Of all the science fiction anthologies, it is perhaps the generic—the unthemed—anthology that has the greatest chance at touching warm spots with readers. Unless the reader is obsessed with one particular theme or motif, e.g. A.I., cloning, robots, etc., there’s little chance a book full of relevant stories will fail to bore at times, or at least become redundant or repetitive. Unthemed anthologies, or themed anthologies where the editor effectively turns their back at the door and lets the riff-raff in, tend to not only be more engaging in terms of ‘what comes next?’, but more varied across the trigger points of reader enjoyment. This is all just a long-winded way of saying Ian Whates’ ongoing science fiction anthology series Solaris Rising remains a more inviting experience than many of the other offerings I’ve come across in recent years precisely for its variety.
Containing nineteen stories all original to the anthology, Solaris Rising 2, despite its name, is actually the third in the Solaris Rising series. A return to form after the in-one-eye-and-out-the-other feel of Solaris Rising 1.5, the “second” indicates that when an editor is given proper time to commission authors for stories, everything works in the reader’s favor.