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The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection [Hardcover]

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

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Book Description

June 23 2009 Year's Best Science Fiction

The thirty stories in this collection imaginatively take us far across the universe, into the very core of our beings, to the realm of the gods, and the moment just after now.  Included here are the works of masters of the form and of bright new talents, including: Paolo Bacigalupi, Stephen Baxter, Elizabeth Bear, Aliete de Bodard, James L. Cambias, Greg Egan, Charles Coleman Finlay, James Alan Gardner, Dominic Green, Daryl Gregory, Gwyneth Jones, Ted Kosmatka, Mary Robinette Kowal, Nancy Kress, Jay Lake, Paul McAuley, Ian McDonald, Maureen McHugh, Sarah Monette, Garth Nix, Hannu Rajaniemi, Robert Reed, Alastair Reynolds, Mary Rosenblum, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Geoff Ryman, Karl Schroeder, Gord Sellar, and Michael Swanwick.

Supplementing the stories are the editor’s insightful summation of the year’s events and a lengthy list of honorable mentions, making this book both a valuable resource and the single best place in the universe to find stories that stir the imagination, and the heart.



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Review

“This is a worthy addition to a venerable series.”—Publishers Weekly

Praise for Gardner Dozois and The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-fifth Annual Collection:

“The 25th installment of editor extraordinaire Dozois's annual collection packs a wallop.” –Publishers Weekly

"For more than a quarter century, Gardner Dozois's THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION OF THE YEAR has defined the field. It is the most important anthology, not only annually, but overall." --Charles N. Brown, publisher of Locus Magazine

About the Author

GARDNER DOZOIS has been working in the science fiction field for more than thirty years. For twenty years he was the editor of Asimov's Science Fiction, during which time he received the Hugo Award for Best Editor fifteen times.


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5.0 out of 5 stars great as always Nov. 9 2013
By yoda
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Gardner knows how to pick them. What a treat to discover all these gems. I really enjoyed all the stories.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another Collection of Engaging Science Fiction Feb. 18 2013
By John M. Ford TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Gardner Dozois gives us the grand tour of top-notch science fiction stories from 2008. As in previous anthologies, he treats readers to a chapter-length summation of developments in the field during 2008, a set of well-chosen stories, and an impressive list of "Honorable Mentions" that motivated readers can track down and enjoy. I read all 30 stories and felt my time was well-spent with each one.

My six favorites from this year's collection all deal with our humanity, skillfully using the innovations of technology and the wonders of other worlds to examine our hearts:

Ted Kosmatka's "N-Words" explores love, pain and prejudice in a relationship between a woman and one of modern man's closest cousins.

Karl Schroeder's "The Hero" tells the story of a boy who pays forward a kindness.

Mary Robinnette Kowal's "Evil Robot Monkey" asks whether animals are made more human by increasing their intelligence or increasing our empathy.

Greg Egan's "Crystal Nights" shows that the evolution of a new species can be more effective and efficient if the right man is in charge.

Garth Nix's "Old Friends" shows us that our roots are at home, even when we don't want to return there.

Ian McDonald's "The Tear" is an action- and concept-packed tale of childhood friendship under change--after change, after change.

This collection is highly recommended. I enjoyed it all the more as a "guilty pleasure" read on my iPhone Kindle app while those around me assumed I was scheduling or engaging in some other grown-up activity.

WARNING: The thirty stories in this collection are exactly the same 30 stories found in The Mammoth Book of Best New SF 22. In fact, these two books seem to be the same except for different titles and covers. Don't buy both expecting them to be separate books.
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another good Dozois collection Sept. 8 2009
By A. A. Chapman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection. Edited by Gardner Dozois.

As usual, Dozois has rounded up mostly excellent stories, whether or not one can ever objectively define "best" (average story quality, in my judgment, comes out to 4.13 out of 5, in this anthology). Also, as in previous years, the huge Summation at the beginning lays out the current condition of science fiction in exquisite detail. For that, I'm adding a bonus to the 4.13 story-average, bringing the final rating up to 5 out of 5.

Key:
++ = Excellent story, would unhesitatingly include it in my own "year's best"... if I had one.
+ = Thought it was good, certainly worth reading, maybe not a definite pick for my own "year's best"...
o = Not bad, but had little effect on me.
- = Actively disliked it.
-- = Wish I hadn't read it!

