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Year's Best Science Fiction: Twentieth Annual Collection Paperback – July 23, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Stalwart sf fans will most likely find Dozois' twentieth stout annual anthology as satisfying as any of its predecessors. The authors represented in it range from multiple-award winners Gregory Benford, Nancy Kress, and John Kessel to skilled newcomers Molly Gloss and Chris Beckett. In-betweeners in terms of prize winning and output include Ian MacLeod, Ian McDonald, Bruce Sterling, and Eleanor Arnason, who should write much more. Dozois has again cast his net widely, drawing Geoff Ryman's entry from a chapbook and Walter Jon Williams' from the electronic media. As usual, sf magazines are leading resources, with Asimov's and Fantasy and Science Fiction leading the pack in total contributions and Inter zone coming in third. Selections from original anthologies are fewer this year, though. As long as the short story remains an important form for sf, Dozois' anthologies will be required reading for the genre's fans. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Hugo-winner Dozois presents SF that is both provocative and literate in this respected annual anthology…. Exotic settings, memorable characters and challenging themes are par for the course here. Once again Dozois has gathered together a stunning array of the best in shorter SF. (Publishers Weekly (Starred Review))

Without question, the Dozois SF annuals deserve rosettes…. For all libraries, absolutely. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Product Details

  • Series: Year's Best Science Fiction (Book 20)
  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (July 23, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312308604
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312308605
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #868,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Brad Shorr on October 9, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Breathmoss,Ian MacLeod. Overlong coming of age story set in a far future world inhabited almost completely by women. Heavy atmosphere, light plot. C-
The Most Famous Little Girl in the World, Nancy Kress. The grim backdrop of war and terrorism over the next seventy years is much more interesting than the story about two cousins who take a lifetime to patch up their differences. C
The Passenger, Paul McAuley. Engaging but essentially routine yarn about a space ship salvage crew whose strange new passenger is either malevolent or cute as a button. C+
The Political Officer, Charles Finlay. Political intrigue aboard a Soviet-flavored military spaceship where each officer seems to have his own insidious agenda. B-
Lambing Season, Molly Gloss. Kindhearted shepherdess encounters alien. Another promising premise wasted in an inconclusive, overly subtle plot. C-
Coelacanths,Robert Reed. Variously constructed humans subsist in a hostile, multi-dimensional far future world. Weighty speculation on the fine line between evolution and devolution, natural and supernatural. B
Presence, Maureen McHugh. Realistic, heartrending character study of a couple dealing with Alzheimer�s, a new cure, and its unsettling side effect. B+
Halo, Charles Stross. Cacophonous, dense, hard science narrative concerns a cybernetic teenager who flees to Jupiter to escape Mom, who just doesn�t understand her! C-
In Paradise, Bruce Sterling. USA circa 2022�Romance in the land of the not so free and the home of Homeland Security. Sorry, but not even close to Sterling offerings from previous volumes. C
The Old Cosmonaut� by Ian McDonald. An old cosmonaut�s pipe dream of pioneering Mars is strangely fulfilled. C
Stories for Men, John Kessel.
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35 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Taylor Rand on November 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
I can't tell you what a letdown this anthology is. Almost every story is either too self-consciously literary, plotless, or more concerned with creating atmosphere than providing a compelling reason to continue reading. I read every story - some more than once - but few were particularly memorable.
Of course that's only my opinion; more sophisticated readers and graduates of writing seminars and workshops will love the "crafted imagery" and "inspired strangeness" of Dozois' choices.
"BREATHMOSS." On a virtually all-female world, a young girl comes-of-age and recognizes her destiny.
A long, slow story, dense with made-up words with almost no clue or context, and descriptive paragraphs that go on and on, Breathmoss is more of a fantasy novella than a science fiction story. Atmospheric? Yes. Interesting? No.
"STORIES FOR MEN." Seventeen-year-old Erno lives in in a female-dominated moon colony where males are prized mainly for the ability to pleasure women - and yet he's not happy.
This is one of better stories. It's a novella, with a plot, memorable characters, things happening, lives and societies hang in the balance - in a way. The ending was timid, to put it mildly. And maybe I'm too sensitive - but is there some law out there requiring all science fiction stories have strong, intelligent females putting up with weak, spoiled boys?
"TURQUOISE DAYS." Naqi and her sister are scientists on the isolated water-world of Turquoise where the ocean is more aware of outsiders than they realize.
It's a very low-key story of love and loss and so placid that I could hardly stay awake the two times I read it. An evil man comes to this peaceful world with evil intentions. Good ending, though, if you can reach it.
Those three stories account for over 25% of the book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Mckay on August 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
"Slow Life" starts off well, with a small group of explorers collecting data on Titan. However, when one of the characters is contacted by an alien collective intelligence in her sleep, the story turns sour, and despite a decent sense of humor, it comes to a silly overly excited conclusion.
"A Flock Of Birds" has a great atmosphere, with a handful of individuals wandering the barren landscape of an America after a devastating war. The careful attention to his tasks as a birder parallel his devotion to keeping a fellow survivor alive. The returning flocks of birds become an obvious yet still affecting metaphor against the images of a New York City marathon from a video that is played multiple times over the course of the story. That in ten years, a birder could forget what a pigeon looks like seems ridiculous, but one could argue that this shows the true depth of his psychological damage, which was carefully masked until this point.
"The Potter Of Bones" has an interesting story set in an alternate matriarchal past; however, the narration is very intrusive (e.g. "This story is about...," "At this point, the story needs to describe...," disjointed transitions, indications that this is a work of non-fiction cobbled together from artifacts by some of the characters, followed by lengthy fictive exchanges and descriptions, etc), and (with the exception of some clever debates between the potter and the Goddess in her dreams) the dialogue is reminiscent of the stilted exchanges of characters in a video game. For instance, the most common response people think or say to the red-furred potter is "Hah!"
"The Whisper of Disks" is another strong offering taken from Interzone, taking place through multiple generations of an eccentric family's existence.
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