Hot Best Seller

The Year's Best Science Fiction: Fourth Annual Collection

Availability: Ready to download

Contents ix • Introduction: Summation: 1986 • essay by Gardner Dozois 1 • R & R • (1986) • novella by Lucius Shepard 67 • Hatrack River • [The Alvin Maker Saga] • (1986) • novelette by Orson Scott Card 91 • Strangers on Paradise • (1986) • shortstory by Damon Knight (aka Strangers in Paradise) 105 • Pretty Boy Crossover • (1986) • shortstory by Pat Cadigan 115 • Against Babylon Contents ix • Introduction: Summation: 1986 • essay by Gardner Dozois 1 • R & R • (1986) • novella by Lucius Shepard 67 • Hatrack River • [The Alvin Maker Saga] • (1986) • novelette by Orson Scott Card 91 • Strangers on Paradise • (1986) • shortstory by Damon Knight (aka Strangers in Paradise) 105 • Pretty Boy Crossover • (1986) • shortstory by Pat Cadigan 115 • Against Babylon • (1986) • novelette by Robert Silverberg 133 • Fiddling for Waterbuffaloes • (1986) • novelette by S. P. Somtow [as by Somtow Sucharitkul ] 155 • Into Gold • (1986) • novelette by Tanith Lee 181 • Sea Change • (1986) • shortstory by Scott Baker 198 • Covenant of Souls • (1986) • novelette by Michael Swanwick 229 • The Pure Product • (1986) • novelette by John Kessel 247 • Grave Angels • (1986) • novelette by Richard Kearns 274 • Tangents • (1986) • shortstory by Greg Bear 289 • The Beautiful and the Sublime • (1986) • novelette by Bruce Sterling 314 • Tattoos • (1986) • novelette by Jack Dann 333 • Night Moves • (1986) • novelette by Tim Powers 352 • The Prisoner of Chillon • (1986) • novelette by James Patrick Kelly 384 • Chance • (1986) • novelette by Connie Willis 411 • And so to Bed • (1986) • shortstory by Harry Turtledove 425 • Fair Game • (1986) • novelette by Howard Waldrop 439 • Video Star • (1986) • novelette by Walter Jon Williams 469 • Sallie C. • (1986) • shortstory by Neal Barrett, Jr. 490 • Jeff Beck • (1986) • shortstory by Lewis Shiner 499 • Surviving • (1986) • novelette by Judith Moffett 529 • Down and Out in the Year 2000 • (1986) • shortstory by Kim Stanley Robinson 544 • Snake-Eyes • (1986) • shortstory by Tom Maddox 562 • The Gate of Ghosts • (1986) • novelette by Karen Joy Fowler 581 • The Winter Market • (1985) • novelette by William Gibson 599 • Honorable Mentions: 1986 • essay by Gardner Dozois


Compare

Contents ix • Introduction: Summation: 1986 • essay by Gardner Dozois 1 • R & R • (1986) • novella by Lucius Shepard 67 • Hatrack River • [The Alvin Maker Saga] • (1986) • novelette by Orson Scott Card 91 • Strangers on Paradise • (1986) • shortstory by Damon Knight (aka Strangers in Paradise) 105 • Pretty Boy Crossover • (1986) • shortstory by Pat Cadigan 115 • Against Babylon Contents ix • Introduction: Summation: 1986 • essay by Gardner Dozois 1 • R & R • (1986) • novella by Lucius Shepard 67 • Hatrack River • [The Alvin Maker Saga] • (1986) • novelette by Orson Scott Card 91 • Strangers on Paradise • (1986) • shortstory by Damon Knight (aka Strangers in Paradise) 105 • Pretty Boy Crossover • (1986) • shortstory by Pat Cadigan 115 • Against Babylon • (1986) • novelette by Robert Silverberg 133 • Fiddling for Waterbuffaloes • (1986) • novelette by S. P. Somtow [as by Somtow Sucharitkul ] 155 • Into Gold • (1986) • novelette by Tanith Lee 181 • Sea Change • (1986) • shortstory by Scott Baker 198 • Covenant of Souls • (1986) • novelette by Michael Swanwick 229 • The Pure Product • (1986) • novelette by John Kessel 247 • Grave Angels • (1986) • novelette by Richard Kearns 274 • Tangents • (1986) • shortstory by Greg Bear 289 • The Beautiful and the Sublime • (1986) • novelette by Bruce Sterling 314 • Tattoos • (1986) • novelette by Jack Dann 333 • Night Moves • (1986) • novelette by Tim Powers 352 • The Prisoner of Chillon • (1986) • novelette by James Patrick Kelly 384 • Chance • (1986) • novelette by Connie Willis 411 • And so to Bed • (1986) • shortstory by Harry Turtledove 425 • Fair Game • (1986) • novelette by Howard Waldrop 439 • Video Star • (1986) • novelette by Walter Jon Williams 469 • Sallie C. • (1986) • shortstory by Neal Barrett, Jr. 490 • Jeff Beck • (1986) • shortstory by Lewis Shiner 499 • Surviving • (1986) • novelette by Judith Moffett 529 • Down and Out in the Year 2000 • (1986) • shortstory by Kim Stanley Robinson 544 • Snake-Eyes • (1986) • shortstory by Tom Maddox 562 • The Gate of Ghosts • (1986) • novelette by Karen Joy Fowler 581 • The Winter Market • (1985) • novelette by William Gibson 599 • Honorable Mentions: 1986 • essay by Gardner Dozois

