Is Anybody Out There? edited by Nick Gevers and Marty Halpern

Is Anybody Out There?

Back in 1950, renowned particle physicist Enrico Fermi was talking with some friends about the possibility of alien life, when he suddenly said, “Where are they?”

It’s not an idle query: If other life exists, shouldn’t we have found some evidence by now? Maybe we’re alone in the universe, or maybe whoever’s out there is hiding. Regardless, this new sci-fi anthology answers Fermi’s memorable outburst.

The stories cover several theories regarding our lack of evidence. A common one is that other life forms already are here … and integrated. Michael Arsenault’s “Residue” is framed as a couple having a conversation about aliens, during which they run through the reasons why other beings might not have contacted humanity.

This leads into the notion that maybe such beings have been in touch … but we just don’t remember completely.

Another theory is that we are the aliens, whether through genetics or quirks of evolution. Pat Cadigan’s “The Taste of Night” follows a supposedly schizophrenic woman who is growing a second brain. On a related note, Paul Di Filippo’s “Galaxy of Mirrors” uses time travel to work with the theory that life was “seeded” onto our world.

The best stories are those where aliens exist, but are hiding from us. The funniest is Mike Resnick and Lezli Robyn’s “Report from the Field,” in which an alien observer gathers information about humanity from our books, movies and TV shows. To say that the narrator is horrified is an understatement, and the story will make readers think harder about what we’re broadcasting for any passing alien to pick up.

Like most anthologies, this volume has a few good stories and a couple of yawners, but is worth the attention of anybody interested in aliens. Is Anybody Out There? breaks no new ground, but these tales do explore a few theories with humor and creativity.

This review originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on September 16, 2010.

Series: n/a
ISBN: 9780756406196
Publisher: Daw
Page Count: 320
Publication Date: June 1, 2010
Acquired: Personal purchase