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The Year's Best Science Fiction: Eighth Annual Collection [Paperback]

Gardner R. Dozois
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 15 1991 Year's Best Science Fiction
Annually assembling the best science fiction of the year, this series continues to live up to its name with the most original, innovative, and wonderful short fiction published in 1990. A thorough summary of the year in science fiction and a long list of recommended reading round out this volume, rendering it the one book for every reader.


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From Kirkus Reviews

Another bumper crop of 25 tales culled from 1990's output, with no real standouts but maintaining a high standard overall. The famous names weigh in: Robert Silverberg (climatic change), Joe Haldeman (a short version of his recent missing-Hemingway- manuscripts novel), John Brunner (immortality), Michael Moorcock (a future Third World), Ursula K. Le Guin (a Hainish tale), and Kate Wilhelm's alien castaway. Not to forget such almost-as-famous contributors as: Bruce Sterling (religious-cultural clashes), Terry Bisson (the hilarious ``Bears Discover Fire''), Lucius Shepard and Robert Frazier (a chiller), Nancy Kress (disease colonies), Connie Willis (a comic modern El Dorado), Lewis Shiner (a what-if involving Nikola Tesla), and Pat Murphy (robot sex). And the remaining tales are equally diverse and stimulating, from longevity, chimeras, physics, cosmology, and transferable memories to rainmakers, alien invaders, and computer-reality. Another in a virtually indispensable series. Pity the price has gone into orbit, though. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wrong book description below Nov. 2 1999
Format:Paperback
As a die-hard fan, you can't go wrong with Gardner Dozois' collections. However, please note that Amazon's reviews have gone haywire on these compilations. The attached text refers to the 13th annual edition, not this one.
Was this review helpful to you?
4.0 out of 5 stars Dozois the Eighth, I Am Feb. 22 2013
By John M. Ford TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
These 25 stories from 1990 represent the best of the year's science fiction. The book opens with a summary of the year's important events in SF. The stories are introduced by well-written author bios, descriptions of other publications and enticing story previews. In other words, it is a typical Dozois annual collection. No surprises.

Four of my favorite stories:

James Kelly's "Mr. Boy" reaffirms our belief that giving a child everything creates a spoiled brat who never grows up. It redefines the extremes of this stereotype a little bit.

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's "Learning to Be Me" explores the implications of implanting a high-tech "jewel" that gradually learns to model everything your brain does. Eventually it can replace your brain and you can live forever. Well, somebody lives forever--but is it you? This is a far more thoughtful examination of the "total backup" of human minds assumed to be unproblematic in hard science fiction works like Iain M. Banks' Surface Detail.

Joe Haldeman's "The Hemingway Hoax" starts off as a 1950's crime story--and could have worked equally well staying within that genre. An aging college professor conspires with his former-student wife and an experienced con man to forge a few of Ernest Hemingway's lost manuscripts. This creates ripple effects everywhere.

All 25 stories are readable and worth your time. You may have different favorites, but will likely feel the same about the collection as a whole. Enjoy!
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Free SF Reader May 31 2008
By Blue Tyson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Book publishing numbers up again, according to Dozois. He points out one interesting statistic - 57% of new SF books were part of a series or something like that, as opposed to original.

This volume too is up from the last one, making it to 3.70, so with the usual long summary and recommended reading list bonus points, a solid 4.5 on its now.

Three standout stories, too.

Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : Mr. Boy - James Patrick Kelly
Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : The Shobies' Story - Ursula K. Le Guin
Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : The Caress - Greg Egan
Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : A Braver Thing - Charles Sheffield
Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : We See Things Differently - Bruce Sterling
Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : And the Angels Sing - Kate Wilhelm
Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : Past Magic - Ian R. MacLeod
Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : Bears Discover Fire - Terry Bisson
Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : The All-Consuming - Lucius Shepard and Robert Frazier
Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : Personal Silence - Molly Gloss
Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : Invaders - John Kessel
Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : The Cairene Purse - Michael Moorcock
Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : The Coon Rolled Down and Ruptured His Larinks A Squeezed Novel by Mr. Skunk - Dafydd ab Hugh
Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : Tower of Babylon - Ted Chiang
Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : The Death Artist - Alexander Jablokov
Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : The First Since Ancient Persia - John Brunner
Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : Inertia - Nancy Kress
Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : Learning to Be Me - Greg Egan
Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : Cibola - Connie Willis
Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : Walking the Moons - Jonathan Lethem
Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : Rainmaker Cometh - Ian McDonald
Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : Hot Sky - Robert Silverberg
Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : White City - Lewis Shiner
Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : Love and S3x Among the Invertebrates - Pat Murphy
Year's Best Science Fiction 08 : The Hemingway Hoax - Joe W. Haldeman

Not wanting to grow up attitude certainly isn't helped by mum's mechanical approach to parenting.