30 review for The Year's Best Science Fiction: Fourth Annual Collection

  1. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

    This was, overall, the weakest I’ve read, so far, of the first four annual best-of collections the late, great Gardner Dozois assembled. There were only a couple of stories that really jumped out at me and grabbed me: the utterly wacky, delightful “Fiddling for Waterbuffaloes” by Somtow Sucharitkul; the tender “Chance” by one of my all-time favorite authors, Connie Willis; and the Hugo- and Nebula-winning “Tangents” by Greg Bear. But many of the stories were overwrought, with thin characterizati This was, overall, the weakest I’ve read, so far, of the first four annual best-of collections the late, great Gardner Dozois assembled. There were only a couple of stories that really jumped out at me and grabbed me: the utterly wacky, delightful “Fiddling for Waterbuffaloes” by Somtow Sucharitkul; the tender “Chance” by one of my all-time favorite authors, Connie Willis; and the Hugo- and Nebula-winning “Tangents” by Greg Bear. But many of the stories were overwrought, with thin characterizations and limp ideas. I’ll continue on with my reading of the series, with hopes that future volumes will contain more gems than are in evidence here.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gabi

    Another interesting range of short stories. I love diving into the various goes at speculative fiction. As with all those collections that contain a wide variety of stories there are the ones that personally just don't work for me, even when others praise the authors. Yet I always find my own highlights. In this collection they were: "Fiddling for Waterbuffaloes" by Somtow Sucharitkul - a delightfully refreshing take on first conact - the Thai variant. "Chance" by Connie Willis - Hands down one of t Another interesting range of short stories. I love diving into the various goes at speculative fiction. As with all those collections that contain a wide variety of stories there are the ones that personally just don't work for me, even when others praise the authors. Yet I always find my own highlights. In this collection they were: "Fiddling for Waterbuffaloes" by Somtow Sucharitkul - a delightfully refreshing take on first conact - the Thai variant. "Chance" by Connie Willis - Hands down one of the most perfectly structured and executed short stories I've ever read "Surviving" by Judith Moffett, which I personally wouldn't count as SFF in any way. An extremely intimate psychological take on somebody growing up in the wilderness. It moved me a great deal. I'm looking forward to treasure hunt in the next volume

