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The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume 4 Paperback – March 1, 2010

3.3 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Strahan's introduction calls 2008 a good but not exceptional year for short fiction, and in accurate reflection, all 29 stories collected here are good, but few are great. The standouts are memorable in a variety of ways: for sheer power of narrative voice, Pat Cadigan's Truth and Bone; for human connections to inscrutable aliens, Damien Broderick's This Wind Blowing, and This Tide; for humor amid life-and-death peril, Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear's Mongoose. Hard SF fans should seek out the imperiled far future Earth of Stephen Baxter's Formidable Caress, while a sense of wonder and menace permeates Peter Watts's The Island. A few stories don't feel as strong as they might have been, but there are no real wrong turns. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

As for previous volumes of this annual, Strahan picks a stellar array of stories, the best of an apparently very good year. With authors including Nicola Griffith, Damien Broderick, Peter S. Beagle, Diana Wynne Jones, and Robert Charles Wilson, it’s impossible for a reader to go wrong, and there’s something here for every taste, as well. From Griffith’s unnerving story of emotions and chemicals, “It Takes Two,” to Beagle’s “By Moonlight,” a variation on the old Scots ballad “Tam Lin,” this year’s best contain both the simple things we take for granted about being human and the most luminous impossibilities that we might imagine. There are intelligent dinosaurs, steampunk gyrocopter air-chases, magic, alternate universes, technology that’s almost magic, and everything else one could ask of a collection of the fantastic. And if they’re not enough, a list of stories that “would appear in this volume if space permitted” concludes. --Regina Schroeder
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Product Details

  • Series: Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year (Book 4)
  • Paperback: 500 pages
  • Publisher: Night Shade Books; 1 edition (March 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597801712
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597801713
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,484,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Eileen Gunn is the author of the story collection Stable Strategies and Others and the co-editor of The WisCon Chronicles Two. Her fiction has received the Nebula Award in the US the and Sense of Gender Award in Japan, and been nominated for the Hugo, Philip K. Dick, and World Fantasy awards and short-listed for the James Tiptree, Jr. award. She is the editor/publisher of the late Infinite Matrix webzine and served for twenty-two years on the board of directors of the Clarion West Writers Workshop.

Recent Gunn stories available free online include 'Zeppelin City' (with Michael Swanwick), 'The Steampunk Quartet', and 'The Trains that Climb the Winter Tree,' (also written with Michael Swanwick) on Tor.com. Other stories are available on her website at www.EileenGunn.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the first Strahan "Best of..." that I've read. Previously, I've been reading Gardner Dozois's "Year's Best" anthologies. I decided I wanted some good fantasy with my good sci-fi. I see that Strahan has different tastes from Dozois (although the two do overlap somewhat), but I would consider his taste just as good. There is, in fact, a remarkable consistency of quality work in this volume: on the 5-point scale, the story average here comes out to 4.28. Since I like a good whole number, I'll say that my overall enjoyment of the volume, including the variety of subject-matter and the artful arrangement of stories, bumps up the rating to a 5.

Challenge: count the number of Teenage-Girl protagonists.

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!

"It Takes Two." Nicola Griffith. Jet-setter and stripper find love, but not the kind anyone expects. The sci-fi love is less surprising than the uncommon viewpoint. +

"Three Twilight Tales." Jo Walton. Three discrete fairy tales, all with moonlight magic. Interesting structure: three tales, loosely connected. Prose so beautiful, it hurts. ++

"The Night Cache." Andy Duncan. Teenage girl's treasure hunt begins (unwitting) in a bookstore and goes to more mundane places from there. There's a spiritual quest in there somewhere. o

"The Island." Peter Watts. A lonely, increasingly dysfunctional crew, laying interstellar highways, encounters a star of unknown properties.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Some of the first stories were almost deal-breakers for me, but I did finish the book. I can't figure out why the author didn't put better stories at the beginning. Some of the stories were awful, some ok, and a few were very good. I'm glad I got it at a discount or I'd have been very disappointed.

One warning: if you're strongly opposed to the gay lifestyle then you might want to skip this one, as some of the stories have gay main characters. Personally I didn't mind those stories as they were well written, but I'll admit I was bewildered by the one called, "Spar." I just couldn't see the purpose of an entire story about a human female - alien blob sex orgy. I skipped most of it so maybe I missed it's redeeming quality? Oh, well.

I recommend it if you love Sci-fi and find it discounted, but not at full price.
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Format: Paperback
I end up ordering most of Mr. Strahan's anthologies in the editions from Nightshade Books and I was a bit put off here due to the duplication.

The Pelican Bar and It Takes Two were originally published in Eclipse 3. Mongoose saw print in Lovecraft Unbound. The Island by Peter Watts (easily the best story here) was in The New Space Opera 2. Readers should check the table of contents against their library.

I am also beginning to think I would prefer a single genre anthology as it were, all scifi or all fantasy. The juxtaposition didn't always work well. Of the other stories, there were a few that ended in medias res as far as I was concerned, no doubt striking a chord with the editor but not with me, for example, Dragon's Teeth and This Wind Blowing, and This Tide. I did quite like the feel of Three Twilight Tales by Walton and By Moonlight by Peter Beagle.

A mixed bag then, but that probably means something for everyone and not everything for any one reader.
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Not a great book but an occasional good story here and there. Even a great writer like Stephen King has lots of forgettable stories but when he's good, he's unforgettable.
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I'm giving this a one star because someone used spell check; otherwise it would get a zero. Call me simple but when I want to read about science fiction; I want to read interesting stories about science that are fiction. Not real life accounts of frustrated lesbians. I ditched this book halfway through the second story. Wait, maybe I should have gone on! There might be stories of frustrated gays next! There are reasons some book are cheap; no one recommends them. Can't wait to delete this one!
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Two of the first four stories are about lesbian love. Not much sci-fi in those stories. I'm not interested in sex stories. I gave up reading the book halfway through the fourth story. Where are the space heroes and bad aliens?
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Variety. Amazing literature.there's a lot to sink your teeth into here. I especially enjoyed the last story and appreciate the recommendations for other good reads.
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