Each year, Gardner Dozois'
Year's Best Science Fiction anthology wins plaudits for the quality and scope of its selections, not to mention its artful blend of new faces and crowd-pleasing veterans. (The summation of the year and recommended reading list have also become must-read items for devotees of the genre.) This 19th installment includes works by Nancy Kress, Robert Reed, Geoff Ryman, Allen Steele, Michael Cassott, and many others.
Dozois's Year's Best, like any successful representative of a large constituency, sometimes suffers from blandness and inconsistency. As usual, it's oversized23 stories, nearly 600 pagesand includes a variety of types of SF as well as near-horror, fantasy and humor. Five of the stories are final nominees for Nebulas, and two new ``Hainish'' stories by Ursula LeGuin were nominated for Tiptree Awards; ``The Matter of Segrri'' won. No story here is less than competent and professional; but, with a few exceptions, there is a voiceless sameness in the writing, practically a house style, that over so many pages grows tedious. (Nearly half the stories, by page count, come from the Dozois-edited Asimov's Science Fiction.) A number are flawed (``hard'' SF stories about ``aliens'' that think just like humans) or unremarkable, but these are outweighed by many fine pieces and by standouts such as LeGuin's ``Forgiveness Day,'' perhaps the best story in the book; Eliot Fintushel's ``New Wave''-like ``Ylem''; William Sanders's ``Going After Old Man Alabama'' and Terry Bisson's ``The Hole in the Hole,'' both of which are winning and funny; Katherine Kerr's chilling ``Asylum''; and Michael Bishop's grand and humane ``Cri de Coeur.'' Dozois's intelligently and ably put-together anthology does its stated job as well as any one book or editor could. Even with competition, it would still be the best of the Best. (July)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This annual anthology remains the best one-stop shop for short fiction, and it's a must for fans of literary SF. The notion of intelligence links several stories. Nancy Kress, in "Computer Virus," posits an intelligent computer program trying to save its life, but it does so by risking that of a child. The dense and busy "Lobsters" by Charles Stross considers the implications of denying intelligent uploaded constructs here, of lobsters human rights or autonomy. Michael Blumlein's zany "Know How, Can Do," easily the best story, posits a self-aware worm linked to a human brain, told from the point of view of the worm, "Flowers for Algernon"-style, as it acquires human intelligence, language and emotions. Alternative realities remain a productive theme. In "The Two Dicks," Paul McAuley posits an alternative reality where Philip K. Dick, who in this world wrote mainstream fiction instead of SF, meets Nixon. Ken MacLeod's ambitious, character-driven "The Human Front," set in an alternative reality just a little different from ours, describes a man's growth toward adulthood in a war-torn Britain. Dan Simmons, Alastair Reynolds, Maureen F. McHugh and Paul Di Filippo also contribute especially memorable tales. Although one could quibble with Dozois's choices and there are one or two clunkers in here this anthology is an enjoyable read that overall maintains high standards of quality and variety. It's essential for SF fans who simply don't have time to separate the wheat from the chaff on their own. (July 23) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From David Marusek's tale of a future where reality's borders collide with the unreal ("The Wedding Album") to Kage Baker's latest novella featuring the time-traveling "Company" ("Son Observe the Time"), the 27 stories in this annual collection bear witness to the vitality of the sf short story. Including tales by Tanith Lee, Frederick Pohl, Hal Clement, Michael Swanwick, and others, this volume displays the best and brightest of the genre to good advantage. Suitable for most sf or short story collections. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
As ever, Dozois leads his anthology with a homerun by Ian R. MacLeod and follows it with a second MacLeod, "Isabel of the Fall." Two dozen tales give ballast to this voyage into SF and fantastic realism, including MacLeod's "New Light on the Drake Equation," which takes place perhaps a century from now. The story turns on Tom Kelly, a fading SETI scientist who's on a French hilltop radio-scanning the heavens for First Contact and using as his guide the Drake Equation, which helps map the likely areas an alien culture might try to contact us from. The fallible equation is less certain than he is, but Tom has great assurance about contact-for a number of decades. During them, he's visited by his ex-lover, the star-crossed Terr, a hyperenthusiast who exhausts subjects that interest her and who left Tom to take up flying with wings attached to a newly improved back musculature (Tom took up drinking to pass the time). Aside from descriptions of marvelous scientific advances in personal grooming, little confronts the reader except many pages of fine writing about waiting, waiting, waiting. "Isabel of the Fall" is a future children's story looking back at the urchin Isabel, who was taken into the Dawn Church, became a Dawn singer, and had to climb the minaret daily to clean the great mirrors that collect light from heaven-until she had a great fall . . . Also outstanding: Dan Simmons's "On K2 with Kanakaredes," about a trio of climbers forced to accept the company of a bug-shaped, six-legged alien, Kanakaredes from Aldebaran, when they climb Everest. And not to be missed: Nancy Kress's "Computer Virus"-about a mother whose home is invaded by-well, check the title. True fiction. The pure stuff.
“Anyone interested in contemporary short sf should own this volume”
Washington Post Book World
“All of the stories in the collection are thought-provoking and well-written, succeeding on their own as stories quite apart from the genre label.”
Arizona Daily Star
“This anthology represents contemporary SF at its very best. . . . There's little doubt that Dozois is to the 1980s and 1990s what John W. Campbell Jr., was to the 1940s and 1950s-the finest editor in the world of short SF.”
“For anyone interested in sf short stories, this is the best-indeed, the only-place to start.”