  3. 5 out of 5

    Florin Constantinescu

    This is 1986. When the best sci-fi could offer was Twilight Zone inspired stories only. Nothing annoys me more than reading pretend-sci-fi. What was everyone thinking that year? Just because Twilight Zone is pretty cool, that this is it? It wasn't even that successful on TV. Where are my starships? My aliens? My remote planets? My far-future? This anthology features 1 (one!) story set on another planet and 2 (two!) stories with some aliens in them. Can you imagine someone picking up a sci-fi anth This is 1986. When the best sci-fi could offer was Twilight Zone inspired stories only. Nothing annoys me more than reading pretend-sci-fi. What was everyone thinking that year? Just because Twilight Zone is pretty cool, that this is it? It wasn't even that successful on TV. Where are my starships? My aliens? My remote planets? My far-future? This anthology features 1 (one!) story set on another planet and 2 (two!) stories with some aliens in them. Can you imagine someone picking up a sci-fi anthology for the first time and stumbling upon this? What are the odds of this person picking up another? Quite slim... If this was the first in this series that I read, I probably would never pick up another again. I will need to return to this anthology series with a new strategy. Reading through everything is simply a big waste of time. Story average score reads 1.79. I will round it down because my super-powers are so mad. • R & R • novella by Lucius Shepard Still not reading anything by Lucius Shepard... • Hatrack River • novelette by Orson Scott Card: 4* Pretty amazing opening short work for the entire Alvin Maker Saga. We watch the birth of the seventh son of the seventh son through the eyes of a teenage girl helping his family after their carriage gets caught in a overflowing river. • Strangers on Paradise • short story by Damon Knight: 3* Biographer arrives on a human-inhabited alien planet to catch up on some writer's past, but instead unravels a mystery about the planet's former inhabitants. There was some potential here, but the story ends before it really picks up. • Pretty Boy Crossover • short story by Pat Cadigan: 1* No idea what I've read here. Some attempt at a cyberpunk story that uses the word pretty in every sentence. • Against Babylon • novelette by Robert Silverberg: 2* Amidst some California brush fires, airplane pilot is disappointed at having his wife leave him (and Earth) aboard an alien spaceship. • Fiddling for Waterbuffaloes • novelette by S. P. Somtow: 2* Aliens land in a future Thailand, and one of them possesses a boy. His brother attempts to communicate. • Into Gold • novelette by Tanith Lee: 2* This story is set on the outskirts of the Roman Empire in the early 1st millennium, and concerns a witch coming to heal some soldiers in a fort. Kinda nicely written, but nothing of note actually happens. • Sea Change • short story by Scott Baker: 1* Boy living in abandoned Venice turns into a minuscule alien life form. I think. • Covenant of Souls • novelette by Michael Swanwick: 1* Incomprehensible story about some people sitting in a room talking. • The Pure Product • novelette by John Kessel: 1* Immortal travels across North America and is prone to random acts of violence and anarchy, while occasionally flashing back to medieval times. Why? Just why? • Grave Angels • novelette by Richard Kearns: 4* Teenager befriends gravedigger who can foresee deaths. This is pretty well written and engaging to the end. Very Stephen King like. • Tangents • short story by Greg Bear: 1* Some wonder kid is working with a scientist to explain four-dimensionality. What a mess. • The Beautiful and the Sublime • novelette by Bruce Sterling: 1* This felt like a Victorian romance novel from the future. At some remote ranch in Arizona, a bunch of people talk about love. Neeeext! • Tattoos • novelette by Jack Dann: 3* Tattoo artist has some ability to heal people. Man gets healed. Nicely told, but nothing new under the sun. • Night Moves • novelette by Tim Powers: 1* We follow the wind at night as it touches the lives of various people in a small town. Snorefest! • The Prisoner of Chillon • novelette by James Patrick Kelly: 2* Thankfully this story has the word 'starship' in it, otherwise I wouldn't have pegged it down as sci-fi either. Couple crashes on Earth and is being chased. I couldn't make it past the midpoint. • Chance • novelette by Connie Willis: 1* Family moves into the suburbs. Is welcomed by neighbors. In-door chatter ensues. Someone please stop these stories from existing! • And So to Bed • short story by Harry Turtledove: 4* This one is quite funny. Alternate (it's Turtledove, doh!) England, 17th century. Explorers of the New World discover not Native Americans, but "sims", hairy ape-ish creatures capable to some human interaction. The story, which uses a lot of archaic words and formulas, follows a couple of two as they serve as butler and maid in an English mansion. • Fair Game • short story by Howard Waldrop: 1* Dude hunts a type of werewolf in Bavaria. Can't get enough of this kind of stories. • Video Star • novelette by Walter Jon Williams: 1* Some kind of unreadable cyberpunk-ish story by the usually very readable WJW. • Sallie C. • short story by Neal Barrett, Jr.: 1* More unreadable non-sense. Alternate universe western featuring Billy the Kid and the Wright brothers. • Jeff Beck • short story by Lewis Shiner: 3* Aspiring guitar player swallows conspicuous drug that gives him the ability to play like his idol, Jeff Beck. Cool idea and nicely done. Too short with uninspired ending though. • Surviving • novelette by Judith Moffett: 1* Feral child is recovered from jungle. Has affair with woman. • Down and Out in the Year 2000 • short story by Kim Stanley Robinson: 1* Hashish dealer is making a run through semi-deserted future Washington DC. • Snake-Eyes • short story by Tom Maddox: 1* More unreadable pretend-sci-fi. • The Gate of Ghosts • novelette by Karen Joy Fowler: 1* Another all-time low. Mom and dad prepare young kids for school. We sit through the stress of preparing breakfast. • The Winter Market • novelette by William Gibson: 2* Your typical hi-tech low-life Gibson story, featuring the word "jacking" quite a lot.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kieran McAndrew

    There are a number of excellent stories in this collection but, for the first time in Dozois' anthologies, there is no sense of theme in the collection. If I were forced to pick one, the perennial favourite of the human condition ticks the most boxes, but this collection is best described as eclectic. There are a number of excellent stories in this collection but, for the first time in Dozois' anthologies, there is no sense of theme in the collection. If I were forced to pick one, the perennial favourite of the human condition ticks the most boxes, but this collection is best described as eclectic.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Glen Engel-Cox

