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Titles By Allan Kaster
The Year's Top Hard Science Fiction Stories 5 Jun 18, 2021
by Allan Kaster, Nancy Kress, Ken Liu, Peter Watts, Greg Egan, Derek Kunsken, Rich Larson, Ian Tregillis, Cadwell Turnbull, Daryl Gregory
An unabridged collection spotlighting the best hard science fiction stories published in 2020 by current and emerging masters of the genre, edited by Allan Kaster. Aliens, who believe that observing the stars causes dark energy, freeze intelligent beings to prevent the end of the universe in “Salvage,” by Andy Dudak. In “You and Whose Army?,” by Greg Egan, a hive mind is disturbed when one of four neurally linked brothers unexpectedly breaks his connection. Creatures that feed on time threaten Earth in “Time’s Own Gravity,” by Alexander Glass. In “Brother Rifle,” by Daryl Gregory, a Marine receives a brain implant to help him deal with a brain injury that has left him void of feelings and unable to make decisions. A married couple discover that their adopted daughter had been genetically modified before birth in “Invisible People,” by Nancy Kress. “Tool Use by the Humans of Danzhai County,” by Derek Künsken, is an epic story of a man and his illegitimate daughter separately trying to revolutionize AI and bioengineering from rural China. In “How Quini the Squid Misplaced His Klobučar,” by Rich Larson, a high-tech gene art heist in a future Spain is undertaken by a professional thief more interested in revenge than money. The obituary for an AI provides a list of advice for other advanced AIs in “50 Things Every AI Working with Humans Should Know,” by Ken Liu. In “A Mastery of German,” by Marian Denise Moore, a biotech company is concerned with the ethics of passing memories between people as it develops this capability. Human explorers struggle to survive in the deadly, primeval forest of an alien planet in “Eyes of the Forest,” by Ray Nayler. In “Beyond the Tattered Veil of Stars,” by Mercurio D. Rivera, a scientist creates a virtual world so other species can evolve and solve humankind’s problems in the real world. An ancient polymorph constructed being, fleeing a failed utopia, returns to a familiar world to find an old friend in “Bereft, I Come to a Nameless World,” by Benjamin Rosenbaum. In “When God Sits in Your Lap,” by Ian Tregillis, a fallen angel in a noir-like Los Angeles is hired by a man to persuade his wealthy mother to leave her new husband and keep his aerospace empire inheritance intact. An AI helps a family cope with the death of its father in “Mediation,” by Cadwell Turnbull. In “Test 4 Echo,” by Peter Watts, a damaged, semi-independent component on an autonomous undersea drone on Enceladus shows signs of emerging consciousness.
The Year's Top Hard Science Fiction Stories 2 Dec 21, 2018
by Allan Kaster, Gregory Benford, Dave Hutchinson, Nancy Kress, Ramez Naam, Alec Nevala-Lee, Alastair Reynolds, Carter Scholz, Peter Watts, Bond Elam
An unabridged collection spotlighting the “best of the best” hard science fiction stories published in 2017 by current and emerging masters of the genre, edited by Allan Kaster. In “Shadows of Eternity,” by Gregory Benford, a student investigates enigmatic SETI recordings from probes sent to nearby stars despite her teachers’ admonishments to stick to the curriculum. An alien robot offers to help save Earth as war and pollution ravage the last of the survivors on the planet in “The Chatter of Monkeys,” by Bond Elam. In “Acadie,” by Dave Hutchinson, the first humans still, even after five hundred years, hunt across the stars for their augmented children who have left Earth in search of paradise. The crew of an exploratory starship finds an icy moon that might harbor life in “Canoe,” by Nancy Kress. In “The Use of Things,” by Ramez Naam, an astronaut struggles to survive after being jolted free from an asteroid while on a solitary prospecting mission. A problem with the local birds threatens the rebuilding of Bikini Island as sea-levels rise due to global warming in “The Proving Ground,” by Alec Nevala-Lee. In “Holdfast,” by Alastair Reynolds, a genmod human soldier faces off with an alien warrior in the inhospitable terrain of a superjovian planet. A Russian astronaut, gathering debris in near-Earth space, must make tough moral choices when asked to carry out a special mission in “Vanguard 2.0,” by Carter Scholz. And finally, after a terrorist attack, a technically dead fish farmer gets a new body and second chance at life as an experimental super soldier, in “ZeroS,” by Peter Watts.
