Back again with another batch of responses. It's been particularly difficult the past few weeks to keep a regular daily schedule here, between other obligations and my general laziness, for which I apologize. At least I've been keeping up on the actual reading, which is the important part of this whole exercise.
Anyway, on to the first short story for today, Robert Reed's "Guest of Honor." This strange story about a woman returning to Earth after several decades of space travel raises some interesting questions about life. First, it asks whether it would be better to have a short life full of excitement, adventure, and heartbreak, as the protagonist Pico has lived, or to live a virtually immortal, but sedentary life, as the lives of her patrons. This is an important question because Pico is an amalgamation of the personalities of 63 ultra-rich, near-immortals, and was specifically designed to travel through space for them, only to return to Earth where she will be broken down an implanted into their minds.
This brings me to the second question this story raises: how does a person cope with the idea of their impending death? Especially, in this case, with meeting the people who will, very soon, be killing her? This lays quite heavily on Pico throughout the story, and provides a complementary thread to the juxtaposition of Pico's stories from her travels and the descriptions of her "benefactors'" lives.