Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Wireless Wireless
by Charles Stross

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Simon Litten
Jacqui Smith

Charles Stross is principally a novelist, but he started his writing career in the shorter length market and makes the occasional foray there still. Wireless is a collection of nine of his previously published short works from 2000 to 2008 – a couple of novellas, two or three short stories and the rest novelettes.

This was an entertaining collection as each of the stories was a gem, or semi-precious stone at least, in its own right and for most of the works there was an author’s note about the story. An added bonus was the author’s own introduction to the collection where he gave his view on the whys and wherefores of writing; of short works against novels; and a bit of SF history besides.

Apart from having the same author and being SF (or SFnal), there was no unifying theme to this collection. Some of the works were written to get an idea out, some were in response to a commission, and others were test pieces for novels. One is a companion piece to The Atrocity Archive, another an attempt at a P. G. Wodehouse pastiche. All are worth the time to read.

If you enjoy or just merely like Mr Stross’s novels, then I whole-heartedly recommend this book to you. If you like short SF then a copy of this book should be on your shelves. If you are in the group that likes neither then I doubt you have read this review.

-- Simon Litten

Anthologies generally have some of the qualities of a curate’s egg – very mixed, some stories being good, some not so good. I’m not going to accuse any of these stories being badly written. It’s more than they are an eclectic bunch of styles and subjects, and some will definitely appeal to some readers more than others.

The collection is book-ended by two massive award-winning novellas, Missile Gap which won the 2007 Locus Award for Best Novella, and Palimpsest which won the 2010 Hugo Award for Best Novella (as I predicted – not that means much, since it was the only literary award I picked correctly). I was sure that I’d read Missile Gap before, though I can’t remember where, and it wouldn’t have been another story like it, because you can believe me when I say that this story is absolutely unique – mainly due to the unusual megastructure which acts as the setting. I’ve already written about Palimpsest elsewhere – it’s an excellent piece of SF writing and one of those highly complex time travel stories that really make your teeth ache. The other stories include Trunk and Disorderly – a strange, yet definitely humourous tribute to PG Wodehouse, and A Colder War wherein the legacy of Lovecraft meets the Cold War. My personal favourite is Down on the Farm one of his "Laundry" stories, set against the same background as Overtime which was nominated for the 2010 Hugo Award for Best Novelette. I liked that one too, and so I’m hunting down more.

-- Jacqui Smith

SFFANZ is a non-profit organisation and registered charity
designed to bring together fans of the fantastic in New Zealand

Contact us by email at: