STARLINGS by Jo Walton. Tachyon Publications (www.tachyonpublications.com), 2018, 258 pp., $15.95. ISBN 978-1-61696-056-8.
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STARLINGS is a collection of everything Jo Walton, including poetry and vignettes, all sorts of short fiction, and these gems:
“Unreliable Witness”: A senior-care facility convalescent woman keeps losing her things, but is visited by an alien who is fascinated by human aging. Or is she?
“On the Wall”: What IS the perspective of the magical mirror owned by the wicked witch? What does the mirror think, or wish for itself?
“Remember the Allosar”: Cedric is a dinosaur, but is intelligent and can direct his actions. Really well. But some roles are meant only and purely for humans.
“Sleeper”: Matthew Corley was a political activist, a long time ago, but finds himself in another century. He is contacted in stasis, his consciousness uploaded to virtual reality after his death, as his “biographer” introduces Matthew to the work he still needs to do.
“Escape to Other Worlds”: An alternate reality in which the Axis powers are winning, but for one desperate-for-work woman in America, life presses on.
“What a Piece of Work”: Artificial intelligence could have a simple yet auspicious beginning as a web search assistant.
“What Joseph Felt”: What was going through Joseph, the carpenter’s, mind when he learned his biblical wife-to-be had an immaculate conception? How was Joseph going to deal with that, really?
“Three Shouts On a Hill”: A play that is a humorous quest and some additional poetry.