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The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Third Annual Collection Kindle Edition
In the new millennium, what secrets lay beyond the far reaches of the universe? What mysteries belie the truths we once held to be self evident? The world of science fiction has long been a porthole into the realities of tomorrow, blurring the line between life and art. Now, in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Third Annual Collection, the very best SF authors explore ideas of a new world. This venerable collection brings together award-winning authors and masters of the field. With an extensive recommended reading guide and a summation of the year in science fiction, this annual compilation of short stories has become the definitive must-read anthology for all science fiction fans and readers interested in breaking into the genre.
About the Author
- ASIN : B019CBM6OK
- Publisher : St. Martin's Griffin (July 5, 2016)
- Publication date : July 5, 2016
- Language : English
- File size : 3401 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 720 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #974,910 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
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About the authors
Top reviews from the United States
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And then it moves on to the stories. Here are six that I particularly enjoyed:
Carrie Vaughn’s “Bannerless” shows us a post-apocalyptic society organized around families. Craftsmanship and work are respected, children are valued, and a loose network connects communities with a minimal central government. We watch as two government officials arrive in town to investigate reports of a dysfunctional family.
Sam Miller’s “Calved” takes the perspective of a father who works harvesting ice for months at a time and struggles to connect with his teenage son each time he returns home. The tone of their relationship is set by a cherished gift.
Martin Shoemaker’s “Today I am Paul” introduces an innovative use of robots—as companions to elderly patients who not only provide physical care, but also learn the mannerisms of infrequent visitors so they can impersonate them between visits. Of course, there is more than one way to use this knowledge.
James Sarafin’s “Trapping the Pleistocene” is about two down-to-earth hunters who go into the past to hunt dinosaurs. This sort of thing always goes smoothly.
Rich Larson’s “Ice” introduces Sedgewick and Fletcher, two young brothers who alternate between competing with and consoling one another. Their latest conflict unfolds as they get used to living on a new planet, try to fit in with a new group of friends, and ice skate across a partially-frozen ocean to escape giant frostwhales smashing through the ice from below.
Aliette de Bodard’s “The Citadel of the Weeping Pearls” is a story about two estranged sisters, complicated by royal family intrigue, intelligent space ships, time travel, and an invasion force from a neighboring empire.
This is another one of the better collections. I liked most of the stories and only disliked a couple of them. Both that fell short were solve-the-mystery stories with opposing flaws. Seanan McGuire’s “Hello, Hello; Can You Hear Me, Hello” provides so many clues that the characters seem unbelievably dense not to figure it out sooner. Michael Flynn’s “In Panic Town, on the Backward Moon” doesn’t provide sufficient clues for the reader to figure out how the detective figures out who did and didn’t do it.
Still, as I said, a very good collection. I’m looking forward to the thirty-third volume.
I bought the book because I been reading Sci-Fi for years, works from the "Golden Age" up to today. But many of my favorite current authors are gone or busy writing their next book. I thought the volume, at almost 700 pages, would be a springboard to finding new, interesting writers.
Unfortunately, this is not proving the case. The Summation I mentioned starts by telling us "It was another quiet year in the SF publishing world...." Certainly, I found nothing to get too excited about in any of the stories. I must also note very sloppy editing. For example, the second story in the volume abuses the use of grammar (e.g., semicolons) in a way that can't help but annoy the reader, and no English 101 teacher would have allowed to go by with whipping out a red pen. The stories themselves are ones I would find to be mostly "okay," and certainly hope they are not truly the best the genre has to offer. Some start out well, but then lose their luster before the end, and others simply did not match my tastes. Call me a curmudgeon if you will, but I have not found any author between its covers that has me eagerly waiting for more.
If you're looking for a lot of so-so stories, or are new to the genre, you might feel quite differently than I. The mix of stories -- meaning topics and styles -- is certainly diverse. They've been good for me "when I can't find anything else." It includes alternate histories, space-going cultures, living spaceships and more. They mostly are able to hold to your attention long enough to finish them, but they're not stories you'll want to read time and time again.
I don't necessarily read all of all the stories, some don't make my interest to the end, but the majority in such a huge collection suit. I read fast, and a book that takes me days to read - with time off to think about the possibilities is well worth both my time and energy.
I also like knowing where the field is heading and who is no longer with us. Gardner's lengthy history/background essay is always worth reading.
