Book Review – The Promise of Space and Other Stories

I read John Scalzi’s blog fairly often. He has a section called Big Idea, where he introduces scifi novels, collections, etc.
I found The Promise of Space and Other Stories there. I wanted short. I wanted scifi. I was in the right mood to buy the book. As an impulse, I bought the e-version on Amazon.
I enjoyed nearly all the stories. But I nearly put it down at the second one. It had so many typos. I mean, this is supposed to be a professionally published collection from an award winning author. AND, they are reprints, originally in magazines and collections. You’d think they would have found the typos by now.
I spent a couple of days lamenting the state of publishing in a post kindle world. OK, maybe not days so much as hours. OK, a couple of minutes before I checked out my Facebook feed. But still, I paid good money for this book.
A couple of commonalities stood out. The book had great ideas, but not always great endings. Sometimes the stories just… ended. I could still enjoy the journey, and the writing. But the most exciting part of reading good scifi is the ending.
Below are thoughts on specific stories.

Really liked the ideas in Declaration, a story about a young generation that wanted to stay jacked in to cyberspace forever, declaring their right to do so. Especial interesting was that one character had been in an accident and was disabled, so of course life online would seem that much more attractive. Unfortunately, the story didn’t conclude so much as end. Indeed I found that most of them just sort of ended.

Another story, called Biggest, ends with “Van Loon’s sacrifice, while well-intentioned, was unnecessary,” which begs the question, “Then why end it that way?” I was actually really enjoying the story; so much of it was quite well written and engaging. If the story had revealed a little more about the character, the times, or another theme then I’d have been fine with it. Instead, I found it reinforcing my conclusion that these stories need better endings.
Miss Nobody Never Was was one of my favorites. The ending was not exactly an Olympic gymnast nailing it on a triple bypass, but it was satisfying. The conceit of the story was probably the reason for the end. And that’s the way it should be.
Someday had a conclusion, which was fairly satisfying. I would have liked to see the points made a little earlier in the story, but it was good. I think that Mr. Kelley has read the same books I have about how some indigenous peoples believed that multiple fathers could contribute to the makeup of a woman’s baby. It had me thinking that the characters were backward and ignorant. A nice setup.
The Rose Witch was well written. I was interested in the characters, the curse, the treasure. The ending was like so many others, pretty good, but not amazing. I could imagine one or two ways to connect threads from the beginning and middle to make the ending better, but the threads weren’t there.
I can recommend this collection if you are a generous reader.
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