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The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection

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The thirty stories in this collection imaginatively take us far across the universe, into the very core of our beings, to the realm of the gods, and the moment just after now.  Included here are the works of masters of the form and of bright new talents, including: Paolo Bacigalupi, Stephen Baxter, Elizabeth Bear, Aliete de Bodard, James L. Cambias, Greg Egan, Charles Cole The thirty stories in this collection imaginatively take us far across the universe, into the very core of our beings, to the realm of the gods, and the moment just after now.  Included here are the works of masters of the form and of bright new talents, including: Paolo Bacigalupi, Stephen Baxter, Elizabeth Bear, Aliete de Bodard, James L. Cambias, Greg Egan, Charles Coleman Finlay, James Alan Gardner, Dominic Green, Daryl Gregory, Gwyneth Jones, Ted Kosmatka, Mary Robinette Kowal, Nancy Kress, Jay Lake, Paul McAuley, Ian McDonald, Maureen McHugh, Sarah Monette, Garth Nix, Hannu Rajaniemi, Robert Reed, Alastair Reynolds, Mary Rosenblum, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Geoff Ryman, Karl Schroeder, Gord Sellar, and Michael Swanwick.Supplementing the stories are the editor’s insightful summation of the year’s events and a lengthy list of honorable mentions, making this book both a valuable resource and the single best place in the universe to find stories that stir the imagination, and the heart. xi • Acknowledgments (The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection) • (2009) • essay by Gardner Dozois xiii • Summation: 2008 • (2009) • essay by Gardner Dozois 1 • Turing's Apples • (2008) • shortstory by Stephen Baxter 16 • From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled • (2008) • shortstory by Michael Swanwick (aka From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled . . .) 32 • The Gambler • (2008) • novelette by Paolo Bacigalupi 50 • Boojum • [Boojum] • (2008) • shortstory by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette 65 • The Six Directions of Space • (2008) • novella by Alastair Reynolds 107 • N-Words • (2008) • shortstory by Ted Kosmatka 120 • An Eligible Boy • (2008) • novelette by Ian McDonald 140 • Shining Armour • (2008) • shortstory by Dominic Green (aka Shining Armor) 154 • The Hero • (2008) • novelette by Karl Schroeder 172 • Evil Robot Monkey • (2008) • shortstory by Mary Robinette Kowal 175 • Five Thrillers • (2008) • novelette by Robert Reed 209 • The Sky That Wraps the World Round, Past the Blue and Into the Black • (2008) • shortstory by Jay Lake 217 • Incomers • (2008) • shortfiction by Paul J. McAuley 233 • Crystal Nights • (2008) • novelette by Greg Egan 252 • The Egg Man • (2008) • novelette by Mary Rosenblum 270 • His Master's Voice • (2008) • shortstory by Hannu Rajaniemi 280 • The Political Prisoner • (2008) • novella by Charles Coleman Finlay 327 • Balancing Accounts • (2008) • shortstory by James L. Cambias 341 • Special Economics • (2008) • novelette by Maureen F. McHugh 362 • Days of Wonder • (2008) • novelette by Geoff Ryman 390 • City of the Dead • (2008) • novelette by Paul J. McAuley [as by Paul McAuley ] 410 • The Voyage Out • (2007) • shortstory by Gwyneth Jones 424 • The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm • (2008) • shortstory by Daryl Gregory 439 • G-Men • (2008) • novelette by Kristine Kathryn Rusch 466 • The Erdmann Nexus • (2008) • novella by Nancy Kress 520 • Old Friends • (2008) • shortstory by Garth Nix 526 • The Ray-Gun: A Love Story • (2008) • novelette by James Alan Gardner 543 • Lester Young and the Jupiter's Moons' Blues • (2008) • novelette by Gord Sellar 568 • Butterfly, Falling At Dawn • (2008) • novelette by Aliette de Bodard 585 • The Tear • (2008) • novella by Ian McDonald


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The thirty stories in this collection imaginatively take us far across the universe, into the very core of our beings, to the realm of the gods, and the moment just after now.  Included here are the works of masters of the form and of bright new talents, including: Paolo Bacigalupi, Stephen Baxter, Elizabeth Bear, Aliete de Bodard, James L. Cambias, Greg Egan, Charles Cole The thirty stories in this collection imaginatively take us far across the universe, into the very core of our beings, to the realm of the gods, and the moment just after now.  Included here are the works of masters of the form and of bright new talents, including: Paolo Bacigalupi, Stephen Baxter, Elizabeth Bear, Aliete de Bodard, James L. Cambias, Greg Egan, Charles Coleman Finlay, James Alan Gardner, Dominic Green, Daryl Gregory, Gwyneth Jones, Ted Kosmatka, Mary Robinette Kowal, Nancy Kress, Jay Lake, Paul McAuley, Ian McDonald, Maureen McHugh, Sarah Monette, Garth Nix, Hannu Rajaniemi, Robert Reed, Alastair Reynolds, Mary Rosenblum, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Geoff Ryman, Karl Schroeder, Gord Sellar, and Michael Swanwick.Supplementing the stories are the editor’s insightful summation of the year’s events and a lengthy list of honorable mentions, making this book both a valuable resource and the single best place in the universe to find stories that stir the imagination, and the heart. xi • Acknowledgments (The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection) • (2009) • essay by Gardner Dozois xiii • Summation: 2008 • (2009) • essay by Gardner Dozois 1 • Turing's Apples • (2008) • shortstory by Stephen Baxter 16 • From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled • (2008) • shortstory by Michael Swanwick (aka From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled . . .) 32 • The Gambler • (2008) • novelette by Paolo Bacigalupi 50 • Boojum • [Boojum] • (2008) • shortstory by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette 65 • The Six Directions of Space • (2008) • novella by Alastair Reynolds 107 • N-Words • (2008) • shortstory by Ted Kosmatka 120 • An Eligible Boy • (2008) • novelette by Ian McDonald 140 • Shining Armour • (2008) • shortstory by Dominic Green (aka Shining Armor) 154 • The Hero • (2008) • novelette by Karl Schroeder 172 • Evil Robot Monkey • (2008) • shortstory by Mary Robinette Kowal 175 • Five Thrillers • (2008) • novelette by Robert Reed 209 • The Sky That Wraps the World Round, Past the Blue and Into the Black • (2008) • shortstory by Jay Lake 217 • Incomers • (2008) • shortfiction by Paul J. McAuley 233 • Crystal Nights • (2008) • novelette by Greg Egan 252 • The Egg Man • (2008) • novelette by Mary Rosenblum 270 • His Master's Voice • (2008) • shortstory by Hannu Rajaniemi 280 • The Political Prisoner • (2008) • novella by Charles Coleman Finlay 327 • Balancing Accounts • (2008) • shortstory by James L. Cambias 341 • Special Economics • (2008) • novelette by Maureen F. McHugh 362 • Days of Wonder • (2008) • novelette by Geoff Ryman 390 • City of the Dead • (2008) • novelette by Paul J. McAuley [as by Paul McAuley ] 410 • The Voyage Out • (2007) • shortstory by Gwyneth Jones 424 • The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm • (2008) • shortstory by Daryl Gregory 439 • G-Men • (2008) • novelette by Kristine Kathryn Rusch 466 • The Erdmann Nexus • (2008) • novella by Nancy Kress 520 • Old Friends • (2008) • shortstory by Garth Nix 526 • The Ray-Gun: A Love Story • (2008) • novelette by James Alan Gardner 543 • Lester Young and the Jupiter's Moons' Blues • (2008) • novelette by Gord Sellar 568 • Butterfly, Falling At Dawn • (2008) • novelette by Aliette de Bodard 585 • The Tear • (2008) • novella by Ian McDonald

