- Series: Year's Best SF Series (Book 17)
- Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: Harper Voyager (May 29, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062035878
- ISBN-13: 978-0062035875
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #682,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Year's Best SF 17 (Year's Best SF Series) Mass Market Paperback – May 29, 2012
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From the Back Cover
Once again, the finest short-form sf offerings of the year have been collected in a single volume. With Year's Best SF 17, acclaimed, award-winning editors and anthologists David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer demonstrate the amazing depth and power of contemporary speculative fiction, showcasing astonishing stories from some of the genre's most respected names as well as exciting new writers to watch. Prepare to travel light years from the ordinary into a tomorrow at once breathtaking, frightening, and possible, with tales of wonder from:Elizabeth Bear
About the Author
David G. Hartwell is a senior editor of Tor/Forge Books. His doctorate is in Comparative Medieval Literature. He is the proprietor of Dragon Press, publisher and bookseller, which publishes The New York Review of Science Fiction, and the president of David G. Hartwell, Inc. He is the author of Age of Wonders and the editor of many anthologies, including The Dark Descent, The World Treasury of Science Fiction, The Hard SF Renaissance, The Space Opera Renaissance, and a number of Christmas anthologies, among others. Recently he co-edited his fifteenth annual paperback volume of Year's Best SF, and co-edited the ninth Year's Best Fantasy. John Updike, reviewing The World Treasury of Science Fiction in The New Yorker, characterized him as a "loving expert." He is on the board of the IAFA, is co-chairman of the board of the World Fantasy Convention, and an administrator of the Philip K. Dick Award. He has won the Eaton Award, the World Fantasy Award, and has been nominated for the Hugo Award forty times to date, winning as Best Editor in 2006, 2008, and 2009.
Kathryn Cramer is a writer, critic, and anthologist, and was coeditor of the Year's Best Fantasy and Year's Best SF series. A consulting editor at Tor Books, she won a World Fantasy Award for her anthology The Architecture of Fear.
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Top Customer Reviews
What I found in this collection (assuming the title is more or less accurate) is that the technical writing skill in the SF community has improved tremendously in thirty years. All the authors are more than competent. Yet I'm disappointed perhaps saddened. These are small stories with mostly unremarkable characters. The stories may be set in a future or alternate universe, but that's just the stage for ordinary humans (or aliens) confronting their "issues" and interpersonal relationships.
Many of the authors of my youth can be rightly criticized for neglecting characters and character development in favor of grand ideas and speculations. But not always and not all of them and it was never either/or. I don't see any big or contrarian ideas here. For example, several stories are set in post-meltdown, ecologically collapsed future thanks to global warming. Just about everyone these days accepts the global warming hypothesis, so making it part of the background to an SF story is hardly daring. That's not so surprising but in an alleged collection of the best how is there is no challenge to the accepted wisdom. Even if you are personally convinced of the soundness of the prevailing weltanschauung it is vital to consider the consequences of error. Can no one still hear Cromwell's plea: "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken."
In these stories I read of individuals struggling with a difficult civilizational environment. Don't we all? But where But where are the causes, the forces, the ebb and flow of civilizations explored? If it were possible to raise the ghost of Asimov, or Cordwainer Smith, or Poul Anderson and exclaim: "You used to be big!", like Norma Desmond they would reply: " I AM big. It's SF that got small.
And the story pool has grown smaller, coming from a reduced set of anthologies, magazines, and SF web sites. This makes it a bit harder to find high quality short stories. Still, there are some good ones. Here are five from this collection that I liked:
Charlie Jane Anders' "Six Months, Three Days" examines the romantic relationship between two clairvoyants. Doug sees the future as a single predetermined timeline. He knows what will happen and cannot change it. Judy sees the future as branching decisions, each with different consequences. She chooses a path to follow, always knowing what will happen as a result. They argue endlessly about the true nature of reality. Well... not endlessly.
Neil Gaiman's "And Weep Like Alexander" is a science fiction bar story. We meet Obediah Polkinghorn, an uninventor by profession. He has saved the world from countless innovations that just weren't good for us. He thinks he is finished, but jobs must still be undone.
In Gwyneth Jones' "The Ki-anna" a fraternal twin investigates his sister's death on a war-torn planet. Is it an accident or a murder or the self-sacrifice of a seasoned anthropologist?
Genevieve Valentine's "The Nearest Thing" introduces Mason, who designs lifelike "memorial dolls" that ease the loss of a loved one. While working on the next generation he meets Paul from marketing and Nadia who is with Paul. Nobody likes being taken for granted.
Yoon Ha Lee's "A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel" is a reference book from the far future. It classifies several alien civilizations by their methods for moving through space. Many of these methods are intimately related to their civilizations' core values.
I will just grumble about one decision I would have made differently. Hartwell and Cramer pride themselves on including "only science fiction" in their collections. Given this, I am not sure why Judith Moffett's "The Middle of Somewhere" is here. I would much rather they had included Hannu Rajaniemi's "The Server and the Dragon" from Engineering Infinity. It is clearly science fiction and a much better story. Your mileage may vary.
The collection as a whole is recommended. Most stories are quite good and some are excellent. You won't regret spending your time with it.
Additionally, it seems like that story and "Our Candidate" were chosen not for their SciFi qualities, but for a political message. And I hate it when people try to slip that stuff into my reading, thinking I am too dumb not to notice.
However, if you skip those 2 it is a decent collection, but I still prefer Gardner Dozois' Science Fiction Collections, and I have read about 20 of those.