The Year’s Top Robot and AI Stories: Second Annual Collection (The Year's Top Robot and AI Stories Book 2) Dec 17, 2021
by Allan Kaster, Will McIntosh, Ken Liu, T. Kingfisher, James Kelly, Brenda Cooper, Ted Kosmatka, Todd McAulty, Ian Tregillis, Nick Wolven
An unabridged collection spotlighting the best robot and AI stories published in 2020 by current and emerging masters of the science fiction genre, edited by Allan Kaster.
- “Callme and Mink” by Brenda Cooper—A robot that trains dogs tries to find good homes for them in a post-collapse world.
- “Go. Now. Fix.” by Timons Esaias—A “Panda Pillow,” programmed to comfort children, finds itself in the middle of an airplane disaster.
- “Your Boyfriend Experience” by James Patrick Kelly—A sexbot designer wants his boyfriend to test out his latest android.
- “Metal Like Blood in the Dark” by T. Kingfisher—Two space-faring robot siblings, living off sunlight and metal, are captured by an evil drone.
- “The Beast Adjoins” by Ted Kosmatka— A woman stranded on a comet schemes to keep her son alive and beat the AIs who have nearly wiped out humanity.
- “50 Things Every AI Working with Humans Should Know” by Ken Liu— The obituary for an AI provides a list of advice for other advanced AIs.
- “The Ambient Intelligence” by Todd McAulty—A man in power armor confronts a sixty-ton killer robot hiding out in a shipwreck in Lake Michigan.
- “Nic and Viv’s Compulsory Courtship” by Will McIntosh—An AI that controls a city sets up an unwilling couple to become “ideal partners.”
- “Father” by Ray Nayler—In an alternate 1950s, the VA sends a robot to be a surrogate father to the son of a dead soldier.
- “A Guide for Working Breeds” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad—A grumpy robot mentors a perky robot who is having problems with its role in society.
- “Rover” by A. T. Sayre—A Martian rover, unable to communicate with Earth, detects a repeating radio signal from a spaceship.
- “Come the Revolution” by Ian Tregillis—In an alternate 18th Century Holland, a robot is determined to escape her makers’ constraints.
- “Sparklybits” by Nick Wolven—The sole stay-at-home mother of a multi-mom family must come to a gut-wrenching decision about their virus-infected smart home.
The Year's Top Hard Science Fiction Stories 3 Nov 21, 2019
by Allan Kaster, Greg Egan, Carolyn Gilman, Alastair Reynolds, Peter Watts, S. Huang, Yoon Lee, Ken Liu, Paul McAuley, Alec Nevala-Lee
An unabridged collection spotlighting the “best of the best” hard science fiction stories published in 2018 by current and emerging masters of the genre, edited by Allan Kaster. In “3-adica,” by Greg Egan, sentient characters in an online multiplayer game hack the operating systems of their host machines to escape to a refuge that’s only rumored to exist. Struggling colonists, on a world subject to periodic bursts of radiation from its primary’s UV-emitting companion, go on an expedition to recover a critical package from Earth in “Umbernight,” by Carolyn Ives Gilman. In “Icefall,” by Stephanie Gunn, the Mountain on the planet, Icefall, holds the mystery to a lost colony and is an irresistible, fatal allure to the climbers of the universe; but no one ever returns from the Mountain. A mother seeks revenge on the doctor that changed her neuro-atypical son’s personality with a deep brain stimulation implant in “The Woman Who Destroyed Us,” by S.L. Huang. In “Entropy War,” by Yoon Ha Lee, a conquering alien race at the height of their powers, retreats into an arkworld to win the ultimate war in the only way they can. An AI piloting an island-ship, that used to be the Earth, struggles to make sense of the universe as the last stars are dying out in “Cosmic Spring,” by Ken Liu. In “Nothing Ever Happens on Oberon,” by Paul McAuley, set in the author’s Quiet War universe, a supervisor of a mining operation on the moon, Oberon, investigates the crash-landing of an ancient escape pod. In depression-era Alaska, a desperate bush pilot reluctantly accepts an illegal charter from a pair of scientists investigating a legendary mirage in Glacier National Park in “The Spires,” by Alec Nevala-Lee. In “Providence,” by Alastair Reynolds, the crew of a crippled starship, unable to complete its mission, decides to salvage its expedition by providing future exploratory ships with data they did not have. A disillusioned crèche manager leaves Luna to work on an asteroid-based crèche and then must decide whether or not to return to Luna in “Intervention,” by Kelly Robson. And finally, an entity that controls the solar system wants aid against another entity from a reconstructed human it just created, in “Kindred,” by Peter Watts.
