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For more than twenty years The Year's Best Science Fiction has been recognized as the best collection of short science fiction writing in the universe and an essential resource for every science fiction fan. In 2005 the original Best of the Best collected the finest short stories from that series and became a benchmark in the SF field. Now, for the first time ever, Hugo Aw For more than twenty years The Year's Best Science Fiction has been recognized as the best collection of short science fiction writing in the universe and an essential resource for every science fiction fan. In 2005 the original Best of the Best collected the finest short stories from that series and became a benchmark in the SF field. Now, for the first time ever, Hugo Award-winning editor Gardner Dozios sifts through hundreds of stories and dozens of authors who have gone on to become some of the most esteemed practitioners of the form, to bring readers the ultimate anthology of short science fiction novels from his legendary series. Included are such notable short novels as:   Sailing to Byzantium by Robert Silverberg In the fiftieth century, people of Earth are able to create entire cities on a whim, including those of mythology and legend. When twentieth-century traveler Charles Philip accidentally lands in this aberrant time period, he is simultaneously obsessed with discovering more about this alluring world and getting back home. But in a world made entirely of man's creation, things are not always as they seem on the surface.   Forgiveness Day by Ursula K. Le Guin Le Guin returns to her Hainish-settled interstellar community, the Edumen, to tell the tale of two star-crossed lovers who are literally worlds apart in this story of politics, violence, religion, and cultural disparity.   Turquoise Days by Alastair Reynolds On a sea-wold planet covered with idyllic tropical oceans, peace seems pervasive. Beneath the placid water lurks an ominous force that has the potential to destroy all tranquility.   Contributors include: Greg Egan; Joe Haldeman; James Patrick Kelly; Nancy Kress; Ursula K. Le Guin; Ian R. MacLeod; Ian McDonald; Maureen F. McHugh; Frederick Pohl; Alastair Reynolds; Robert Silverberg; Michael Swanwick; Walter Jon Williams   With work spanning two decades, The Best of the Best, Volume 2 stands as the ultimate anthology of short science fiction novels ever published in the world. Contents Beggars in Spain • [Sleepless] • (1991) • novella by Nancy Kress Forgiveness Day • [Yeowe and Werel • 2] • (1994) • novella by Ursula K. Le Guin Griffin's Egg • (1991) • novella by Michael Swanwick Mr. Boy • (1990) • novella by James Patrick Kelly New Light on the Drake Equation • (2001) • novella by Ian R. MacLeod Oceanic • (1998) • novella by Greg Egan Outnumbering the Dead • (1990) • novella by Frederik Pohl Sailing to Byzantium • (1985) • novella by Robert Silverberg Surfacing • (1988) • novella by Walter Jon Williams Tendeléo's Story • [Chaga] • (2000) • novella by Ian McDonald The Cost to Be Wise • (1996) • novelette by Maureen F. McHugh The Hemingway Hoax • (1990) • novella by Joe Haldeman Turquoise Days • [Revelation Space] • (2002) • novella by Alastair Reynolds


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For more than twenty years The Year's Best Science Fiction has been recognized as the best collection of short science fiction writing in the universe and an essential resource for every science fiction fan. In 2005 the original Best of the Best collected the finest short stories from that series and became a benchmark in the SF field. Now, for the first time ever, Hugo Aw For more than twenty years The Year's Best Science Fiction has been recognized as the best collection of short science fiction writing in the universe and an essential resource for every science fiction fan. In 2005 the original Best of the Best collected the finest short stories from that series and became a benchmark in the SF field. Now, for the first time ever, Hugo Award-winning editor Gardner Dozios sifts through hundreds of stories and dozens of authors who have gone on to become some of the most esteemed practitioners of the form, to bring readers the ultimate anthology of short science fiction novels from his legendary series. Included are such notable short novels as:   Sailing to Byzantium by Robert Silverberg In the fiftieth century, people of Earth are able to create entire cities on a whim, including those of mythology and legend. When twentieth-century traveler Charles Philip accidentally lands in this aberrant time period, he is simultaneously obsessed with discovering more about this alluring world and getting back home. But in a world made entirely of man's creation, things are not always as they seem on the surface.   Forgiveness Day by Ursula K. Le Guin Le Guin returns to her Hainish-settled interstellar community, the Edumen, to tell the tale of two star-crossed lovers who are literally worlds apart in this story of politics, violence, religion, and cultural disparity.   Turquoise Days by Alastair Reynolds On a sea-wold planet covered with idyllic tropical oceans, peace seems pervasive. Beneath the placid water lurks an ominous force that has the potential to destroy all tranquility.   Contributors include: Greg Egan; Joe Haldeman; James Patrick Kelly; Nancy Kress; Ursula K. Le Guin; Ian R. MacLeod; Ian McDonald; Maureen F. McHugh; Frederick Pohl; Alastair Reynolds; Robert Silverberg; Michael Swanwick; Walter Jon Williams   With work spanning two decades, The Best of the Best, Volume 2 stands as the ultimate anthology of short science fiction novels ever published in the world. Contents Beggars in Spain • [Sleepless] • (1991) • novella by Nancy Kress Forgiveness Day • [Yeowe and Werel • 2] • (1994) • novella by Ursula K. Le Guin Griffin's Egg • (1991) • novella by Michael Swanwick Mr. Boy • (1990) • novella by James Patrick Kelly New Light on the Drake Equation • (2001) • novella by Ian R. MacLeod Oceanic • (1998) • novella by Greg Egan Outnumbering the Dead • (1990) • novella by Frederik Pohl Sailing to Byzantium • (1985) • novella by Robert Silverberg Surfacing • (1988) • novella by Walter Jon Williams Tendeléo's Story • [Chaga] • (2000) • novella by Ian McDonald The Cost to Be Wise • (1996) • novelette by Maureen F. McHugh The Hemingway Hoax • (1990) • novella by Joe Haldeman Turquoise Days • [Revelation Space] • (2002) • novella by Alastair Reynolds

