What I like about this anthology the most is the market report that Gardner Dozois does in the beginning. He goes over sci-fi movies, novels, television shows, short story magazine markets, and obituaries of sci-fi personalities. It's a thorough market report, and it gives me an idea of what's happened in the realm of science fiction during the previous year. It looks like 2012 was overall a good year for science fiction, with sales up and product flowing. It wasn't the best of years in movies, but it was good for novels. The short story markets were down (again), a trend that has been continuing for some time. People don't seem to be into short fiction these days. Remember during the Victorian era, when short stories were published in the newspapers? Also, serialized novels? Lots has changed since then, folks. The magazines are struggling these days, trying to put out quality product on a shoestring budget with ever-declining sales. These magazines are where many writers cut their teeth and learn their craft, and as they fold and go out of business, that's fewer markets for writers to submit to. Finally, there are the obituaries, which are always sobering. Last year Anne McCaffrey passed away, this year it's Clifford Simak's son who has died. I'm always saddened by how many young people in their 40s and 50s die each year, their lives cut short way before their time. This report is the most comprehensive one I know of in any anthology, and it catches me up on what's going on in the field.
Then there are the stories themselves. This year's crop is superb, with stories by many well-known writers as well as some newcomers. There are some very strong stories in this anthology, as well as some more formulaic tales and a few which I didn't feel were up to speed. I was pleased to note that there weren't too many repeat stories in this volume, that is stories which were also published in other anthologies. I hate paying good money for repeats; I don't read them, and therefore it's cash wasted. I especially like Paul McAuley's new Jackaroo universe story, and a tale by Jay Lake entitled "The Stars Do Not Lie," which had a fresh feel to it despite time-worn themes. I was mildly annoyed by the formula pieces, which I do not find satisfying, such as "Nightfall on the Peak of Eternal Light," which was a paint-by-numbers sci-fi that bored me even though it was fast-paced and somewhat exciting. Overall I found the quality of these stories to be high, and I enjoyed reading this anthology, so I'll be buying it again next year. I've been reading this particular anthology for many years now and have always enjoyed it; I think Gardner Dozois has a good eye for science fiction and puts out a good book every year. I'll be saddened when its *his* obituary in the market report...! I can recommend this compendium to serious readers of science fiction as well as writers looking to see what the state of the market is these days. Read it, and enjoy!