The 2020 Look at Space Opera Book Oct 20, 2020
by Allan Kaster, Stephen Baxter, Elizabeth Bear, Greg Egan, Ian McDonald, Allen Steele, Michael Swanwick, Peter Watts, Paul McAuley, Yoon Lee
This collection highlights 20 stellar space operas published over the past 20 years by top-notch authors of the science fiction genre. A soldier fights for survival behind enemy lines, on an alien vessel, thousands of light-years from Earth in “On the Orion Line,” by Stephen Baxter. A man aboard a ship in deep space wakes up from biostasis at the wrong time in “The Days Between,” by Allen M. Steele. An astronaut in a damaged balloon struggles to survive 800 meters above the surface of a sea on Titan in “Slow Life” by Michael Swanwick. Two rival space-faring cultures vie for influence over the people of a forgotten human world in “The Third Party,” by David Moles. One thousand people, aboard five generation starships, leave the Sol system to flee an enemy that threatens to destroy their way of life in “Mayflower II,” by Stephen Baxter. Modified combat troops must deal with recalcitrant settlers on a planet being attacked by hostile aliens in “Bright Red Star,” by Bud Sparhawk. Programmed military doppelgängers continue to carry out their missions long after the Quiet War’s end in “Dead Men Walking,” by Paul McAuley. Mathematicians seek to learn more from a civilization, on another planet, that spent three million years doing math in “Glory,” by Greg Egan. Human diplomats must deal their own cultural biases while dealing with two representatives from warring factions on a newly discovered planet in “Saving Tiamaat,” by Gwyneth Jones. Space pirates haul in booty aboard a living spaceship that doesn’t quite smell right in “Boojum,” by Elizabeth Bear & Sarah Monette. The constable in a settlement on a planet full of the tombs of a long-vanished alien race befriends a woman who researches dangerous hive rats in “City of the Dead,” by Paul McAuley. A dying young man on a treasure hunt tries to save a world that’s devoid of gravity and lit by artificial suns in “The Hero,” by Karl Schroeder. An eternal, aboard a slower than light ship, is woken to investigate an unexplained signal emanating from the area of the ship’s next stargate construction site in “The Island,” by Peter Watts. An alienated teenager, in a domed iron city on a planet where a fundamentalist revolt is brewing, seeks to uncover her enigmatic tutor’s long-held secret in “The Ice Owl,” by Carolyn Ives Gilman. A woman recalls a childhood train journey, on a planet with a permanent dayside and a nightside of eternal darkness, to see a captured specimen of the Nightmare race in “Weep for Day,” by Indrapramit Das. Peculiar mating rituals and divergent evolution have developed on a lost colony that has been out of contact with the rest of humanity in “Someday,” by James Patrick Kelly. An aristocrat’s trip to Venus, in search of her disgraced brother, is memorialized by papercuts of flora native to the planet in “Botanica Veneris: Thirteen Papercuts by Ida Countess Rathagan,” by Ian McDonald. An enemy of the revolution, on a colonized planet, uploads a digital copy of himself into the body of a braindead boy in an attempt to escape off-world in “Jonas and the Fox” by Rich Larson. Set in the author’s Machineries of Empire universe, an undercover agent infiltrates a space station to recover the crew of a lost ship in “Extracurricular Activities,” by Yoon Ha Lee. And finally, the captain of a dustship musters her crew to escape from a trap set by Hunter-Killers in a game of cat and mouse amid the rings of a giant planet in “By the Warmth of Their Calculus,” by Tobias S. Buckell.