30 review for The Best of the Best, Volume 2: 20 Years of the Best Short Science Fiction Novels

  1. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    Outstanding collection of classic novellas & novelettes. Here's the TOC. My favorites are starred, but they're all worth reading. Beggars in Spain • [Sleepless] • (1991) • novella by Nancy Kress Forgiveness Day • [Yeowe and Werel • 2] • (1994) • novella by Ursula K. Le Guin *** Griffin's Egg • (1991) • novella by Michael Swanwick. One of Swanwick's best. * Mr. Boy • (1990) • novella by James Patrick Kelly New Light on the Drake Equation • (2001) • novella by Ian R. MacLeod Oceanic • (1998) • nove Outstanding collection of classic novellas & novelettes. Here's the TOC. My favorites are starred, but they're all worth reading. Beggars in Spain • [Sleepless] • (1991) • novella by Nancy Kress Forgiveness Day • [Yeowe and Werel • 2] • (1994) • novella by Ursula K. Le Guin *** Griffin's Egg • (1991) • novella by Michael Swanwick. One of Swanwick's best. * Mr. Boy • (1990) • novella by James Patrick Kelly New Light on the Drake Equation • (2001) • novella by Ian R. MacLeod Oceanic • (1998) • novella by Greg Egan * Outnumbering the Dead • (1990) • novella by Frederik Pohl Sailing to Byzantium • (1985) • novella by Robert Silverberg ** Surfacing • (1988) • novella by Walter Jon Williams Tendeléo's Story • [Chaga] • (2000) • novella by Ian McDonald * The Cost to Be Wise • (1996) • novelette by Maureen F. McHugh **** The Hemingway Hoax • (1990) • novella by Joe Haldeman. Haldeman's masterwork. Turquoise Days • [Revelation Space] • (2002) • novella by Alastair Reynolds

  2. 5 out of 5

    Zoe's Human

    While there are a few standouts in this collection, much of it hasn't aged terribly well. Sailing to Byzantium Robert Silverberg 3 stars A beautifully written novella about a man coming to terms with his existence as an interloper in a far future among a human race so changed as to seem alien. Surfacing Walter Jon Williams 3 stars I love the writing and the idea of the Deep Dwellers along with the interactions with the whales, but at this point in my life I'm completely over the man-woman relationshi While there are a few standouts in this collection, much of it hasn't aged terribly well. Sailing to Byzantium Robert Silverberg 3 stars A beautifully written novella about a man coming to terms with his existence as an interloper in a far future among a human race so changed as to seem alien. Surfacing Walter Jon Williams 3 stars I love the writing and the idea of the Deep Dwellers along with the interactions with the whales, but at this point in my life I'm completely over the man-woman relationship in this. The world does not need one more variation of genius, loner man fucks and saves waifish girl/victim/object until he comes to terms with his own issues which allow him to move past his block to accomplish something. The Hemmingway Hoax Joe Haldeman 3 stars It started out so strong. A fascinating premise with solid world-building and good writing, but then, it fizzled into to chaos. Mr. Boy James Patrick Kelly 3.5 stars A fascinating universe and excellent arc but the novella is too long for the story told. Beggars in Spain Nancy Kress 3 stars I loved the concept, even if the science was a bit off, but the ending left me feeling flat. Griffin's Egg Michael Swanwick 1 star I really just don't know why I bother with Swanwick. I don't like his work. This was long-winded and the point was ... I don't actually know what the fuck the point was. It was like he tried to make several points but he never quite go there with any of them. I also don't like how he writes women at all. Next time I come across one of his stories in an anthology, I'm just gonna skip it. I feel totally comfortable assuming I'll hate it. Outnumbering the Dead Frederik Pohl 4 stars In a distant future, we explore the meaning of life in a world where death is a rarity. Once you move past the implausibility of the world, the story has interesting things to say about the way we choose, or don't, to give meaning to our existence. Forgiveness Day Ursula K. Le Guin 3 stars Great writing but I never felt drawn into the story or connected to any of the characters. (view spoiler)[It also revolved around a somewhat elaborate enemies-to-lover story, which was both unbelievable and uninteresting. (hide spoiler)] The Cost to Be Wise Maureen McHugh 4 stars I read this as a statement on colonialism and the deceit that we aren't interfering when we intervene with self-imposed limitations that serve more to facilitate our idea of ourselves as benefactors than they do to serve the desires and needs of the culture with whom we interact. As such, I found it thought-provoking. Content warnings: (view spoiler)[violence against women, violence in general, implied rape, referenced domestic abuse (hide spoiler)] Oceanic Greg Egan 3 stars I found the universe this is set in fascinating, but I deeply do not give a fuck about the main character. Tendeléo's Story Ian McDonald 1 star DNF A fascinating alien contact concept, but the story has a bit of a white savior feel to it despite being written with a black protagonist. There’s something quite racially stereotypical about the roles assigned to the various characters as well. New Light on the Drake Equation by Ian R. MacLeod 0.5 star DNF Less of a novella than a poorly edited short story. And honestly not in the mood for male genius mopes somewhere until a woman acts as a catalyst. Turquoise Days Alastair Reynolds 3 stars A fascinating world that I would perhaps like to have enjoyed in a full-length book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Julio

