Book review: Lights in the Deep

LD provides a second look at Brad Torgersen’s Lights in the Deep:

I went into this with two disadvantages: I wasn’t at all familiar with
the author, and I haven’t regularly read short form science fiction for
many, many years. I ended up enjoying this collection nonetheless.

Diving into these stories quickly reminded me why I’m not as
big a fan of short stories as I used to be–the limitations in form
itself. As a young man I would devour short stories, but just about any
author, but particularly Larry Niven, Heinlein, Zelazy, Keith Laumer,
Robert Sheckley, and other similar authors. Back then, quick dips into
short stories appealed to me, but now that I’m an old man, I find my
tastes trending toward larger sized (huge) Space Operas from Peter F.
Hamilton, Neal Asher, Alastair Reynolds, etc.

The only recent short story collections I had read were by
Hamilton, and those were related for the most part to the various novels
he’s written, so this was my first dive into a collection like this in

I’ll make quick comments about each entry in the collection and then give my summary.

Three Introductions – I read them, but I couldn’t tell you a thing
about them now. They were nice, but didn’t contain anything memorable.
Neither a plus, nor a minus to the whole.

Outbound – Quite a good story, one that I would have been
happy to see expanded to novel length. For me the downsides were the
brevity of this story… I wanted more detail about this setting.

Gemini 17 – A nice exploration of a *slightly* alternate history. Fun story with a good, humorous ending.

Influences: Allan Cole and Chris Bunch – I’m not familiar with
either author, but it’s always nice to see the influences in an
author’s background.

The Bullfrog Radio Astronomy Project –
Be careful what you transmit or the Men in Black (or are they) will
come for you. It brought back memories of laughing at the Art Bell show.

Exiles of Eden – Another nice story. I figured out what was
happening before the characters did. It’s an interesting concept that
you’ll be familiar with if you’ve read Alastair Reynolds “Revelation
Space” novels.

Writer Dad: Mike Resnick – More background on the author.

Footprints – A character piece. Perhaps a bit too “literary” for my tastes.

Exchange Officers – This excellent story is the polar opposite of most
of the previous stories. It has action, combat, technology, and less
emphasis on memories, and feelings. Perhaps my second favorite story in
the collection.

Essay: On the Growth of Fantasy and the Waning of Science
Fiction – An excellent subject to discuss that’s quite relevant to my
own thoughts and tastes. I’m NOT a fantasy fan. I’ve read Lord of the
Rings once, and that was quite enough for me thank you. I enjoy the Game
of Thrones TV show, but my attempt to start reading the first novel
resulted in boredom and sleepytime. I’m a HARD SF kinda guy, and this
essay covers some of the things that bug me with current SF/Fantasy–I
hate Star Wars, especially the second trilogy, I only liked the original
Star Trek, anyone who likes Avatar is an Ava-tard in my book. My
opinion is that the growth of fantasy reflects the decline of STEM in
modern American society. Fantasy is perfect for those with less than a
firm grasp on science.

The Chaplain’s Assistant – A return to a “character-based”
story. Interesting, but ultimately boring to me. I was not enthused to
find out that the next long story in this collection was a sequel to

The Chaplain’s Legacy – My lack of enthusiasm for the previous
story caused me to put the entire collection down for a few days, but I
had volunteered to review this book for Vox, so I did my duty and read
the story. The good news is that I liked this much more than the
previous short, though in my opinion the size could have been condensed.

The Hero’s Tongue: Larry Niven – Of all of the essays in the
book, this one was the most enjoyable for me because of my own fondness
for Niven.

Exanastasis – Interesting, enjoyable, but ultimately forgettable.

Ray of Light – The final story of the collection and probably
my favorite. There were points in this story where I thought it was
going to break badly, but the story didn’t go in the direction I thought
it would end up, and I enjoyed it a lot.

The last story really brought my opinion of the whole
collection back up from a low spot. I enjoy Torgerson’s writing style,
and I will look up some of his longer work, but probably not the
forthcoming “Chaplain” story.

I’d give this collection a solid 3 out of 5 stars.