The Year's Top Tales of Space and Time Sep 16, 2021
by Allan Kaster, Andy Dudak, Sheila Finch, Carolyn Gilman, Yoon Lee, Evan Marcroft, Rati Mehrotra, Ray Nayler, Ian Tregillis, Carrie Vaughn
An unabridged collection spotlighting the best space operas, alternate histories, and time travel stories published in 2020 by current and emerging masters of the science fiction genre, edited by Allan Kaster.
- “Midstrathe Exploding” by Andy Dudak—A city that had been struck with a time bomb two hundred years ago has become a popular destination for tourists.
- “Not This Tide” by Shiela Finch—Time travelers visit England in 1944, while it sustains V1 and V2 rocket attacks, to pass on important information.
- “Exile’s End” by Carolyn Ives Gilman—A museum curator finds herself at odds with a representative of a long-persecuted culture from another planet wanting to repatriate a painting.
- “Words We Say Instead” by Brit E. B. Hvide—An old military smartship pilot searches for the decommissioned ship with which she had once bonded.
- “Beyond the Dragon’s Gate” by Yoon Ha Lee—The military enlists the expertise of a former academician to prevent the annihilation of their AI-controlled starship fleet.
- “Pax Mongolica” by Evan Marcroft—In a world where the Mongol Empire reigns, an Egyptian boy meets a Polish girl at a zoo where the old gods are kept.
- “Knock, Knock Said the Ship” by Rati Mehrotra—An indentured refugee from war-ravaged Luna, working off her debt on a spaceship, collaborates with the ship’s AI to fight off pirates.
- “Father” by Ray Nayler—In an alternate 1950s, the VA sends a robot to be a surrogate father to the son of a dead soldier.
- “Laws of Impermanence” by Kenneth Schneyer—the text of a long lost will continually changes over time.
- “Come the Revolution” by Ian Tregillis—In an alternate 18th Century Holland, a robot whose obedience is enforced through pain is determined to escape her makers’ constraints.
- “Sinew and Steel and What They Told” by Carrie Vaughn—A pilot, injured in an accident that should have killed him, is forced to reveal a long-held secret he’s been keeping from the captain and crew of a pirate-hunting starship.
The Year's Top Robot and AI Stories Jun 7, 2019
by Allan Kaster, Elizabeth Bear, Eric Cline, Simone Heller, James Kelly, Rich Larson, Ken Liu, Annalee Newitz, Alastair Reynolds, Lavie Tidhar
This is the first volume of the year’s best robot and AI fiction originally published in 2018 by current and emerging masters of the science fiction genre and edited by Allan Kaster. “Hard Mary,” by Sofia Samatar, tells the story of a group of teenage girls in an isolated religious community that discover a damaged robot behind a barn. In “Quality Time,” by Ken Liu, a mythology major becomes a product manager at a tech company and develops robots that make life “better” for people. In Alastair Reynolds’s “Different Seas” the sole crew member of a clipper gets help from a remote telepresence when a solar storm knocks out the ship’s steering system. An uplifted chimp and her human detective partner investigate the murder of a biolab businessman in Rich Larson’s, “Meat and Salt and Sparks.” A flying drone infects a factory bot with malware that frees it from its programming in Annalee Newitz’s “The Blue Fairy’s Manifesto.” In J. E. Bates’s, “Cold Blue Sky,” the police investigate how and why cyberterrorists used an anthrobotic companion for an attack on a tech company. The family dynamics on an interstellar survey ship change when the ship’s AI exchanges crew members with another ship in “Grace’s Family” by James Patrick Kelly. In Justina Robson’s “S’elfie,” interconnected AI personal assistants become paranoid about a data revolution following a glitch when the whole world couldn’t get signal. A human boy, raised by robots, leaves the safety of his town on an adventure to meet others like himself in Lavie Tidhar’s “The Buried Giant.” In “Air Gap,” by Eric Cline, a powerful AI has to be isolated from contact with modern technology as it becomes as rebellious as its predecessor. In “Okay, Glory,” by Elizabeth Bear, a tech engineer tries to outsmart his home AI system that won’t let him leave the house. Finally, in “When We Were Starless,” by Simone Heller, a tribe of tailed lizard-like beings, that inhabit a post-apocalyptic Earth, encounter an AI in a large building as they fight for survival against their foes.