30 review for The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mir

    As is generally the case with this type of anthology, I didn't read every story. I cherry-picked a few authors I usually like, then read some additional stories because they happened to come after a story I had finished and have a good opening, picked a few to try by title. Stephen Baxter "Turing's Apples" -- Interesting, but the story got buried under description and world-building. I could say the same about quite a few of the entries, I have to admit. I would not, in general, recommend this vo As is generally the case with this type of anthology, I didn't read every story. I cherry-picked a few authors I usually like, then read some additional stories because they happened to come after a story I had finished and have a good opening, picked a few to try by title. Stephen Baxter "Turing's Apples" -- Interesting, but the story got buried under description and world-building. I could say the same about quite a few of the entries, I have to admit. I would not, in general, recommend this volume for people who are not already sci-fi fans. Ditto Karl Schroeder's "Hero," which is set in an interesting but very alien and complex world that he also writes novels in, which sucks up most of the pages with its exposition. This would have been especially boring if I had read any of his books and already knew how the multiple artificial suns and giant space moths and stuff worked. So if those sound intriguing, I recommend getting one of his novels instead. Michael Swanwick "From Babel's Fallen Glory We Fled" -- I never quite got my head around how Trust functioned as an economic unit, but that's okay because the difficulty of translation and intercultural understanding is one of the themes here. Excellent story that would not be out of place in a collection such as Text-Ur. Pretty cool. I wonder if it is ever revealed elsewhere what happened to the important item I won't spoiler. "Butterfly, Falling at Dawn" was a solid mystery set in a future where Mexico is a colony of China. Good world-building, which I hear is generally a strong point for Bodard. I'd read more in this universe. Ian MacDonald's "Eligible Boy" was a cute concept, but I didn't enjoy the bulk of the story with the Indian men competing to win wives. Nice end(s), however. I quit "Six Directions of Space" at the horse-torturing scene, so I will never find out if certain characters behavior was a trick of some kind or if I was right in finding them implausible. For whatever reason, I had never thought I would be into Alastair Reynolds. "The Sky That Wraps the World..." was poignant and quite different from previous Jay Lake stories I'd read. Bummer the guy died so young. "G-Men" is alternate history for history buffs -- if it hadn't been included here I probably wouldn't have realized it wasn't correct history. Because there are people who don't give a crap about the Kennedy Assassination, sorry. "City of the Dead" was solid. I might read more Paul McCauley. Hopefully without giant vicious rat-insect swarm aliens or dead dogs. "The Voyage Out" made me recheck the pub date. I guess lesbians never stop being edgy in sci-fi? Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear "Boojum" -- Excellent example of the "sentient ship" trope. I'd already read this recently in Black Sails. Daryl Gregory "Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm" -- It's not much fun being a peon in a city that is perpetually ravaged by the conflicts of superpowers. Like a number of other stories in this collection, I thought it was a bit too heavy-handedly a contemporary political critique but hey, I can't argue that there isn't plenty to criticize. "Political Prisoner" was another that was very torn-from-the-headlines, or in this case the history books. It started off interestingly, with a double or triple agent returning from the field. But then there is a coup, and the rest of the novella (I wouldn't have read it if I had checked the page count) spent in a gulag. Not badly done, if you're into soul-destroying and back-breaking prison conditions. Mary Robinette Kowal "Evil Robot Monkey" is neither evil nor a robot. He's just an angry genius monkey who wants to be a potter instead of a zoo animal. Garth Nix "Old Friends" -- I didn't really care, sorry, Mr. Nix. Your story for Black Sails was boring, too. I used to usually like his stuff, not sure if it's him or me.

  2. 5 out of 5

    MrsJoseph *grouchy*

    Only reading "Butterfly, Falling at Dawn" by Aliette de Bodard. Note: I read an online edition of this story that GR does not allow to be listed. This story is another Sci-fi alt-history [murder] mystery. Again it follows an MC who is not Xuyan by birth or rearing - instead has chosen to live in Xuya due to circumstances in their past. This story was interesting but the most interesting part of it was the...issues of the MC (and all the Mexica refugees). I am not sure how much time has passed betwe Only reading "Butterfly, Falling at Dawn" by Aliette de Bodard. Note: I read an online edition of this story that GR does not allow to be listed. This story is another Sci-fi alt-history [murder] mystery. Again it follows an MC who is not Xuyan by birth or rearing - instead has chosen to live in Xuya due to circumstances in their past. This story was interesting but the most interesting part of it was the...issues of the MC (and all the Mexica refugees). I am not sure how much time has passed between "The Lost Xuyan Bride" and this one - but it appears that more than 12-15 years has passed. There has been a terrible civil war in Mexica and a lot of people migrated to Xuya. The MC and the victim are both refugees. The story presented an interesting picture of what it means to be changed by a war - how it changes the core of who you are and the actions you take. And its all wrapped up in a mystery! Yet again, I have not seen a single space ship. This means I have a lot of chronological history to still get through in order to get to the space parts. From what I remember of the space-related short I read, the Đại Việt (Vietnam) will also migrate to Xuya - since the Đại Việt were the ones in the ship(s). What this means in relation to the timeline, I don't know. But it sure is fascinating - especially since I "know" where its going to go but I have no clue as to how long it will take or what it will be like getting there.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Aisteach

    There's a fundamental problem with publishing something under the title of "Year's Best," which is that "best" is one of those words that's completely subjective. As you read a collection that is supposed to be the best of the year, when you inevitably hit a story you don't care for, you find yourself saying, "Really? This is the best that 2008 had to offer?" And when you notice that stories you read that year and really, really loved aren't included, you feel like there's been a slight. (And th There's a fundamental problem with publishing something under the title of "Year's Best," which is that "best" is one of those words that's completely subjective. As you read a collection that is supposed to be the best of the year, when you inevitably hit a story you don't care for, you find yourself saying, "Really? This is the best that 2008 had to offer?" And when you notice that stories you read that year and really, really loved aren't included, you feel like there's been a slight. (And the reality is that those stories may have been overlooked by the editor, or they may simply have been unavailable for inclusion due to rights issues.) But Gardner Dozois is an editor whose tastes I agree with about 40% of the time (which is actually a good track record with me), and this particular table of contents only contained one story I'd read already, so when I found it in the library, I grabbed it. Unfortunately, the collection got off on the wrong foot with me, opening with the only story in the anthology I actively disliked, "Turing's Apples" by Stephen Baxter. This story has fundamental structural problems and a central premise so laughably absurd (view spoiler)[(that computing is a universal language and it's possible to encode a virus that will run on any computer anywhere in the Universe even if you've never encountered the species that built the computer before) (hide spoiler)] that I just couldn't suspend my disbelief enough. Don't get me wrong. Every story in this anthology is good. But quite a few were simply not my cup of tea. It's heavy on the alt-history for my taste. It's completely lacking in slipstream (though, admittedly, "The Voyage Out" by Gwenyth Jones is slipstream-adjacent, and quite enjoyable), and -- like it or not -- slipstream is where a lot of the innovation in the speculative fiction field is occurring right now. My personal favorites probably speak more to my political leanings than quality of storytelling. I quite enjoyed "The Six Directions of Space" by Alastair Reynolds despite the fact that its meandering structure frequently had me wanting to throw the book at the wall. "N-Words" by Ted Kosmatka riffs on a lot of the same research I used for "Too Close for Comfort," and therefore resonated well with me. I was absolutely riveted by "The Political Prisoner" by Charles Coleman Finlay, and also thoroughly enjoyed "The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm" by Daryl Gregory. If you remember that the anthology should be called "Gardner Dozois' Favorite Stories from 2008," the anthology certainly contains enough good material to make it worth reading. At 300,000 words, you can simply skip the stories that don't work for you. And I'm willing to bet your list of favorites and least favorites will be different from mine.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    I'm making my way through the author's Xuya stories, the chronology can be found on her website. This is the fourth one by my count. It's another mystery, who's main character is an Xuyan immigrant from Mexica (that's not a typo, that's the spelling of people from the country in the approximate location of our Mexico) after the terrible civil war there many years ago. They came when she was twelve. She's the first Mexica to become a Magister, or police detective, in the very insular Xuyan commun I'm making my way through the author's Xuya stories, the chronology can be found on her website. This is the fourth one by my count. It's another mystery, who's main character is an Xuyan immigrant from Mexica (that's not a typo, that's the spelling of people from the country in the approximate location of our Mexico) after the terrible civil war there many years ago. They came when she was twelve. She's the first Mexica to become a Magister, or police detective, in the very insular Xuyan community. Though being female does not seem to be an issue at all, interestingly for a story set in 2006 in a culture that in our world is not advanced about women's rights (Xuya was a Chinese colony). But de Bodard says in her description on her website that her vision of how China developed is different, in addition to her differing concept of how the American continent was settled and developed, so it's very interesting to see how those ideas continue to play out within the context of each well-developed story. All of the pieces keep fitting together in such interesting ways. And it isn't like with a novel where she was able to plan it all ahead of time and adjust and edit if she needed to go back and make a change. Once a story is printed it's out of her hands and the next one has to hang together with what's already out there. But after this story she takes the concept into the space age, so it will be interesting to see how she does that. I've read a couple of the stories, but not within the concept of the whole universe of the tales. Anyway, this story was quite good, though not as long or impactful as the others so far. But it still had the heart I've come to expect from her stories. It told of a war refugee's trauma from several different perspectives quite effectively, that's what made it stand out from being just a basic little mystery. And it was so vivid in the way it described everything, the Mexica part of the city, the food, the odors, the paintings, everything was really bright and clear in my mind. She writes a good story, what can it say?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brice

