Year's Best SF 7by David G. Hartwell, Kathryn Cramer
Once again, the year's finest flights of speculative imagination are gathered in one extraordinary volume, compiled by acclaimed editor and anthologist David G. Hartwell. From some of the most renowned visionaries of contemporary SF -- as well as new writers who are already making an indelible mark -- comes an all-new compendium of unparalleled tales of the… See more details below
Once again, the year's finest flights of speculative imagination are gathered in one extraordinary volume, compiled by acclaimed editor and anthologist David G. Hartwell. From some of the most renowned visionaries of contemporary SF -- as well as new writers who are already making an indelible mark -- comes an all-new compendium of unparalleled tales of the possible that will enthrall, astonish, terrify, and elate. Stories of strange worlds and mind-boggling futures, of awesome discoveries and apocalyptic disasters, of universes light years distant and deep within the human consciousness, are collected here as SF's brightest lights shine more radiantly than ever before.
Read an Excerpt
Year's Best SF 7
by Nancy Kress
"It's out!" someone said, a tech probably, although later McTaggart could never remember who spoke first. "It's out!"
"It can't be!" someone else cried, and then the whole room was roiling, running, frantic with activity that never left the workstations. Running in place.
"It's not supposed to be this way," Elya blurted. Instantly she regretted it. The hard, flat eyes of her sister-in-law Cassie met hers, and Elya flinched away from that look.
"And how is it supposed to be, Elya?" Cassie said. "Tell me."
"I'm sorry. I only meant that...that no matter how much you loved Vlad, mourning gets...lighter. Not lighter, but less...withdrawn. Cass, you can't just wall up yourself and the kids in this place! For one thing, it's not good for them. You'll make them terrified to face real life."
"I hope so," Cassie said, "for their sake. Now let me show you the rest of the castle."
Cassie was being ironic, Elya thought miserably, but "castle" was still the right word. Fortress, keep, bastion...Elya hated it. Vlad would have hated it. And now she'd provoked Cassie to exaggerate every protective, self-sufficient, isolating feature of the multi-million dollar pile that had cost Cass every penny she had, including the future income from the lucrative patents that had gotten Vlad murdered.
"This is the kitchen," Cassie said. "House, do we have any milk?"
"Yes," said the impersonal voice of the house system. At least Cassie hadn't named it, or given it one of those annoying visual avatars. The roomscreen remained blank. "There is one carton of soymilkand one of cow milk on the third shelf."
"It reads the active tags on the cartons," Cassie said. "House, how many of Donnie's allergy pills are left in the master-bath medicine cabinet?"
"Sixty pills remain," House said, "and three more refills on the prescription."
"Donnie's allergic to ragweed, and it's mid-August," Cassie said.
"Well, he isn't going to smell any ragweed inside this mausoleum," Elya retorted, and immediately winced at her choice of words. But Cassie didn't react. She walked on through the house, unstoppable, narrating in that hard, flat voice she had developed since Vlad's death.
"All the appliances communicate with House through narrow-band wireless radio frequencies. House reaches the Internet the same way. All electricity comes from a generator in the basement, with massive geothermal feeds and storage capacitors. In fact, there are two generators, one for backup. I'm not willing to use battery back-up, for the obvious reason."
It wasn't obvious to Elya. She must have looked bewildered because Cassie added, "Batteries can only back-up for a limited time. Redundant generators are more reliable."
"The only actual cables coming into the house are the VNM fiber-optic cables I need for computing power. If they cut those, we'll still be fully functional."
If who cuts those? Elya thought, but she already knew the answer. Except that it didn't make sense. Vlad had been killed by econuts because his work was—had been—so controversial. Cassie and the kids weren't likely to be a target now that Vlad was dead. Elya didn't say this. She trailed behind Cassie through the living room, bedrooms, hallways. Every one had a roomscreen for House, even the hallways, and multiple sensors in the ceilings to detect and identify intruders. Elya had had to pocket an emitter at the front door, presumably so House wouldn't...do what? What did it do if there was an intruder? She was afraid to ask.
"Come downstairs," Cassie said, leading the way through an e-locked door (of course) down a long flight of steps. "The computer uses three-dimensional laser microprocessors with optical transistors. It can manage twenty million billion calculations per second."
Startled, Elya said, "What on earth do you need that sort of power for?"
"I'll show you." They approached another door, reinforced steel from the look of it. "Open," Cassie said, and it swung inward. Elya stared at a windowless, fully equipped genetics lab.
"Oh, no, Cassie...you're not going to work here, too!"
"Yes, I am. I resigned from MedGene last week. I'm a consultant now."
Elya gazed helplessly at the lab, which seemed to be a mixture of shining new equipment plus Vlad's old stuff from his auxiliary home lab. Vlad's refrigerator and storage cabinet, his centrifuge, were all these things really used in common between Vlad's work in ecoremediation and Cassie's in medical genetics? Must be. The old refrigerator had a new dent in its side, probably the result of a badly programmed 'bot belonging to the moving company. Elya recognized a new gene synthesizer, gleaming expensively, along with othermachines that she, not a scientist, couldn't identify. Through a half-open door, she saw a small bathroom. It all must have cost enormously. Cassie had better work hard as a consultant.
And now she could do so without ever leaving this self-imposed prison. Design her medical micros, send the data encrypted over the Net to the client. If it weren't for Jane and Donnie...Elya grasped at this. These were Janey and Donnie, and Janey would need to be picked up at school very shortly now. At least the kids would get Cassie out of this place periodically.
Cassie was still defining her imprisonment, in that brittle voice. "There's a Faraday cage around the entire house, of course, embedded in the walls. No EMP can take us out. The walls are reinforced foamcast concrete, the windows virtually unbreakable polymers. We have enough food stored for a year. The water supply is from a well under the house, part of the geothermal system. It's cool, sweet water. Want a glass?"
"No," Elya said. "Cassie...you act..."Year's Best SF 7. Copyright © by David G. Hartwell. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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