The first problem: almost none is actually scifi, but, you know, "edgy", "slippy" and so on. Second and bigger problem: they are exactly the kind of artsy texts going for the ravishing, highly polished form and completely forgetting the need for an actual, original and good story.
** 10 to the 16th to 1 (1999) novelette by James Patrick Kelly A Cabin on the Coast (1984) short story by Gene Wolfe *** A Dry, Quiet War (1996) novelette by Tony Daniel ** Bears Discover Fire (1990) short story by Terry Bisson *** Blood Music (1983) novelette by Greg Bear Breathmoss (2002) novella by Ian R. Le Guin ** Daddy's World (1999) novelette by Walter Jon Williams *** Dinner in Audoghast (1985) short story by Bruce Sterling *** Even the Queen (1992) shortstory by Connie Willis Flying Saucer Rock and Roll (1985) novelette by Howard Waldrop Guest of Honor (1993) novelette by Robert Reed Have Not Have (2001) novelette by Geoff Ryman Kirinyaga Kirinyaga 2 (1988) novelette by Mike Resnick Lambing Season (2002) short story by Molly Gloss * Lobsters Macx Family 1 (2001) novelette by Charles Stross * Mortimer Gray's History of Death (1995) novella by Brian Stableford ** None So Blind (1994) short story by Joe Haldeman People Came from Earth (1999) shortstory by Stephen Baxter Recording Angel (1996) short story by Ian McDonald ** Roadside Rescue (1985) shortstory by Pat Cadigan Salvador (1984) short story by Lucius Shepard Second Skin The Quiet War (1997) short story by Paul J. McHugh * The Pure Product (1986) novelette by John Kessel * The Real World Silurian Tales (2000) novelette by Steven Utley *** The Undiscovered (1997) novelette by William Sanders ** The Wedding Album Cathy (1999) novella by David Marusek * The Winter Market (1985) novelette by William Gibson Trinity (1984) novella by Nancy Kress Wang's Carpets (1995) novelette by Greg Egan ========== NB: these aren't the GR star-ratings.
Detailed reviews below, but I think the biggest standouts from this collection (not including the ones I skipped because I had read them before) were A Dry, Quiet War, Coming of Age in Karhide, Stable Strategies for Middle Management, Guest of Honor, The Wedding Album and The Undiscovered. 4.5 of 5 stars Reviews by short story (oldest at the bottom, nearly all plot details are kept in spoiler tags): Lambing Season (2002) - Molly Gloss This was a strange, and not strange like Bears Discover Fire or Stable Strategies for Middle Management, just kinda quaint and odd.
"History of Death" is a long story, but well worth the read, and is easily one of the most interesting pieces of fiction I have ever read. I highly recommend others to read this story. "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang - Though not a highly prolific author, I cannot help feeling like I've been missing something. It's one of the best-written stories I've ever encountered, and should be required reading for any science fiction fan. Though these are not all of the great stories in the book, these were just my favorites, or the ones that made me notice the authors for the first time. It's also an example of what great science fiction looks like, and would-be authors should take notice.
it would be hard to get that rating for a compilation of stories.
If you want an anthology to keep with you at all times, full of stories worth multiple readings, by all means, grab Best of the Best and enjoy!