Top reviews from other countries
Having read all the thirty three Gardner Dozois yearly collections I couldn't help but notice a steady but regular decline in quality of SF writing, from the 80s to the modern times. OK, granted, this is just one of yearly anthologies amongst many, and yes, it reflects the very personal, subjective taste of the editor, but still, there is a clear trend towards a lesser quality. The main reasons of that, at least in my personal opinion and for my subjective taste, are the following:
- a tendency to run after the developments in the world, rather than trying to anticipate them. Global warming hysteria is the dominant theme, but there is also fear of nanotechnologies and GMOs and consequences of recent progress in informatics, etc. Few writers even try to think about something really new - and it seems that even fewer have intellectual capacity of doing it...
- nihilism, pessimism and fear-mongering seem to be the leading motive in recent SF, as there is hardly any joy and exaltation linked usually with new discoveries and opening of new horizons. To the contrary, everything and anything seems to be a threat.
- lack of humour. In this anthology there are at best two stories containing at least some humour and wit. Everything is mostly gloom and doom taken DEADLY seriously...
- left winged politics. That is probably due to Gardner Dozois personal choice, but at least in his anthologies anything conservative, religious and especially military is mostly the source of all evil in the world. Christianity seems to be particularly hated, there is also some anti-white racism, heavy LGBT preference and the most surprising of all – nostalgia for Soviet Union! That last one is simply beyond my ability to understanding…
- poorly developed characters, with whom we cannot really connect.
- poor endings - or no endings at all. It seems that nowadays there are few writers able to find a good closure or a punch line.
For all that reasons, reading those huge collections was frequently much less fun than expected - and I distinctly remember that when I discovered SF with classic short stories from the 50s and 60s, well, this was a much more enjoyable experience... I must also say that when finished this 33rd collection, I was mostly relieved it was over, rather than pleased that I read it…
Out of a total of thirty six, two stories are TO READ ABSOLUTELY: "Gypsy" is a MAJOR MASTERPIECE and "Trapping Pleistocene" is VERY GOOD.
There is eight GOOD, solid stories: "Bannerless", "The audience", "Rates of change", "It takes more muscles to frown", "Billy tumult", "Ice", “In Panic Town, on the backward moon”, “The three resurrections of Jessica Churchill”
There is no less than twelve STINKERS TO AVOID: "Ruins", "Emergence", "The muses of Shuyedan-18", "Consolation", "City of ash", "Machine learning", "Planet of fear", “The daughters of John Demetrius”, “Capitalism in the 22nd century or A.I.R”, "The first gate of logic”, "A stopped clock", “The citadel of weeping pearls”.
Two stories either bored me or grossed me out so badly that I couldn't finish them and therefore I don't rate them: “The astrakhan, the homburg and the red, red coat” and “Hello, hello; can you hear me, hello”.
The remaining twelve stories are READABLE, even if sometimes barely…
This collection includes also two very precious things. In the introduction we have an overview of what happened in SF (largely understood) in 2015 - in all Gardner Dozois yearly collections that thing is invariably always very precious. At the end there is also the very useful section of "honourable mentions" - stories which couldn't be selected for this collection because of lack of space (and this is already a HUGE book!), but which were also of good quality.
Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.
“The falls: a Luna story” by Ian McDonald – on colonized Moon a woman specialized in psychiatric help to AIs worries about her young daughter’s life choices. Tedious and going nowhere this story is READABLE, but only barely.
“Three cups of grief, by starlight” by Aliette de Bodard – part of cycle about a future in which Earth and neighboring systems is ruled by competing East Asian and Mayan superpowers. In this one two siblings, subjects of East Asian Empress, mourn the passing of their mother. One of them is a simple working stiff human, other one is a sentient quasi-immortal spaceship. Basic idea was great – but it was executed poorly. The story, although short, is boring and goes nowhere. Barely READABLE.
“Ruins” by Eleanor Arnason – on an alternate reality Venus (kind of “Old Venus”, like from pulps in the 30s and 40s), covered by jungle and populated by giant reptiles (NOT dinosaurs), a female guide is hired by a “National Geographic” team, for a safari in the part of planet which is the last remnant of Soviet Union… The whole premise is crazy but strangely appealing and the first pages were good. Sadly, Ms Arnason belongs to this peculiar group of Americans who passionately hate their country and still miss communism – this gives a story which quickly turns stupid, unpleasant and ultimately simply embarrassing. For that reason I rate this thing as a stinker to AVOID.
