Edited by Martin H Greenberg, 1990
Crossposted to Mainlining Christmas
I was so excited when I found this book! A collection of sci-fi themed Christmas stories, just the thing to break up the Christmas monotony, right?
Now I know why I kept finding copies of it for a dollar.
It’s not all bad, there are some stories I liked, but most of the authors are phoning it in here. It’s like everyone had one mediocre holiday story in them, and instead of reading it in a collection of other good stories on other topics or other good stories by the same author, it’s bundled with every other author’s one mediocre story.
But let’s be more specific, shall we?
“To Hell with the Stars” Jack McDevitt, 1987
To hell with your pessimistic cliche attitude, Mr. McDevitt, warp drive might still be possible - 1 Star
“A Midwinter's Tale” Michael Swanwick, 1988
A nicely creepy Solstice tale, well done - 4 Stars
“Christmas on Ganymede” Isaac Asimov, 1968
Cute humor story, fine for what it is - 3 Stars
“The Falcon and the Falconeer” Barry N. Malzberg, 1969
Okay example of mysticism, not my thing - 2 Stars
“Christmas Roses” John Christopher, 1943
Decent little character study, holiday somewhat incidental - 3 Stars
“Happy Birthday Dear Jesus” Frederik Pohl, 1956
Starts really strong, but the cutesiness of the setting takes over and the ending chickens out big time - 2 Stars
“The War Beneath the Tree” Gene Wolfe, 1979
One of the best stories in the book, dark and horrific, well in tone for December - 4 Stars
“The Santa Claus Planet” Frank M. Robinson, 1951
Cute premise, I guess, but overstays its welcome - 3 Stars
“The Pony” Connie Willis, 1985
Niiiiiiiiiiice - 4 Stars
“O Little Town of Bethlehem II” Robert F. Young, 1985
Really intriguing premise, somewhat lackluster execution - 3 Stars
“The Christmas Present” Gordon R. Dickson, 1957
Really? This was pointless - 1 Star
“The Season of Forgiveness” Poul Anderson, 1973
Decent, but at this point in the book, decent wasn’t impressing me - 2 Stars
“Christmas without Rodney” Isaac Asimov, 1988
Cute, but read like a story that was cut from I, Robot for not having an ending - 2 Stars
“Christmas Treason” James White, 1961
It’s almost good? The idea is neat, but the plot “twists” are so incredibly dated today that I just had to sigh - 3 Stars
Hits and misses aren’t that surprising for an anthology, but still I was disappointed. Nothing really blew me away, although most of the stories were at least okay.
In the end, it averages about 2.6, which sounds right. Not terrible, by any measure.
Lets call it 3 Stars - A Good Book, because I’m feeling generous.
Because all credit to these authors, but it’s not their fault that Mainlining Christmas’ collection of Christmas stories has amazing sci-fi that leaves theirs in the dust.