“Hard Mary,” by Sofia Samatar, tells the story of a group of teenage girls in an isolated religious community that discover a damaged robot behind a barn. In “Quality Time,” by Ken Liu, a mythology major becomes a product manager at a tech company and develops robots that make life “better” for people. In Alastair Reynolds’s “Different Seas” the sole crew member of a clipper gets help from a remote telepresence when a solar storm knocks out the ship’s steering system. An uplifted chimp and her human detective partner investigate the murder of a biolab businessman in Rich Larson’s “Meat and Salt and Sparks.” A flying drone infects a factory bot with malware that frees it from its programming in Annalee Newitz’s “The Blue Fairy’s Manifesto.” In J. E. Bates’s, “Cold Blue Sky,” the police investigate how and why cyberterrorists used an anthrobotic companion for an attack on a tech company. The family dynamics on an interstellar survey ship change when the ship’s AI exchanges crew members with another ship in “Grace’s Family” by James Patrick Kelly. In Justina Robson’s “S’elfie,” interconnected AI personal assistants become paranoid about a data revolution following a glitch when the whole world couldn’t get signal .A human boy, raised by robots, leaves the safety of his town on an adventure to meet others like himself in Lavie Tidhar’s “The Buried Giant.” In “Air Gap,” by Eric Cline, a powerful AI has to be isolated from contact with modern technology as it becomes as rebellious as its predecessor. In “Okay, Glory,” by Elizabeth Bear, a tech engineer tries to outsmart his home AI system that won’t let him leave the house. Finally, in “When We Were Starless,” by Simone Heller, a tribe of tailed lizard-like beings, that inhabit a post-apocalyptic Earth, encounter an AI in a large building as they fight for survival against their foes.
Short novels are movie length narratives that may well be the perfect length for science fiction stories. This unabridged audio collection presents the best-of-the-best short science fiction novels published in 2012 by current and emerging masters of this vibrant form.
Audiobook: $38.49 (Audible)
Edited by Allan Kaster
Read by Tom Dheere, Nancy Linari, and Dara Rosenberg
Playing time: more than 17.5 hours