‘Cosmogramma’ is a collection of speculative short stories of a science fiction bent. Robots, AI, space travel… with a little sprinkling of mermaids and zombies and superhumans to keep things interesting.
Given it’s a collection of short stories, I’ll do my best to review each briefly and then give my overall impression:
A dispassionate retelling of a robopocalyse. Engaging, well told, and very believable. I wish that this short story was fleshed out and just the whole novel, honestly. Reminded me of ‘animatrix’. Five stars.
Augmented cyborg circus performers recruiting a new ‘strong man’ to the fold. So much of a letdown after the first story that it gave me whiplash. Two stars.
Zombies, but not zombies… just kind of weird people returning from the dead in weird ways. Left with a lot more questions than answers. Two stars.
Kids on a interstellar colony that evolve the ability to … make… colour? I did’t really understand this one… Two stars.
- Dark Matters
…. I honestly cannot recall this story at all. Yikes. Zero stars.
Merpeople who approach humans and ask them to breed with them so that they can maintain their race. This was quite good, I found the relationships and ethics to be compelling, even if it was very very hard to suspend my disbelief enough to accept the premise. Three stars.
- The difference between me and you
Musings on how a post-Brexit world would work. Unsettling and realistic but still pretty shallow. Three stars.
Little purple seeds cover everything one morning and rapidly grow into a personal and nefarious threat to humanity…. I think?! Promising start, then it all fell apart. Two stars.
- The Sankofa Principle
Accidental time travel! Promising premise, strange execution, and ended just as the interesting stuff should have started. Two stars.
- You Meets You
Took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out what on earth this was trying to say. A cautionary tale about designer drugs. Pretty solid once I understood what it was about. Three stars.
A return to the world described in Percipi, but from the perspective of one particular robot and its friend. A good book-end to the first story but it didn’t quite stick the landing. 4 stars.
There were some others: “Control”, “Buck”, and “Nocturne”. Perhaps more. I don’t remember anything about them though, so will just leave it there.
After working my way through this book, I’m shocked to see it was only 280 pages. I read it on my kindle and it felt at least three times that long… It took me so long to work my way through it and really was not compelling enough to keep me awake and reading into the night. Some stories were pretty interesting, but most took so long to hook me that by the time I was interested/invested, the story was on it’s final pages. There was one story within that I couldn’t tell you anything about, despite reading (and re-reading) every word. It was just plain terrible and couldn’t maintain my focus at all, which is not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Overall I would not recommend Cosmogramma – it missed much more than it hit and there are plenty of better speculative short story collections out there.
2 Purple People Plants out of 5.