Cover Image: The Long Fall Up

The Long Fall Up

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William Ledbetter's collection of science fiction short stories is a tour de force that seamlessly blends cutting-edge technology with compelling narratives. With each story, Ledbetter showcases his mastery of the genre, exploring themes of artificial intelligence, space exploration, and the human condition with depth and imagination. From the intricacies of life on Mars to the ethical dilemmas of advanced robotics, these tales transport readers to worlds both familiar and fantastical, leaving them pondering the possibilities of our future. With 17 previously published stories and one original addition, this collection is a must-read for fans of thought-provoking speculative fiction.

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Please see my review in the March/April 2024 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact:

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The choices you have to make can be tough. William Ledbetter kicks off The Long Fall Up with a doozy with the titled story and the choice of whether to save yourself or kill someone else and expose a truth. Is it worth it? The dilemma is a good one because you don’t even know if you decide to “save the day” will you live to see the outcome. It reminds me of a Twilight Zone episode. Excellent.

There are other themes such as loyalty and going against the mainstream (because of course the mainstream is the bad guy). The happy endings when they happen aren’t really 100 percent happy because there is always a twist such as in Bridging and Sofie’s fate.

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Thank you NetGalley, William Ledbetter and Interstellar Flight Press for this ARC and the opportunity to review.

This was a great collection of Sci-Fi short stories. My favorites were The Long Fall Up, where a woman secretly impregnates herself in space, against the government's orders, to prove children born there will be ok and the government was lying about that information. However, an operation was set out to kill her and the child before the public sees the child. When the pregnant woman begins sending messages to the ship tasked to kill them, the ship operator begins to doubt what they are doing is correct and tries to change course.

Second favorite was In A Wide Sky, Hidden. This story shows the bond between sisters and following your dreams.

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Start as you mean to go! The first short story in this collection broke my heart. Every story wasn't as serious, but they all dealt with important issues, usually in how people relate to each other. Most of these stories have high stakes, but one of my favorites was about someone helping someone who was new to the society so he could catch up. I highly recommend this collection for anyone who loves sci fi short stories.
Thanks to NetGalley for letting me read this

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If you really want to see an author's skill, read their short stories. In the length of a few chapters, the author must grab your attention, build characters and back story, introduce the surrounding characters and solve the whole story, all while keeping readers flipping pages quickly. This takes skill. William Ledbetter has consistently meets all of these rules in his short stories, that's why his fans keep coming back. And of course, he does a pretty fair job on full length novels too. These stories mix genres but still manage to maintain my interest in seeing what comes next. What a great accomplishment!

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This collection of 18 short stories, "The Long Fall Up, and other stories", by William Ledbetter was very readable. I may be slightly prejudiced as I have enjoyed several of his novels before, and I was pleasantly surprised to run across some old friends as I read this collection. That is to say I really enjoyed rereading a couple of stories that I had encountered in the past. I am confident that readers who appreciate science fiction will certainly appreciate this collection.

These stories were published between 2006 and 2020 in well known venues such as Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Asimov's, Escape Pod, Jim Baen's Universe, and even Writers of the Future.

These exciting stories include adventure, survival, discovery, exploration, AI, technology, etc, and are set on spaceships, space stations, Mars, Deimos, other alien planets, various dystopian future Earths, and even seemingly normal near future Earths. Each story is fresh, interesting, and engages the reader with a combination of real characters that one quickly cares about along with fascinating scenarios.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good science fiction story.

I am deeply thankful that Interstellar Flight Press and William Ledbetter shared a temporary electronic review copy of this excellent work with me. I look forward to reading much more written by Ledbetter.

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I love it when I finish a sci-fi read and feel sated, and William Ledbetter (Level Five, Level Six) is becoming one of my favourite SF authors. I didn’t completely love every single story in this collection, but there are soooo many good ones here. And he writes the only kind of sci-fi that matters—that is, hard SF (:

One small criticism before I talk about everything I loved: body differences are dealt with somewhat awkwardly in a couple of the stories. I don’t know many authors who get it right (and even “right” is still in question), but I do want to see more disability rep in SF that isn’t so explainey or excusey.

