci-fi short story than telling a tale with a twist, and it does so by pushing boundaries and challenging pre-conceived ideas, while revelling in a genre that is expanding, ever-changing and always relevant to our times.

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