    He escrito varias veces antes que la compilación anual de cuentos de ciencia ficción que prepara religiosamente Gardner Dozois desde 1984 es quizá el mejor libro de cuentos de CF que uno puede tener cada año. Si uno no pudiera comprar más que un solo libro de cuentos de CF, para qué complicarse la vida, hay que agarrar ese monstruo que cada año suele superar las 600 páginas y leerlo de inicio a fin. Además de los cuentos mismos, cada libro incluye una introducción que cuenta todo lo relacionado He escrito varias veces antes que la compilación anual de cuentos de ciencia ficción que prepara religiosamente Gardner Dozois desde 1984 es quizá el mejor libro de cuentos de CF que uno puede tener cada año. Si uno no pudiera comprar más que un solo libro de cuentos de CF, para qué complicarse la vida, hay que agarrar ese monstruo que cada año suele superar las 600 páginas y leerlo de inicio a fin. Además de los cuentos mismos, cada libro incluye una introducción que cuenta todo lo relacionado a la CF en ese año. Cómo están las revistas del género (que incluyen Asimov´s Science Fiction -- de la cual el mismo Dozois fue un impresionante editor durante muchos años --, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction -- que lleva mucho más de medio siglo produciendo la mejor CF --, y Analog -- aún más antiguo que F&SF!), quien trabaja donde, qué hubo en temas de novelas, películas, y cualquier cosa relacionada a la CF, incluso qué autores y otra gente del ramo ya no está más en este mundo. Enorme trabajo! Después de un par de décadas de producir su indispensable antología, a Dozois se le ocurrió la idea de revisar los primeros 20 tomos y destilar los mejor de lo mejor. Y preparó otro volumen enorme con una selección de los mejores cuentos elegidos de entre las 20 compilaciones anuales. No contento con esto, preparó un segundo tomo, donde agrupó, también eligiendo de entre sus 20 primeras antología, lo mejor de lo que en inglés se llama "novella" (nouvelles, en francés) que es como un cuento largo o una novela corta. Creo que no existe una traducción precisa del término en español, aunque novela corta podría ser la mejor aproximación. Y es este Volumen 2 el que acabé de leer. Es impresionante la calidad del libro. Además de la imaginación en la creación de mundos e historias, que es la característica de la CF y que ningún género podría emular, estos textos son espectacularmente ricos en la calidad de la escritura, en la profundidad de sus personajes, en el impacto emocional que generan. Uno extraña a veces la sencillez de las historias de CF de la Edad de Oro, e incluso de las décadas que le siguen, centradas en la historia, siempre original, sorprendente, única, fresca. Pero es obvio que la CF ha madurado literariamente de una manera casi increíble. La maestría en los estilos, en la creación de personajes, en la sabia dosificación de la historia, en el alcance de sus implicaciones, en la elegancia de la prosa. Es difícil encontrar una queja en esta selección. Uno se sorprende como tantas historias diferentes pueden dejar un sabor tan poderosamente satisfactoria, de manera tan constante. Uno puede tener sus favoritos (me inclinaría, por ejemplo, por postrarme ante "Beggars in Spain" de Nancy Kress), pero todas estas grandiosas piezas de literatura merecen el tiempo de recorrerlas y degustarlas. Imposible no recomendarlo.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    An amazing collection of thought-provoking stories. Anyone who likes science fiction, but hasn't kept up with all of the trade periodicals, will benefit from some major horizon-broadening after reading this anthology. An amazing collection of thought-provoking stories. Anyone who likes science fiction, but hasn't kept up with all of the trade periodicals, will benefit from some major horizon-broadening after reading this anthology.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. There's a list near the front of this book of other "Mammoth Book of..." titles. I find some of them hilarious: Extreme Fantasy. What is that? The Kama Sutra. Why not just buy the Kama Sutra? On the Edge. I've less idea what this is than I have about the Extreme Fantasy... Paranormal Romance. I want "Sub-normal Romance." The romance to be sub-normal, not the protagonists. Women who Kill. What demographic is this marketed towards? Moving on...first up is Sailing to Byzantium by Robert Silverberg. My ex There's a list near the front of this book of other "Mammoth Book of..." titles. I find some of them hilarious: Extreme Fantasy. What is that? The Kama Sutra. Why not just buy the Kama Sutra? On the Edge. I've less idea what this is than I have about the Extreme Fantasy... Paranormal Romance. I want "Sub-normal Romance." The romance to be sub-normal, not the protagonists. Women who Kill. What demographic is this marketed towards? Moving on...first up is Sailing to Byzantium by Robert Silverberg. My experiences with Silverberg have been few and not great. I tried one of his novels in my early teens and gave up within 30 pages...twice. Last year I read a short alternative history novel in which plague had destroyed Europe as a power and South America and Asia were the dominant continents. It was really just a not overly exciting adventure, though - almost a waste of an idea. I started Sailing to Byzantium with a prejudice against it - I didn't want to like it at all. In fact I did like it by the end, but still thought it was flawed - a ** effort. In the far future, apparently immortal citizens, of which there may be a few million at most, live a life of leisure, visiting re-creations of historical cities. There are also "visitors" from history and the protagonist, inevitably is one of these, a New Yorker from 1984. The tale is about a romance between the protagonist and a citizen and about mortality. It's main flaw is its very slow start. It feels very much like it needed to be a short story rather than a short novel. I was reminded of Moorcock's Dancers at the End of Time, although Silverberg's Citizens do not have the same level of individual creative powerin their hands. There is the same sense, though, of history having stalled - nothing changes at a cultural level anymore. One of the advantages of an anthology is that it is a low risk way of trying authors you are not familiar with because they are mixed with people you trust already - you are almost certain to like some proportion of the content. The second novella in the volume is Surfacing by Walter Jon Williams who is an author I had previously not read. I will be keeping my eyes open for him in future, however - if I can retain his eminetly forgettable name! The story is one in which communicaion with ceteceans has become possible. How many of those have there been? This one is much more credible than any previous one I've read as it suggests that the process is difficult and somewhat uncertain at best. Humpbacked whales are alien, it transpires. (Not from another planet, just different.) The characters presented are all flawed, scarred by their upbringing but utterly convincing. The theme of identifying more with one's objects of study than the rest of humanity fascinated me, the plot gripped me despite its primary twist being guessable and the end left me wanting more. More time with these characters, more time in that world, more knowledge of the Dwellers in the Deep. **** The Hemingway Hoax - Joe Haldeman Another writer new to me and another excellent story. I started off just being irritated by another