Part of the reason I was so hard on Cascade Point, I've realized, was that it's in my least favorite segment of speculative fiction -- the future as a simple mapping of the past* -- the starship version of a tramp steamer is even called a "tramp starmer", which really rings hollow to my ears. And it had a side helping of "the technical problem with your imaginary technology" ala the technobabble problem of the week on Star Trek: TNG. Boo, I say.

These problems are highlighted by the nature of Cascade Point's companion novella in this Tor Double -- Greg Bear's Hardfought. Hardfought is truly speculative fiction -- a look at a battle between a completely alien race and a humanity so far removed from us that they are on their way to becoming alien as well. There're plenty of universal questions pondered -- the nature and limits of war and what it means to be human -- but there's also some pretty far out stuff. I mean, there are flashbacks in this story to the year 29,000! In 85 pages, Cascade Point felt like a stretched out short story. Clocking in at 92 pages, Hardfought feels like a vast novel whizzing by. FuzzyCo grade: A.

* Which, of course, can be done well -- Firefly's future as old west, for example. But I still don't like it in general.