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The Best of the Best: 20 Years of the Year's Best Science Fiction Paperback – Jan 13 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1 edition (Jan. 13 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031233656X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312336561
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.5 x 4.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 839 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #249,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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By John M. Ford TOP 100 REVIEWER on Feb. 21 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I don't envy Gardner Dozois his task of selecting the thirty-six stories in this book from 20 years of his Best of the Year collections--which in themselves required painful decisions to exclude many first-rate stories. I am glad he put himself through it, though. These are the stories that made the greatest impression on him as a reader--a reader with an educated palate earned through decades of fine reading.

My favorites:

Pat Cadigan's "Roadside Rescue" is a brief tale about a man whose car breaks down and is repaired through the generosity of an alien visitor. Perhaps generosity isn't quite the right word...

John Crowley's "Snow" introduces a new, high-tech method of remembering a loved one after they die. It has its complications, both technical and emotional.

Terry Bisson's "Bears Discover Fire" is one of my very favorite stories. Enough with super-intelligent aliens and artificial intelligences! What would it be like if ordinary animals became just a little bit smarter? Well...

Greg Egan stretches the imagination with "Wang's Carpets," a new kind of life that exists in the same physical world as humans, but several layers of abstraction away from us. Sort of...

In Ted Chiang's "Story of Your Life" a mother pieces together the narratives of her life and of her daughter's life. It's a little hard to follow without some translation.

Please don't let my taste affect your reading more than it should; all thirty-six of these stories are very good. I suggest reading every one of them then trying to select your own top five. It's interesting to experience some small fraction of Gardner Dozois' pain in selecting them.
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By nanoJak on Jan. 24 2007
Format: Paperback
There is no doubt about Mr. Dozois' eye for identifying the best short stories in the SF publishing world. Published in 2005, this anthology gathers his favorites among the stories that have appeared in his "Year's best" anthologies over a period of 20 years. Now if these stories are representative of the genre, and while there are too few to be statistically significant I suspect that they are representative, the most interesting point is how this collection relates to Mr. Dozois' most recent "Year's best" anthology published in 2006. While it is striking that many of the latter's stories dealt with end of the world scenarios, usually of an environmental nature, there are absolutely none related to this theme in this 20 year collection. It thus appears that the premise that the end of the world is making a strong comeback in the SF literature, after a hiatus in the post cold war world, just might be correct. After decades of literature where bleakness and catastrophe was at the core of the stories, this 20 year anthology is actually pretty innocent from this point of view, concentrating instead on the examination of some pretty original concepts. This innocence evident in the collection leads to quite a pleasant read, away from the stress that we now face every time that a new report comes out indicating that things are getting much worse far faster than we ever thought possible. So read it while you can, because if the last yearly anthology is any indication, the stories will be getting a lot darker very soon.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 20 reviews
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
A superior collection of thought provoking fiction. June 4 2005
By Edward Alexander Gerster - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Gardner Dozois has once again put together a collection of short speculative fiction that every reader of science fiction should have on their shelf. It is filled with a twenty year progression of stories that both reflect the times they were written, and their relevance today as well.

Dozois did a very wise thing while putting together this anthology by choosing stories that made the most significant impact on him as a reader, rather than picking award winners or short stories that have been widely reprinted. Therefore you get Nancy Kress's "Trinity" rather than her much published "Beggars in Spain," and James Patrick Kelly's "10(16) to 1" instead of his "Think Like A Dinosaur."

Some of my favorites I was happy to find enclosed as well by Pat Cadigan, Joe Haldeman, Ursula K. Le Guin and Eileen Gunn. A stellar group of stories that comes Highly Recommended.
81 of 98 people found the following review helpful
Good but should have been great Sept. 19 2005
By Joseph Davis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
From the way this volume is marketed, you could be forgiven for thinking that you are buying a collection of the best short fiction written in the field of science fiction over the past 20 years. Beware, this book does not contain the best of the best over the past twenty years. It does not even contain the best stories from The Year's Best Science Fiction from the past twenty years. On the other hand, it does contain some excellent stories (e.g. A Cabin On the Coast-Gene Wolfe, Salvador-Lucius Shepard, Dinner In Audoghast-Bruce Sterling, The Pure Product-John Kessel, Recording Angel-Ian MacDonald, and others.) But it also contains inexcusably slight and, in some instances, downright unreadable stories (e.g. Trinity -Nancy Kress, execrable chick-lit of the worst kind, The Winter Market-William Gibson, pretentious, narcissistic drool, Coming of Age In Karhide-Ursula K. Le Guin, if I want to read the gory details about puberty I'll stick to medical manuals which at least deal with humans, Lobsters-Charles Stross, twenty pages of supercool, pseudo-hightech gibberish that will make you look forward to your next root canal.) Another problem, when Dozois does get the author right, he often gets the story wrong. (e.g. He chose the slight, silly Even the Queen-Connie Willis, when he could have chosen Cibola or Last of the Winnebagoes. He chose the good but excruciatingly slow Story of Your Life-Ted Chiang, instead of the brilliant, exotic Tower of Babylon, while Salvador-Lucius Shepard is a good story, A Spanish Lesson and The Ends of the Earth are much better. Tales From the Venia Woods-Robert Silverberg is also a good story but pales beside A Long Night's Vigil In the Temple and Sailing to Byzantium -so what if it's a bit long, it's a true classic, None So Blind-Joe Haldeman is okay, Graves would have been a much better choice, etc.) And why would Dozois feel he should limit his best authors to just one story in the volume? If this is supposed to be the best of the best why not put in two Silverberg or three Shepard stories instead of including piffle like Bears Discover Fire-Terry Bisson? And why no George R.R. Martin, one of the top five short story writers over the past thirty years? Under Siege belonged in this volume. Why no Gregory Benford? Of Space/Time and the River belonged in this volume. Alphas belonged in this volume. Why no John Varley? Press Enter belonged in this volume. If this is supposed to be the best science fiction in the past twenty years, why isn't the profoundly disturbing The Angel of Violence-Adam Wisniewski-Snerg included? So, while I think this is a good collection of stories, it should have been a great collection of stories, but isn't.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
frustrating selection and dreadful production July 31 2007
By Glenn Becker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I am a reasonable fan of Gardner Dozois' "Year's Best" anthologies, having devoured three of them (I think). There were some stories I considered clinkers, sure, but I always ascribed this to differences in taste, and reading others' reviews of the contents of those volumes confirmed this.

