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The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Third Annual Collection Kindle Edition
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And then it moves on to the stories. Here are six that I particularly enjoyed:
Carrie Vaughn’s “Bannerless” shows us a post-apocalyptic society organized around families. Craftsmanship and work are respected, children are valued, and a loose network connects communities with a minimal central government. We watch as two government officials arrive in town to investigate reports of a dysfunctional family.
Sam Miller’s “Calved” takes the perspective of a father who works harvesting ice for months at a time and struggles to connect with his teenage son each time he returns home. The tone of their relationship is set by a cherished gift.
Martin Shoemaker’s “Today I am Paul” introduces an innovative use of robots—as companions to elderly patients who not only provide physical care, but also learn the mannerisms of infrequent visitors so they can impersonate them between visits. Of course, there is more than one way to use this knowledge.
James Sarafin’s “Trapping the Pleistocene” is about two down-to-earth hunters who go into the past to hunt dinosaurs. This sort of thing always goes smoothly.
Rich Larson’s “Ice” introduces Sedgewick and Fletcher, two young brothers who alternate between competing with and consoling one another. Their latest conflict unfolds as they get used to living on a new planet, try to fit in with a new group of friends, and ice skate across a partially-frozen ocean to escape giant frostwhales smashing through the ice from below.
Aliette de Bodard’s “The Citadel of the Weeping Pearls” is a story about two estranged sisters, complicated by royal family intrigue, intelligent space ships, time travel, and an invasion force from a neighboring empire.
This is another one of the better collections. I liked most of the stories and only disliked a couple of them. Both that fell short were solve-the-mystery stories with opposing flaws. Seanan McGuire’s “Hello, Hello; Can You Hear Me, Hello” provides so many clues that the characters seem unbelievably dense not to figure it out sooner. Michael Flynn’s “In Panic Town, on the Backward Moon” doesn’t provide sufficient clues for the reader to figure out how the detective figures out who did and didn’t do it.
Still, as I said, a very good collection. I’m looking forward to the thirty-third volume.
I bought the book because I been reading Sci-Fi for years, works from the "Golden Age" up to today. But many of my favorite current authors are gone or busy writing their next book. I thought the volume, at almost 700 pages, would be a springboard to finding new, interesting writers.
Unfortunately, this is not proving the case. The Summation I mentioned starts by telling us "It was another quiet year in the SF publishing world...." Certainly, I found nothing to get too excited about in any of the stories. I must also note very sloppy editing. For example, the second story in the volume abuses the use of grammar (e.g., semicolons) in a way that can't help but annoy the reader, and no English 101 teacher would have allowed to go by with whipping out a red pen. The stories themselves are ones I would find to be mostly "okay," and certainly hope they are not truly the best the genre has to offer. Some start out well, but then lose their luster before the end, and others simply did not match my tastes. Call me a curmudgeon if you will, but I have not found any author between its covers that has me eagerly waiting for more.
If you're looking for a lot of so-so stories, or are new to the genre, you might feel quite differently than I. The mix of stories -- meaning topics and styles -- is certainly diverse. They've been good for me "when I can't find anything else." It includes alternate histories, space-going cultures, living spaceships and more. They mostly are able to hold to your attention long enough to finish them, but they're not stories you'll want to read time and time again.