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The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume 7 (Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year) Paperback – 18 Apr 2013

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Amazon.com: 35 reviews
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Well Above Average 13 Aug. 2013
By Neodoering - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Every year I buy several "Year's Best" anthologies, and overall I'm pleased with how sophisticated these collections tend to be. The stories in this anthology are sharp and smart and engaging, and they cover a gamut of styles and subject matters. This is how I keep up with what the market is doing for short stories, and I think it's a good strategy, because in 3 or 4 such collections you'll read over 100 stories. I found some of these stories to be incredibly depressing, end of the world type tales that really peed on my parade, while others were more uplifting. I like the variety of tales in this anthology, a good mix of fantasy and science fiction that stimulate your imagination.

The only thing I don't like about these stories is that every year the editors round up the usual suspects when it comes to writers. Neil Gaiman is nearly always in these anthologies, as are many of the other writers. It's not really a "Year's Best" anthology so much as it is, "These are my friends, read their work." You'll recognize many of the names connected with these stories and realize it's a chummy little in crowd that gets published in these books, with a few first-timers thrown in to make it look kosher. I don't mind this, but it's false advertising, and that rankles.

Other than that, there is a hearty variety of stories here for your reading enjoyment, crossing genres and sub-genres and offering up many points of view and story types. This collection is well worth its money, and I can recommend it wholeheartedly.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Another winning entry in the series. 21 Oct. 2013
By G. M. Warnken - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Jonathan Strahan can be hit-or-miss when it comes to original anthologies (witness the awful Engineering Infinity), but his Year's Best series is consistently brilliant, and this volume was no exception. Highlights include Adam Roberts' "What Did Tessimond Tell You?", Kij Johnson's "Mantis Wives", and K. J. Parker's "Let Maps to Others".
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Excellent! I enjoyed most of the stories 20 Jun. 2014
By Joanna Daneman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is heavier (in my opinion) to the current trend of fantasy or the paranormal versus the hard tech sci fi of my youth but even though tastes have changed since the Fifties, good writing is still good writing, and these stories are excellent. I particularly enjoyed "Easthound" which has the feeling of Edgar Allan Poe or Stephen King. Its tempo heats up as the story moves to its desperate, horrific, yet heroic end. This is a classic. I also liked the award-nominated Mono No Aware, a mix of Japanese philosophy and a post-apocalyptic space trip.

This book has lots to read, 600 pages. Even though I prefer the "science" in "science fiction", I am delighted with this book and even have expanded my tastes to enjoying the fantasy and paranormal genre--because so many of these short stories are so well done. Thanks, Editor Jonathan Strahan!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Good writing, but over-all way too depressing for me 30 Jan. 2015
By Evil Voodoo Celt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Let me start with this: The writing in these stories ranges from very good to excellent. That's not at issue here. And although I think the title needs a change (there's a fair bit of supernatural horror and outright whimsy and/or surrealism in the collection), I'm not docking any stars for that. I agree with the editor that stories with minimal fantasy or SF elements still have a place in the genre (although I'm up in the air whether alt-history and non-fantastic secondary world fiction should count as history), although my preferences run towards the other end of the scale. And some of the straight-up SF had small but irritating science errors. These are minor quibbles, and aren't the reason for my rating.

My biggest problem with this collection is something that seems to be besetting the field in general: it was depressing. Far too few of the stories had joy or wonder or hope. There was way too much despair, resignation and rage for me. There were way too many unlikable protagonists and ugly situations, too many dystopias and/or apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic settings. I don't have a problem with sad stories, with loss and melancholia. But tragedy requires catharsis...

That being said, I really did like the pieces by Andy Duncan, Peter Beagle, Neil Gaiman, Gwyneth Jones, Peter Dickinson, and KJ Parker, amongst others. Beagle's "Great-Grandmother in the Cellar" was delightful, and Parker's "Let Maps To Others" presented a wonderfully involving adventure story set in a finely-drawn alt-history setting.
What science fiction and fantasy strive toward 6 Mar. 2015
By M. Thornburg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've read only half the book so far, but even if the rest of the stories are bad it's already proven its worth many times over.

I understand why some readers were disappointed or even disgusted by the contents. A lot of sf fans, even fantasy fans, like their reading to be escape into a kind of excitement (they might call it "wonder") that fascinates them and calls for little exertion of thought. If you're that sort of reader, you might not like many of these stories.

Yes, probably the majority of the stories I've read in the first half would be classified as fantasy rather than science fiction. And yes, sf and fantasy are arguably two different things, although what the difference consists in is debatable. To me, both sf and fantasy have, as their reason for existing, a particular similarity: they are attempts to explore what sentient life is about, what our world is about, by means of inventing other worlds and other possibilities. To me, the better their stories succeed at that, the better the stories are. Those I've read so far in this collection approach this success very, very nearly. My favorite (I think...) of these stories is "The Color Least Used by Nature" by Ted Kosmatka, first published in the January 2012 issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction. This story is almost not even a "fantasy," yet its fantastic element is at the heart of the story and indispensable.

I bought the book in the Kindle edition, and have one bone to pick about that edition only: there's no table of contents, so there's no way of going back to a story you've already read unless you remember a title, author, or unique phrase perfectly -- something I unfortunately can't do! Unless you're good at that, I'd suggest you get the print edition.
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