But to some of my favourite stories in this collection: What I am, about the cutest smart sweater (I totally want one, and also the smarts to reconfigure it); Last House, Lost House which is sad and lonely, and ends in the nicest way; Bridging, which, I mean, space elevator!; Steal From the Sun, which has a cool scene that reminds me of the 2018 film, Aniara; How to Fix Discarded Things, which reminds me of Cory Doctorow’s Unauthorized Bread, and which is cool in all of the same ways (you should read both); The Beast from Below, which is really funny; That Other Sea, which has persons but no humans, is absolutely beautiful and possibly my favourite; Medic!, because I love Military SF; The Rings of Mars, because, well, Mars, and KSR messed me up in good ways for good; and In a Wide Sky, Hidden, because it’s so wonderfully imaginative.

So, that’s a lot of good stories in one collection, and it is a very good collection. If anything I said in the previous paragraph makes no sense to you, this may not be the book for you… But if it does, you must read it. Highly recommended.

Thank you to Interstellar Flight Press and to NetGalley for access.

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An excellent collection of short stories, all of them at high level. William Ledbetter is an excellent storyteller
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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Thank you so much to the publisher sending me a hardcopy of this book to read as an ARC. I was not familiar with William Ledbetter before reading this book, but I will absolutely seek out more of him in the future.

This one is a little difficult for me to rate, because like any anthology, it has wonderful entries and then some that I wasn't a huge fan of. Ledbetter has a pretty wide range of style, from the humorous and weird (giant irradiated armadillos appear in this anthology) to hard scifi to one of the more gutwrenching post-apocalyptic short stories I've read, with all sorts of other goodies in between.

Occasionally I did note some dubious accuracy in a couple scientific premises, and that's NOT my field, so if you're going to get picky about the hard scifi details, be forewarned. There are a few stories in here that absolutely shine, though, some real 5-star pieces. So, while I would not argue that every story in here is a hit, there are a few that are now right up there with my favorite scifi stories. Last House, Lost House got me good, and How To Fix Discarded Things is SUCH an interesting take on the social issues that arise in one version of solarpunk-adjacent utopia. The first story have me a bit of a squirm with some language that I would argue is pretty ableist, only for the second story to feature an awesome character facing mobility issues in low-g.

So again, not a perfect story, but I loved the range, the thought that went into each piece, and the fact that if I started skimming a story that I didn't love, there was a high probability that the next one would be very different. I would have given it a 4-star overall average if it weren't for those standout stories. :) Absolutely recommend if you love short scifi. I like this writer's brain.

One little note that did not impact my rating, but WOULD impact my purchasing... I received this book as a paperback from the publisher, and the text was so small that I really struggled to read it. I ended up requesting an ebook copy as well, which is how I read most of the book.

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Super compelling, hard sci-fi short story collection that deserves all the hype.
Every. Single. Story. Slaps.

Read this if you love The Expanse
Read this if you love Station Eleven
Read this if you love hard sci-fi, soft world building and flawed but ultimately relatable characters

This short story collection opens with the titular, Nebula Award winning short story, 'The Long Fall Up'. It's clear why this short story won the Nebula award, as it immediately drops you in a spaceship, chasing another ship on behalf of a planetary superpower. Although the story is set far in the future, it feels extremely relevant as it questions reproductive autonomy, and the validity of laws meant to protect. As a mother, this story hit hard.

All of these stories are really different and yet every single one plays out like a high-quality HBO series. We have space travel, we have dystopian worlds, we have space cowboys, we have aliens and so much more. Sometimes these stories are wrapped up with satisfying endings, and sometimes we're left wondering what happened next. I love the variation here.

One of my favourite stories in the collection is called, "Last House, Lost House" about one of the last people on Earth in the midst of a cataclysmic weather event. She has been alone, scavenging for so long that she's wondering if she can even continue anymore. The questions around what makes life worth living are powerfully investigated.

Another favourite is, "How to Fix Discarded Things". In this world, everyone has a printer than can print them anything from clothes to dishes to toys, and it meant to be a universal equalizer ensuring everyone has food, housing and access to essentials like clothes. However, the printer usage is highly regulated, the people without power and money are still subjugated, and where does the value of handmade items go?

This book is best read in a bar on a satellite orbiting a planet far from Earth. Don’t let yourself get distracted by the people telling stories of retrieving ancient space junk, or the last dystopian months of what used to be called Earth.

