Galactic Empires by Neil Clarke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I haven't had the greatest track record of picking good anthologies to read. Most of them garner something like a 3-star rating; a mixed up kind of meh. I'm also rather picky about my science fiction. Too hard and I get bored, too soft and it often gets too romantic for me.
What Neil Clarke has done here is create a collection that hits just the right spot with the right balance. Obviously, everything is galactic - whether it's a human-settled planet, or humans somewhere in space, or even no humans at all, just aliens - and based around empires - some benign, some conquering, others falling apart. Multispecies, multiracial, multigendered; nothing ever exactly fitting in our earthly constraints, every story mindblowing in its own way.
The only drawback of this anthology is that it takes an extremely long time to get through. This is mainly because each story is a novella in its own right but also because you can't just sit down and power through the whole thing. You need time and space in between each achingly beautiful story to just rest and let your emotions finish unfurling (and your brain to stop internally squealing) before you launch yourself headlong into the next adventure.
*Note: I received a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review via Edelweiss.
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