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Year's Best SF 18 Paperback – 10 Dec 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 415 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (10 Dec 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765338203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765338204
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.8 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 693,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John M. Ford TOP 500 REVIEWER on 20 Jan 2014
Format: Paperback
This is the latest volume of David Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer's year's best science fiction stories. There are twenty-eight stories in this year's collection. The editors observe that 2012 was a good year for science fiction publishing. E-book says are still growing, but paper book sales remain strong as well. This collection appeared mid-year in paper format as usual, but not until the end of the year in Kindle format. Perhaps there is some strategy afoot to reduce the erosion of paperback sales to the electronic format.

I enjoyed all of this year's stories, but seven stood out from the rest:

Megan Lindholm's "Old Paint" is about a family's attachment to a robotic car. The car was programmed by their grandfather, who is no longer around to explain his work. Or figure out how it may have gone wrong.

Paul Cornell's "The Ghosts of Christmas" is about a woman's periodic trips to the future, always on the same day of the year. She intends to be a passive observer of her own future life. But it doesn't turn out that way.

Naomi Kritzer's "Liberty's Daughter" reads like a well edited Robert Heinlein juvenile story. Beck lives with her father on a seastead, an independent, manmade island with minimal government. She makes a living facilitating trade deals and seems smarter than most of the adults around her. So it's no surprise when she notices that she has been lied to.

Lewis Shiner's "Application" is another one of those stories that make us feel like our personal computers have their own agenda. This can be disturbing, even when it seems they are trying to help.

Andy Duncan's "Close Encounters" focuses on an old man who became well known for his stories about alien visitors.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just read the first story "Old Paint" and I'm buying the book on the strength of that. It was heartwarming. Goes to prove that good writing is in the telling, not in the subject matter. :-) Reminded me of Heinlein at his best.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 17 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Best SF of 2012 20 Jan 2014
By John M. Ford - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the latest volume of David Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer's year's best science fiction stories. There are twenty-eight stories in this year's collection. The editors observe that 2012 was a good year for science fiction publishing. E-book says are still growing, but paper book sales remain strong as well. This collection appeared mid-year in paper format as usual, but not until the end of the year in Kindle format. Perhaps there is some strategy afoot to reduce the erosion of paperback sales to the electronic format.

I enjoyed all of this year's stories, but seven stood out from the rest:

Megan Lindholm's "Old Paint" is about a family's attachment to a robotic car. The car was programmed by their grandfather, who is no longer around to explain his work. Or figure out how it may have gone wrong.

Paul Cornell's "The Ghosts of Christmas" is about a woman's periodic trips to the future, always on the same day of the year. She intends to be a passive observer of her own future life. But it doesn't turn out that way.

Naomi Kritzer's "Liberty's Daughter" reads like a well edited Robert Heinlein juvenile story. Beck lives with her father on a seastead, an independent, manmade island with minimal government. She makes a living facilitating trade deals and seems smarter than most of the adults around her. So it's no surprise when she notices that she has been lied to.

Lewis Shiner's "Application" is another one of those stories that make us feel like our personal computers have their own agenda. This can be disturbing, even when it seems they are trying to help.

Andy Duncan's "Close Encounters" focuses on an old man who became well known for his stories about alien visitors. It is something of a surprise when a reporter tracks him down long after everyone else's interest has faded. There are a few more surprises around the corner.

Aliette de Bodard's "Two Sisters in Exile" is about the aftermath of a military training exercise in which a ship is killed. The commander of those who killed the ship takes the body home and offers condolences to the ship's family. She learns just how close this family is to their fallen relative.

Gregory Benford's "The Sigma Structure Symphony" is from the same setting as "The Hydrogen Wall" in Year's Best SF 9. A librarian works with a complex artificial intelligence downloaded from signals sent across space. She finds musical inspiration in the patterns she uncovers. And is deeply affected by them.

This is a better-than-average set of stories and is worth reading. And you can finally read the electronic version.
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
What happened to Mass Market Paperback format? 11 Dec 2013
By M. Stewart - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've followed this excellent series from the beginning. As always, a strong selection of SF authors and stories here. I always check first on how much is a duplication with Dozois' Year's Best Science Fiction series released earlier in the year. This year I see only two stories are duplicates: Eleanor Arnason's and Andy Duncan's. I wasn't expecting the change of format. I prefer the handy size and feel of the Mass Market Paperback-which was the format for editions 1 -17. I was looking forward to being 'old-school' and taking it to Starbucks instead of my Kindle. But this year's changed to the larger, bulkier paperback format. (And for the first time, hardback format available!?) I should have paid closer attention when ordering. I would have got the Kindle edition had I picked up on this. So for those of you collecting these, there goes the nice, uniform row on your bookcase. Now the format of Hartwell's series will physically fit better next to your Dozois series, maybe even get confused with it (and perhaps that's the publishers intent). My vote is to not abandon the MMP format. I love my Kindle and my other tablet (and my smartphone) for digital editions, but Tor, please don't dump the MMP format for this great series.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
like the mix of characterization and focus on ideas 22 Jun 2014
By Sneaky Burrito - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I read about 2/3 of the stories in this book, took a break, and came back to it. So my memory of the later stories is going to be a bit better than for some of the earlier ones. Perhaps not surprisingly, I found this to be similar in feel/tone to 21st Century Science Fiction, which I read last year. I'm guessing that's David Hartwell's influence as an editor (which, for the most part, I love), since he was involved with both books.