    Definitely Read (5 stars): Shining Armour | Dominic Green - Old man, exercises, city defense The Ray-Gun: A Love Story | James Alan Gardner - Best opening I've read in a long long time. Warning: Talks about sex (not explicitly). Sags a tiny bit in the middle. Makes up for it overall. Probably Read (4 stars): An Eligible Boy | Ian McDonald - Indian Dating Balancing Accounts | James L. Cambias - Robot Special Delivery Special Economics | Maureen F. McHugh - Pesky capitalism Days of Wonder | Geoff Byman Definitely Read (5 stars): Shining Armour | Dominic Green - Old man, exercises, city defense The Ray-Gun: A Love Story | James Alan Gardner - Best opening I've read in a long long time. Warning: Talks about sex (not explicitly). Sags a tiny bit in the middle. Makes up for it overall. Probably Read (4 stars): An Eligible Boy | Ian McDonald - Indian Dating Balancing Accounts | James L. Cambias - Robot Special Delivery Special Economics | Maureen F. McHugh - Pesky capitalism Days of Wonder | Geoff Byman - Perspective shifting The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm | Daryl Gregory - The other side of superhero battles Interesting, but somehow unsatisfying... (3 stars) N-Words | Ted Kosmatka (this one was extra sad) Boojum | Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette The Gambler | Paolo Bacigalupi From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled | Michael Swanwick (the ending) Turing's Apples | Stephen Baxter The Hero | Karl Schroeder Evil Robot Monkey | Mary Robinette Kowal Five Thrillers | Robert Reed (Intense. But dear Mr. evil protagonist: no, expedience doesn't make it right) The Sky That Wraps The World Round, Past The Blue And Into The Black | Jay Lake Crystal Nights | Greg Egan The Egg Man | Mary Rosenblum His Master's Voice | Hannu Rajaniemi (packed with future tech, but not much else coherent) The Political Prisoner | Charles Coleman Finlay | Intense. But dear Mr. evil protagonist: no, expedience doesn't make it right (yeah, another one). City of the Dead | Paul McAuley The Voyage Out | Gwyneth Jones The Erdmann Nexus | Nancy Kress Old Friends | Garth Nix Avoid These (1-2 stars): G-Men | Kristine Kathyrn Rusch - Left me feeling eew

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I found this collection while tracking down Butterfly, Falling at Dawn, which is one of the stories in Aliette de Bodard's Xuya Universe, and the penultimate story included here. This collection, and Gardner R. Dozois in particular, are evidently highly praised in the sci-fi community, but this will be my first edited by M. Dozois. I've been enjoying science fiction stories in various magazines and online blogs lately, and this seemed like a good chance to read a collection and compare notes on I found this collection while tracking down Butterfly, Falling at Dawn, which is one of the stories in Aliette de Bodard's Xuya Universe, and the penultimate story included here. This collection, and Gardner R. Dozois in particular, are evidently highly praised in the sci-fi community, but this will be my first edited by M. Dozois. I've been enjoying science fiction stories in various magazines and online blogs lately, and this seemed like a good chance to read a collection and compare notes on what is considered the "best". I've been interested in the representation of marginalized voices in science fiction, and I noticed this collection is 25% woman-authored, which isn't terrible, but could be better. I'll have to poke around to get details on it's representation in terms of race/culture... xiii • Summation: 2008 • (2009) • essay by Gardner Dozois - 2 stars - Wow, yeah, this is just dry and tiring. I have to give kudos to someone who can compile all this information, but that doesn't mean it is engaging reading material. 1 • Turing's Apples • (2008) • shortstory by Stephen Baxter - 4 stars - Nice sibling rivalry, nice science ponderings. Could have used more emotional impact, but the takeaway was pretty poignant (and "universal", ha ha). 16 • From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled • (2008) • shortstory by Michael Swanwick (aka From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled . . .) - 4 stars - I liked the alien world created here: very captivating. Also, the idea of an intelligent body suit narrating the story was clever. I was not satisfied by the ending though, even though it was logical. It felt like a story that deserved a clear epiphany. 32 • The Gambler • (2008) • novelette by Paolo Bacigalupi - 5 stars - Brilliant and intoxicating. I really liked the scenes of live crowd feedback. This is what I like best about Bacigalupi: cutting edge future tech commentary without any of his recurrent sexism or graphic morbidity. 50 • Boojum • [Boojum] • (2008) • shortstory by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette - 5 stars - I love "underdog" stories, and this had tastes of that in the main character's development. Loved the idea of the living ship (one of my favorite Star Trek episodes had one) and the pulp fiction villains (view spoiler)[stealing brains for nefarious purposes! (hide spoiler)] . The ending had plusses and minuses (view spoiler)[being eaten by a spaceship and then exploring the universe had a lot of Space Odyssey trippiness (hide spoiler)] , but I still had to give it a thumbs up for imagery. 65 • The Six Directions of Space • (2008) • novella by Alastair Reynolds - 4 stars - What a delicious story of spy games, space life, and the “troubling nature of things”. It has everything a sci-fi junky could want, packed into a convoluted plot that is surprisingly easy to follow. Only two things held it back from 5 stars for me: the torture scenes were a bit much, and it could have used a smidge more characterization: compassion and gentleness didn’t quite match up with the ruthlessly pragmatic spymaster persona. 107 • N-Words • (2008) • shortstory by Ted Kosmatka - 5 stars - Heartbreaking, poignant, and insightful. I continue to love stories that use science fiction to explore social issues. 120 • An Eligible Boy • (2008) • novelette by Ian McDonald -4 stars - social drama is not really my cup of tea, but it got extra points for the rich cultural references and the clever plot (not revealed until the end). 140 • Shining Armour • (2008) • shortstory by Dominic Green (aka Shining Armor) 4 stars - great underdog story, with very colorful characters and action sequences. Maybe a bit dispassionate/military-focused. 154 • The Hero • (2008) • novelette by Karl Schroeder 5 stars - this one almost made me cry. Fun, clever, with great world-building and nice backstory touches for the main character. Some surprises were refreshing. 172 • Evil Robot Monkey • (2008) • shortstory by Mary Robinette Kowal - 4 stars - extremely short but insightful. 175 • Five Thrillers • (2008) • novelette by Robert Reed - 4 stars - The first of the "five thrillers" was definitely 5 stars. The rest were entertaining and fast-moving, but I would have liked a deeper characterization of the main character, and perhaps a follow-up interview with the psychologist from the beginning. 209 • The Sky That Wraps the World Round, Past the Blue and Into the Black • (2008) • shortstory by Jay Lake - 4 stars - A touching and atmospheric piece, with a nice emotional connection to the universe, although not much actually happens. 217 • Incomers • (2008) • shortfiction by Paul J. McAuley - 4 stars - Ah, the folly of youth butting up against the wisdom of age. I think the last few paragraphs would have made a powerful story just on their own. 233 • Crystal Nights • (2008) • novelette by Greg Egan - 4 stars - Interesting speculations on computers, the game of life, and baby universes. 252 • The Egg Man • (2008) • novelette by Mary Rosenblum - 5 stars - Character- and future-society-driven story with a lot of poignancy. Very atmospheric combination of dystopia, science, characterization, and social issues. These eggs are even better than eggs! 270 • His Master's Voice • (2008) • shortstory by Hannu Rajaniemi - 5 stars - Pretty wacky but unforgettable story about animals and human heads. What's not to love about pets with high-tech gadgets. 280 • The Political Prisoner • (2008) • novella by Charles Coleman Finlay - 5 stars - Interesting combination of alien contact and political espionage. I was moved by the thoughtful ruminations on war camps and the poignant differences in the alien culture. A lot more intense than I expected, this is one of the longer ones but the length fit the purpose of the story, and the overall effect was rewarding if a little harrowing. 327 • Balancing Accounts • (2008) • shortstory by James L. Cambias - 4 stars - A fun little story kind of in the vein of an old Niven space/science puzzle, with a great tip of the hat to Asimov and his playful stories around the three laws of robotics. I loved the inclusion of economic theory, with the challenge of efficient trading and measuring non-quantifiable assets. 341 • Special Economics • (2008) • novelette by Maureen F. McHugh - 5 stars - Another great combination of science and social commentary from McHugh. I like how I actually learn a bit about present China from her depictions of future China. 362 • Days of Wonder • (2008) • novelette by Geoff Ryman - 5 stars - Wow, what a powerhouse. The story and narration were compelling, with a scientific premise that tickled the imagination. Won't forget that ending! 390 • City of the Dead • (2008) • novelette by Paul J. McAuley [as by Paul McAuley ] - 5 stars - I'll go ahead and give it five stars. It wasn't heartbreaking and I wasn't totally invested in the characters, but I loved the context (reminded me of the Heechee enigma) and the ideas came together beautifully at the end. And I always enjoy a good underdog story. 410 • The Voyage Out • (2007) • shortstory by Gwyneth Jones - 4 stars - I enjoyed this one, appreciated the various nods to civil rights, and the scientific and social concepts were fascinating. Not quite 5 stars because I felt more could have been explored here, especially with the sudden ending. 424 • The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm • (2008) • shortstory by Daryl Gregory - 5 stars - This was just a slice of life story, but I found the description of the setting very compelling. I really felt like the author conveyed an entire history of this world from just a brief period of time. 439 • G-Men • (2008) • novelette by Kristine Kathryn Rusch - 4 stars - This was well written, and had some humorous nods to historical events, but I didn't really find much science fiction in this alternate history. I guess history can be considered science, but when I'm looking for sci-fi this is not really what I expect. So maybe two stars for inclusion in this collection. 466 • The Erdmann Nexus • (2008) • novella by Nancy Kress - 5 stars - Another winner for Nancy Kress, with great characterization, lovely pacing, and some curious scientific exploration. First story I've read in a while to directly incorporate the aging human population. 520 • Old Friends • (2008) • shortstory by Garth Nix - 5 stars - I didn't really understand this one, but the character and plot were quite moody and memorable. 526 • The Ray-Gun: A Love Story • (2008) • novelette by James Alan Gardner - 4 stars - This one was fun and fascinating, although I guess I kept expecting something more dramatic to happen. 543 • Lester Young and the Jupiter's Moons' Blues • (2008) • novelette by Gord Sellar - 5 stars - This was effed up! What a great combination of jazz and aliens, lifting up cultural references that are for the most part usually ignored in sci-fi. I appreciated the undercurrent: a scathing critique of the exploitation of Black talent. 568 • Butterfly, Falling At Dawn • (2008) • novelette by Aliette de Bodard - stars - 585 • The Tear • (2008) • novella by Ian McDonald - stars -

