Gardner Dozois gives us the grand tour of top-notch science fiction stories from 2008. The anthology includes a chapter-length summation of developments in the field during 2008, a set of well-chosen stories, and an impressive list of "Honorable Mentions" that motivated readers can track down and enjoy. I read all 30 stories and felt my time was well-spent with each one.
My six favorites from this year's collection all deal with our humanity, skillfully using the innovations of technology and the wonders of other worlds to examine our hearts:
Ted Kosmatka's "N-Words" explores love, pain and prejudice in a relationship between a woman and one of modern man's closest cousins.
Karl Schroeder's "The Hero" tells the story of a boy who pays forward a kindness.
Mary Robinnette Kowal's "Evil Robot Monkey" asks whether animals are made more human by increasing their intelligence or increasing our empathy.
Greg Egan's "Crystal Nights" shows that the evolution of a new species can be more effective and efficient if the right man is in charge.
Garth Nix's "Old Friends" shows us that our roots are at home, even when we don't want to return there.
Ian McDonald's "The Tear" is an action- and concept-packed tale of childhood friendship under change--after change, after change.
This collection is highly recommended. I enjoyed it all the more as a "guilty pleasure" read on my iPhone Kindle app while those around me assumed I was scheduling or engaging in some other grown-up activity.
WARNING: The thirty stories in this collection are exactly the same 30 stories found in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection
. In fact, these two books seem to be the same except for different titles and covers. Don't buy both expecting them to be separate books.