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I got an ARC of this book.

I wasn’t sure about this book at first. The first story starts up with a man chasing a pregnant woman to punish her. He is so full of hatred. It was very hard to read that one, but as it went on I was hooked. There was not a single story that didn’t make me want to keep reading.

Normally I am not the biggest fan of short story anthologies. They feel so hit or miss. This one was mostly a lot of YES OMG and that was pretty interesting. There were people who traded their bodies to be pretty forever (the ending of that one oof, that hurt), people who judge others and then fall directly into their shoes, and so many interesting things. So many of the stories were intensely emotional. This is the type of sci-fi I love. The type that until the last few years, I didn’t know existed. The sentient sweater was both heart breaking and heart warming at the same time. Having to change so intensely for someone to see the value in you, but you doing whatever you can to support them. It was wow.

I can’t even begin to pick a favorite story. Every time I thought I found the best story, I would just read the next. Then I would cycle around. Was the sentient sweater the best? Was the raiders on the farm? What about the armadillo? Clearly those are not the titles of the stories, but once you read them, you will know exactly the story and why I liked it so much.

I will be reading more Ledbetter as soon as I can track down his other works.

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A very interesting collection of sf short stories that had appeared in various venues (magazines and anthologies) in the last decade. They are now gathered to form a collection of great variety. Hard sci-fi, soft sci-fi, even funny stories. The first one of the collection (its theme is on the cover) is really strong and worths its place as opening story. A lot of the stories take place on other planets or in deep space, but some of them go as far as the confines of a small town. It was not the first book of the author I read, so I was already prepared to enjoy the experience. I was not disappointed.

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Its been a long time since I’ve read such a good short stories anthology, I mean, usually I only have a couple of stories I really like and some OK stories and a few I really don’t really care about, in here I did enjoy most of the stories, and even in the ones I didn’t really care about, felt like a satisfying bite, I am grateful that the stories fell so complete, actually the style reminded me of Ray Bradbury short stories.

I wont comment the different stories, because if you want a list of what stories are here, you will probably find it easily enough and I don’t want to spoil the stories but I believe most of these will find way into your heart like it did into mine, I really recommend this book, you get a feel for how William Ledbetter writes, and to tell you the truth I already read his book “Level 5” and I really enjoyed that experience, hey it was a 5 stars experience for me, and this one also hit the right spot, don’t be afraid to experience this book of short stories, maybe like me you will find a new author to follow.

Thank you NetGalley and Interstellar Flight Press, for the free ARC and this is my honest opinion.

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This was a nice collection of previously published sci-fi stories from William Ledbetter. He does a great job of finding the heart in human connection in these stories.

While some were stronger than others, overall I thought there were some strong stories. Ledbetter clearly has a vast knowledge of the mechanics of space, so the stories were really grounded in worlds and settings that felt real. Sometimes I thought the way he wrote women or the characterization of certain characters missed the mark.

Thanks to NetGalley and Interstellar Press for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Although author Ledbetter takes on some very current issues like bodily autonomy, human trafficking, and other topics, these stories are written in a classic sci-fi style and tone--they'd be right at home in a collection that also included Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov. Don't get me wrong, most of the stories are well-written and interesting, but they do feel dated, a little over-long, a little circuitous and slow. So if classic sci-fi is your thing, you'll enjoy a lot of this.

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A strong collection. I'm new to this author, and enjoyed most of what's offered here. A good choice for many sci-fi fans.

Thanks very much for the free copy for review!!

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These 17 stories cover a wide spectrum of ideas. There is a lot of science, some very creative fiction and memorable characters contained within. There is even a story about a giant armadillo that doesn’t quite fit with the rest; it’s still good fun.

I was not familiar with this author. As soon as this one is published, I’ll add him to my list of followed writers and be sure to keep an eye on what comes next.

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Recently, I found out that I love anthologies and that was one of the biggest reasons I wanted to give this book a try. I love sci-fi and space genre so I love how there were different stories with so many different perspectives.
The very first story I thought was nice and well thought out and had me looking forward to what would happen next.
There were stories that I wasn’t as interested in but overall the book was good.

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This was such a good collection of short stories, each story worked overall and I enjoyed that they were all new to me. William Ledbetter has a great style for this type of book.

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