  7. 5 out of 5

    Linus Williams

    The only way to review the collection is to review each of the individual stories, so here I go: 1) Turing's Apples, by Stephen Baxter. I normally enjoy Baxter's work, but this one misses the mark, a bit. 6/10 and an inauspicious start 2) From Babel's Fall'n glory we fled, by Michael Swanwick. A well-written, impressive, story about the survival of an alien culture in the face of internecine wars. 8/10 3) The Gambler, by Paolo Bacigalupi. The first really hard-hitting, impactful, story in the set. The only way to review the collection is to review each of the individual stories, so here I go: 1) Turing's Apples, by Stephen Baxter. I normally enjoy Baxter's work, but this one misses the mark, a bit. 6/10 and an inauspicious start 2) From Babel's Fall'n glory we fled, by Michael Swanwick. A well-written, impressive, story about the survival of an alien culture in the face of internecine wars. 8/10 3) The Gambler, by Paolo Bacigalupi. The first really hard-hitting, impactful, story in the set. A story that foretells the current age of clickbait media and false news, but never lets go of the real stories behind them all. 10/10. 4) Boojum, by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette. A tantalizing glimpse into a world that we could spend many further novels reading about. Space pirates! Living ships! Head-hunting aliens! A decent story, but it leaves me wanting more background about the universe. 7/10 5) The Six directiosn of space, by Alastair Reynolds. Alternate future history (now that's a mouthful) about space-faring mongols finding out that there are many divergence paths in the universe....8/10 6) N-words, by Ted Kosmatka. No, these N-words aren't what we would normally think of, but they're proof that discrimination is as old as humankind.....literally. 8.5/10 7) An Eligible Boy, by Ian McDonald. Ian McDonald has done wonderful things with his stories of near-future India, and this is more of the same. In an Indian where the gender ratio is so skewed, some men will take any advantage they can get....but can AIs be suitable matchmakers? 9/10 8) Shining Armour, by Dominic Green. A cute little story about an ancient, barely working, suit of battle armor, and the old man who is its caretaker. 8/10 9) The Hero, by Karl Schroeder. This one is almost more fantasy than sci-fi, but its attempt at a world is marred by the pacing issues throughout. 5/10 10) Evil Robot Monkey, by Mary Robinette Kowal. I didn't like this one at all. It's short and doesn't do anything with its characters, really. 3/10 11) Five Thrillers, by Robert Reed. Tracking a super-soldier....make that an amoral super soldier....through the evolution and proliferation of different types of human. Quite interesting. 9/10 12) The sky that wraps the round, past the blue and into the black, by Jay Lake. Well written, but ultimately not catchy. Evocative, but not emotional. 7/10 13) Incomers, by Paul J. McAuley. Young adult fiction, but well done! 8/10 14) Crystal Nights, by Greg Egan. The problem with Playing God with AI is that the things you have to do to make a true AI might be remembered later on....9/10 15) The Egg Man, by Mary Rosenblum. I do love post-apocalyptic near-future Sci-fi, and this scratches that itch quite nicely. Although, it does get a little convoluted near the end. 8/10 16) His Master's Voice, by Hannu Rajaniemi. Er....what?! This story makes.....little sense. It's not bad, just weird. 6.5/10 17) The Political Prisoner, by Charles Coleman Finlay. I'm not sure where the sci-fi part of the story comes in, but otherwise it's an intriguing gulag story. I quite enjoyed it. 9/10 18) Balancing accounts, by james L. Cambias. It's interesting to hear a story from the robot's perspective. 8.5/10 19) Special Economics, by Maureen F. McHugh. Not so much a science fiction story as a story about wage mistreatment in China, really. This stuff goes on in the present day and we should all be concerned about it. 9/10 20) Days of Wonder, by Geoff Ryman. genetically modified animal-humans (?) try to rebuild their society, which means cooperating with their longtime enemies. Good, but could use more background or exposition. 7.5/10 21) City of the dead, by Paul McAuley. I liked it, but I'm still not sure what the point was. 7.5/10 22) The Voyage Out, by Gwyneth Jones. Condemned criminals learn about each other before being forced to land on another planet....somewhere. 7/10 23) The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm, by Daryl Gregory. Supermen exist, as do super-villains, but what happens to the ordinary people? A topic similar to that explored in "Age of ultron", though in a bit more depth. 8/10 24) G-men, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. J. Edgar Hoover dies in a...shall we say, compromising situation, and the FBI has to investigate the killer. 9/10 25) The Erdmann Nexus, by Nancy Kress. Old people begin to form a super-consciousness, capable of both amazing and horrifying acts, and a retired physics professor must unravel the choices that led up to that moment. 9/10 26) Old Friends, by Garth Nix. It could use a bit more background, but overall I enjoyed it. 8/10 27) The Ray-Gun: A love story, by James Alan Gardner. An excellent story about a ray gun...and how it impacts the life of the young man who finds it. 10/10 28) Lester Young and the jupiter's moons' blues. Jazz in space....and a group of aliens who are thoroughly allergic to Thelonious Monk. 29)Butterfly, falling at dawn. By Aliette de bodard. This author has had another story published in the year's best (the completely uninspiring "The Days of the War, as Red as Blood, as Dark as Bile"), but this one is actually quite a bit better. It's a murder mystery in an alternate-history mexico, one ruled by the Chinese. 8/10 30) The Tear, by Ian McDonald. Evocative, certainly. But....I just don't understand it. Perhaps I'm missing something, perhaps I'm not bright enough to see it, but this has bits and pieces of brilliant story with nothing to hold them together or make them coherent. 4/10.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Paige

