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The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Fifth Annual Collection (Year's Best Science Fiction) Paperback – July 8, 2008
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This venerable annual’s twenty-fifth edition represents a milestone for editor Dozois. He has kept faith with the series for a quarter-century without ever shortchanging, or even showing any signs of shortchanging, readers on either quality or abundance of selections. The current volume includes the usual mix of veterans and newcomers, from Robert Silverberg, Bruce Sterling, and Nancy Kress in the former category, to David Moles, Una McCormack, and Chris Roberson in the latter. With his keen eye for cutting-edge ideas, Dozois showcases tales about airborne cities, terraforming Mars, and alternate universes and generally guarantees that we will read all 32 mind-bending stories. Neal Asher’s “Alien Archeology” follows a futuristic Indiana Jones into hostile extraterrestrial space to recover a stolen artifact. In Stephen Baxter’s “Last Contact”, a mother and daughter bond for the last time before the universe ends in a Big Rip. Again as usual, Dozois supplements the collection with his customary literate “state of the genre” summation and provides illuminating introductions to each author. --Carl Hays
"A whole summer's worth of reading...a good representation of some very good writers."
Praise for Gardner Dozois and "The Year's Best Science Fiction" anthology: "A wondrous trove of great stories and an archive that has immeasurable historical significance."--Robert Silverberg
"The best that science fiction has to offer, chosen by the most respected editor in the field...a copy belongs of the shelf of every SF reader." --George R.R. Martin, bestselling author of "Game Of Thrones"
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My favorite five stories focus on emotional themes:
James Van Pelt's "Of Late I Dreamt of Venus" is an off-key story about love, patience and centuries-long dedication as two very different people work to change the face of Venus.
Ted Chiang's "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate" explores the intertwining stories of time travelers and shows us several ways to find meaning from our losses.
Elizabeth Bear's "Tideline" traces the parental relationship between a boy and a damaged robot struggling to remember the past with honor.
Robert Reed's "Roxie" compares human denial in the face of an incoming asteroid to human denial of the failing health of a man's best friend.
Gregory Benford's "Dark Heaven" shows us death from many perspectives, from a coroner's detachment from the bodies in a homicide investigation, through a detective's feelings about his late wife, to the very different views held by a visiting alien race.
The collection as a whole is highly recommended. My hope is that future collections will also appear in Kindle format, to allow surreptitious reading on my iPhone during the inevitable solemnly unimportant meetings of my life.
"Finisterra" - David Moles 4/5
Poachers are killing multi-kilometer long animals floating in the atmosphere of a gas giant. Good concept and exciting.
"Lighting Out" - Ken MacLeod 4.5/5
A young woman tries to gain independence from her mother while avoiding a "fast-burn" singularity. Fun singularity stuff, although there is not much really new.
"An Ocean Is a Snowflake, Four Billion Miles Away" - John Barnes 4/5
A filmmaker captures the orbital insertion of a comet that will terraform Mars.
"Saving Tiamaat" - Gwyneth Jones 4/5
A diplomat faces hard choices while representing one faction of a species that has destroyed its homeworld. Interesting ideas on the limits of politics.
"Of Late I Dreamt of Venus" - James Van Pelt 4/5
The founder of a Venus terraforming project tries to oversee its very long duration. Nicely meshes the founder's personality with the project as a whole.
"Verthandi's Ring" - Ian MacDonald 5/5
Two huge galactic cultures fight a war of extermination. Great space opera with a lot of ideas in a fairly short story.
"Sea Change" - UnaMcCormack 3/5
In a restrictive, heavily class-divided future Britain, a teenage girl has to deal with the bad influence of the friend she is living with. Not bad, but didn't excite me.
"The Sky Is Large and the Earth Is Small" - Chris Roberson 3/5
In an alternate history, an old prisoner in the dominant Chinese empire is questioned about his time among the Mexica.
"Glory" - Greg Egan 3.5/5
Representatives from a galactic civilization are sent to a more primitive world to study the mathematical theorems of a vanished race. Has some interesting concepts.
"Against the Current" - Robert Silverberg 4/5
A man starts moving backwards through time at a rate of a couple of decades per day. Nice concept and an enjoyable story.
"Alien Archaeology" - Neal Asher 3/5
"The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate" - Ted Chiang 4/5
Stories of people in Middle Ages Baghdad who use a gate that can move them 20 years forward or backward in time. A very interesting handling of a number of time travel paradox situations.
"Beyond the Wall" - Justin Stanchfield 3.5/5
An alien artifact on Titan causes space-time distortions. Interesting.
"Kiosk" - Bruce Sterling 4/5
A street vendor's use of a nanotech fabricator leads to an economic revolution. A funny, somewhat satirical view of how change happens.
"Last Contact" - Steven Baxter 3.5/5
A mother and daughter spend time together as a space-time anomaly threatens the Earth. A different take on the end of the world.
"The Sledge-Maker's Daughter" - Alastair Reynolds 3/5
A girl on an Earth suffering from a new ice age gains some high technology. Didn't seem like anything new.
"Sanjeev and Robotwallah" - Ian McDonald 3.5/5
A street urchin becomes a helper to the handlers of robot soldiers. Minor story with an interesting setting.
"The Skysailor's Tale" - Michael Swanwick 3/5
A boy runs away from home and sails across timelines on a flying ship from an alternate British Empire.
"Of Love and Other Monsters" - Vandana Singh 4/5
An alien with the ability to manipulate human minds comes to terms with his existence on Earth. Main character is interesting in all the internal conflicts he has to deal with.
"Steve Fever" - Greg Egan 4/5
Nanotech bots infect the world in an attempt to resurrect their creator, Steve. A fun twist on the out-of-control nanotech story.
"Hellfire at Twilight" - Kage Baker 3/5
A Company operative looks for an ancient Greek scroll at an 18th century English estate. Average Company story.
"The Immortals of Atlantis" - Brian Stableford 3/5
An ancient race's DNA is hidden inside the mitochondria of modern humans.Interesting concept.
"Nothing Personal" - Pat Cadigan 3/5
A policewoman investigates a crime with suspects who seem to appear in the world with no previous history.
"Tideline" - Elizabeth Bear 4/5
An AI war machine tries to memorialize it's dead platoon. A very good, moving story.
"The Accord" - Keith Brooke 3/5
Agents of the controlling anomaly in a VR afterlife chase an anomaly that threatens its existence. Very Matrix-like.
"Laws of Survival" - Nancy Kress 3.5/5
A woman in post-nuclear America is kidnapped by aliens to serve as a dog trainer.
"The Mists of Time" - Tom Purdom 3/5
Time travelers watch a British raid against slave traders. Didn't really get the point of this one.
"Craters" - Kristine Kathryn Rusch 3.5/5
Terrorists find a nasty new way to send bombs through security.
"The Prophet of Flores" - Ted Kosmatka 4/5
Archeology in a world where intelligent design is scientific fact.
"Stray" - Benjamin Rosenbauam and David Ackert 3/5
A powerful immortal being tries to live in the regular world.
"Roxie" - Robert Reed 3/5
The life of a dog and the end of the world.
"Dark Heaven" - Gregory Benford 3.5/5
A detective investigates murders that seem to be tied to an alien embassy. Good, but I could pretty much see where it was going.
The anthology itself, as usual, is spot on terrific. If you don't want to have to wade through a bunch of mediocre magazine stories, or a bookshelf full of fanfic - quality series, this along with the rich horton annual is a great way to find new, good science fiction.