A Long Haul into the Fantastic
edited by Eric Miller (Big Time Books)
Over the years, I’ve done a lot of driving. I’ve lived on a couple continents and done a fair amount of traveling for fun. I’ve worked as power technician, driving an Isuzu box truck to telecom sites all over the United States. There’s something about being in that no-man’s land in between where you’ve been and where you’re going that’s ineffable; you’re detached, marooned away from all human contact. It’s a strange stasis, a waiting to happen, a break from the regularly scheduled procession of life. There’s no feeling quite like having a three day drive between you and the western seaboard, alone with your thoughts and the startling, titanic countryside. I’ve haven’t read may pieces of writing that adequately captured that feeling of being a speck upon the horizon. To my great delight the editor of this anthology and this group of writers managed to capture that feeling over and over again.
18 Wheels of Science Fiction was something of a surprise. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did or to be reminded as much of earlier times in my life as I was. I certainly wanted to like it, but I had a hard time imagining an anthology filled with stories about trucking that didn’t start to blend together after a while. It turns out you can get a lot of mileage (I’m sorry. Couldn’t resist.) out of the collection’s premise. These various authors have greater and lesser connections to the world of turning mile markers into paychecks; despite that, they all found ways to imagine themselves into box cabs here on earth or out among the stars. Much of the anthology is haunted by the specter of automation, and more than one of the tales dealt with the anxiety we all face in the shadow of advancing artificial intelligence development. Surprising inclusions were a revenge tale, a post apocalyptic story or two, a story about what it means to be human, and what it means to have come of age and overshadow someone else’s coming of age in turn. Without saying anything too revealing, the anthology manages to run the gamut of sci-fi genre. Of special mention is the story by Terry Bisson, which I loved.
If you were wondering how an anthology about science fiction big rig drivers could be good, well, keep wondering, because I’m not sure how this collection of folks managed to make so much out of their premise. What I can tell you is this collection is well worth the list price. It’ll provide you with several pleasant evenings of reading which you won’t soon forget. – Derek Wentz