Reviews of Microcosmic God (1995)
Review by clong (2006-09-25)
Another wonderful collection of Theodore Sturgeon stories, made all the more impressive by the fact that he churned this batch out in such a short time period. Roughly half of the stories are fantasy (written for John W. Campbell, Jr.'s Unknown), and half are science fiction (written for Campbell's Astounding Science-Fiction).
"Microcosmic God," the title story for this volume, is one of Sturgeon's most famous tales although it was never one of his personal favorites. It's a brilliant story, although I thought it lacks the extraordinary empathy which marks Sturgeon's very best works ("Thunder and Roses" for example).
The world in a microcosm tale had been done before, if not as well, but other stories in this collection were truly groundbreaking. "Poker Face" was the first story to deal with aliens living and working amongst us (a topic Sturgeon revisited later that same year in "The Golden Egg"). I was also surprised that stories published in 1941 dealt very directly with issues around atomic energy, nuclear explosions, and Uranium-235 vs Uranium-238.
Three of these stories seem to be set in the same future universe: "Biddiver," "Artnan Process," and "Two Percent Solution." This trio shares a strong space opera flavor I don't typically associate with Sturgeon (although the Two Percent Solution ends with a triple twist very much in the style of Sturgeon's earliest stories).
A general comment I would make about this group of stories is they are not as assured as Sturgeon's best at capturing empathy. The boy meets girl stories in this volume "The Haunt" and "The Golden Egg," for example, are not nearly as effective as his other stories of this ilk.
The story notes from editor Paul Williams are not as extensive as those from the first volume, but still add a lot.