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Year's Best SF 15 (Year's Best SF Series, 15)

(Part of the Year's Best SF (#15) Series, Jonathan Hamilton Series, and Year's Best SF Series)

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Book Overview

An annual celebration of the finest short form science fiction of the past year, editors David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer's Year's Best science fiction anthologies are widely acclaimed and eagerly... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

2 ratings

A great read, as usual

Sometimes the things we look forward to in life are the small things that regularly delight and surprise us. Such is one of the events I look forward annually, the publication of The Year's Best SF, edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer. It is one of the earliest (and best) of the prior year anthologies published--early enough to accompany me on my late spring or early summer vacation. I've been reading science fiction for over 50 years. If you know the field, you will know of these editors. Both have extensive experience, having edited many SF books and written significant essays contributing to the field. They can be counted on to select good stories for you. The Year's Best SF typically opens with a short intro discussing the previous year in science fiction. Then the book introduces select representative shorter SF works by established regulars or important newly emergent authors with a short bio and comments placing the story in context for you, the reader. This year's (15) work follows that model. Of course, each person's taste will vary; in particular, I enjoyed the stories by Vandana Singh (mathematics, other dimensions), Ian Creasey (effect of physical modification for life on other planets), Alastair Reynolds (effect of changes in an alternate universe), Michael Casutt (what if an Apollo crew had discovered evidence of a prior visit), and Mary Robinette Kowal (clone story set in Korea). But know that you'll seldom find a bad story collected here. If you want to read some of the best short work from the prior year while learning a bit more about science fiction in the process, this is one of the books you'll want to pick up every year.

Science Fiction in a Hard Place: 2009's Best

I enjoyed most of the 24 stories in David Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer's collection of science fiction offerings from 2009. As usual, the introductions were a skillful blend of author bios, web sites, and references to relevant book-length fiction and story collections. My favorite six stories are described below. All six focus more on human beings in difficult circumstances than on traditional SF themes of technology and space exploration. Robert Charles Wilson's "This Peaceable Land" accompanies a white man and his black employer on their journey through an American South where the Civil War never took place and slavery disappeared gradually as it became economically infeasible. They search for evidence of all those unwanted slaves who also disappeared. And nobody wants to talk about it. Yoon Ha Lee's "The Unstrung Zither" is superficially about the interrogation of five captured terrorists. On a deeper level it is a different kind of story that progresses toward a harmonious conclusion rather than a logical one. In Sarah Edwards' "Lady of the White-Spired City" we return with the emperor's emissary to the small village on a backward planet where she once lived with her husband and daughter. It is not possible for her to return home, but perhaps she can make a new one. Charles Oberndorf's "Another Life" introduces a soldier who is awakened in a new body with memories backed up before he went into action. He can't bring himself to use his ticket home until he finds out how he died. And why he is alone. Mary Robinette Kowal's "The Consciousness Problem" explores the relationship between a woman, her husband, and his clone. Why we love who we love seems less clear than ever. Eric James Stone's "Attitude Adjustment" is appropriately described by the editors as "...good old-fashioned problem-solving space SF in the Astounding tradition, done well. It has a touch of the Heinleinesque in its characterization and resolution." I recommend this collection to all appreciative readers of science fiction. It is a clear success for the contributing authors and for this experienced team of editors.
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