    ***** “Summation: 1986,” Gardner Dozois *** “R & R,” Lucius Shepard ***** “Hatrack River,” Orson Scott Card *** “Strangers in Paradise,” Damon Knight ***** “Pretty Boy Crossover,” Pat Cadigan *** “Against Babylon,” Robert Silverberg **** “Fiddling for Waterbuffaloes,” S. P. Somtow ***** “Into Gold,” Tanith Lee **** “Sea Change,” Scott Baker *** “Covenant of Souls,” Michael Swanwick *** “The Pure Product,” John Kessel **** “Grave Angels,” Richard Kearns **** “Tangents,” Greg Bear ***** “The Beautiful and the ***** “Summation: 1986,” Gardner Dozois *** “R & R,” Lucius Shepard ***** “Hatrack River,” Orson Scott Card *** “Strangers in Paradise,” Damon Knight ***** “Pretty Boy Crossover,” Pat Cadigan *** “Against Babylon,” Robert Silverberg **** “Fiddling for Waterbuffaloes,” S. P. Somtow ***** “Into Gold,” Tanith Lee **** “Sea Change,” Scott Baker *** “Covenant of Souls,” Michael Swanwick *** “The Pure Product,” John Kessel **** “Grave Angels,” Richard Kearns **** “Tangents,” Greg Bear ***** “The Beautiful and the Sublime,” Bruce Sterling *** “Tattoos,” Jack Dann *** “Night Moves,” Tim Powers ***** “The Prisoner of Chillon,” James Patrick Kelly **** “Chance,” Connie Willis ** “And so to Bed,” Harry Turtledove *** “Fair Game,” Howard Waldrop **** “Video Star,” Walter Jon Williams *** “Sallie C,” Neal Barrett Jr. **** “Jeff Beck,” Lewis Shiner ***** “Surviving,” Judith Moffett *** “Down and Out in the Year 2000,” Kim Stanley Robinson **** “Snake-Eyes,” Tom Maddox *** “The Gate of Ghosts,” Karen Joy Fowler **** “The Winter Market,” William Gibson “R & R,” Lucius Shepard — Shepard wrote a number of these future war stories, a mixture of magic realism and stark fantasy, where grunts had no idea why they were there but struggled to understand something about the craziness of their experience. This one contains more ugliness than some of the others, and the protagonist is for the most part an enigma, battered about by the ritual of the R&R he and his friends are on, something magical he feels inside himself that he doesn’t embrace or understand, and the final realization that the war has taken hold of him. Frankly, while I can admire the craft, it’s not a story I cared for much, too filled with testosterone and napalm, of death and meaningless. I guess I just want to be more optimistic, and this story is a real downer. “Hatrack River,” Orson Scott Card — This was the first of Card’s Alvin the Maker stories, in fact the origin story of Alvin himself, the seventh son of a seventh son. There’s a lot of things about this story that aren’t to my taste normally: the western setting, the southern style, the odd spellings and word choices. But this story has a power to grab you and hold you riveted, to see how the family will ford the Hatrack and if the boy will be born. It’s adventure fantasy, and Card had a way of keeping you reading. “Strangers on Paradise,” Damon Knight — This story has both classic and modern elements to it. A future where humans have found a perfect planet, a paradise of sorts, but whose human colonizers are not eager to share with any new settlers, keeping the disease-free, perfect place to themselves. And, of course, there’s a reason for that, which the protagonist discovers. I think the story has flaws, although to pick at them is a difficult process: it’s partly the ease at which the protagonist solves the mystery, and the fact my world-weary SF knowledge solved it long before he did, but then I wonder if that’s because I likely read this story years ago and half-remembered it. If so, then knowledge of the mystery reduces the story’s power. It’s well done—as to be expected from something by Knight—but I’m not sure I would recommend it today. “Pretty Boy Crossover,” Pat Cadigan — A re-reading of this classic cyberpunk story from the 1980s. If anything, this story has become better with time. Cadigan anticipated the self-absorbed nature that communication technology was about to bring about, and this story about a couple of young men who yearn to be watched rather than be the watchers could easily be translated into a case study of any number of YouTube celebrities today. “Against Babylon,” Robert Silverberg — This is one of those side-SF stories. That is, while there’s SF elements (aliens! landing in LA!), the focus of the story is actually the relationship between the fire-fighting pilot and his love Cynthia. The aliens force a point to that relationship, but it all seemed so foregone conclusion that I really didn’t care that much. That the story is interesting at all is due to the details of fire-fighting. “Fiddling for Waterbuffaloes,” Somtow Sucharitkul — This is a very humorous story that, at least for Western audiences, compounds its focus on aliens by intermixing different human cultures along with the extraterrestrial. Realistic and believable? No, while you might learn something about Thai culture here, although I wouldn’t use it to try to win any bets. The plot isn’t much of anything, but that’s not the point. Enjoy it for the fun of seeing the world through different eyes, much like the possessed here. “Into Gold,” Tanith Lee — Like so much of Lee’s work, this is almost indescribable. A fantasy story about a minor prince and the Captain of the Guard who supports him, loyal to a fault, but with no other place to go, and the woman that the prince takes as his lover and wife and, eventually mother of his child. But she’s a witch woman, and the Captain doesn’t trust her, and therein lies the problem. Lee was great at providing just enough lush description to make her work exotic without overwhelming it, and her characterizations here are some of the best in the genre. Recommended. “Sea Change,” Scott Baker — The child’s point of view here works for the most part, although I found it weirdly formal how he called his mother and father that rather than mom and dad. It’s a modified first contact story, where the aliens have come, made some changes, then disappeared—or have they? The ending might be triggering for some, as it pays off the title in a fairly serious way with some repercussions for those remaining that linger in imagination. Overall, interesting, but not quite satisfying. “Covenant of Souls,” Michael Swanwick — A very interesting fantasy (or is it science fiction?) with some great detailed touches to it, but I struggled to understand what actually was happening from a larger point of view. What exactly was Jennifer/the Ghost and what was she doing, what was the thing over the altar, what was Ogberg/the Cancer Man. So, so many questions, and the ending resolved none of them. One a sentence or even paragraph level, this was great, but on a page-by-page, I was mystified. “The Pure Product,” John Kessel — Interesting, filled with some wonderful details, but confusing. In the future people will be much the same as they are now? Ok, but why go to such lengths? I don’t connect the implied meaning with the nihilism of the character. “Grave Angels,” Richard Kearns — A colloquial fantasy, nearly magic realism, in which a young boy becomes the town gravedigger by learning it from…well, it’s never quite clear who or what Mr. Beauchamps is. While somewhat long, the story moves along at a decent clip and even has a surprise about two-thirds through that, while makes sense given the character, was definitely not telegraphed. Good, but not great. “Tangents,” Greg Bear — Precocious child befriended by a Turing doppelganger (well, a Turing-like character) is able to vision the fourth dimension with help, eventually attracting notice, and deciding to visit. It’s like Flatland, but within a different kind of story structure. Actually, it reminds me of some of Rudy Rucker’s work on trying to tell stories of fourth dimension encounters. It’s interesting, partly because you and I have such difficulty thinking about and imagining what the fourth dimension would be like. And that’s the fun of it. “The Beautiful and the Sublime,” Bruce Sterling — This is one of my favorite Sterling stories, which is both a pastiche of P.G. Wodehouse and something entirely its own. Its vision of a future where leisure is king and engineering has waned also reminds me somewhat of Michael Moorcock’s Dancers at the End of Time. What makes this story so appealing is how Sterling presents future inventions with off-handed ease: the wrist monitors that communicate with locals, the computer assisted flight devices, the change to different drugs from those old relics. But what makes this story really work is its style, the voice of its protagonist in all his sincere embrace of the now, of the beautiful and the sublime, in his passion for acquiring his love, and the sheer enjoyment of a story well told. Highly recommended. “Tattoos,” Jack Dann — A story about guilt and redemption, gifts given and received. The fantasy elements are hardly explained, and that’s probably for the best, because I’m not sure they make sense. The feeling of the story, however, is clear, and the characterization of the