3.5 out of 5

Look, it's full of stars.

3 out of 5

An enhanced policeman gets entangled in a billionaire's bizarre Dr Moreau creations as art and save the child schemes.

4 out of 5

Black bagged mate's Nobel notebook space travel cribbing award speech shocker.

4 out of 5

Downtrodden rock tour coke killer.

4 out of 5

Alien escapee local journalism.

4 out of 5

Nailing the ex for cloning.

3.5 out of 5

Hibernatin's a big ol' waste of time.

4 out of 5

Deadly deviant dishes means fungus faced diner's chef leavetaking.

4 out of 5

Boat builder death story.

3.5 out of 5

Alien Flash of conquistador history waffle.

3 out of 5

Sister's alien lovechild leaving lethality.

4 out of 5

Plague Dogs leveler love.

4.5 out of 5

Built like a brick lighthouse tunnelway to heaven.

3.5 out of 5

Please kill the real me, I deserve it.

3.5 out of 5

No Xerxes, no Spartans, no kids.

4 out of 5

Quarantine lack of collapse restraint.

4.5 out of 5

A man learns to come to terms with the Jewel or Ndoli device - which is also mentioned in Border Guards, and has a bit of a different reaction with a glitch to others.

3 out of 5

Sunshine city time.

3.5 out of 5

Virtually stuck here, by Jove.

3 out of 5

Seven year drought breaker stranger sighting.

3 out of 5

Berg SOS mutiny seeya.

4 out of 5

Big night light.

4 out of 5

Radiation rooted robomum.

3 out of 5

Multiple serial murder mayhem over Ernie's multiversal missing manuscript mania.

4.5 out of 5

4.5 out of 5
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A collection with a few good stories, a lot of average ones and many disappointments - only for die-hard SF collectionners April 30 2012
By Darth Maciek - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In this book Gardner Dozois collected the stories he considered as the best of those written in 1990. Sadly however, this anthology is much weaker than those from seven previous years (1983-1988), with a great number of less than average quality stories and with even the renowned authors (like Kate Wilhelm and even Robert Silverberg!) providing disappointing texts. Also, as it is the case frequently in those anthologies, some of the stories can hardly be considered as science-fiction - some are in fact fantastic tales or even horror stories.

In the long introduction there is as always a review of what happened in SF in this particular year (here 1990) and at the end there are the very precious "honorable mentions" - recommendations of good SF stories from 1990 which for lack of place couldn't be included in the collection.

I was very surprised by three things abouth the stories selected for this yearly collection:

- in a great number of them the beginning was very promising, but the ending was either anti-climactic or completely ludicrous; frankly, I had the impression that almost all authors were on the most strict deadlines to finish their stories and ultimately stopped caring about quality

- almost all the stories were depressingly sad, gloomy and nihilistic; it seemed to me that authors were mostly looking for all possible ways to find threats and evils in any possible new technology and idea, including the most amazing medical advances and it finally got on my nerves towards the end of this book;

- in almost all those stories we see USA (or United Kingdom or the whole Western world) devastated by complete economic collapse brought somehow by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher; also in almost every story the world economy seems to be dominated by Japan...)))

Below you will find my more detailed impressions about the stories in this collection, with some limited SPOILERS:
-----------------------
"Mr. Boy" by James Patrick Kelly - this story is actually pretty good, in fact I believe it is the THIRD best in the whole collection; it deals with a future society in which it is possible to purchase new bodies and change them, almost as clothes - this is however expensive, so only the very rich can afford it; the story is also about the maturing and coming of age of a horribly spoiled rich brat, who at 21 still lives not only with his mother but even very litterally IN his mother...

"The Shobies' Story" by Ursula K. Le Guin - a potentially very interesting story about the first test flight of a revolutionary new space ship, allowing to easily travel between stars - the ending however is very weak; I was also very surprised that Ursula K. Le Guin imagined that a future society could be "progressive" enough to allow families to take their little children with them when testing a completely new technology...

"The caress" by Greg Egan - an "enhanced" future policeman finds a big surprise when investigating a crime scene; this big surprise will give him a whole lots of trouble for the next days and weeks... This is again a story which began very well, but the ending is extremely disappointing.

"A braver thing" by Charles Sheffield - a rather stupid story which begins with the story of friendship of two exceptionally gifted physicians/mathematicians, one of whom becomes an excentric "mad scientist", when the second one earns a Nobel prize (all of this figures on the first two pages); later it is supposed to be a morality tale, but this is a failed attempt and the second part of the story is simply ridiculous

"We see things differently" by Bruce Sterling - it is not exactly a bad story, but it is weird; it pictures a near future in which USA collapsed economically so badly, that now the leading powers of the world are Japan, European Union and a quickly rising Islamic Califate; in this world an Arab journalist searches an interview with a popular American singer/politician who incarnates hopes for a revival of USA; the funny thing is that Bruce Sterling seemed to REALLY believe that a man who is a mixture of Che Guevara, Bob Marley and John Lennon can be the ONLY hope to bring back USA as a world power...)))

