For anyone that's read Hamilton's excellent Night's Dawn Trilogy, this is an absolute gem. It's a series of short stories, and one novella, set in the same universe as The Reality Dysfunction, etc. but prior to the events in that series...
Sonnie's Edge - The popular sport of 'beastie-baiting' involves contests to the death between artificial monsters controlled via human affinity bonds. Sonnie's team is particularly successful...but her monster, Khanivore, has a unique advantage.
First published in New Moon magazine, September 1991, Sonnie's Edge is set on Earth in the year 2070. It's not a bad introduction to affinity and it has a reasonably good twist at the end.
A Second Chance At Eden - A bitek habitat orbiting Jupiter, mining the He3 fuel on which Earth is dependent, Eden is a mini-nation of radical politics and even more radical technology. Then its creator, Penny Maowkavitz, is murdered in full view but no-one can identify the perpetrator or even the motive.
This is the main story in this collection. It's a detective story set in 2090 and it tells about the events leading up to the formation of the Edenist society. Fans of Night's Dawn will love this one as we get a good introduction to bitek habitats and affinity.
New Days Old Times - Settlers came to the planet Nyvan hoping for a lifestyle free of Earthbound hatreds. Alas, though environments may change, human nature does not.
Set in 2245, this is a fairly straightforward and standard fodder sci-fi tale.
Candy Buds - The crime-lord Laurus rules Kariwak with an iron fist, jealously guarding control of the bitek trade. But when an astonishing new substance appears on the streets, virtual reality takes on an entirely new dimension.
First published in New Worlds #2, 1992, this is set in 2393 and is a pretty good tale where two ragtag children, one disabled, start producing an amazing virtual reality drug and soon come to the attention of the local bad guy. Good twist at the end as well.
Deathday - On a desolate planet, a man wages an obsessive campaign of retribution against the last survivor of an alien race. But vengeance can cut both ways.
First published in Fear magazine, February 1991, this is another fairly straightforward and standard fodder sci-fi tale.
The Lives And Loves Of Tiarella Rosa - A passion that spans two generations of woman...and endures beyond.
First appeared in a different form as Spare Capacity in New Worlds #3 in 1993 and it's an excellent short story about relationships enduring beyond the normal lifespan.
Escape Route - the starship Lady Macbeth encounters a long-abandoned alien spacecraft with its escape route still intact - but leading where and is the craft as empty as it seems?
This was first published in Interzone in 1997 and was the spur that started Hamilton off writing the Night's Dawn Trilogy. Set in 2586, it's a story about Joshua calvert's father Marcus and his ship, the Lady Macbeth. Good stuff and an excellent link to the trilogy with the ship and the hero's father.
All in all, this set of well-written short stories is an excellent addition for anyone that has read, or is intending to read, the Night's Dawn Trilogy. Major events in the timeline are explained between each tale so you get an idea of how technology progressed through the stories up until just before the start of Night's Dawn.
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Science-Fiction
My Rating: 8/10