Twelve Tomorrows (2016) | Bruce Sterling

The cover of Sterling's Twelve Tomorrows (2016)When I think MIT, I don’t think fiction. Science and technology to be sure, but fiction? Once per year MIT’s Technology Review puts out a science fiction annual showcasing a diverse cast of important authors like Annalee Newitz of Gizmodo.com and Hugo award winning Charles Stross.

As with most short story collections, this year’s Twelve Tomorrows is a bit of a mixed bag but the balance skews definitively toward the positive. Highlights include the lead story, “Boxes” by Nick Harkaway on death and external memory as well as a bizarre but gripping dystopic vision by Pepe Rojo called “The New Us.”

The best of these stories use language in new ways. Often the first few pages feel confusing—like you’ve entered a new world. It’s only once the story begins to sink in that you realize what was going on in those early paragraphs.

On the other hand, Ilona Gaynor’s offering, “The Lexicography of an Abusive but Divine Relationship with the World” played with language and genre to the extent that the text read like 14 pages of nonsense!

The editor for the second year in a row, Bruce Sterling, closed the volume with a twelfth tomorrow from the past. While the story was engaging, it didn’t seem to fit in this science fiction collection. I suppose that’s what you can do when you’re the editor!

All in all, Twelve Tomorrows is a fascinating collection of stories that will expand your mind with big ideas—just sort of ideas you would expect MIT to put their name behind.

—Bruce Sterling, Twelve Tomorrows: MIT Technological Review of SF Annual, 2016 (Cambridge, MA: Technology Review, Inc., 2015).

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