protagonist, his artist friend, and even the brief glimpses of characters like his father-in-law all have a reality to them that makes the fantastic plot work. “Night Moves,” Tim Powers — Like all of Powers’ writing, this is richly detailed and interesting. One of his talents is the ability to capture elements of the past and clearly visualize what it must have been like. In this story, it’s even stronger, because it’s done as if in dreams, so if somethings don’t come out quite right, that’s part of the dreamscape. However, unlike his novels, this is a much more subtle plot, one that I’m not sure holds up: I understand who Evelyn is, and how she haunts Roger and his parents, but I’m not entirely sure why. What gave her that power, what did she need to gain, and what happened to his parents at the end? This one brings up too many unfulfilled questions for me. “The Prisoner of Chillon,” James Patrick Kelly — This is Kelly on cyberpunk, and man, is it the real thing. A couple of cyber thieves pull off the crime of the century, accompanied by an embedded reporter, but one of the thieves dies in the attempt. The other two survive to arrive at the person who was willing to pay for what they stole, but then the thief decides he wants more. Negotiations ensure, but everyone’s help captive by the other, including the reporter, who can’t tell the story because what the thieves stole is way too hot. And that’s the setup. What was stolen, and why, is slowly revealed, along with a number of other things. Highly recommended. "Chance," Connie Willis — This is as close to a mainstream tale as you will ever see in a genre publication (it first appeared in Asimov’s) but it is the kind of story that is popping up with more regularity in small-press literary and mainstream magazines. “And so to Bed,” Harry Turtledove — The skill at which this story is crafted is indubitably a remarkable achievement, recreating the style of Samuel Pepys at his most diariest. But I found it less involving than it should have been. It’s set in Turtledove’s alternate history where prehistoric man still roamed the Americas, and they are recovered from that land to a Britain to be used as slaves. For the narrator, it begs the question of how truthful the Bible is, which affords him some consternation in his report to the Royal Academy. “Fair Game,” Howard Waldrop — Another of Howard’s signatures is that he does his research, almost to the point of absurdity given the economics of scale. But in science fiction, it tends to pay off, because readers are trained in watching the minutia, and if you can carry it off, they will be pleased. Here, it is Hemingway and the hunt is on. “Video Star,” Water Jon Williams — A late cyberpunk tale about an early 20-year-old gang member who subsequently betrays his own organization, then continues to double-cross any number of people (who work for him, unknowingly), but gets a pretty horrible comeuppance in the end. What I liked about this story was the structure of short chapter-like sections that moved the story forward and yet didn’t feel incomplete. Recommended for people who like the cyberpunk subgenre. “Sallie C.,” Neal Barrett Jr. — This is the kind of alternate history story that Howard Waldrop made famous: mix up a bunch of contemporary famous folk that you never would have thought to bring together and see what plays out. In this case, it’s a combination of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid along with the Wright Brothers and a very young Erwin Rommel. What’s the story about? I’m not sure I know. Dreams, I suppose. It’s interesting, if a bit baffling. “Jeff Beck,” Lewis Shiner — This is a wish story with a drug capsule playing the part of the genie. And like any wish story, you have to be careful what you wish for. In this case, Felix wants to play guitar as good as Jeff Beck, whom he idolizes. But just the ability to do so causes him more trouble, because once you hear music like that, it’s hard not to hear it any other way. Well done and recommended. “Surviving,” Judith Moffett — There are a number of SF stories that deal with primatology, from Pat Murphy’s “Rachel in Love” to Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, both of which came after this story by Moffett. That’s not to say Moffett was the originator: this story references Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan, which has more claim to that than others. What Moffett—and Murphy and Fowler—bring to that that Burroughs never did was a better understanding of the human condition as well as an empathy for the chimp or gorilla. Moffett’s story, while entrenched in the life of chimpanzees, is focused on Sally, a human raised by chimps (the Tarzan reference), but the protagonist of the story isn’t Sally, but a researcher who, in her own way, wanted to be Sally. It’s a detailed, nuanced story of loss and longing, well worth your time. Recommended. "Down and Out in the Year 2000," Kim Stanley Robinson — I missed the point of this story when I originally read it in Asimov’s, because at the time I was (and still am, to some extent) enamoured of cyberpunk. This story is Stan’s rebuttal to Neuromancer (and its high-tech/low-life ilk), in which he says low-life can’t afford high-tech, not only to be able to own it, but to have the education necessary to be able to use it, or the mind-set. Entirely valid point and interestingly accomplished in the story; however, I’m not sure that the story holds up by itself, instead requiring a knowledge of the background of its criticism for its true punch. “Snake-Eyes,” Tom Maddox — An early story of human-machine interface, ostensibly so the human can control a warplane, but scrapped once the war is called off, but the interface unfortunately has a mind of its own, what George calls the snake. But is it really the interface, or something newly awakened by it in George. While SF, the story has a touch of metaphysical to it, an almost Altered States investigation of the primeval brain. Oh, and there’s also Aleph, an AI who wants to know humans better. An interesting and well done story. “The Gate of Ghosts,” Karen Joy Fowler — This is one of those quiet stories, those fantasies that hang on the edges of reality that also mean something much deeper, a bit like something Tillie Olsen might have written. I can admire it without totally understanding it, or what it attempts to achieve. What is it about? The fear of parents and the fragility of children, but the ending indicates something even darker, which is akin to to the responsibility of having children and how it hangs on you. This is not easy reading, or joyous reading. “The Winter Market,” William Gibson — A classic cyberpunk story for one of the originators of the subgenre. They say that SF doesn’t really predict the future but reflects the current age; that might be true, but Gibson did describe something here that’s coming true, namely, the disillusionment of the youth who see their lives as traps they can’t escape from, their futures not as bright as that of their parents. The other stuff here—the direct mind-to-mind connections through bioelectric wiring directly into the brain, flexible exoskeletons that enable full mobility, even the mind-to-ROM transfer of entire personalities—still hasn’t come to pass and likely won’t, but those are the trappings. The story itself is part dystopia, part rumination on existence, filled with brand names and styled by attitude.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    every single one of these collections is essential reading for true fans of science fiction short stories... each lengthy volume has a stellar array of all mini-genres and areas of powerfully influential science fiction: hard science, speculative, steampunk, alien invasions, apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic, space opera, fantasy, aliens, monsters, horror-ish, space travel, time travel, eco-science, evolutionary, pre-historic, parallel universes, extraterrestrials... in each successive volume in the every single one of these collections is essential reading for true fans of science fiction short stories... each lengthy volume has a stellar array of all mini-genres and areas of powerfully influential science fiction: hard science, speculative, steampunk, alien invasions, apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic, space opera, fantasy, aliens, monsters, horror-ish, space travel, time travel, eco-science, evolutionary, pre-historic, parallel universes, extraterrestrials... in each successive volume in the series the tales have advanced and grown in imagination and detail with our ability to envision greater concepts and possibilities... Rod Serling said, "...fantasy is the impossible made probable. science fiction is the improbable made possible..." and in the pages of these books is the absolute best the vastness of science fiction writing has to offer... sit back, relax, and dream...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Norman Cook