"Turing's Apples." Stephen Baxter. Sibling rivalry and first contact. One of Baxter's best so far. ++

"From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled." Michael Swanwick. A man among bug-eyed aliens who deal in trust. Typically Swanwick: full of irony and a boatload of postmodern literary tricks. Quite entertaining, though. +

"The Gambler." Paolo Bacigalupi. News reporter takes big gamble on writing social-justice piece in hyper-capitalized information economy. Good character piece, less of a downer than the usual Bacigalupi. +

"Boojum." Elizabeth Bear & Sarah Monette. Seat-of-your-pants swashbuckler on living pirate ship in outer space! Complete with a plucky heroine and a ship weirder than anything in Pirates of the Caribbean. +

"The Six Directions of Space." Alastair Reynolds. Space-faring, multiverse-exploring Mongol Empire! Reynolds does it again: mind-blowing vastness of space and time, awesome scientific speculation, fine and subtle characterization. ++

"N-Words." Ted Kosmatka. Neanderthal clones suffer racist slurs. Kosmatka is a fine writer, but this one tries too hard to win my pity for the Neanderthals. o

"An Eligible Boy." Ian McDonald. Jane Austen for guys in near-future India. Another fine writer turns to boring (though occasionally funny) social commentary. o

"Shining Armour." Dominic Green. Boonie village has one huge secret weapon. I found myself cheering at the end. ++

"The Hero." Karl Schroeder. Young man goes on quest to save the world(s). Eye-popping descriptions and skilful plotting keep this one moving to an explosive finale. Adventure space-opera at its absolute best. ++

"Evil Robot Monkey." Mary Robinette Kowal. Evil Robot Monkey throws around... The End. -

"Five Thrillers." Robert Reed. A thrilling story full of wonder and excitement, in five parts. The protagonist is bad-ass x5. Robert Reed is too: this guy gets a story published every two weeks (on average), including this rather long novella, and they're all either good or great. ++

"The Sky That Wraps the World Round, Past the Blue and Into the Black." Jay Lake. Yeah.. the title makes more sense than the story. Lake is usually good, and maybe this is "good," but I couldn't wrap my head around it. -

"Incomers." Paul McAuley. Bildungsroman on a moon of Saturn. Fast-paced, but affords plenty of room for thought: in other words, an average McAuley story. +

"Crystal Nights." Greg Egan. Billionaire creates virtual species, but he's no god. To quote Paul Di Filippo, Egan writes "quantum poetry." Beautiful story. +

"The Egg Man." Mary Rosenblum. Dude smuggles eggs into Mexican village in climate-changed future, but witnesses his old friends' sad decline. As always, Rosenblum succeeds in creating more atmosphere than a Ridley Scott film; and her characters really get to you. +

"His Master's Voice." Hannu Rajaniemi. Dog and cat team up to be man's best friends. Excellent writing and charming story make this entry from new writer Rajaniemi one of the best in this volume. ++

"The Political Prisoner." Charles Coleman Finlay. Political officer ends up in prison on Soviet-inspired isolationist colony world. Finlay has a knack for interesting characters; this a fine example. ++

"Balancing Accounts." James L. Cambias. Robots! In Space! I've never seen robots more convincingly rendered (that includes you, WALL-E). ++

"Special Economics." Maureen McHugh. Chinese girl gets job at evil corporation: the kind you can't really quit. McHugh creates an unlikeable character, but somehow kept my attention. +

"Days of Wonder." Geoff Ryman. A Million Years From Now: equine matriarchs roam the plains. Like most stuff Ryman writes: so much unthinking emotion that I stopped caring pretty soon. o

"City of the Dead." Paul McAuley. Crazy old biologist has strange bond with mutant ferrets. Surprisingly good combo of the modern western (think "The Three Burials of Melquiadas Estrada") and hard sci-fi. ++

"The Voyage Out." Gwyneth Jones. Woman on mysterious space voyage discovers some unsettling secrets about herself and her lover. Lyrical and intimate, and ultimately quite chilling. Very effective. +

"The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm." Daryl Gregory. Iron Men rule the skies in alternate-world Baltic lands. Rip-roaring war story with a kind-of superhero ethos hanging around the edges but affecting everyone. +

"G-Men." Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Alternate-history mystery starring J. Edgar Hoover, RFK, and LBJ! Never saw a more crooked bunch... an entertaining who-dunit. +

"The Erdmann Nexus." Nancy Kress. Ageing physicist faces psycho mystery. The idea feels at least 60 years old, but it gives steady proof of Kress's never-faltering quality. ++

"Old Friends." Garth Nix. Arborial samurai! Simultaneously depressing and entertaining story from an author I'd never read before. +

