Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Dozois, Gardner, Editor. The Year's Best Science Fiction: Fifteenth Annual Collection. New York: St. Martin's, 6/98. 616pp. $24.99
Hartwell, David G, Editor. Year's Best SF: 3. New York: Harper, 8/98. 448pp. $8.50

If you only read two SF books every year, you usually can't do any better than the annual installments in Hartwell's and Dozois's ongoing series. This year's volumes are no exception. Except on price (Hartwell: $8.50, pb, 448 pages, 22 stories; Dozois: $24.99, trade pb, 616 tightly packed pages, 28 stories ), it is really hard to choose between these two. Both have a number of really terrific selections and both have a few weaker ones that I found disappointing. The standout stories common to both are by Robert Silverberg, Michael Swanwick, Brian Stableford and Greg Egan's "Yeyuka." The best in the Hartwell are by Terry Bisson, Nancy Kress, Kim Newman, Paul Levinson and Michael Moorcock. The best in the Dozois are by Stephen Baxter, Bill Johnson, Peter F. Hamilton, Gregory Benford and Elisabeth Malartre, and yet another Greg Egan. Some stories, of course, stand out more than others. Robert Silverberg shows his mastery of the genre with a moving tale of what life is like after a rather disastrous alien invasion while Bill Johnson's Hugo-award-winning "We Will Drink a Fish Together…" is a bizarrely wry tale of diplomacy and family ties involving rednecks and alien ambassadors. Peter F. Hamilton's prequel to his Reality Dysfunction novels is a rollicking example of modern space opera at it's best. Greg Egan's two tales are both wonderful examples of the tendency of more recent hard SF towards far-out extrapolations while also dealing more character-driven moral and ethical issues.


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