American writer paying homage to the massively over-rated, ridiculously macho drunkard whose redeeming feature (in my eyes) is his love of cats. But this story takes the influence of Hemmingway so far and makes a story that builds up to being riveting and then just goes crazy with a denouement that boggled my mind - I think it makes sense... In this story, Hemingway is so influential and so macho that he causes the destruction of humanity - and something more than human has a vested interest in ensuring this - in every dimension of the Omniverse where Hemingway ever lived. A thwarted would-be author and Hemingway expert in need of money, a con-man and a wife much more cynical and demanding than Lady McBeth are not going to mess things up - are they? **** Mr. Boy - James Patrick Kelly Apparently everybody should grow up sometime. This look at what the super-rich might do to themselves if humanity ever completely mastered genetic manipulation is imaginative in its details but its plot is a bit weak - a thriller plot that goes almost nowhere, a family drama that doesn't seem to pack quite enough emotional punch and a revelation that doesn't shock or even surprise. Somehow the whole thing adds up to nearly zero. ** Beggars in Spain - Nancy Kress This is one of those SF stories where one discovery is postulated and its consequences for individuals and societies are explored as the story develops. In this case, other discoveries have been made but their impact has already largely absorbed by the world. The new discovery is a genetic modification that eliminates the need for sleep. Kress writes a compelling story about convincing characters and examines a number of questions about the basis of society and the nature of social responsibility. The story ends abruptly with many plot threads still unravelled and the question of what to do about the beggars in Spain hastily and not too clearly answered and it is obvious that a novel of 2 or 3 times the length is required to handle the material properly. There are also one or two extra questions related to the fact that only at least moderately wealthy parents can afford the genetic treatment that deserve examination that are not tackled. I beleive Kress has published an expanded version and I look forward to reading it any her other works. The best discovery of the anthology so far. **** Griffin's Egg - Mike Swanwick This is another well-written work by an author new to me. It, like Beggars in Spain, needed more space to do justice to the material, but this time perhaps only 50% extra. The ideas presented seem to be only an extreme extrapolation of the current trend towards greater numbers of drugs intended to treat mental health problems...however, a community trapped on the moon after a "limited nuclear exchange" on Earth, it seems like human nature itself is one big mental health problem, liable to wipe-out the species. What can be done? Outnumbering the Dead - Frederick Pohl Here's another writer new to me, though he has been a Big Name in SF seemingly forever. And living forever (or not) is the theme of this story, as it has been of a number of others in this anthology. As in Sailing to Byzantium, the protagonist is a mortal in a world of immortals (barring accidents, murder or suicide). He's a dancer, a star, a real Lovey and approaching the end of his life far faster than he knows, despite being aware of his mortality. This story starts somewhat irritating, with its superficially shallow characters getting ready for a comical dance version of Sophicles' Oedipus but as it slowly advances becomes a poignant story of a man who finds love, happiness and most of all contentment and peace as he recognises that time is very short for him and he joins a habitat going in search of exoplanets around Tau Ceti. It seems to me the message is that humans need a purpose in order to be genuinely content - and immortal humans need one even more because it is too easy to postpone everything when you have forever. *** Forgiveness Day - Ursula K. leGuin The introduction to this story by the editor of the anthology says that it is a return to a setting LeGuin has used before - two planets colonised by South Africans. What ever that previous work is, it's not one I've read. That didn't detract in the slightest from my enjoyment of this work which shows LeGuin's usual strengths; character development, deep empathy, wonderful prose. Fierce anger at injustice and inequality are on display again in a story about the meaning of freedom and the strength it takes to overcome one's own cultural background and upbringing and see their faults clearly. Most of the issues raised in this novel are tackled more thoroughly in the recent Annals of the Western Shore, the exception being gender equality. This work did not seem superfluous, however, as the story itself is completely different and arises so naturally out of character and context. Only on reflection does it become clear just how much skill and effort it must take to create such an apparently natural, inevitable story. I think LeGuin works out almost every last detail of her characters' lives in order to fit the tale she wants to tell and often most of this background ends up in the finished work. This can cause the imbalance between character and incident, evident in some of her fiction, that is probably her biggest weakness as a writer. In this case, however, the urge to tell the author to cut to the chase was never very strong. **** The Cost to be Wise - Maureen F. McHugh This starts badly with a title that surely needs to be "The Price of Wisdom". It doesn't really get much better from there. A tale of intervention by technologically advanced humans in a lost colony of of iron age humans wends slowly to a violent conclusion without being overly clear about who might be wiser at the end or at what cost. Oceanic - Greg Egan Here's a pro-atheist propaganda piece. It postulates that "religious experiences" have a bio-chemical explanation. The story is not as much fun as the only other patently pro-atheist novel that springs to my mind, Crow Road by Iain Banks. The aspect of the work that really caught my attention was the background context which has some significance to the story but is only ever discussed obliquely. Understanding exactly how and why humans arrived on the alien planet in Oceanic is largely surmise and inference and that mystery was much more intriguing than why drowning people there undergo a religious conversion... *** Tendeleo's Story - Ian McDonald I read this in a seperae volume and did not read it again here. Unusually for an SF novel, it is set in Africa. I remember it as slow to get to the point and a bit of a let down. ** New Light on the Drake Equation - Ian R. McLoed Here's a story about SETI. It's slow, predictable and unoriginal. Read Contact by Carl Sagan instead - that's clever, thought provoking and has some surprises. * Turquoise Days - Alastair Reynolds Wales' very own composer of Space Opera with brains is represented by a story that is somewhat a-typical. It isn't space opera, for a start, though the brains are all present and correct. This is a story about the Jugglers and humans who research them. If you don't know what the Jugglers are, this story will probably serve reasonably well as an introduction. It's a good story but the thing I find odd is that it was originally published together with Diamond Dogs, which is of similar length and just brilliant. How did Dozois end up choose the lesser of those two? ***