"And the angels sing" by Kate Wilhelm - a story which is more modern fantastic than SF; a man living in a small town finds a mysterious creature, clearly not from our world, in dire need of help; this story is quite good but it ends so suddenly and in such a silly way, that I can only suppose that Ms Wilhelm ran out of ideas and just decided to stop, sell it as it is and never think about it again...

"Past magic" by Ian R. MacLeod - a story about cloning people, happening on a future Island of Man, which is the only civilized place remaining from what was once United Kingdom (now devastated by economic collapse, brought by Margaret Thatcher...); once again a rather good story (although very gloomy) but with a very disappointing ending

"Bears discover fire" by Terry Bisson - this partly amusing and partly depressing story is mostly exactly about what the title says: the bears discovering fire. It is also a story about dying, dealing with loss and handling obnoxious siblings... A rather good, although a little weird modern fantastic story, but not exactly a masterpiece.

"The all-consuming" by Lucius Shepard and Robert Frazier - as with almost all Lucius Shepard stories this is more the "magic realism" or modern fantastic kind, than SF, but it is also one of the better texts in this anthology; it is about an extremely wealthy man who is in search for enlightment and he seeks it by very litterally consuming things he wants to understand...

"Personal silence" by Molly Gloss - a man walks through the world without ever saying a word, trying in this way to stop the World War III, in which the very bad Americans seem to fight everybody else on the planet... I absolutely do not agree with the far left ideology filling this story, but still I liked the first two-thirds of it and Ms Gloss writes really well - but once again, the ending is so ludicrous and weird, that I can not consider this story as good.

"Invaders" by John Kessel - a weird but also interesting reflection about science-fiction and why exactly we read it; there are good and funny moments in this story, but other parts are gloomy and depressing; still, the general message is interesting... I must admit that after reading the "Invaders" I did some soul-searching on myself, to try to better understand exactly why the heck I like to read science-fiction...

"The Cairene purse" by Michael Moorcock - this very gifted and renowned author wrote one of my favourites fantasy series, namely "Elric"; but in this story, occuring in the "near future" Cairo, I found at least three flaws, which made me dislike it; first, it is looooooooong - like in really long and much too long. There is not enough things happening there to fill 50 pages! Then, the vision of this "near future" is so ridiculous and ludicrous that it is not even funny. And last but not least, the ending is a complete let down! I watched the last page in disbelief and I asked myself "What? All this - for THIS?".

"The coon rolled down and ruptured his larinks. A squuezed novel by Mr. Skunk" by Dafydd ab Hugh - this story is absolutely exceptionnal, for many reasons; there is the title (obviously...); there is the name of the author (he was actually born David Friedman); and then there is the fact that this story is the HARDEST to rate of anything I ever read. On one hand it is an extremely well written SF story, about a VERY special new civilization developping on the ruins of our world, after most of the humanity perished. On another hand it includes an extremely graphic description of multiple copulations between a human male and a dog female - and those moments made me sick... Bottom line, it is a most excellent story, but just be warned that it also includes bestiality oriented pornographic moments.

"Tower of Babylon" by Ted Chiang - more a fantastic/philosophic tale than SF, but this is finally a GOOD and interesting story, with a clever and satisfying ending. It is basically a retelling of the story of the Tower of Babel. As we all know, God made it impossible to complete the Tower - but what would happen if this project have succeded?

"The death artist" by Alexander Jablokov - once again, a story which begins very very well, in form of a criminal mystery, in a very decadent future world, in which privileged members of a high caste of humans can indulge in a great deal of pleasures using clones and virtual reality; but the ending is once again a complete let down...

"The first since Ancient Persia" by John Brunner - a lone American woman trekking through South America gets in trouble; she then finds refuge and hospitality in an isolated community of scientists who seem to have a lot of secrets... Initially, a very good SF mystery story, but once again the ending is rather disappointing...

"Inertia" by Nancy Kress - a good SF story about people infected with a disfiguring highly contagious disease living in isolated colonies; I liked that one, although I simply couldn't understand how the author could imagine that ANY government would actually forbid under pain of death all research to find a cure to such a horrible and dangerous disease! Nancy Kress can write, no argument there, but she seems to feel an irrational hatred towards the government of her own country (at least she did in 1990)...

"Learning to be me" by Greg Egan - the BEST story in this collection! In a near future, people start to receive second "back up" brains, which, if/when the organic brain is destroyed, take over, guaranteeing à priori a kind of "immortality" to people. This is a very powerful idea and Greg Egan wrote about it a perfectly logical and very clever story which is a PURE JEWEL! No more spoilers here, but I must say once again that I was very very impressed!

