Impact Parameter and Other Quantum Realities
by Geoffrey A. Landis
Review by Ann Cecil

Geoffrey Landis has been recognized as a master storyteller. He's won both a Nebula and Hugo for short stories, though the awards were for different stories, and in both cases the stories were contenders for both awards. His name has been on the ballot multiple times for novelettes as well, pretty much on a regular basis over the last twelve years.

Impact Parameter is his first story collection. While these are all stories that were published elsewhere, they are a selected group, containing resonances that enhance each other as you read through the book. I had never realized that Leah from "Ecopoiesis" is the same person whose dark memories are explored in "Winter Fire," and the tough-minded explorer we see diving "Into the Blue Abyss."

The science is these stories is superb, as you'd expect from someone who does the real thing for a living (Landis is a physicist working for NASA). The surprise is how much more he puts in the stories; these aren't just science made clear, these are real people with strong emotions and feelings. The jacket quotes Gardner Dozois: "While there's hard science content, there's also a rich emotionalism." That's a fancy way of saying that Landis' stories are about the people involved in them, reacting to the scientific background, but never retreating from the foreground of the story.

The book contains an afterward, the only new material in the book, in which Landis explains a number of things, including the genesis of the terms he made up: perimelasma is my favorite, and the story ("Approaching Perimelasma") won well-justified awards. The stories in this collection (16 carefully chosen out of the over 60 that Landis has published) are all such high quality that picking a favorite is almost impossible. Joe Haldeman, in the introduction, picks two as his favorites, but also notes how much the stories show off Landis' range: while some are traditional Analog problem stories (in format, if not in the unexpected depth of emotion and complexity of characterization), one is a light and very funny fantasy, another is a tale of horror that will send shivers up your spine, and there's even an extremely well-done Sherlock Holmes pastiche. Very highly recommended.

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