    This collection of the "best" science fiction stories from 1986 has not aged well. Most of the stories are utterly forgettable, even from some very notable authors. The collection does not include two of the Hugo Award winners ("Gilgamesh in the Outback" by Robert Silverberg and "Permafrost" by Roger Zelazny) nor one of the Nebula Award winners ("The Girl Who Fell Into the Sky" by Kate Wilhelm). The following are the few highlights. "R & R" by Lucius Shepard (Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazin This collection of the "best" science fiction stories from 1986 has not aged well. Most of the stories are utterly forgettable, even from some very notable authors. The collection does not include two of the Hugo Award winners ("Gilgamesh in the Outback" by Robert Silverberg and "Permafrost" by Roger Zelazny) nor one of the Nebula Award winners ("The Girl Who Fell Into the Sky" by Kate Wilhelm). The following are the few highlights. "R & R" by Lucius Shepard (Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, April 1986 - novella) 1987 Nebula Award winner and 1987 Hugo Award finalist 3 Stars An American soldier and a couple of his buddies, fighting against a Cuban backed army in Guatemala, go on a weekend leave in a nearby village. There they encounter a series of strange, magical people and events. The story is filled with introspective ideas about war, duty, rituals and superstitions, and other things. Its contemplative style is done well, but is not particularly memorable. "Hatrack River" by Orson Scott Card (Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, August 1986 - novelette) 1987 Hugo Award finalist and 1987 Nebula Award finalist 3 Stars This is a good story as far as it goes. A family traveling West in search of a new homestead in the late 19th Century becomes trapped in a flooding river while the mother is about to give birth. A five-year-old girl in the nearby community has a form of telepathy and "sees" the family's plight; her warning sends help to save the family. As literally the first chapter of the first book of the six-volume Alvin Maker Saga, it manages to be surprisingly self-contained; nevertheless it is clearly incomplete. The Alvin Maker Saga, at least in part, is a fantastical retelling of The Book of Mormon (which to many people is already high fantasy). "Pretty Boy Crossover" by Pat Cadigan (Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, January 1986 - short story) 1987 Nebula Award finalist 3 Stars This story examines the ethical considerations of transferring one's memories and personality into a virtual simulation. Is it a utopia or is it a curse? "Tangents" by Greg Bear (Omni, January 1986 - short story) 1987 Hugo Award winner and 1987 Nebula Award winner 4 Stars This story takes Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott and turns it inside-out. A mathematician tries to visualize how 4-dimensional beings would appear in our 3-dimensional universe. A musically talented boy discovers a way to communicate with the 4-D universe via music. This is a what-if story that probably makes no sense to real mathematicians, but does give Bear a chance to flex our imaginations and to pay tribute to Alan Turing. "Night Moves" by Tim Powers (Night Moves, July 1986 - novelette) 3 Stars A story of a middle-age man finally discovering the secret of why his parents abandoned him as a child. It's a dreamlike journey through the streets of Orange County, California, filled with the unlikely connections that Powers likes to use in his fiction. "Chance" by Connie Willis (Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, May 1986 - novelette) 4 Stars This story has all the hallmarks of Willis's romantic comedies, although this one is a bit more serious. The premise is that not only do large life decisions, such as picking an occupation or marrying someone, cause significant changes in one's life, but small, almost trivial things do, too. Our lives are ruled by chance encounters and seeming coincidences. There's really not much science fictional about this story other than the protagonist's dreamlike reminiscences and what-ifs that might or might not be real. "The Winter Market" by William Gibson (Vancouver Magazine, November 1985 - novelette) 1987 Hugo Award finalist and 1987 Nebula Award finalist 4 Stars In a world where actors' lucid dreams can be downloaded to computers and edited into movies, a senior editor becomes infatuated with a rising star, a woman who wears a bionic exoskeleton because of a congenital physical handicap that prevents her from moving normally. It's a strange and poignant cyberpunk love story.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    Not my favorite of these collections but nevertheless the hours of enjoyable reading that I have always gotten from these books. A little sparse on space-based science fiction, but nevertheless great.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chris Duval

