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Review: Pandemonium – The Lowest Heaven / Author: Various / Publisher: Jurassic London / Release Date: June 13th

Pandemonium: The Lowest Heaven is a collection of all-new short stories from Jurassic London which is being published on 13 June, 2013 in partnership with the Royal Observatory Greenwich. This is timed to coincide with the Observatory’s new ‘Visions of the Universe’ exhibition. The book itself is a collection of some sixteen short stories with contributors ranging from Alastair Reynolds, Adam Roberts and E.J. Swift to others such as Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Sophia McDougall and Maria Dahvana Headley. The theme of the collection is the celestial bodies in the solar system and, one by one, this stellar collection of authors give us a modern grand tour: we start at the sun and cover all bases to the comets ending with a desperate vision of a future Earth.

Short story collections may not be for everybody but I firmly believe that they are a great way to sample a wide range of authors and that science fiction has a good track record of producing great short stories – something other genres struggle with by comparison.

Inevitably not every tale will suit every reader but in this set we get the prosaic, the whimsical, the hard-core science stories and the outright strange; overall it is a well-crafted ensemble and the solar system theme never seems like a constraint. To give many concrete examples would be to spoil the reader’s enjoyment but for us, highlights included Alastair Reynolds' tale of mercurial artists and Simon Morden’s story of Mars and… but that would be telling! Starburst has no hesitation in recommending it to any serious reader of science fiction.

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