Neal Stephenson is one of those authors who could write pretty much anything, and I'd buy it, which is what made me buy this anthology.
This collection of short stories was supposed to "reignite the iconic and optimistic visions of the golden age of science fiction". That sounded pretty cool to me; there is too much "doom and gloom" these days. If you want to read something depressing, open up a newspaper and think about all the ruined lives and all that will never be for the various victims of misfortune and disaster. I want to read something uplifting in my spare time.
Unfortunately, this book does not really deliver, outside of a few stories that were good, like Neal Stephenson's. Some of them were kind of trite, and many felt a bit preachy about current "doom & gloom" topics like global warming. I'm not one to deny what scientists are telling us, but I read these stories hoping for an optimistic view of people solving problems.
I suppose part of the problem is that I'm just not a fan of short stories; they don't give the author much time to really create much depth, so they tend to bludgeon you over the head with a Message, or otherwise be very direct, compared to a novel length work, which can afford to have a richer plot and characters. Combine that with some of the authors who had various axes to grind, and I felt like the Messages were taking a back seat to the stories.
I'd give this book a pass. Luckily, Neal Stephenson is coming out with a new book sometime this year!