Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Books: The Year's Best Science Fiction: 30th Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois

(Drivebycuriosity) - What if the next reincarnation of the Dalai Lama will happen in a space ship? What if half of the earth would be hidden in eternal darkness? What if airplanes could be driven by steam engines?

These and more questions are the topics of "The Year's Best Science Fiction: 30th Annual Collection", edited by Gardner Dozois and published in July 2013 (amazon).  There are other best of the year collections but Dozois` compilation has been the market leader for 3 decades.

This anthology harvests the science fiction year 2012 and offers 29 short stories from prominent authors and newcomers. I managed to finish reading 15 of them:

3 stories are my favorites:

The thriller "Nightfall on the Peak of Eternal Light" by Richard A. Lovett and William Gleason transports the reader to the moon. A man seeks refuge on the earth`s satellite but he gets hunted by a hit man. The authors blend classical suspense with science, the tough conditions on the moon.

"Nightside on Callisto" by Linda Nagata tells about a group of old women working on a remote planet who get fiercely attacked by their construction and mining robots who`s minds have been hacked by a vicious AI.: An enthralling adventure in a high-tech environment.

"In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns" by Elizabeth Bear is a detective story (a "whodunit")  set in an alternative world near-future India and deals with some weird results of genetic engineering.

I also enjoyed:

"The Finite Canvas" by Brit Mandelo, an intensive story about a tattoo artist who strikes a somewhat complicated relationship with a female professional killer.

"Steamgothic" by Sean McMullen leads the reader to an alternative world where people try to get an airplane engine to fly - driven by a steam. The story benefits a lot from the dry British humor.

"Twenty Lights to The Land of Snow" by Michael Bishop tells about buddhists who are traveling decades on a starship to a far away planet. The story is told by a young girl who might be the next Dalai Lama.

"The Stars Do Not Lie" by Jay Lake happens upon a kind of baroque world where science is restrained by the dictatorship of religious leaders. It is like Galileo Galilei told by Jules Verne.

"What Did Tessimond Tell You?" by Adam Roberts is about a cryptical scare.

"Old Paint" by Megan Lindholm is a heartwarming story about the relationship of a family with an artificial intelligence (AI) who happens to be a car. Funny.

"Weep for Day" by the Indian author Indrapramit Das focuses on a girl who grows up on tidally locked planet where one side has permanently sunshine and the other stays eternally night. It is an atmospheric story about dealing with the scary unknown.

"Macy Minnot`s Last Christmas on Dione" by Paul McAuley is about a visit at a somewhat exotic place in commemoration of a late father.

"Ruminations in an Alien Tongue" by Vandana Singh is a sentimental story about people who travel between alternative universes.

The collection shows the state of art in science fiction and offers a kaleidoscope of plots, ideas and styles and caters to a lot of different tastes. Dozois wrote for each story an introduction where he outlines the background and most important works of the presented author. At the beginning there is a lengthy summation of important events, trends and publications in the world of science of fiction in 2012. This and the nice selection of stories make the book a must for fans and collectors of science fiction.

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