I didn't find any of the stories weak or uninteresting; failure on my part to mention any one in particular is a consequence of attempting to keep this review a reasonable length.

"Liberty's Daughter" by Naomi Kritzer was one of my favorites. It's set on some artificial islands in the Pacific Ocean -- a place where people go to get away from countries with what they perceive to be too many laws, taxes, etc. However, these islands are also places where it's difficult to obtain consumer goods (even a pair of sandals!), and the main character works to obtain desired items for her customers. I think the political subtext is interesting, but I also like the little details that are thrown in to make the story more authentic. Also, the protagonist is sympathetic and I'm interested to see what becomes of her (there are other stories in the series, and the intro to this story says that Ms. Kritzer recently completed a novel-length version of these stories; I'll be on the lookout for that when it gets published).

I quickly became absorbed in the world of "Weep for Day" by Indrapramit Das -- a story about family dynamics, progress, the old generation giving way to the younger folks, heeding the lessons of history, and the potential price of the expansion of civilization into uncharted areas.

Not all the stories were serious in tone, even when they dealt with serious themes. "The North Revena Ladies Literary Society" starts out with a book club meeting attended by a former CIA agent who has retired to raise a family but ends in a rather unexpected way. Sure, the overall premise (don't want to spoil anything) is a little unbelievable, but this one makes you think about how people might react if they had foreknowledge of an event that was going to alter the course of human history and civilization. Actually, similarly to one of David Hartwell's other anthologies that I've read, the stories in this book are great for making you think about ideas. Even the somewhat preposterous ideas work because of the short story format (some of these would work well as novels but others, I'm not so sure). Can't get too bogged down in creating details when you only have a few pages to get your point across, after all.

Exploration, environmentalism, contact with alien races (both from the human and the non-human perspective), freedom, genetic modification, knowledge of the future (on a personal as well as a planetary level), and scientific literacy are all themes in this collection. Stories range in tone from humorous and/or whimsical to more serious (I recall there being a greater number of the serious ones than the humorous/whimsical ones). I thought there was a great balance between having a focus on characters and having a focus on ideas (sometimes even within the same story).

Other random thoughts: It was interesting to read non-fantasy work by Robin Hobb (writing as Megan Lindholm here); the same character focus and first-person voice is present here that we saw in her "Farseer" and "Tawny Man" trilogies. However, it's refreshing to see these traits working in a contemporary setting. C.S. Friedman's "Perfect Day" reminds me a bit of my health insurance company's wellness program (just a lot more invasive, although I do see how we could get to such a place one day in the not too distant future). I was pleased to see a variety of voices (men and women in similar numbers, and a few non-Western voices) among the authors. If you are familiar with Gene Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun," you will be in for a surprise when you read his contribution to this volume -- it is quite different in tone and style.

The following is just an observation, and no value judgment of any kind is intended, but I realize it could affect a person's desire to read (or not to read) this book: there were a LOT of gay and lesbian relationships in this book. (I don't remember any particularly graphic encounters, either gay or straight.) On the one hand, I applaud the representation of ALL kinds of people and the movement away from heroes who are exclusively white, straight, and male. On the other hand, I feel like some authors may be introducing gay relationships not because it's essential to the story, but because they're trying to show that they're trendy or progressive (to be fair, this may be an unconscious bias on the part of said authors).

This is a somewhat bigger gripe, and perhaps it's reflective of a greater trend in science fiction today. But there were several stories featuring highly-educated female characters in scientific research roles. And they were nearly always socially maladjusted, unable to handle normal family relationships, and/or physically unattractive. Maybe this is a bit of a personal bias creeping in, because I am a woman with a Ph.D. in a scientific field, but I was keenly aware of this motif each time I encountered it. I feel like it perpetuates a stereotype that simply isn't true.

Review copy provided by the publisher.
Very good collection, and amazing how much punch you can ... 27 Oct 2014
By Scifi-Norse - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very good collection, and amazing how much punch you can pack in such short stories. My guess is many of these could easily be developed into much longer books, and even multiple books. Well worth the money (and time).
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Contents Good, Format Not Great 20 Mar 2014
By John Blacet - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
For some reason, it was decided to publish this years version in a large paper back format.

This is in contrast to the regular paper back format that has been the norm for all the years that this very fine anthology has been published. I have most them in my book case. This years is not fitting in and in fact proved to be so annoying that it got donated to the local library.

Aside from the book case compatibility, the price is significantly higher and the front cover wants nothing to do with staying closed. It's simply not a fun hand holdable format.

I certainly hope that they don't do this again this year. If they ever redid the 18th in regular format, I would pick one up!
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