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tim Pendry

    Mammoth is a cultural phenomenon - relatively cheap paperback compendia of genre material that would otherwise be lost in periodicals or never otherwise be published, alongside entertaining encyclopedic tomes covering themes that underpin our popular culture (from true crime to myths and legends). Gardner Dozois' niche within its ecology is Science Fiction and this volume edited by him brings together thirteen 'novella' from the last two decades in an overview of what may not be the top thirteen Mammoth is a cultural phenomenon - relatively cheap paperback compendia of genre material that would otherwise be lost in periodicals or never otherwise be published, alongside entertaining encyclopedic tomes covering themes that underpin our popular culture (from true crime to myths and legends). Gardner Dozois' niche within its ecology is Science Fiction and this volume edited by him brings together thirteen 'novella' from the last two decades in an overview of what may not be the top thirteen by any absolute standards but which is (mostly) representative of Sci Fi at its contemporary best. The novella is an odd form. It works well when it uses its greater length over a short story to work up an idea to its natural conclusion or to add an incident to an existing universe (as Alastair Reynolds does with his otherwise fairly middle-of-the-road tale of Ultras and Jugglers, 'Turquoise Days'). It works worst when it is clear that the author is angling for a book contract and leaves his or her tale hanging in the air in the expectation that it can be 'worked up' later. This seems to be driven by the genre literature market but it is artistically frustrating to say the least. Three tales irritate for this reason but for entirely different reasons. The very presence of 'Surfacing' (Walter John Williams) puzzles - it seems to have neither particular literary merit nor a clear message and it ends on a mystery that is rather uninteresting rather than stimulating. There is a sneaking suspicion that it has been included to make some ecological point about whales but I am damned if I can find it. And was it designed to be a solus story or as the basis of a novel? We are not sure and we can't be bothered to check on the internet. Namcy Kress' 'Beggars in Spain' is already a much-anthologised classic whose story line of genetically manipulated superiority and prejudice will be familiar to a younger generation of X-Men fans. She makes the story end on a reasonably satisfactory note but the writing is not remarkable and the story is so well-known, with a novel easily available and widely read, that its inclusion, too, puzzles. Joe Haldeman's 'The Hemingway Hoax' is another, frustrating, kettle of fish altogether. There is no doubt about it - this is a work of flawed genius, brilliantly crafted. No-one else has captured as he has done what the experience of shifting through multiple universes and time travel might be like. He confirms an opinion that Michael Moorcock has been much overrated as a writer when he deals with these same concerns. But, Haldeman's ending is peremptory and confusing, a burst of confused hysteria after such intensely careful plotting. While I am eternally grateful to have been introduced to the story, I really think something else should be put in its place in a second edition. So, taking out the 'universe' story and the three with peremptory endings or endings designed for later novel publication, this leaves us with nine stories that can properly be called novella with some integrity. There are some real gems in here once you have got past the problem with all imaginative science fiction - those first few pages where a new world is introduced in a confusion of sometimes overwrought language and ideas. They certainly serve to alienate. This works if the alienation is intended to cause some cognitive shift that allows us to see the world in a different way but it does not when the jargon and the ideas take over and all we have is a hard science fantasy. Fortunately, the balance in this collection is towards the former. Sometimes with a truly great writer, you understand that all the deliberately alienating imagery and lore is being used to get our imaginations working on who we are as persons in the world and, indeed, how the world works, shifting our perceptions radically. Four stories stand out in this respect. Ursula K. Le Guin's 'Forgiveness Day' (1994) is a story in which love between cultural opposites blossoms from respect earned in crisis. In Frederick Pohl's 'Outnumbering the Dead' (1991) an accidental mortal in a world of immortals finds love in a person and a community in his last moments in a story of remarkable tenderness. Both stories are by modern SciFi masters. Both require a little patience and some education to get to the point where they can capture your full attention. By the end you have been moved deeply. In addition, there are two stories which have resonances of the 'other' on our own planet that are almost political. The turn to the sociological and the anthropological in science fiction from the mid-1980s is not accidental. It presages (as science fiction often does) changes in the real world - we have now turned our eyes from the stars to planetary management and that means management of the people who live on it. Stories of psychological manipulation, long embedded in the American science fiction tradition, have been joined by stories first of genetic manipulation (as in Nancy Kress' tale) and, increasingly, by stories based on the social sciences. As we write, military and government funds are being diverted into these academic communities as great power confrontation is replaced by popular cynicism and dissent and 'empires' are threatened with insurgency and 'terrorism'. Maureen McHugh's 'The Cost To Be Wise'(1996) is a tragic little tale of a community manipulated and ultimately abandoned by the social scientists who observe it. It is a subtle humanist indictment of the clinical Western mind, a story that never preaches but allows us to draw our own conclusions from the observations of the 'natives' themselves. It is ultimately about the consequences of a lack of a duty of care involved in intervention. A fourth masterpiece is Ian Mcdonald's 'Tendeleo's Story' (2000) which owes a great deal to the incomparable JG Ballard and the British dystopian tradition but it stands on its own in its depictions successively of Africa, a grey Britain and an alien environment. This is one story where spoilers must not be permitted but it could stand a detailed critique on its own - suffice it to say that it is, like McHugh's story, subtle, beautifully written and even more directly political than hers. It has an end that may surprise (especially for those with certain expectations of British science fiction) but which already captures the potential for shifts in power globally - ahead of its time. The remaining stories include another classic, 'Sailing to Byzantium' by Robert Silverberg, the strange, absurdist and vaguely sick but well crafted Freudian fantasy 'Mr Boy' by James Patrick Kelly, the solid Cold War-linked sociological moon base fantasy 'Griffin's Egg' by Michael Swanwick, Greg Egan's wise and thoughtful exploration of the religious mentality and its evolution in 'Oceanic' and a frankly disappointing and rather silly future fantasy written with some rather leaden prose and some scientifically absurd detritus from the generally much better Iain R. Macleod: 'New Light on the Drake Equation'. Macleod's story was particularly disappointing because I really like his novels but this one was like ploughing through treacle, made worse by the fact that its depiction of a relationship contrasted so sharply with the wisdom and tenderness of Le Guin and Pohl's contributions. All in all, this is a recommended though not a perfect collection. I would skip Williams and Macleod (without prejudice to their other work) and, if you are short of time, take a deep breath and read Le Guin and Pohl and certainly the much more accessible McHugh and McDonald, maybe Silverberg, Haldeman (though be prepared to be frustrated), Kress (if you want to tick off a minor classic), Egan and (just) Reynolds (but only if you are into his universe).

