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Themed collections, a book containing stories by the same author in a common universe, are interesting things. Isaac Asimov's Foundation is one of the more famous examples, and when a collection of Zenna Henderson's The People stories comes out, that will be one of the best ever.

Sometimes, an author is tempted to shoehorn a number of unrelated stories into a single timeline. Then the stories can be re-released as a "novel" rather than as just a compiled group of shorts (of the type Sheckley releases).

It can work, but not always. Every story is written with a set of assumptions in mind, and it is often difficult to do a polished rewrite such that the original assumptions can be masked.

Galaxies Like Grains of Sand is a new book from seasoned young British writer Brian Aldiss. It contains eight previously published stories stitched together in timeline chronological order with italicized linking text. The book ostensibly covers some forty million years of future history. It's a cute conceit, but does it really hold up under scrutiny? Let's look at each of the parts and see if the whole is greater than their sum (it should be noted that I hadn't read most of these stories before since they came out primarily in British mags):

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)


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