“Another word for world” by Ann Leckie – on a faraway planet in a distant future two nations are on a brink of war. The aircraft carrying spiritual leader of one of them (a young girl) and an ambassador from the other one (a much older woman) is shot down. Both women survive, but are stranded in the wilderness and hunted by the unknown assailants. The story is good until the middle, but then it loses completely steam and concludes with the most appalling banality. Still, a READABLE thing.
“Meshed” by Rich Larson – a short story about a young man from Senegal who is an amazingly gifted basketball player. A talent hunter offers him a very advantageous contract, but there is a teensy weensy catch… Interesting beginning, but ultimately the story goes nowhere. READABLE.
“Emergence” by Gwyneth Jones – the author of this story decided to take a futuristic society and throw in longevity, space colonization, moons of Jupiter, AIs, sex change, LGBT, a justice case and some more elements, then just shake it together without trying to give it any structure. The result is quite obviously a total mess. AVOID.
“Gypsy” by Carter Scholz – EXTRAORDINARY, TOP LEVEL SF! A novella about a group of highly educated dissidents disappointed by the situation on Earth who form a conspiracy to exile themselves to an exoplanet orbiting Alpha Centauri by accomplishing, in all illegality, the first interstellar flight in human history. "Gypsy" is the code name for the whole operation and ultimately also the name of the ship itself. This is more than a VERY GOOD STORY, this is a MASTERPIECE and therefore not only the BEST in this collection but in fact this is also THE BEST SF STORY I READ IN MANY MANY YEARS! This is a particularly high praise coming from me, because the very left winged politics of author are separated from mine own by a distance many times greater than the one existing between Earth and Alpha Centauri… The whole political premise of the story seems indeed to be made of 25% North Korean propaganda, 25% posts of trolls from Olgino, 25% "Occupy Wall Street" nonsense and 25% global warming hysteria. For my personal taste this is a vomit inducing cocktail, but after three pages the story conquered me so completely, that I totally forgot about the politics. Also, it must be said that politically speaking the ending is somehow different than the beginning – clearly long travels change people… The reasons for which this story is so successful are many: solid scientific elements, well designed characters, dramatic action alternating triumphs and heartbreaks, regularly increasing tension, numerous surprises every two-three pages, absence of any obvious plot holes (author clearly put a LOT of work in polishing this story) and finally incredibly tense, surprising and simply BEAUTIFUL (in its own way) great finale. I ended the last pages standing! It must also be said, that this story is actually much deeper than it initially seems – it certainly gave me food for thoughts (albeit it absolutely didn't change even one single atom in my own right wing political opinions). A great read and AN IMPRESSIVE ACHIEVEMENT, simply begging to be turned into a major Hollywood production!
“The astrakhan, the homburg and the red, red coat” by Chaz Brenchley – a gathering of homosexuals on an alternate history, human-colonized Mars. I really don't care for LGBT stories, so I skipped this one and therefore cannot rate it.
“The muses of Shuyedan-18” by Indrapramit Das – two lesbians observe huge, possibly sentient lifeforms on a distant planet. As I really don't care for LGBT stories, this one I just "fast-forwarded through. It was enough to realize that this actually is graphic LGBT porn, gross and laced with obscenities. AVOID.
“Bannerless” by Carrie Vaughn – after a collapse of civilization caused by (sigh), global warming (what else?) a new society was organized, based on technology limitation, collectivism, state owned economy, state controlled private life and strict Malthusianism, kept under control by greatly feared political police. In this story we follow two such policemen arriving to a small settlement to investigate after somebody was anonymously denounced… The story is GOOD, solid and well written, but what disturbed me is that both author in the text and editor in the introduction seemed to consider such a society as "better and more just" than the one in which we actually live! If they really sincerely believe that, both Ms Vaughn and Mr Dozois should have their heads checked…
“The audience” by Sean McMullen – this story explores the possibility (still not totally refuted by science) that our solar system is in fact binary because Sun has a companion, but smaller and dark, possibly a brown dwarf. A space ship with a crew of five arrives to explore the planets orbiting this dark (quasi) star and discovers not only that they all have large under-ice oceans (like a hypothetical ocean on Europa ocean) but on one of them, named Limbo, life exists… What follows is a big surprise and I will say no more, but this story will surprise you – many times… A GOOD solid SF story, which I enjoyed a lot, even if you could push an imperial Star Destroyer through some plot holes…
“Rates of change” by James S.A. Corey – this is about the social consequences brought by a new technology, permitting to people to transfer brains in new bodies, sometimes very different from those we are used to… Short, but well written and powerful, focusing on human interest rather than pure SF, this is a solid GOOD story.