    I finally finished this, despite having bought it four and a half years ago. There were some good gems, some of which I hadn't even read/heard about (I'd never have picked up Paul McAuley on my own, but found myself enjoying his Jackaroo 'verse in 'City of the Dead'). Sadly, the table of contents is blindingly white--Aliette de Bodard is the only POC--though there are far more women in this edition (eight out of thirty stories) than previous Dozois collections I've read. Of those, I find it a litt I finally finished this, despite having bought it four and a half years ago. There were some good gems, some of which I hadn't even read/heard about (I'd never have picked up Paul McAuley on my own, but found myself enjoying his Jackaroo 'verse in 'City of the Dead'). Sadly, the table of contents is blindingly white--Aliette de Bodard is the only POC--though there are far more women in this edition (eight out of thirty stories) than previous Dozois collections I've read. Of those, I find it a little surprising that Nancy Kress' 'The Erdmann Nexus' was the Hugo winner for novella that year. It's good, but not as good as Kress can be, which leads me to wonder if it won due to the Cocoon effect: sentimentality, depicting elders as diverse thoughtful people, and a huge stylistic nod to Silver Age SF. A few more recs: Hannu Rajeniemi's 'His Master's Voice' is an excellent dark horse. De Bodard's Xuya story is an excellent procedural with fab worldbuilding, vastly outdoing Rusch's alternate history earlier in the book, and I say this as someone who loves US history post-1945. Maureen McHugh's 'Special Economics' and Mary Rosenblum's 'The Egg Man' are both republished online at Clarkesworld, and I highly recommend getting thee hence. Meanwhile, I have hope I may clear my back collection of hiatus books yet. ...nah.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lord Humungus

    My favorites were Rosenblum's "The Egg Man", and "Lester Young and the Jupiter's Moons' Blues" by Gord Sellar, the latter comparable to Howard Waldrop at his best. There were several other entertaining and inspiring stories. These included works by Baxter, Alastair Reynolds, Dominic Green, Karl Schroeder, Paul McAuley, an entertaining noir diversion by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, a very human story by Kress, and a tight little whodunnit by Aleitte de Bodard. Even if the best stories weren't the best My favorites were Rosenblum's "The Egg Man", and "Lester Young and the Jupiter's Moons' Blues" by Gord Sellar, the latter comparable to Howard Waldrop at his best. There were several other entertaining and inspiring stories. These included works by Baxter, Alastair Reynolds, Dominic Green, Karl Schroeder, Paul McAuley, an entertaining noir diversion by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, a very human story by Kress, and a tight little whodunnit by Aleitte de Bodard. Even if the best stories weren't the best material I've read in these collections, this remains yet another solid entry in the series. I almost skipped Ian MacDonald's "The Tear", the final novella, because I was getting bored with its dense, detached depiction of the far future. But I'm glad I made it to the end. Its scope was as epic and imaginative as the best Stephen Baxter, but I think Baxter's work has a "human" element I feel this work was lacking.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    For my taste, winners include Turing's Apples, Ray Gun (best), N-words (second best), I also like the "Political Prisoner" for its grim evocation of a theocratic police state. I liked the "Lester Young" story too, even though it was raw and unpolished. It had some interesting ideas and mood setting. Not a great ending. Anyway it's important that stories like that see the light. There are too many polished science fiction writers out there with small ideas. If I want that I'll read the New Yorker For my taste, winners include Turing's Apples, Ray Gun (best), N-words (second best), I also like the "Political Prisoner" for its grim evocation of a theocratic police state. I liked the "Lester Young" story too, even though it was raw and unpolished. It had some interesting ideas and mood setting. Not a great ending. Anyway it's important that stories like that see the light. There are too many polished science fiction writers out there with small ideas. If I want that I'll read the New Yorker.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Erin (PT)

    One of de Bodard's Xuya stories; this one takes place in Xuya, but the cast is largely Mexican. Like "The Lost Xuyan Bride", this is a rather noirish feeling mystery, something that reminds me, very tangentially, of William Gibson or Phillip K Dick; that futuristic griminess and texture, but also the joy (for the reader) in discovering this beautifully constructed, real-feeling world. Like the other Xuya stories, there's a starkly drawn theme of half-ness; people caught painfully between societie One of de Bodard's Xuya stories; this one takes place in Xuya, but the cast is largely Mexican. Like "The Lost Xuyan Bride", this is a rather noirish feeling mystery, something that reminds me, very tangentially, of William Gibson or Phillip K Dick; that futuristic griminess and texture, but also the joy (for the reader) in discovering this beautifully constructed, real-feeling world. Like the other Xuya stories, there's a starkly drawn theme of half-ness; people caught painfully between societies, the difficulty of not fitting into the place you came from or where you are.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kersplebedeb