    I enjoyed more of this than I thought I would, it having sat on my shelves with just a couple of stories read for some years. Long ago I read 'R&R,' 'Tangents,' and 'Surviving,' so they are not part of the impressions of this review. Of the other stories, Jack Dann's 'Tatoos,' Bruce Sterling's 'The Beautiful and the Sublime,' Richard Kearns' 'Grave Angels,' Scott Baker's 'Sea Change,' Somtow Sucharikul's 'Fiddling for Waterbuffaloes,' Connie Willis' 'Chance,' and Fowler's 'The Gate of Ghost' stoo I enjoyed more of this than I thought I would, it having sat on my shelves with just a couple of stories read for some years. Long ago I read 'R&R,' 'Tangents,' and 'Surviving,' so they are not part of the impressions of this review. Of the other stories, Jack Dann's 'Tatoos,' Bruce Sterling's 'The Beautiful and the Sublime,' Richard Kearns' 'Grave Angels,' Scott Baker's 'Sea Change,' Somtow Sucharikul's 'Fiddling for Waterbuffaloes,' Connie Willis' 'Chance,' and Fowler's 'The Gate of Ghost' stood out for me. But I admit subjectivity. Of the three stories that seemed most cyberpunkish to me, one I read with a headache (and so found myself re-reading sentences); one I read through in an ideal environment, and the last (Gibson himself), I read in a noisy, though pleasant, bar (and again found myself re-reading sentences, though perhaps I would have done so anyway as many images were interestingly crafted. I don't think I'll expand from my notes on the stories I noted, but I'll record them: Dann: gruesome transference, Holocaust themes; Sterling: values reversal (engineering as struggling); Kearns: flawed story about a kid who becomes a gravedigger; Baker: wonderful story in a Venice setting; Somtow Sucharitkul: seamless mix of UFO and Thai folklore; Willis: not her later romps but rather psychological with themes of abusive relationships, as well as of reincarnation and self-sacrifice; Fowler: excellent child perspective (plus, through actions and descriptions, an adult's perspective about a child).