I never did this before, but I want to try to review each story as I read them (also because I'm not sure if I'm going to read the entire book all at once) Blood Music by Greg Bear I definitely read this one before, it must have been in one of the Year's Best Science Fiction that I've read in the past. I love the idea, but something about the writing didn't quite work for me. Trinity by Nancy Kress Ah, yes, this is the science fiction I know and love. Well, one kind of science fiction I know and love, but still. I liked the idea but I never really got engaged by the story. The story was quite fascinating, but I probably would have to know more about actual history to understand how far this was from the reality. I had a really short cyberpunk phase where I LOVED his writing, then I think I grew out of it and couldn't stand him anymore. Maybe it's been enough time since then, and I can actually enjoy his stories again, with a different perspective. I also think I've read this story before. Tale from the Venia Woods by Robert Silverberg I found Silverberg books profoundly disappointing when I read them for the first time in english, but this story tickled my curiosity enough that I think I'm going to try something else from the Roma universe (yes, I really loved the idea of a timeline in which the Roman Empire never fell). I didn't know Terry Bisson, but I'd like to read something else. I loved the ideas, and the theme, and the way it made think about certain things. McHugh I think not knowing much of American history really impaired my understanding of the story. I might have liked it more if it were longer, if it gave me more time to understand the world it was set in... Le Guin I don't know how many times I read this story when I was a teenager. The Dead by Michael Swanwick I like the concept, but I never really got engaged with the story, and then it ended. The Undiscovered by William Sanders Once again, I felt like my ignorance was dampening my understanding of the story. I guess alternate histories rely on the fact that you know how things went in the real world, and this time me not knowing enough of Shakespeare work prevented me to notice the differences. I love the history and worlds the story hinted at, but the story itself? this story is everything I think about when I think of good science fiction. 1016 To 1 by James Patrick Kelly Uhm. I guess I like the idea, but I didn't particularly enjoy the tone. Have Not Have by Geoff Ryman I wish it was longer, because I would have loved to know more about the world. The story felt a little forced, but I liked the ending. It actually tasted like a fairytale, but there was enough science in this to make this more scifi than many other stories in this book.
Mortimer Gray's History of Death by Brian Stableford--I like this author and how he thinks. I like his character Mortimer Gray, who lives in a universe where people have emortality--this means they CAN be killed by a deadly accident. Curiously, humans in Stableford's novella never did anything to help non-human animals achieve a longer or happier life, though at one point he mentions that tissue culture is taking place in factories. Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang--5 Stars for this novella, for originality and for making your brain go in directions that it never went before. The Wedding Album by David Marusek--A story about Sim City, and what life is like for the Sims.
All of these stories are well written, and are enjoyed by a large fraction of readers. In this case it's clearly my taste that demands accounting for, however, as this story won Hugo and Nebula awards. My favorite new discovery is Ted Chiang's "Story of Your Life". In fact, I think it displaces Asimov's "The Last Question" as my favorite sci-fi short story of all time. I think it must have been custom-written for me, as it combines linguistics, first contact, some physics and a nonlinear narrative structure, with a human story that is as poignant as the aliens are intriguing. In this category is Charles Stross's "Lobsters", which you can't read (even for the third time) without feeling like you're drinking from a firehose. The story is well worth reading for the frenetic pace that brilliantly conveys the cusp-of-singularity pace of progress, and for an idea density large enough to collapse and form a singularity on its own.
A blurb on the back by GRR Martin says that "if a science fiction fan from 1984 chanced to stumble into a time warp and pop up in the here and now, and wanted to know what had been happening in his favorite genre in the last twenty years, all you'd need to do was hand him a copy of Gardner Dozois's Best of the Best." In a way, I'm that fan. I read a lot of science fiction in my childhood and early teens--mostly by writers of the Golden Age whose heyday had passed before I was born: Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke. Just recently I read a volume of short stories, The Science Fiction Hall of Fame filled with the classics of that Golden Age from 1929 to 1965. And while I could say I loved all but a handful of the stories in the Golden Age anthology, I'd say that's true of perhaps only a bit more than a third here. 8) "Wang's Carpets" by Greg Egan - one of the few stories that really reminded me of one written in the Golden Age in the way it used science and provocative ideas that make you see the universe and what is human with new eyes. Le Guin - a classic science fiction novel and a favorite book of mine is Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness about a planet whose people have no definitive gender, so it was interesting to read this tale set on that world. Another interesting thing struck me reading these and the Golden Age anthology--and rather reassuring. Now if only I could find an anthology to fill in the years between 1965 and 1980 spanning the Golden Age and this later era.