"Cibola" by Connie Willis - this is not SF and ultimately there are hardly any fantastic elements in this story, but it is also the SECOND best in the whole collection; a very very funny, clever and surprisingly profound short story in which a journalist looks for the Seven Cities of Cibola in the good city of Denver in the year of grace 1990, assisted by the great granddaughter of Coronado (or may be not?). No more spoilers here but have a box of fresh donuts ready - you will need it at the end! It is a very serious warning...)))

"Walking the moons" by Jonathan Lethem - a very short, but extremely vicious and quite funny story about everything that virtual reality technology can offer to the geeks; when remembering that this story was written in 1990 one can only admire the intelligence of the author...

"Rainmaker cometh" by Ian McDonald - a rather weird modern fantastic tale about a city devastated by drought and a mysterious stranger coming to its help; not really a bad thing but the idiotic ending completely ruins the story.

"Hot sky" by Robert Silverberg - a surprising disappointment coming from such a giant of SF; in 1990 the threat of a global nuclear war started to seriously diminish, so SF writers turned immediately towards the next bogeyman - the global warming! So, in a future dominated by the global warming, a "trawler" charged with capturing icebergs and bringing them to California, which dies of thirst receives a SOS. (The ship, as most of the world economy is of course owned by a Japanese conglomerate). My problem with this story is that nothing in it made any sense. Ships are propelled by very efficient fusion engines - but for some reason it is not possible to use this incredible source of power for desalinisation of sea water... Trawlers bring great profits to their companys, but they receive so little supplies, that in case of the slightest problem, their crews would starve. And ultimately, the actions of the main "hero" do not make any sense...

"White city" by Lewis Shiner - real life Serbian scientist Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), who after immigrating to USA became successively a partner of Thomas Edison and later George Westinghouse, was an engineering genius, a brilliant physician and a great inventor - but he was also the guy who put the "M" in the Mad Scientist; this short, but powerful story shows about what a real genius can REALLY do if he is REALLY allowed to by the investors...

"Love and sex among the invertebrates" by Pat Murphy - at the end of the world, the last human watches the appearance of sexuality amongst robots... It is not a bad story, but not a masterpiece either.

"The Hemingway hoax" by Joe Haldeman - this novella was later developed into a real novel and published as a separate book. A conman, a teacher and the wife of the latter try to counterfeit one of the lost Hemingway's manuscripts - and they attract the attention of a kind of Multiverse space/time police, worried that this hoax can alter the reality in all the Creation... Mostly this is a good, quite clever and quite funny story, but once again, the ending (the last five pages) are a complete failure. Still, I rather enjoyed everything before it.
-----
CONCLUSION: this collection is not a success; there is only a handful of really good stories (mentioned above) - others can be skipped or read partially. As some of the good stories are available elsewhere, I think that this book is only for SF collectionners - otherwise there is no really need to buy it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dozois the Eighth, I Am April 11 2011
By John M. Ford - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
These 25 stories from 1990 represent the best of the year's science fiction. The book opens with a summary of the year's important events in SF. The stories are introduced by well-written author bios, descriptions of other publications and enticing story previews. In other words, it is a typical Dozois annual collection. No surprises.

Four of my favorite stories:

James Kelly's "Mr. Boy" reaffirms our belief that giving a child everything creates a spoiled brat who never grows up. It redefines the extremes of this stereotype a little bit.

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's "Learning to Be Me" explores the implications of implanting a high-tech "jewel" that gradually learns to model everything your brain does. Eventually it can replace your brain and you can live forever. Well, somebody lives forever--but is it you? This is a far more thoughtful examination of the "total backup" of human minds assumed to be unproblematic in hard science fiction works like Iain M. Banks' Surface Detail.

Joe Haldeman's "The Hemingway Hoax" starts off as a 1950's crime story--and could have worked equally well staying within that genre. An aging college professor conspires with his former-student wife and an experienced con man to forge a few of Ernest Hemingway's lost manuscripts. This creates ripple effects everywhere.

All 25 stories are readable and worth your time. You may have different favorites, but will likely feel the same about the collection as a whole. Enjoy!
5.0 out of 5 stars can't put it down Sept. 2 2013
By Jock Deboer - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This is my favorite book to buy each year. Mr. Dozois puts together a great collection. I've been reading it for the last 10 years and am now purchasing the ones I don't have.
4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wrong book description below Nov. 2 1999
By "crosenbe" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As a die-hard fan, you can't go wrong with Gardner Dozois' collections. However, please note that Amazon's reviews have gone haywire on these compilations. The attached text refers to the 13th annual edition, not this one.
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