Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Books: The Year`s Best Science Fiction - Thirty Third Annual Collection

(Drivebycuriosity) - I like science fiction. Unfortunately most science fiction novels disappoint. Therefore I usually skim collections of science fiction short stories to find some gems. For years I have been reading the anthology "The Year`s Best Science Fiction" edited by Gardner Dozois. His compilation has been the market leader for 3 decades and offers a kaleidoscope of plots, ideas and styles. Dozois caters to a lot of different tastes and shows the state of art in science fiction.

I just finished reading his "Thirty Third Annual Collection" which harvests the science fiction year 2015 (the print edition, published in July 2016, has 718 pages amazon). As usual Dozois started with a lengthy summation of important events, trends and publications in the world of science of fiction in 2015. For each story he wrote an introduction where he outlines the background and most important works of the presented author. 

Many stories didn´t hit my taste button but I enjoyed at least 9 of the almost 40 stories (25%) which seems a passable quota to me. I have 2 favorites:

"Inhuman Garbage" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch: A female detective is investigating a murder case on a moon colony. The story is a very plausible take on the possible life & the economics on the earth´s satellite and gives something to think about.

"The Audience" by Sean McMullen. Some astronauts are exploring a dark planet that had entered our sun system. Reminds me of the classics by Asimov & Clark.

 I also liked:

"Three Cups of Grief, By Starlight" by Aliette de Bodard (aliettedebodard) is a  kind of baroque family story based on Chinese culture & tradition set in a far future. The story is a very special & exotic reading pleasure. The compilation has a second story by this author: “Citadel of Weeping Pearls" which is not as strong.

"Today I am Paul" by Martin L. Shoemaker. The very plausible story, set in a near future, is told by a humanoid robot (Android) who has to take care of a woman with Alzheimer disease. Shoemaker describes a possible future, the question is whether we will like it.

"Gypsy" by Carter Sholz tells the experiences of some spaces travelers on their long journey to Alpha Centauri. The plot is dark & pessimistic, maybe a bit too negative, but precisely written & full of science.

"A Stopped Clock" by Madeline Ashby is set in a dystopian near-future Korea where the communication systems brakes down. I am not a big fan of dystopia but I cared about the fate of the leading character. 

There are two adventure stories set on Venus: "Planet of Fear" by Paul J. McAuley & "Ruins" by Eleanor Arnason.  The real Venus is a stony planet with a very dense atmosphere, but in these tales the "Venus" is very earth-like. Both plots are entertaining.

And there is another entertaining story: In “Trapping the Pleistocene" by James Sarafin. An American hunter & nonconformist is sent back in time to catch an giant beaver. It´s a traditional adventure story with just some futuristic elements, but well told.


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