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Thirtys short stories in the SF vein, all first published in 2008: My Favorites Evil Robot Monkey, Mary Robinette Kowal Five Thrillers, Robert Reed Crystal Nights, Greg Egan Days Of Wonder, Geoff Ryman Old Friends, Garth Nix Lester Young And The Jupiter’s Moons’ Blues, Gord Sellar Story-By-Story Reactions "Turing’s Apples" by Stephen Baxter. A message from across the galaxy provides a rorschach test for humanity, though all it really takes is one well-placed dude to press the "on" button. "From Babel’s Fa Thirtys short stories in the SF vein, all first published in 2008: My Favorites Evil Robot Monkey, Mary Robinette Kowal Five Thrillers, Robert Reed Crystal Nights, Greg Egan Days Of Wonder, Geoff Ryman Old Friends, Garth Nix Lester Young And The Jupiter’s Moons’ Blues, Gord Sellar Story-By-Story Reactions "Turing’s Apples" by Stephen Baxter. A message from across the galaxy provides a rorschach test for humanity, though all it really takes is one well-placed dude to press the "on" button. "From Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled" by Michael Swanwick. Having the space suit tell the story is something i don't remember seeing before, and while it works better here than in Alastair Reynold's Fury, this tale of a human diplomat observing an insect-alien war was not very gripping. "The Gambler" by Paolo Bacigalupi. The author likes to use sci-fi to comment on the present, favouring near-future settings and eco-themes. Here the tale of a refugee from Laos trying to get by as a journalist is used to skew what you get in a lowest-common-denominator rules, titillation-at-all-costs, media world. Elsewhere Bacigalupi explains that "'The Gambler' was partly inspired by my work as an online editor at High Country News, where one of my jobs was to plan for a digital future. The promises and perils of the technologies I was working with turned out to be fertile ground for a story." "Boojum" by Elizabeth Bear & Sarah Monette. i do so like the theme of sentient space ships - this is a good one. Not great, though, but good enough. "The Six Directions Of Space" by Alastair Reynolds. Now you see this could have been a great story - parallel universes all intersecting, Reynolds' tale is based in one where the Mongol Empire dominated the earth and then beyond. Wonderful spy-thriller beginning, great concept - especially enjoyed the universe where lemurs evolve space flight - but a pablum ending with a Rodney-Kingish plea of "can't we all get along": "If the Infrastructure is truly breaking down, allowing all these timelines to bleed into one another, than (sic!) we are all going to have to get along with each other sooner or later. No matter what we all did to each other in our various histories. We're all going to have to put the past behind us." Presentist anxieties, anyone? "N-Words" by Ted Kosmatka. i think Neanderthals deserves their own post, but until i get around to that i'll just say that our swarthy friends are sexier than ever theseadays, doubtless due to the exciting discoveries being made using genetic research. In N-Words a scientist resucitates the species from old DNA à la Jurassic Park (not an impossibility it seems), leading to a new racial divide which really is racial, as the not so subtle title indicates. Note that on a cultural level, Neanderthals are coming to represent the suppressed european - we are being told they look conveniently like big vikings ("spent ten times longer in light-starved Europe than a typical Swede's ancestors") and racist "people of sun"/"people of ice" lingo is resucitated and turned on its head. On his website Komatka pedantically describes N-words as "my story against racism", which i think sells it short. Very reminiscent of Terry Bisson's Scout's Honor from 2006. And like Bisson's short story, Komatsu's N-Words was one of the few that made it into both the Dozois and Hartwell/Cramer anthologies. [available as audio story here:] "An Eligible Boy" by Ian Mcdonald. i'm about ready to say that i don't like McDonald's stories, but for now i'll just say that his stories set in a near-future AI-dominated Indian subcontinent are getting old. "Shining Armour" by Dominic Green. A town of farmers needs protecting from greedy prospectors. Done well enough that that this traditional western-genre story transposed itself seamlessly onto a far-future post-imperial colony world. The ending lacked the emotional impact i need to made a story stellar, that's why this one isn't on my faves list. "The Hero" by Karl Schroeder. Have not checked out Schroeder's work before now, but after reading this i certainly will. A protected humanity living in a dyson sphere needs to grow up, and it falls on one young man to put this in motion. Provisionally on my faves list - am curious if he can sustain this in the other writings set in his Virga universe. "Evil Robot Monkey" by Mary Robinette Kowal. It is very difficult to use the very-short-story (or "flash fiction") to pack emotional punch, but with a boosted chimp as protagonist this quickie delivers the goods. Perhaps the best in this collection, it's short so why don't you read it on the authors site! "Five Thrillers" by Robert Reed. This is a tale by one of my favorite authors, and while the politics and historical philiosophy are both about as openly reactionary as you can get - it takes a sociopath to raise a village kinda thing - it was one of the most enjoyable this year. According to this interview, one inspiration for the novella was television's 24 - don't be fooled though, Reed's work is much better. "The Sky That Wraps The World Round, Past The Blue And Into The Black" by Jay Lake. Our protaginist is hiding from his past (i like that we are only ever given glimpses of this) painting space memorabilia with radioactive goop so it will be the color people think it "really should be." A nice take on what a let-down authenticity can be (worthy of P.K. Dick, actually), but this is just garnish on the side, and unfortunately i found the main storyline kinda empty. "Incomers" by Paul Mcauley. Kids acting bad make a nice friend with a sad past. Next... "Crystal Nights" by Greg Egan. This is probly the most explicit example of what i was blathering on about above, SF providing a chance to explore how history might work. In this case we have a virtual reality universe - been there done that i know i know - that its creator hopes will become autonomous. This has been done so many times (the Matrix anyone?), and in fact if you are bored you can spend a lot of time worrying that we probably are stuck in such VR plane (which begs the question of what the "V" actually indicates). The point is that Egan does what most fail to do, he makes an extremely engaging story out of this idea - one of my faves. [also available as audio podcast:] "The Egg Man" by Mary Rosenblum. Set in a realistic dystopian near-future, where pharmaceutical crops and eggs provide the SF engines, and an abandoned corner of post-America provides the setting. Good, but not excellent. "His Master’s Voice" by Hannu Rajaniemi. The author's stuff is just too weird for me to really get into, try as i might. "The Political Prisoner" by Charles Coleman Finlay. Great story set after his space opera The Political Officer, this offering is not surprisingly inspired by our world's Holocaust though a lunch break spent on google could certainly find a dozen other worthy precursors. Woulda been one of the best this year if not for the wimpy ending - both in terms of an emotionally vacuous resolution and a morally vacuous bromide. Too bad. "Balancing Accounts" by James L. Cambias. Not only do i really like this guy's writing - i loved his funny Ocean of the Blind a couple of years back - but this story provides some real clever sideways glances at the place of the "non-quantifiable" in economic decision-making. Useful. Definitely one of this year's best. "Special Economics" by Maureen Mchugh. There's potential in this theme - slavery in communist China - but it is all wasted in this reactionary little tale. Actually, too tepid even to be reactionary... (for another take on this and other tales of future Chinas, see this on Torque Control) "Days Of Wonder" by Geoff Ryman. Fantastic story of post-humanity; a "hero's journey" structure where our hero is a genetically melded horse-human. Great ending. "City Of The Dead" by Paul Mcauley. A sherif has to ward off bad guys looking for a lost alien artefact. Not much here, though the hive rats are cool, and i do like organic computers... somehow it wasn't better than ok. "The Voyage Out" by Gwyneth Jones. Prisoners beamed through space to colonize far off worlds, but on the way all kinds of spooky things happen. Nice concept (the space spookiness thing can work great, viz. Solaris and such) but it really failed to hold together. Seeing as this story is part of a series (The Buonarotti Quarter), maybe i would have enjoyed it more if i'd read some of Jones' accompanying work, but on its own it failed to impress. Too bad. "The Illustrated Biography Of Lord Grimm" by Daryl Gregory. Though some might be put off by the Axis-of-Evil aura around it, this story will be remembered for its vivid depictions of near-future warfare with the focus where it should be - on the civilians. Plus no sappy ending, thankgawd. "G-Men" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Now this is certainly SF, and superficially it falls directly in the purview of the whole "looking at history thing" - but the thing is, it's just straight up alternate history and the only real appeal is of the trainspotting sort. Which is alternate history at its most shallow. Nevertheless, very well written, so as a detective short story it's fine. (Indeed, so fine is it that G-Men also appears in both Sideways in Crime and in The Best American Mystery Stories 2009) "The Erdmann Nexus" by Nancy Kress. Ah yes, emergence - increasingly sexy concept thesedays. It would be interesting to compare it to ideas of the quantitaive-becoming-qualitative, which it definitely isn't... indeed in some ways it's almost the opposite. But i'm getting off track. This is a very well written story, kept me interested and was satisfying despite the less-than-stellar ending. Still, one of the best "emergent property" stories i've seen. "Old Friends" by Garth Nix. Great little story, wonderful ending which i won't spoil. Soldiers off AWOL, you know. "The Ray-Gun: A Love Story" by James Alan Gardner. Very nice story, very nice ending. Felt somewhat like a Stephen King novel. i think it's the boy-as-protagonist thing, but it does work well. "Lester Young And The Jupiter’s Moons’ Blues" by Gord Sellar. Space aliens just want to be entertained. One of those rare stories focussing on music to get where it's going, and it really pays off. i admit to being curious about this white African author whose story draws so heavily on 1940s Harlem. The take on authenticity comes at it from the opposite direction as Jay Lake's story (see above). "Butterfly, Falling At Dawn" by Aliete De Bodard. Alternate history when done well is like this - no name dropping, no slack-jaw staring at phenomenon under the historical microscope, just proceed with your story as if nothing was wrong. And that's what De Bobard does here in her Xuya world, where North America was colonized by China a century before Columbus made his trip. Reading this interview by Marshall Payne, the woman has obviously put a lot of work into Xuya. But for all that, the story itself - while a clear take on cultural appropriation and such - left me cold. "The Tear" by Ian Mcdonald. Wonderful wonderful far-future story about a multiple-personality branch of post-humanity ("the Clade") meeting up with some even stranger cousins.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Timons Esaias

