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

4.1 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (February 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031233656X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312336561
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #616,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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.
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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.
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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.Read more ›
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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.

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