  7. 4 out of 5

    Norman Cook

    This 2007 anthology is filled with memorable science fiction novellas first published from 1986 to 2002, not quite the full 20 years that the title indicates. Many of the stories are award winners (or nominees) and continue to be relevant, with two or three enduring classics. Here are some of the highlights. "Sailing to Byzantium" by Robert Silverberg (Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, February 1985 - novella) 1986 Nebula Award winner and 1986 Hugo Award finalist 4 Stars A 20th Century man f This 2007 anthology is filled with memorable science fiction novellas first published from 1986 to 2002, not quite the full 20 years that the title indicates. Many of the stories are award winners (or nominees) and continue to be relevant, with two or three enduring classics. Here are some of the highlights. "Sailing to Byzantium" by Robert Silverberg (Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, February 1985 - novella) 1986 Nebula Award winner and 1986 Hugo Award finalist 4 Stars A 20th Century man finds himself living among the citizens of the 50th Century, with no memory of how he came to be there or what his life was like beforehand. He falls in love with one of the citizens, but when she spurns him he travels the world to find her again. Whoever is running things behind the scenes only allows five ancient city simulacra to exist at any one time, tearing down old ones when new ones are built. What the man ultimately discovers is a society that is unlike anything else. "Surfacing" by Walter Jon Williams (Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, April 1988 - novella) 1989 Hugo Award finalist and 1989 Nebula Award finalist 4 Stars On an alien planet a man, with the help of whales he's imported, studies the strange underwater creatures who live there. When he meets and falls in love with a young woman who wants to do her own research, things eventually get weird as she is tied to an nth-dimensional alien who has its own agenda. The ending is left open, as if this is the start of a longer story. "The Hemingway Hoax" by Joe Haldeman (Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, April 1990 - novella) 1991 Hugo Award winner and 1991 Nebula Award winner 4 Stars A con man tries to get a college professor to forge some "lost" Hemingway stories, but a mysterious nth-dimensional policeman intervenes, claiming this will cause untold damage to the multiverse. But the interventions don't seem to work, resulting in chaos across the parallel universes. The ending is somewhat ambiguous. "Mr. Boy" by James Patrick Kelly (Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, June 1990 - novella) 1991 Nebula Award finalist 4 Stars In a cyberpunk world, Mr. Boy is a 25-year-old who is genetically modified to physically remain 12. One of his best friends is genetically modified to appear as a dinosaur. His mother is genetically modified to appear as the Statue of Liberty (not actual size). Mr. Boy becomes attracted to a young woman who works at her family's business growing plants and flowers. It's all (and more) blended into a compelling coming of age story. "Beggars in Spain" by Nancy Kress (Beggars in Spain, February 1991 - novella) 1992 Hugo Award winner and 1992 Nebula Award winner 5 Stars Genetically modified humans who don't have to sleep become more intelligent than "normal" humans. The prejudicial persecution the Sleepless receive is analogous to what many other minority groups experience and as such is as relevant today as when the story was first published. It hits home especially hard because of today's antagonism against science and knowledge. Kress expanded the novella into a novel of the same title in 1993 (finalist for both the Hugo and Nebula awards), and subsequently published two sequels, Beggars and Choosers (1994) and Beggars Ride (1996). "Griffin's Egg" by Michael Swanwick (Griffin's Egg, January 1991 - novella) 1992 Hugo Award finalist and 1993 Nebula Award finalist 3 Stars This starts out like a classic problem story, with the protagonist stranded on the surface of the Moon as a solar radiation flare is coming, then transitions into another problem as the Moon colony is stranded when the Earth starts a nuclear war, and finally a bunch of the Moon colonists are incapacitated by a biological substance that may or may not have been released intentionally. It's written well, but I never felt the seriousness of any of these situations. "Forgiveness Day" by Ursula K. Le Guin (Asimov's Science Fiction, November 1994 - novella) 1995 Hugo Award finalist and 1995 Nebula Award finalist 4 Stars Le Guin's anthropology background is in full evidence in this exposition-heavy examination of cultural clash. A female envoy on a planet with institutionalized slavery and a society that treats women as little more than slaves is kidnapped with her male bodyguard and they are imprisoned together for several weeks. How their relationship evolves is the crux of the story. "The Cost to Be Wise" by Maureen F. McHugh (Starlight 1, September 1996 - novella) 1997 Hugo Award finalist and 1997 Nebula Award finalist 3 Stars A well written character study of a young woman living in a "primitive" society on a world that was colonized by humans, then forgotten about, then found again. When a band of ruthless nomads invades her village, some visiting Terrans try to help, but without much success. This reads like the first chapters of a longer work, because it ends with a lot of unresolved plot threads. "Oceanic" by Greg Egan (Asimov's Science Fiction, August 1998 - novella) 1999 Hugo Award winner 4 Stars Another story with a "lost" Earth colony where the human descendants have evolved both physically (particularly the unusual way reproduction is achieved) and psychologically. The heart of the story is a man's search for the truth of his spirituality as he grows from boyhood to adulthood. Religion is not often a subject of sf, but Egan treats it with respect, but also infuses it with secular dimensions that make sense. In the end, the protagonist is left with both certainty and uncertainty.

