Monday, December 12, 2011

What We're Reading

Science Fiction Christmas Stories!

If you like science fiction, here are two books that will help you get into the spirit of the holiday season:

Christmas on Ganymede , edited by Martin H. Greenberg
This is a collection of vintage Christmas stories originally published between 1941 and 1989 by such authors as Poul Anderson, Isaac Asimov, Fredrick Pohl and Connie Willis. The stories range from whimsical to comic to thoughtful to touching. Of particular interest is "To Hell With The Stars"* by Jack McDevitt, a wonderful story about old dreams becoming new that pays homage to some of the classic writers of the genre; Gene Wolfe’s “The War Beneath the Tree,” in which the age-old battle between new and old toys is waged on Christmas Eve; and Isaac Asimov's title story, "Christmas on Ganymede," which tells of the trials and tribulations of providing a good old-fashioned Christmas for an alien culture on another world.

Miracle and Other Christmas Stories, by Connie Willis
Connie Willis LOVES Christmas! And almost every year during her three-decade career, she has published a Christmas story in one of the science fiction pulps. This collection, published in 2000, gathers some of those stories together for a wonderful reading experience during the holiday season. All of these stories exhibit Willis's grace and style as an author. There is a Twilight Zone-like quality to Willis’s stories; the reader is sometimes left with a few questions or a point to ponder, and yet there is always a satisfying conclusion. All of the stories in this collection are strong, but the standouts for this reviewer were “The Pony,” a story of how incredibly powerful Christmas gifts (and the anticipation of those gifts) can be; "In Coppelius's Toyshop," wherein a single man is forced to take the child of the single mother he is pursuing to a crowded F.A.O. Schwartz-style toy store during the holiday season; and “Inn,” which begins when a choir member, against the instructions of her pastor, allows a young homeless couple into her church during a snowstorm and ends on the road to Bethlehem with Mary and Joseph.

Christmas on Ganymede and Miracle and Other Christmas Stories are anthologies guaranteed to amuse, delight, amaze and touch science fiction fans during the holiday season!

*Be warned: The re-printing in this paperback leaves off the last two or three paragraphs of the story as originally published in the December 1987 issue of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. The story in Christmas on Ganymede is good; the original version is marvelous!!

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