    So, yeah, I finally got around to reading this in 2018, a decade after the stories it collects were published. Sadly, that's how it often goes around this household. (The good news is that the next in line is the 31st edition, because I read out of order, so it should be less embarrassing as time goes on.) Anyway, the key thing about these Dozois collections is that the stories don't age much. I found them to be quite good as entertainment, and many of them also inspiring as writing models. I've So, yeah, I finally got around to reading this in 2018, a decade after the stories it collects were published. Sadly, that's how it often goes around this household. (The good news is that the next in line is the 31st edition, because I read out of order, so it should be less embarrassing as time goes on.) Anyway, the key thing about these Dozois collections is that the stories don't age much. I found them to be quite good as entertainment, and many of them also inspiring as writing models. I've extracted a few bits for teaching to students, and gotten a couple of good story ideas. While the quality of the stories in this year's collection is high, I wasn't having my socks knocked off, most of the time. Part of that is because at least three of them were in the equivalent David Hartwell anthology, so I'd read them before; and I read a couple in the original magazines. But still, several stood out. Robert Reed's "Five Thrillers" (which had several typos, for some reason) got an 'Oh, dear' note in my copy. It's dark humor/satire, or it's depraved; one or the other. Charles Finlay's "The Political Prisoner" is grim and realistic and effective. It's a narration of someone caught in the infighting of a political coup, who may or may not have some pull on the inside. I liked the realistic horror of the situation, and how one tries to deal with what is largely out of one's control. [I tend to be more satisfied with that kind of story, as opposed to the "I had this trump card all along, and was just waiting to play it" kind of thing we usually get in the genres.] Maureen McHugh's story of economic refugees -- "Special Economics" -- is quite cute, ultimately. And I used the same word to describe James Alan Gardner's "The Ray-Gun: A Love Story". Garth Nix's "Old Friends" is a slipstream piece, very nicely handled. It's about an old soldier, waiting for his nemesis to arrive. Nancy Kress does a bang-up job of telling a Big Idea solid SF story by using a purely local focus: "The Erdmann Nexus" makes a nursing home the center of the Universe. Gardner loaded some strong pieces at the end, with Gord Sellar's "Lester Young and the Jupiter's Moons' Blues" and Aliette de Bodard's "Butterfly, Falling at Dawn" in the antepenultimate and penultimate slots. I tend to lose interest in many alternate history stories, and especially those centered on the world of jazz (a surprisingly common theme), but this thing (Sellar's piece) worked wonderfully for me. The aliens have come in post-WWII times, and they keep hiring jazz players to go on little year-long jaunts through the Solar System. While I very much liked de Bodard's storyline, my hand kept twitching toward the red pen I use to mark manuscripts. It is filled with the tired phrases and local tropes and POV problems that I'm forever trying to beat out of my students; so the message is: Enjoy the story, but do not imitate the prose. This is a four-grimace anthology, which is better than average for the first decade of the current unhappy century.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ari

    Stephen Baxter: "Turing's Apples" [**] Michael Swanwick: "From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled" [***] Paolo Bacigalupi: "The Gambler" [**] Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette: "Boojum" [***] Alastair Reynolds: "The Six Directions of Space" [****] Ted Kosmatka: "N-Words" [***] Ian McDonald: "An Eligible Boy" [***] Dominic Green: "Shining Armour" [**] Karl Schroeder: "The Hero" [***] Mary Robinette Kowal: "Evil Robot Monkey" [*] Robert Reed: "Five Thrillers" [*] Jay Lake: "The Sky That Wraps the World Round, Past Stephen Baxter: "Turing's Apples" [**] Michael Swanwick: "From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled" [***] Paolo Bacigalupi: "The Gambler" [**] Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette: "Boojum" [***] Alastair Reynolds: "The Six Directions of Space" [****] Ted Kosmatka: "N-Words" [***] Ian McDonald: "An Eligible Boy" [***] Dominic Green: "Shining Armour" [**] Karl Schroeder: "The Hero" [***] Mary Robinette Kowal: "Evil Robot Monkey" [*] Robert Reed: "Five Thrillers" [*] Jay Lake: "The Sky That Wraps the World Round, Past the Blue and Into the Black" [*] Paul McAuley: "Incomers" [*] Greg Egan: "Crystal Nights" [****] Mary Rosenblum: "The Egg Man" [*] Hannu Rajaniemi: "His Master's Voice" [****] (already read in Collected Fiction) Charles Coleman Finlay: "The Political Prisoner" [*] James L. Cambias: "Balancing Accounts" [**] Maureen F. McHugh: "Special Economics" [**] Geoff Ryman: "Days of Wonder" [**] Paul McAuley: "The City of the Dead" [*] Gwyneth Jones: "The Voyage Out" [****] Daryl Georgy: "The Illustrate Biography of Lord Grimm" [***] Kristine Kathryn Rusch: "G-Men" [**] Nancy Kress: "The Erdmann Nexus" [*] Garth Nix: "Old Friends" [**] James Alan Gardner: "The Ray-Gun: A Love Story" [**] Gord Sellar: "Lester Young and the Jupiter's Moons' Blues" [**] Aliette de Bodard: "Butterfly, Falling at Dawn" [**] Ian McDonald: "The Tear" [**]

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rob Trans

    This book is fairly mediocre and thus disappointing. I would rate most of the stories a 'C,' with an handful of 'B's.' Several of the plots have interesting premises and more than a handful have good writing. Most of the stories are not particularly memorable. There are no authors I will seek out to read more of. There is an extensive amount of review of the SF industry from books to TV to movies to manga, etc.. This gives the state of the industry about 10 years ago. Each story is also prefaces This book is fairly mediocre and thus disappointing. I would rate most of the stories a 'C,' with an handful of 'B's.' Several of the plots have interesting premises and more than a handful have good writing. Most of the stories are not particularly memorable. There are no authors I will seek out to read more of. There is an extensive amount of review of the SF industry from books to TV to movies to manga, etc.. This gives the state of the industry about 10 years ago. Each story is also prefaces with a detailed listing of the author's accomplishments. It can be easily skipped if the reader is not interested as I was not. This is a book that could be kept on whatever e-reader you carry to have available for unexpected downtime, such as waiting at the doctor's office or the BMV. It is an easy book to put down and then resume since the stories are unrelated to each other.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Dorneman

    This massive collection (639 pages), the best of 2008, lives up to the late Dozois's long reputation for selecting solid SF stories (no fantasy), with this volume leaning more towards the far-future kind (although don't miss the couple of exquisite alternative history mysteries to be found here). Only a couple of clunkers (although one long one in particular, by Charles Coleman Finlay, was nothing more than a thoroughly detailed and not very SF stint in prison camp and brought the whole collecti This massive collection (639 pages), the best of 2008, lives up to the late Dozois's long reputation for selecting solid SF stories (no fantasy), with this volume leaning more towards the far-future kind (although don't miss the couple of exquisite alternative history mysteries to be found here). Only a couple of clunkers (although one long one in particular, by Charles Coleman Finlay, was nothing more than a thoroughly detailed and not very SF stint in prison camp and brought the whole collection down a star IMHO) amid the gold here. Skip the Finlay, but otherwise, recommended.

  17. 5 out of 5

    John

    Interesting collection, well worth a read if you're a sci-fi fan. The eleven stories below were the ones that I found most interesting. The Six Directions of Space - Alastair Reynolds N-Words - Ted Kosmatka An Eligible Boy - Ian McDonald The Ill-fated Mission - Robert Reed The Egg Man - Mary Rosenblum The Political Prisoner - Charles Coleman Finlay Balancing Accounts - James L. Cambias Days of Wonder - Geoff Ryman City of the Dead - Paul McAuley G-Men - Kathryn Rusch The Erdmann Nexus - Nancy Kress

  18. 5 out of 5

    Benj

    A good collection - some of them I loved, others did nothing for me. For short stories, most of them were quite long. I felt that some of them would have been improved by paring them down, whilst others had enough ideas in them to fill a complete book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Paul Moscarella

    I enjoy Dozois' picks in general, with Political Prisoner being my favourite in this edition. His industry review at the beginning is thorough to the point of obsessive and a fantastic addition for anyone who wants to work in the field.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ariel

    There are 35 books in this particular series. I've read three and intend to read the rest.

