Christmas Stars

Genre: Fiction; Publisher: Tor Books

In these Yuletide-themed sci-fi and fantasy stories, characters reach holiday epiphanies on Mars, on one of Jupiter’s moons, and in various future civilizations, mostly dystopian. The finest moments in Christmas Stars are the most Scrooge-like: Arthur C. Clarke’s willfully sacrilegious ”The Star” (a Jesuit scientist discovers a dark truth about the Star of Bethlehem) and Rick Shelley’s Rod Serling-worthy ”Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men” (a Christmas miracle turns into a worldwide horror). Also noteworthy is Philip Van Doren Stern’s ”The Greatest Gift,” which inspired It’s a Wonderful Life — but the terse fable is less wondrous in the absence of Jimmy Stewart and Frank Capra.

Originally posted December 6 2004 — 12:00 AM EST

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