Carbide Tipped Pens

Synopsis: Carbide Tipped Pens is an anthology of new hard SF stories that follow the classic definition of the genre, in which some element of science or technology is so central to the plot that there would be no story if that element were removed. The aim of the editors was to collect stories which emphasize plot, character, science, originality and believability in equal measure, not only to entertain readers but also to educate and to return the sense of wonder of the Golden Age to a new generation of 21st Century readers.


The blue afternon That Lasted Forever – Daniel H Wilson
Here we find a rather touching story between a scientist father and young daughter during the end of the world. A story of love, protection and the difficulties that can cross a family. 3.5/5

A slow unfurling of truth – Aliette de Bodard
This story was quite complex. We do not really understand universe where we fall, or what is happening in this different space. A man appears, explaining that he is a person who has disappeared a long time ago and everyone is trying to find out if this is the truth. Everything was a blur for me and it was a shame not to understand what exactly was going on. 2/5

Thunderwell – Doug Beason
I enjoyed this story. The author poses the foundation of the novella and unlike the previous story, we understand what is happening. A group of astronauts went on a mission to Mars but their cargo of food has been lost. Their lives are at stake and on earth the wife of one of astronauts has to decide what she wants to do, and that begins with a reflection on the nuclear fields. It was really interesting and I really enjoyed discovering the ideas of the author! 4/5

The Circle – Liu Cixin
I have not really been able to get into the story. The characters did not genuinely interest me, not even the story or the story about the numbers or circles. However, the Asian environment was quite interesting and different. 1.5/5

Old Timer‘s Game – Ben Bova
This story is a light science fiction novella. This is a discussion on baseball, whether a person who has followed a fairly advanced treatment can continue playing or not. An investigation to understand whether this treatment is finally considered like a drug or not. A rather original topic I must say. 3/5

The Snows of Yesterday – Jean-Louis Trudel
I was surprised to see a highly important issue here: global warming and the opportunities that exist to continue to survive. I admit that I struggled to get into the story, but interesting to see the whole thing. 2.5 / 5

Skin Deep – Leah Petersen & Gabrielle Harbowy
I was fascinated by the ideas here, something that could also be possible. A company has invented a tattoo for managing people allergies, treating them automatically. Still, something that could change the face of the world can also have many detrimental and dangerous effects and it is up to our heroine to deal with it. A good discovery. 4/5

Lady with Fox – Gregory Benford
I do not think I understood everything in the story. We follow a scientist in his researches, in his encounter with a young woman. What happens between them and the impact on his work. 2/5

Habilis – Howard Hendrix
It’s a pretty original subject presented in this story, a man with the hands of another person who tells his story and ideals about all this. I was perhaps a little lost in the numbers history, but it was quite interesting to discover everything. 3/5

The Play‘s Thing – Jack McDevitt
What would we do if we could create programs by cloning large icons of the past like Shakespeare? So it’s the theme put forward here and I admit that the whole thing was really well done. Finally realizing that the boundaries are more blurred than people think at the start and the machine can perhaps go further than we might think. 4/5

Every hill ends with sky – Robert Reed
Here is a discussion between a man and his wife about a simulation program and the future of Venus and Mars. I admit that I was not excited about this story, and maybe I did not understand everything either … 2/5

She just looks That Way – Eric Choi
And if we could have an operation that changes our perceptions? This is what makes our main character yet for some quite shocking reasons especially since nothing has been tested. Indeed, our hero wants to forget his attraction to a woman who works at the same place. He hopes not to feel anything for her anymore. But this treatment would it not be too much? An interesting idea although I find it a bit too exaggerated. 4/5

Siren of Titan – David DeGraff
I always had a little trouble with stories about robots and I admit that I once again struggled to get into the story and to be interested. We follow two scientists who observe the actions of an entity that seems to start having own goals. 2/5

The yoke of inauspicious stars – Kate Story
Here we have a tale about Romeo and Juliet and I admit that it’s not something I expected by starting the story. It’s pretty interesting to see how it is done on another planet. I just regret the number of characters that made me a little lost. 3/5

Nature Ambiguous – Carl Frederick
This is a story about aliens research. Indeed, men watch the space in the hope of receiving a call and it seems that time has finally arrived even if they are not able to know if it is a reality and what it means. 3/5

The mandelbrot bet – Dirk Strasser
The author presents a novella mixing physical and maths and I admit that I once again struggled to get into it. We find very scientific parts between the discussion of two scientific. 2/5

Recollection – Nancy Fulda
What if we could increase our life span but without our whole memories? Grace tries to keep her husband with her, she loves him more than anything in the world but he does not remember her. He knows nothing of his life, his grandchildren and does not feel the love he had for his wife and family. It’s quite sad to see what has been lost, but Grace does not give up. A beautiful story. 4/5


25 thoughts on “Carbide Tipped Pens

  1. Thanks for putting this on my radar, Melliane. As a reader whose bookshelves are Sci-Fi deficient, I’m always on the lookout for a book that will finally get me to read this genre. I think reading an anthology is perfect as I will not be as bogged down by intricate world building and eternally long narratives.

  2. At first glance, my dysfunctional mind added an ‘N’ to the last word of the title. Haha! Ok, that’s it, I need to take a break from commenting and make coffee. Thanks for reviewing and rating the shorts individually. That was ever so helpful of you!

  3. I think science fiction is a very, very tricky genre for novellas or short stories. Even with full length novels I sometimes struggle to grasp everything about the world, so I imagine it would be even more confusing when I have just a few pages to wrap my mind around everything. The tattoo one sounds very cool though, definitely a fascinating concept. Glad there were a few highlights in the bunch Melliane!

  4. sigh… I hate that about anthologies. You waded through the whole thing only to find a couple of gems and the rest were mediocre or subpar. I will have to pass on this as there are far more in the second than first category. Thanks for the helpful review.

  5. Wow, you did a good job reviewing this collection of short stories! I remember reading one for review, but gave up. It was too much because I’m used to writing considerable reviews for everything I read and it was too overwhleming to take notes everytime. But, aslo, I really didn’t like the short stories…so maybe that’s part of it too? ahha

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