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The Year's Best Science Fiction: Second Annual Collection Paperback – April, 1985


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 573 pages
  • Publisher: Bluejay Books Inc. (April 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312944853
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312944858
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,106,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The second of the massive sf annuals Bluejay/St. Martin's put out was issued in 1985, and covers 1984. Dozois meant this series to be definitive, and he does offer a great deal in it. First there's his summation for the year, with comments about the publishing industry, a report on the magazines, briefs on the year's novels, collections and anthologies, films, awards and obits. Then we have 26 stories from magazines and original anthologies. The appendix lists five pages of other stories that Dozois thought notable. Dozois prefers longer stories, so getting through a volume of his is a long haul. He sometimes chooses stories that later win awards, the best of which here is John Varley's "Press Enter," a terrifying story about computers that becomes more prophetic each year. Octavia E. Butler's "Bloodchild" also won awards, but it disturbed me (I like other stories by her). One superb story here is Richard Cowper's "A Message to the King of Brobdingnag," which takes a routine scientific experiment gone wildly wrong to its logical conclusion. Other stories I liked in this edition include: Kim Stanley Robinson's "The Lucky Strike," an alternate history of a bomber pilot who refuses to release nuclear weapons over WWII Japan; Gene Wolfe's "The Map," a touching fable set in the earth's far, declining future; and Rena Yount's "Pursuit of Excellence," about how far an obsessed mother will go to make sure that her unborn child has superior genes. Most of the other stories are worth reading, and no doubt each reader will prefer different stories. I sometimes like shortlisted (or nonlisted) stories to the ones he anthologizes. It's a shame this book is out of print, but dealers or search services can produce a copy of this book. All of Dozois's annual anthologies are worth having.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Brad Shorr on April 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Not quite as good as the First Collection, but just as hard to find.
1. "Salvador" by Lucius Shepard. Tense, poignant story of a young soldier struggling to survive a nerve-racking guerilla war in a lush, surreal jungle. Beautifully written with a brilliant ending that is subtle, shocking, and sad. Shepard kicked off the Fourth Annual with the formidable "R & R", also about troubled soldiers in a future Central American war, but this effort is stronger. A+
2. "Promises to Keep" by Jack McDevitt. Standard space opera fare about a crippled space ship limping home from Jupiter's moons. C
3. "Bloodchild" by Octavia E. Butler. Not for the squeamish. Wormlike aliens love humans, not for their minds, but for their bodies, in a most unusual way. Great realism lies at the heart of this strange tale: the interspecies relationships have all the depth, tension and complexity of human ones. A+
4. "Blued Moon" by Connie Willis. Same problem here as in her First Annual contribution, "The Sidon in the Mirror": tricked-up linguistics in the dialog detracts from an otherwise passable story. This one takes a lighthearted look at the unexpected side effects of improper hazardous waste disposal. C
5. "A Message to the King of Brobdingnag" by Richard Cowper. Crop researcher looking to cure world hunger fails spectacularly. Tautly written, laced with irony. A
6. "The Affair" by Robert Silverberg. Man and woman with rich psychic powers connect for a long-distance mental yet highly sensual affair. Thought-provoking examination of where the boundaries lie-or don't lie-between physical and spiritual love. A
7. "Press Enter []" by John Varley. Set around 1984, this spooky speculation on computer networks makes for an interesting read in 2003...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John M. Ford on October 14, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the second in Gardner Dozois's Year's Best Science Fiction series. When readers saw this one, they began to suspect that there really would be such a collection every year. It was the beginning of hope for connoisseurs of high quality science fiction. It opens with an excellent summation of significant developments in SF during 1984. And each of the 26 stories is introduced with a thoughtful description of how it fits with the author's other works.

Five of the stories that I particularly enjoyed:

In Jack McDevitt's "Promises to Keep" a member of an historic expedition to Callisto shares his personal recollections of the voyage and the voyagers. His story is a little different than the official version. The deconstruction of history theme is similar to McDevitt's A Talent For War.

John Varley's "Press Enter" foresees many of the privacy issues we face today on the web. A man kills himself, leaving behind a great deal of troubling information. And some of the software he has written is still running. It's right behind you.

Elizabeth Lynn's "At the Embassy Club" is a bar story about an undersecretary in an embassy on another planet and the sixteen-year-old girl from a prominent local family he has secretly been seeing. We know from the start that this story has been retold many times.

Ursula Le Guin's "The Trouble with the Cotton People" is another of her stories that might have been told by an anthropologist. A young man travels to a far land to learn why his county's trading partner has begun shipping them inferior goods. The joy of reading it is inthe carefully crafted and credible details.
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