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The Best of the Best: 20 Years of the Year's Best Science Fiction

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For years, "The Year's Best Science Fiction" has been the most widely read short science fiction anthology of its kind. Now, after twenty-one annual ... Show synopsis

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Reviews of The Best of the Best: 20 Years of the Year's Best Science Fiction

Overall customer rating: 5.000

A Good Time Read!

by Susannah on Apr 20, 2007

By its title, this book contains the best of the sci-fi stories from editor Gardner Dozois' series, "The Year's Best Science Fiction." These selections are drawn from the YBSF Volume 1, published in 1984 (& containing stories from 1983) through Volume 20, published in 2003 (& containing stories from 2002). If you think that sci-fi is nothing but tales of monsters, machines, one-dimensional heroes & cardboard villains, & endless chase scenes & too much derring-do, give this book a try. There's more depth & variety to sci-fi than you may expect! Stories can be about anything, from day-to-day contemporary life on earth & elsewhere, to alternate realities, to medical & scientific marvels, to a universe-altering cataclysm a million years from now in the post-human future. The variety is endlessly fascinating! YBSF is a wonderfully entertaining series, full of top-notch sci-fi stories, & in this book, "The Best of the Best," Dozois has intended to select the cream of the crop. Most of the stories have solid plot lines and interesting, well-developed main characters, & in most of them, their authors have created a believable, functioning reality. For the most part, I agree with Dozois' selections, from the superb & tongue-in-cheek stories such as "Bears Discover Fire" (by Terry Bisson), "Even the Queen" (by Connie Willis), "None So Blind" (by Joe Haldeman), & my personal laugh-out-loud favorite, "The Undiscovered," an alternate history tale of Shakespeare by William Sanders. Some stories portray small-village life in other human cultures with great depth & sensitivity, such as the wonderful "Kirinyaga" (by Mike Resnick), set in a future utopian Africa; & "Have Not Have" (by Geoff Ryman), set in a Chinese village in the not-too-distant future. There are alternate reality stories such as the Civil War-era "The Lincoln Train" (by Maureen McHugh). Other stories posit all-too-plausible genetic experimentation, such as the excellent "Blood Music" (by Greg Bear). An odd, chilling, & thought-provoking tale, "The Dead," by Michael Swanwick, describes future biological techniques that create robot-like zombies from human corpses, thereby costing most low-skilled human workers their jobs. I would argue that some other stories from the YBSF series should have been included in this anthology. I missed a great favorite of mine, "Yeyuka" (by Greg Egan); also "The Monkey Treatment" (by George R. R. Martin); plus another wry & witty story by William Sanders, "Going After Old Man Alabama." However, the variety in the stories included in this anthology should enable most sci-fi readers to find it enjoyable. And if you find several of the stories thought-provoking as well (which I did), so much the better!

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