  10. 4 out of 5

    Charles Haywood

    I've read about half of the Dozois collections--all the recent ones, and now some of the older ones. This is BY FAR the worst of any I've read. Apparently 1986 was a dry, dry year for SF. First, very few of these stories are actually science fiction under any reasonable use of the term. Mostly they're meandering stories with some weirdness. Second, most of the stories have no conflict, nothing happening, and no resolution. They're like slices in the life of weird people, or people to whom weird, u I've read about half of the Dozois collections--all the recent ones, and now some of the older ones. This is BY FAR the worst of any I've read. Apparently 1986 was a dry, dry year for SF. First, very few of these stories are actually science fiction under any reasonable use of the term. Mostly they're meandering stories with some weirdness. Second, most of the stories have no conflict, nothing happening, and no resolution. They're like slices in the life of weird people, or people to whom weird, unexplained, and apparently unexplainable things happen. The ones that do have something happening are incomprehensible and have no resolution, at least no resolution that makes any sense at all or relates to the story itself. This is doubly surprising given that there are a number of famous authors represented (Orson Scott Card, Greg Bear, Robert Silverberg William Gibson). In any case, this is an outrider for the series, and as they say--your mileage may vary.

  11. 4 out of 5

    bluetyson

    The Year's Best Science Fiction: Fourth Annual Collection (Year's Best Science Fiction) by Gardner R. Dozois (1987) The Year's Best Science Fiction: Fourth Annual Collection (Year's Best Science Fiction) by Gardner R. Dozois (1987)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    Two great stories : R&R by Lucius Shepard and Hatrack River by Orson Scott Card, wonderful prose stylists with a story to tell. The rest is surprisingly blah.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mord

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bob Dobbs

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nuke

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

  17. 5 out of 5

    James

  18. 5 out of 5

    David Milligan

  19. 4 out of 5

    Janis Ian

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  21. 5 out of 5

    Marti Dolata

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anna Marie

  23. 4 out of 5

    Don Krajewski

  24. 5 out of 5

    Roy Adams

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jen Fairbanks

  26. 5 out of 5

    Teal

  27. 5 out of 5

    Robert James

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michelle O'Connor-Davis

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joel Benford

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hanif Payandeh

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.