  21. 4 out of 5

    David Parker

    Variable quality. Some great, some best skipped

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ebenmaessiger

    “Turing’s Apples,” by Stephen Baxter: 9 - Baxter’s often dragged for his wooden characters and choppy writing in service of some cosmic Grancendence. If it’s programmatic, so be it, because when it works — and not by overcoming those “flaws”, but by making them work for him, for the story, charging them and pointing them in the eight direction — it works on a level that bespeaks something true and unique about the genre. An example of that “literary” element beholden to its genre utility: the wa “Turing’s Apples,” by Stephen Baxter: 9 - Baxter’s often dragged for his wooden characters and choppy writing in service of some cosmic Grancendence. If it’s programmatic, so be it, because when it works — and not by overcoming those “flaws”, but by making them work for him, for the story, charging them and pointing them in the eight direction — it works on a level that bespeaks something true and unique about the genre. An example of that “literary” element beholden to its genre utility: the way — yes, belabored, yes devoid of much true-to-life nuance — in which the aliens relationship towards Wilson (ie humanity) mirrors Wilson’s relationship towards his family (ie humanity), albeit in the inverse. Wilson must therefore grapple with the implications (an intelligence unfathomable to others), or, he must deal with his diminished place in the world. Here are some emotional angles quite apart from the sfnal conceit of the story, quite an accomplishment for a story whose main draw IS the conceit (and deservedly so, for it’s presented ably and with some mystery and momentum).

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mike Ehlers

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Notes on the stories, only to help me remember them. May or may not contain spoilers: "Turing's Apples": Brothers involved in SETI, and sibling rivalry. What happens when message is found and decoded? Interesting, good characters. "From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled": Alien trade talks gone wrong, hence the "fled". Communication was very alien in method, culture banked on trust, and story told from perspective of a survivng protective suit. But taken altogether, wasn't pulled off well. "The Gambler" Notes on the stories, only to help me remember them. May or may not contain spoilers: "Turing's Apples": Brothers involved in SETI, and sibling rivalry. What happens when message is found and decoded? Interesting, good characters. "From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled": Alien trade talks gone wrong, hence the "fled". Communication was very alien in method, culture banked on trust, and story told from perspective of a survivng protective suit. But taken altogether, wasn't pulled off well. "The Gambler": Interesting take on info society, and a yearn for something simpler (Thoreau). Interesting Lao culture, could a country really be cut off in today's world? "Boojum": Space Pirates and a living, symbiotic ship. Well developed world and ideas, especially for a short story. Good read. "The Six Directions of Space": Well built universe(s), and good extrapolated cultures. Good espionage and intrigue, but in retrospect, not very memorable characters. Good read, but don't find myself returning to it. "N-Words": Racism, cloning, evolution and love all wrapped into one story. Story jumps around in narrative time, but doesn't seem disjointed. Using Neanderthals for social commentary worked well. "An Eligible Boy": In (near?) future India, old traditions and new AI make matchmaking convoluted for young men, especially when they vastly outnumber the women. Good rendering of Indian culture (as far as I know) and I like the themes of old and new intertwined. But found myself not caring about the mating ritual. "Shining Armour": Be prepared, whether it's helping your grandpa or working the town's giant robotic guardian. Good view of a collapsing society, with some humor in the story. "The Hero": A different type of hero. Very interesting and well developed world. All about what you're willing to sacrifice to give back to your world, even in some small way. But the description of the world, with its bugs and moths and suns, is fantastic. Made me want to read more of the author's Virga stories. "Evil Robot Monkey": Very short, fun read. Title says it all. About an intelligent chimp too smart for his species, but too animal for humans. Clever, but too short for the reader's emotional investment. "Five Thrillers": Starts slow, or at least average, with a protagonist that's hard to like. But as the thrillers go on, it really picks up. Good adventure. When we are doing what's best for society, are we really just doing what we think is best for ourself? Are our leaders really just those who are best at selfishly grabbing what they want? This author is always fresh and original. "The Sky That Wraps the World Round, Past the Blue and Into the Black": The title pretty much sums up the prose in this story. A bit too flowery for my taste. A man escaping his past, whatever it was, with most of the action happening offstage. Not necessarily a bad thing, but unsatisfying here. Did like the painting of space artifacts to make them seem more authentic. "Incomers": Not bad, but not great. Reminded me of a Heinlein juvenile with more teenage angst. The teenage characters were developed enough, but the story just wasn't there for me. But well written enough that I would read the author's "Quiet War" stories if they fall before me. "Crystal Nights": Enjoyable story about developing AI thru forced evolution. Good look at creation, and the trope of losing control of one's creation. Egan's good at making readable, sometimes far-out stories while still being rigorous. "The Egg Man": Interesting look at a fractured America that's no longer a superpower, and its more influential neighbor, Mexico. Good enough characters, but I didn't really care about their motivations. Can't really put my finger on it, but didn't care much for the story itself, a search for lost love. "His Master's Voice": A good story about enhanced pets. The prose has a different style to it (perhaps I'm just not that used to non-North American writers) that fits SF well. Cloning and augmented reality thru the eyes of a dog, a different viewpoint that emphasizes a good story.

  24. 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...

  25. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Summers-Stay

    My favorite story from this collection was "N-Words" by Ted Kosmatka. It's another take on "The Ugly Little Boy," except in this case the Neandertal children aren't swarthy and brutish-- "they had spent ten times longer in light-starved Northern Europe than a typical Swede's ancestors" and their brains were larger than modern humans, so they were smart and sensitive, as well as ultra-strong. But they were more calorie-expensive than us, so they died out when hard times came. Basically Betamax to My favorite story from this collection was "N-Words" by Ted Kosmatka. It's another take on "The Ugly Little Boy," except in this case the Neandertal children aren't swarthy and brutish-- "they had spent ten times longer in light-starved Northern Europe than a typical Swede's ancestors" and their brains were larger than modern humans, so they were smart and sensitive, as well as ultra-strong. But they were more calorie-expensive than us, so they died out when hard times came. Basically Betamax to our VHS. Except when they are brought back to life through genetic engineering, getting enough calories is no longer an issue.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    About half of the stories in this anthology are quality SF. I like SF that leans toward hard or at least has some elements of technology, evolved or alien beings, or interesting concepts. I especially liked Five Thrillers by Robert Reed, Balancing Accounts by James L. Cambias, The Ray Gun: A Love Story by James Alan Gardner, Boojum by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette, and at least five others. The remaining stories were either boring, poorly written, or both. Four stars could be a little bit gen About half of the stories in this anthology are quality SF. I like SF that leans toward hard or at least has some elements of technology, evolved or alien beings, or interesting concepts. I especially liked Five Thrillers by Robert Reed, Balancing Accounts by James L. Cambias, The Ray Gun: A Love Story by James Alan Gardner, Boojum by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette, and at least five others. The remaining stories were either boring, poorly written, or both. Four stars could be a little bit generous.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Another cracking collection. I buy these every year, and while individual stories may not always be my cup of tea, there's always loads I like. There are two stories by Ian McDonald, one of my favourite authors, one which I had already read in Cyberabad Days, another which was new. There are plenty of other great stories, and no story is too long. It's ideal for long journeys as you won't get bored!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    The 600+ pages of this book have something for every reader in the sci-fi/fantasy genre. While I don't remember which story led me to this collection, I enjoyed most of it, skimming over only a few stories that didn't grab me. These anthologies are a good way to discover new writers, and there are some that I will definitely be on the lookout for.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    i didn't love every story, but i certainly enjoyed many more than i disliked. i originally was interested in this collection for the hannu rajemini story after hearing it on escape pod. it remains one of my favorite short stories. only real downside is this was not something i ever wanted to carry on the subway due to it's size, so it took quite a while to get through just reading at home.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

    The 2008 edition of the best annual SF anthology around. Good stories by Kress, Finlay, Gardner, Reynolds and McDonald, among others As I lose contact with the world of short SF, Dozois's anthology is still worth the time, and at more than 600 pages of trade paperback small print, worth the money as well.

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