  8. 4 out of 5

    o

    One of the best science fiction anthologies I have ever read. Loved almost every story, from start to finish. Greg Egan's story "Oceanic" is fucking spell-binding, and now one of my most favorite science fiction stories :3 One of the best science fiction anthologies I have ever read. Loved almost every story, from start to finish. Greg Egan's story "Oceanic" is fucking spell-binding, and now one of my most favorite science fiction stories :3

  9. 5 out of 5

    Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides

    To be honest, I don't actually know if I finished this or read all the stories in it. Though I know I've read some of them, particularly in full-length novel forms. To be honest, I don't actually know if I finished this or read all the stories in it. Though I know I've read some of them, particularly in full-length novel forms.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mikhail

    Формат: Книга Язык: Английский Маленько подустал я от фантастики. Да и формат новеллы (короткой повести) достаточно специфичен т.к. краткости присущей рассказу уже нет, а на полноценное и долгое развитие сюжета не получается из-за верхнего ограничения. Тем не менее было несколько новелл которые понравились, поэтому твердая четверка. К перечтению - наверно нет, хотя пару новелл запомнил - понравились.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cat Tobin

    My Dad lent me this, and I admit to taking it rather unenthusiastically. I was totally wrong! This is a cracking book, and I couldn't put it down. The anthology flows organically, despite the big differences in themes and writing styles, and when SF legends like Ursula K. Le Guin and Frederik Pohl's novellas don't jump out as exceptional, you know it's an excellently curated collection. My Dad lent me this, and I admit to taking it rather unenthusiastically. I was totally wrong! This is a cracking book, and I couldn't put it down. The anthology flows organically, despite the big differences in themes and writing styles, and when SF legends like Ursula K. Le Guin and Frederik Pohl's novellas don't jump out as exceptional, you know it's an excellently curated collection.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    One thing I did not realize with this book: it's a huge collection of specifically novellas, with no short stories in it. A bit denser than I was expecting, but as the title implies, they were all good (some better than others). One thing I did not realize with this book: it's a huge collection of specifically novellas, with no short stories in it. A bit denser than I was expecting, but as the title implies, they were all good (some better than others).

  13. 5 out of 5

    Red7paulbrennan

    Cant beat Sci fi short stories

  14. 4 out of 5

    Falbs

    Some classics in this one, I think I have to go back and find Volume 1 now. I'd read some of these novellas, but there were a few I hadn't been exposed to and they were all excellent. Some classics in this one, I think I have to go back and find Volume 1 now. I'd read some of these novellas, but there were a few I hadn't been exposed to and they were all excellent.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Paul Davies

    Some tantalising glances into beautiful and terrible worlds.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Readelf

    Contains: Sailing to Byzantium - Robert Silverberg -- epic story set in the far future, in same vein as Cordwainer Smith and Michael Morcock. Fun and vaguely thought provoking;Surfacing -- Walter Jon Williams, didn't quite get the point of it; The Hemmingway Hoax -- joe Haldeman -- an academic becomes involved in a plote to fake a "new" Hemmingway novel, murder and alternate universes ensue; Mr. Boy -- James Patrick Kelly, a sad little story involving arrested development and a mother who is a h Contains: Sailing to Byzantium - Robert Silverberg -- epic story set in the far future, in same vein as Cordwainer Smith and Michael Morcock. Fun and vaguely thought provoking;Surfacing -- Walter Jon Williams, didn't quite get the point of it; The Hemmingway Hoax -- joe Haldeman -- an academic becomes involved in a plote to fake a "new" Hemmingway novel, murder and alternate universes ensue; Mr. Boy -- James Patrick Kelly, a sad little story involving arrested development and a mother who is a house; Beggars in Spain -- children are genetically modified to be able to function without sleep, the modification brings other advantages and raises some moral and sociologically questions. Mindblowingly good; Griffin's Egg -- Michael Swanick; Outnumbering the Dead - Fredrick Pohl -- A gifted entertainer suffers from an incurable degenerative disease (old age)in a future where almost everything is possible and most people live forever. A good story, but sadly too similar to Sailing to Byzantium, which wouldn't have been obvious if they weren't in the same volume. Forgiveness Day -- Ursuala Le Guin -- massive Ursula Le Guin fan, but this didn't do it for me. The Cost to be Wise -- Maureen F McHugh -- A horrible and dark little story; Oceanic -- Greg Egan, a thought provoking story about science and religion and faith and loss of faith. The Bridges are the bit that stuck in mind the most though. Tendeleos Story -- Ian McDonald, -- A sad, but beautifully written novella set in the same world as Chaga. New Light on the Drake Equation - Ian R MacLeod