“Calved” by Sam J. Miller – in a near future, in a world devastated by (sigh) global warming (what else?) a hard working but poor refugee from inundated New York tries to reconnect with his teenage son. SPOILER ALERT: this is another LGBT story, but it is revealed only late. A READABLE thing.
“Botanica veneris: thirteen papercuts by Ida Countess Rathagan” by Ian McDonald – and yet another LGBT story, this one about two lesbians who travel through an alternate reality Venus, where humans co-exist with numerous other sapient species. The story includes elements borrowed from "Beau Geste", but with even more twists. The story is maybe a couple of pages too long and description of Venus is sometimes a little bit too heavy on details and exotic names, at least for my taste. Still, it is a quite READABLE thing.
“Consolation” by John Kessel – in a near future North America, after Massachusetts and New York left to join Canada, but Alberta was annexed by a kind of right wing Neo-Confederacy, a terrorist woman meets an immortal. This story is as absurdly messy as it sounds – and also totally pointless. AVOID!
“The children of Gal” by Allen M. Steele – genetically modified humans colonized an exoplanet but with time lost much of their knowledge of both science and history; a woman who saw something "heretical" in the sky is judged, sentenced and banished into hostile wilderness; then something unexpected happens… This is the last of four novellas which compose the "Arkwright" cycle, but it can be read as a stand-alone thing (I didn't read the three previous ones). It begins well, but the second half is much, much weaker and the ending disappoints. Pity, because there was potential here. A READABLE story.
“Today I am Paul” by Martin L. Shoemaker – memories of an android care-taker, in charge of a very aged, half-senile and heavily dependent woman. With time the android acquires more and more human characteristics. Honestly written, but this kind of stories was already told many times, frequently better. A READABLE thing.
“City of ash” by Paolo Bacigalupi – a short story about a world devastated by (sigh) global warming (what else?) in which Texans are homeless refugees and Californians rule the world...))) Clichéd and B-O-R-I-N-G, this is a story to AVOID!
“Trapping the Pleistocene” by James Sarafin – a story about two trappers trapping giant beavers during time trip; one of them trips and gets trapped…))) I really don't particularly like the idea of killing animals for their fur (one of few elements of political correctness I am guilty of), but this story I really liked. The initial idea is interesting, it is well written and for once the politics of this thing are actually rather right-winged (a rare thing in modern SF and probably the first such story in Gardner Dozois anthologies EVER!). The two trappers came to Pleistocene from a "brave new world" dominated by environmentalists and so politically correct and "progressive" that even the idea of facing the giant megafauna of Pleistocene with not-enough ammo seems appealing, just to escape for a moment from this nightmare… A VERY GOOD story, with a perversely ironic, classical vintage "gold age of SF" ending.
“Machine learning” by Nancy Kress – hard to tell what this story is about; it begins with research for a terribly deadly disease, then it skips to research on Artificial Intelligence and then it goes to yet something else… I never liked Nancy Kress left-wing politics, but I usually like her writing – a lot! Here, the story is not political at all but it is also exceptionally weak – possibly the weakest I ever read from this exceptionally talented and very experienced writer. A thing to SKIP without regrets.
“Inhuman garbage” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch – humanity expanded to other star systems, met alien civilizations and Moon is now heavily populated; in Armstrong, which is the main city, a female detective is called to investigate a murder most foul (in every possible sense of the term); her politically ambitious superior and a major crime lord take interest in the investigation. It is not bad but not very good either and what seemed to be a very promising mystery ends with a rather banal whimper. There was potential here for a deeper, much more meaningful story, but that opportunity was barely touched, not seized. A READABLE story.
“Planet of fear” by Paul J. McAuley – on an alternate reality Venus, covered with steaming jungle and warm oceans, a team of Soviet soldiers escorting a female scientist receive a very urgent distress call from a mining colony; they must arrive to the miners before an American rescue mission… A story terribly predictable and boring, build around the cliché of "military stupidity" and kowtowing to feminazi hysteria – the one woman present is of course the only sapient and sane being in the middle of barking mad male Neanderthals… The whole solution of the mystery is a total let down and let's not even mention the idealist view of life in Soviet Union (here called People's Republic)… AVOID!