"The Ray Gun: A Love Story." James Alan Gardner. Boy meets Ray Gun, etc. Truly astounding coming-of-age tale; probably THE best of the year. ++

"Lester Young and the Jupiter's Moons' Blues." Gord Sellar. Who knew aliens would like jazz? This is a toe-tappin' good read and a convincing argument for the appreciation of jazz (yes, I said it...). +

"Butterfly, Falling at Dawn." Aliette de Bodard. Another alternate-history mystery: a "Mexica" magistrate searches for both a murderer and her own soul in Fenliu (=Los Angeles, I think). An unexpectedly moving story; I *really* hope this French writer shows up more often in English-language publications. +

"The Tear." Ian McDonald. Manifold personality on a literally cosmic scale. McDonald never does anything small, does he? This story is almost too rich, too dense for the human mind to encompass. A work of genius, nonetheless. +
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Collection of Engaging Science Fiction Sept. 23 2009
By John M. Ford - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Gardner Dozois gives us the grand tour of top-notch science fiction stories from 2008. As in previous anthologies, he treats readers to a chapter-length summation of developments in the field during 2008, a set of well-chosen stories, and an impressive list of "Honorable Mentions" that motivated readers can track down and enjoy. I read all 30 stories and felt my time was well-spent with each one.

My six favorites from this year's collection all deal with our humanity, skillfully using the innovations of technology and the wonders of other worlds to examine our hearts:

Ted Kosmatka's "N-Words" explores love, pain and prejudice in a relationship between a woman and one of modern man's closest cousins.

Karl Schroeder's "The Hero" tells the story of a boy who pays forward a kindness.

Mary Robinnette Kowal's "Evil Robot Monkey" asks whether animals are made more human by increasing their intelligence or increasing our empathy.

Greg Egan's "Crystal Nights" shows that the evolution of a new species can be more effective and efficient if the right man is in charge.

Garth Nix's "Old Friends" shows us that our roots are at home, even when we don't want to return there.

Ian McDonald's "The Tear" is an action- and concept-packed tale of childhood friendship under change--after change, after change.

This collection is highly recommended. I enjoyed it all the more as a "guilty pleasure" read on my iPhone Kindle app while those around me assumed I was scheduling or engaging in some other grown-up activity.

WARNING: The thirty stories in this collection are exactly the same 30 stories found in The Mammoth Book of Best New SF 22. In fact, these two books seem to be the same except for different titles and covers. Don't buy both expecting them to be separate books.
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars super July 12 2009
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This anthology always lives up to its title as there are thirty strong short stories with 628 pages of contributions included. The Summation of 2008 is a deep fascinating essay that focuses on the good with overall strong creative writings especially in book anthologies; and the bad being the collapse of several print magazines with those surviving cutting back the number of pages in each copy and reducing the number of releases per year. The stories are for the most part super but in spite of the rise of the on line magazines most of the compilation comes from print magazines and book anthologies. My personal favorites are those I had not previously read (thus I discount the excellent "Boojum" by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette, "The Gambler" by Paolo Bacogalupi, and "Eligible Boy" by Ian McDonald, etc.). "The Six Directions of Space" by Alastair Reynolds, "Five Thrillers" by Robert Reed and the "Erdmann Nexus" by Nancy Kress are tremendous; the rest are quite good too. This collection with its Honorable Mention list and reference guide is a short story delight.

Harriet Klausner
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Decline and Fall of Human Civilization Jan. 26 2010
By Aneil K. Mishra - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I've been a huge fan of Dozois's anthologies for years, having purchased roughly half of the editions when they were first published, and then several earlier ones as used copies. I won't repeat what other negative reviewers have to say, but I'll add my own reason that I've been enjoying each new anthology less and less over the past five years: the decreasing human quality of the human protagonists and antagonists in many of the stories. It's not just that there are too many post-human stories, or near post-human. It's also that even when the characters are ostensibly human, they might as well be robots, psychopaths/sociopaths, or simply amoral but not necessarily logical characters. Whatever the flavor, I find that I can't care less about them, or what happens to them. I'm very much in favor of alien or alien-like characters and contexts, but when it's just another so-called human going against another one, I'd rather watch Battlestar Galactica reruns.

Aneil Mishra
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Pain on the Kindle Feb. 26 2010
By BRANman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The stories vary from very good to not so good, in my opinion...BUT the lack of a functioning table of contents is a deal wrecker...an anthology without a table on contents, totally unacceptable on the Kindle!

I have bookmarked the beginning of each story, which will be fine if I ever want to find a story again, but I will not buy this anthology again without a functioning table of contents.
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