  17. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

    The Novella / Novelette format does not suit me. It's between too short as I would like to dive more into the characters, and way too long to the point I skip entire paragraphs to move forward as I feel it's too descriptive compared to the purpose of the story. My rating system is as follows: 1=enraging and/or abandoned, 2=disappointing, 3=average, 4=good, 5=favorite. Sailing to Byzantium - Robert SILVERBERG - 2 Surfacing - Walter Jon WILLIAMS - 3 The Hemingway Hoax - Joe HALDEMAN - 3 Mr. Boy - James The Novella / Novelette format does not suit me. It's between too short as I would like to dive more into the characters, and way too long to the point I skip entire paragraphs to move forward as I feel it's too descriptive compared to the purpose of the story. My rating system is as follows: 1=enraging and/or abandoned, 2=disappointing, 3=average, 4=good, 5=favorite. Sailing to Byzantium - Robert SILVERBERG - 2 Surfacing - Walter Jon WILLIAMS - 3 The Hemingway Hoax - Joe HALDEMAN - 3 Mr. Boy - James Patrick KELLY - 1 Beggars in Spain • [Sleepless] - Nancy KRESS - 4 Griffin's Egg - Michael SWANWICK - 3 Outnumbering the Dead - Frederik POHL - 1 Forgiveness Day • [Yeowe and Werel] - Ursula K. LE GUIN - 4 The Cost to Be Wise - Maureen F. McHUGH - 2 Oceanic - Greg EGAN - 3 Tendeléo's Story • [Chaga] - Ian McDONALD - 2 New Light on the Drake Equation - Ian R. MacLEOD - 2 Turquoise Days • [Revelation Space] - Alastair REYNOLDS - 3

  18. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Like all compilations, some excellent, some good, some not to my liking. (A few are not really science fiction in the true sense of the term. They are fantasy fiction, set in the future, frequently outside our solar system, but with no real scientific or technical novelty.) I am glad that I bought this collection, because I thoroughly enjoyed many of the stories, and particularly because it introduced me to the remarkable imagination of Alastair Reynolds, with his story, 'Turquoise Days'. Like all compilations, some excellent, some good, some not to my liking. (A few are not really science fiction in the true sense of the term. They are fantasy fiction, set in the future, frequently outside our solar system, but with no real scientific or technical novelty.) I am glad that I bought this collection, because I thoroughly enjoyed many of the stories, and particularly because it introduced me to the remarkable imagination of Alastair Reynolds, with his story, 'Turquoise Days'.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tyler

    Read this years ago. Usually I don't like the "best of" collections all that much, but this one is amazing. It's all novellas, and all but 2 or 3 are really great. Particularly liked Beggars in Spain and Tendeleos Story, but honestly most of the stories are fantastic. Liked it just as much reading them a second time - just skipped the 2-3 I remember not liking. A great collection. Read this years ago. Usually I don't like the "best of" collections all that much, but this one is amazing. It's all novellas, and all but 2 or 3 are really great. Particularly liked Beggars in Spain and Tendeleos Story, but honestly most of the stories are fantastic. Liked it just as much reading them a second time - just skipped the 2-3 I remember not liking. A great collection.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mumbler

    Read at least "Sailing To Byzantium." Intersting and effective. Too chilly to say "I really liked it", but "glad I read it", anyway. Apparently read Haldeman's "Hemingway Hoax," but have no memory or opinion,now. Read at least "Sailing To Byzantium." Intersting and effective. Too chilly to say "I really liked it", but "glad I read it", anyway. Apparently read Haldeman's "Hemingway Hoax," but have no memory or opinion,now.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Pat Anderson

    My favourite story in this was Mr Boy, which was not only a good tale but made you think. I was enjoying The Hemingway Hoax until it got really confusing at the end. All in all quite a good read, but I don't think any of the stories were brilliant. I've certainly read better! My favourite story in this was Mr Boy, which was not only a good tale but made you think. I was enjoying The Hemingway Hoax until it got really confusing at the end. All in all quite a good read, but I don't think any of the stories were brilliant. I've certainly read better!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rita

    Despite the fact that it is riddled with typos, this book has some of the best SF novellas I have ever read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    Great mix of compelling stories! Wonderful variety of sci fi! I actually liked the stories chosen in this anthology more than those in the first Best of the Best book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Inconsistent, wildly variable quality. The stories that work are great, but there are no guarantees.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Roland Garrison

    Great collection

  26. 4 out of 5

    John Kroeker

    Excellent collection of SF.

  27. 4 out of 5

    bluetyson

    The Best of the Best, Volume 2: 20 Years of the Best Short Science Fiction Novels by Gardner Dozois (2007)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ray

    Dozois is the "go to" man for contemporary science fiction. His anthologies are simply essential reads Dozois is the "go to" man for contemporary science fiction. His anthologies are simply essential reads

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lorraine

    a mixed bag. definitely not 'the best' imo, but the editor had anticipated that. No PKD! a mixed bag. definitely not 'the best' imo, but the editor had anticipated that. No PKD!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Heather Pierini

    I love Sailing to Byzantium, the poem references, the language, everything.

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