“It takes more muscles to frown” by Ned Beauman – in near future, a guy working for Mexican cartels infiltrates an oil company; he avoids detection by advanced security/lie detecting software thanks to high tech modifications of his face muscles. The story is a kind of neo-noir, well thought over and nicely written. The only thing I didn't like too much were the completely unnecessary obscenities. Still, it is a GOOD, solid thing.
“The daughters of John Demetrius” by Joe Pitkin – in a world devastated by (sigh) global warming (what else?) an enhanced dark skinned god-like man looks amongst the white skinned degenerate underclass for appropriately coloured (that means not white) children which can be enhanced and become godlike creatures… A repulsive story, proving once again that anti-white racism is one of the pillars of the "progressive" writing and the political correctness in general… AVOID!
“Silence like diamonds” by John Barnes – a kind of near future neo-noir, about a top level female computer security consultant. She just started to work for a new client, when somebody starts using high tech scare tactics to push her to abandon this contract… Not bad, quite honestly adapting the old style from 40s stories about PIs to high tech future. A READABLE thing.
“Billy Tumult” by Nick Harkaway – a futuristic neurosurgeon helps his patients by entering their minds and very literally shooting the trouble…))) In this story he might just be up against a foe too tough for him… The ending was a little bit weak, but kudos for the idea. A GOOD, solid thing.
“Hello, hello; can you hear me, hello” by Seanan McGuire – another LGBT story, about two lesbians with children; one day they receive a strange video call… I honestly tried to read it, but only got to the middle. The half I read bored me to death – but as I didn't finish it, to be fair I am not rating it.
“Capitalism in the 22nd century or A.I.R” by Geoff Ryman – and yet another LGBT story, about two lesbians living in near future, running away for some reason from Nigeria to Brazil; this one I actually managed to finish, just to regret it. This is an incomprehensible, unreadable MESS, going nowhere! AVOID!
“Ice” Rich Larson – a short but surprisingly strong story about sibling rivalry. Two teenage brothers, one genetically enhanced and one not, live in a mining colony, on a very cold, very hostile planet. One day they take part in a very stupid and extremely dangerous dare… a GOOD, honest, solid thing.
“The first gate of logic” by Benjamin Rosenbaum – and yet another LGBT story, this one about a whole group of kind of transsexual Fathers living together and raising a child… It grossed me out. AVOID!
“In Panic Town, on the backward moon” by Michael F. Flynn – a crime story, told by a troubleshooting engineer, working in Phobos spaceport, which deserves mining colonies on Mars. It begins in a kind of space cantina filled with shady characters which could be defined as scum and villainy…))) The story is ultimately banal, but the atmosphere and sarcastic humor make it a GOOD, solid, honest thing.
“The three resurrections of Jessica Churchill” by Kelly Robson – a young girl was the victim of a terrible crime; microscopic aliens desperately try to keep her alive at all cost; I will say nothing more about the story. It seems that thing is the first ever published by this writer – well, she sure did a splash with her opening salvo… GOOD, solid story, although extremely disturbing and containing very graphic violence.
“No placeholder for you, my love” by Nick Wolven – two people who seem to be just incomplete software try to escape a critically damaged virtual reality. Interesting idea but delivery a little bit underwhelming. Still, a READABLE story.
“The game of smash and recovery” by Kelly Link – young Anat and her older brother Oscar were abandoned by their parents in an alien build facility on a distant planet, with some high tech servants but also in company of some less than welcome roommates. The story begins very well – but two thirds in, a twist occurs which sends it into disappointing full nonsense territory. Still a mostly READABLE story.
“A stopped clock” by Madeline Ashby – the only thing I managed to understand from this thing was that the two main characters are Korean street vendors and one of them is an old woman (possibly both of them are, but it was not clear). There were also some problems with electricity. Otherwise, even though I read it, I have no idea what this story was about… An absolutely incomprehensible, unreadable, useless mess. AVOID!
“The citadel of weeping pearls” by Aliette de Bodard – an impossibly long winded and boring novella situated in a future when the world is dominated by rival Vietnamese and Maya matriarchal totalitarian empires - and from which all white people were conveniently removed… Here, the Vietnamese Empress is looking for a mysterious space station, build, then stolen and hidden by her rebellious daughter long time ago. There was material for a good space opera here – but it was absolutely wasted! I had to skip some pages because towards the middle I didn't care anymore about the story and just wanted to finish it. AVOID!
CONCLUSION: this is a 2,5 stars collection. If you can find "Gypsy", "Trapping Pleistocene" and possibly also "The three resurrections of Jessica Churchill" somewhere else, you don't really need to buy it.