So I excitedly purchased _The Best of the Best_ -- at an airport, if I recall correctly -- and anticipated the direct hits would asymptotically approach a heady, dizzying 100%. To my surprise, the Insanely Great Quotient went in the opposite direction! While I wouldn't say any of Dozois' selections here are "bad" stories, there are far too many that simply feel like trifles: pleasant throwaways, good for a single read, but hardly deserving of inclusion in an anthology that purports to be as exclusive or definitive as this one does. In this "forgettable" category I would even include the offering by Gene Wolfe, a writer I consider to at least approach the "great" category in many ways.

Furthermore, the physical book displays haste and a lack of care that I find shocking. The paper quality is poor -- that is, poorer than what I am used to from the individual "Year's Best" collections. It is almost like newspaper, and the book's pages have already yellowed visibly. Finally ... for gosh sake, who proofread this thing? There are gaffes that ruin moments of delicacy and power in stories like Tony Daniels' "A Dry, Quiet War" and Ted Chiang's "Story of Your Life" (where -- help us all -- "deaf" parents becomes "dead" parents). Both of these stories, in my opinion, are spot-on choices ... and they certainly deserve better treatment than that.

I will return to more of the "Year's Best" collections with pleasure and profit, since they include Dozois' estimable "Summations" of the year in science fiction, but I am going to finish _The Best of the Best_ and ... well, just scratch my head and wonder what happened.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Not perfect, but good enough Aug. 3 2006
By John Me Wallace - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
First of all, let it be known that I bought this collection for one story by one of my favorite authors: "The Wedding Album", which did not disappoint. Of course, I had to get my money's worth by reading the whole thing.

There are some real gems in this collection: Bear's gruesome classic "Blood Music", Ian Macleod's superb "Breathmoss", Sterling's "Dinner in Audoghast", "Daddy's World", and a few others. Unfortunately, these excellent works stand up like islands in a sea of others that range from "good" to merely "competent". There was one story in particular that had me scratching my head as to why it was included.

I agree with another reviewer, in that I understand that Dozois wanted to create a well-rounded collection precisely by not picking the most widely-read works. That said, a collection of stories with the equally visceral punch of "Blood Music" and "The Wedding Album" would have really rocked my world.

Recommended.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The Flood of Time March 25 2011
By John M. Ford - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I don't envy Gardner Dozois his task of selecting the thirty-six stories in this book from 20 years of his Best of the Year collections--which in themselves required painful decisions to exclude many first-rate stories. I am glad he put himself through it, though. These are the stories that made the greatest impression on him as a reader--a reader with an educated palate earned through decades of fine reading.

My favorites:

Pat Cadigan's "Roadside Rescue" is a brief tale about a man whose car breaks down and is repaired through the generosity of an alien visitor. Perhaps generosity isn't quite the right word...

John Crowley's "Snow" introduces a new, high-tech method of remembering a loved one after they die. It has its complications, both technical and emotional.

Terry Bisson's "Bears Discover Fire" is one of my very favorite stories. Enough with super-intelligent aliens and artificial intelligences! What would it be like if ordinary animals became just a little bit smarter? Well...

Greg Egan stretches the imagination with "Wang's Carpets," a new kind of life that exists in the same physical world as humans, but several layers of abstraction away from us. Sort of...

In Ted Chiang's "Story of Your Life" a mother pieces together the narratives of her life and of her daughter's life. It's a little hard to follow without some translation.

Please don't let my taste affect your reading more than it should; all thirty-six of these stories are very good. I suggest reading every one of them then trying to select your own top five. It's interesting to experience some small fraction of Gardner Dozois' pain in selecting them.

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