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The Best of the Best: 20 Years of the Year's Best Science Fiction [Paperback]

Robert Silverberg , Gardner Dozois
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 13 2005
For years, The Year's Best Science Fiction has been the most widely read short science fiction anthology of its kind. Now, after twenty-one annual collections, comes the ultimate in science fiction anthologies, The Best of the Best: 20 Years of the Year's Best Science Fiction, in which legendary editor Gardner Dozois selects the very best short stories for this landmark collection. Contributors include: * Stephen Baxter * Greg Bear * William Bigson * Terry Bisson * Pat Cadigan * Ted Chiang * John Crowley * Tony Daniel * Greg Egan * Molly Gloss * Eileen Gunn * Joe Haldeman * James Patrick Kelly * John Kessel * Nancy Kress * Ursula K. Le Guin * Ian R. MacLeod * David Marusek * Paul McAuley * Ian McDonald * Maureen F. McHugh * Robert Reed * Mike Resnick * Geoff Ryman * William Sander * Lucius Shepard * Robert Silverberg * Brian Stableford * Bruce Sterling * Charles Stross * Michael Swanwick * Steven Utley * Howard Waldrop * Walter Jon Williams * Connie Willis * Gene Wolfe
With work spanning two decades, The Best of the Best stands as one of the ultimate science fiction anthologies ever published.

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From Booklist

Editor Dozois' ample annuals have long been considered the standard by which other best-of-the-year sf anthologies are judged. After two decades of his treasure troves of superlative sf, Dozois now sees fit to issue a retrospective compilation culling from all 20 of them. The results are breathtaking. Under one banner are assembled some of the best work of the genre's leading authors, from grandmasters Robert Silverberg, Gene Wolfe, and Ursula K. LeGuin to such rising stars as Stephen Baxter, Geoff Ryman, and James Patrick Kelly. A number of the selections are now considered classics--"Blood Music," Greg Bear's Hugo-winning exploration of nanotechnology, for instance, and "Bears Discover Fire," Terry Bisson's tongue-in-cheek consideration of future ursine evolution. While Dozois admits to selecting primarily personal favorites rather than following the more equitable formula of blending the older and the newer, he couldn't help producing a feast of good reading and an essential acquisition for virtually every sf library, anyway. Carl Hays
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


"Gardner Dozois's Year's Best Science Fiction anthology, an annual volume of gigantic size and awesome range, has after twenty years become a wondrous trove of great stories and an archive that has immeasurable historical significance. Now Dozois has selected the best of the best."
- Robert Silverberg

"If a science fiction fan from 1984 chanced to stumble into a time warp and pop up in the here and now, and wanted to know what had been happening in his favorite genre in the last twenty years, all you'd need to do was hand him a copy of Gardner Dozois's Best of the Best. This is two decades of the best that science fiction has to offer, chosen by the most respected editor in the field...a copy belongs on the shelf of every SF reader."
- George R. R. Martin, bestselling author of A Game of Thrones

"The short story is the heart of science fiction, and editor Gardner Dozois understands more about the short story and about science fiction than anybody else, which is what's made this series so terrific! But now, to have Gardner's picks for The Best of the Best collected all in one volume is beyond terrific! It'll make nonreaders of science fiction realize why the genre has so many devoted fans, and the readers of science fiction hyperventilate. This is the cream of the cream of the crop! And all in one place! I cannot wait to read it!"
- Connie Willis, winner of many Hugo and Nebula awards

"For more than a quarter century, Gardner Dozois's TheYear's Best Science Fiction has defined the field. It is the most important anthology, not only annually but overall."
- Charles N. Brown, publisher of Locus Magazine

"The title says it all. If you like science fiction, you need this book! Gardner Dozois is the savviest editor alive, and his picks are brilliant, thought-provoking, and immensely entertaining. Sell your grandmother if you must, but buy this book!"
- Michael Swanwick, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, and Theodore Sturgeon awards

"Dozois's 'Best of the Year' volumes have had consistently high literary quality. I've used them as a primary text for twenty years, teaching SF writing at MIT, and they always give the students interesting examples of the huge variety of stories that live under the SF tent."
- Joe Haldeman, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of The Forever War

"There is no one better qualified to edit this book. If Gardner Dozois says these are the best of the best, you can bet the farm on it. The best and most honored editor of the past twenty years selects the best and most honored stories of the past twenty years. It's a natural."
- Mike Resnick, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of Santiago

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Flood of Time Feb. 21 2013
By John M. Ford TOP 100 REVIEWER
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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4.0 out of 5 stars The interlude Jan. 24 2007
By nanoJak
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 (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superior collection of thought provoking fiction. June 4 2005
By Edward Alexander Gerster - Published on
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.
79 of 96 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but should have been great Sept. 19 2005
By Joseph Davis - Published on
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.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect, but good enough Aug. 3 2006
By John Me Wallace - Published on
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.

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars frustrating selection and dreadful production July 31 2007
By Glenn Becker - Published on
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tilts toward ho-hum... March 28 2011
By Raghuveer - Published on
Am not a big-reader of science fiction but love a few collections and novels of Philip Dick and Arthur Clarke. When I saw the title 'Best of the Best', I was anticipating a thorough delight. Sadly, this is not the case.

If you notice the selections of most movie critics, you will see them veering towards the off-beat. This is easy to see why because after a while, the thrills/effects of mainstream movies would cease to move anyone. Perhaps years of reading sci-fi did the same for this editor.

Am exactly a third through the book and except for two stories - 'A Cabin On the Coast' and 'Dinner In Audoghast'(delightful but I cannot see why this is in a collection of sci-fi stories), there was nothing else that me close the book and savor what I had just partaken and I have to conclude that the editor did not create this anthology for the general public. I was not looking for any exotic settings or obligatory twists but just for good reads. Think of the magical story 'The Sentinel' of Arthur Clarke; plot-wise there is very little in it but the language/setting and just the implications/possibilities of the discovery elevates the story to something you remember forever.

If you are totally into sci-fi, your opinion will no doubt differ from mine but if you are a casual reader, you might want to borrow this from your library instead of spending 20 bucks. Honestly, even if you don't, you aren't missing much.

2.5 stars and an additional half for the variety.
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