I first encountered Eric Brown via his novel Helix, which I thought was interesting in a Ringworld or Jack McDevitt kind of way – an intriguing alien artifact explored – while remaining lightish adventure. I picked up several of Brown’s other books to find them quite different – understated speculation in a vaguely Richard Cowperish style, but without the same depth. Then a couple of drab detective SF books. Essentially, with every Brown book I read, I liked him less. Deep Future arrests the slide, but it doesn’t bring the curve back up.
Many of the stories are from relatively early in Brown’s career, but I didn’t feel a great sense of development; I didn’t like the older better than the newer or vice versa. My copy of his novel Engineman included several stories in the back. These stories read very much like those – contemplative, vaguely speculative stories that often focus on art. Occasionally, details in a story are inconsistent, or there’s a large info dump, but on the whole, the prose is polished. There’s nothing objectionable about the stories, but there’s also little that’s particularly interesting or memorable. Each story is preceded by author notes that add background about the stories’ creation. If you’re really keen to read fiction that considers art, or you’re a serious Eric Brown fan, these may be for you. Otherwise, they’re a pleasant but bland way to pass some time.