I don't know if it's the editor's selections for this volume that were poor or if it was just a bad year out there. I trust Gardner and hope he's not lost his edge, so maybe it's just a weak year.
I've been reading these best-ofs since I remember being able to read. And this is the first time in 30 years that I've read some of the selected works and went, "Really? This made it in?" They're not just weak, some of the work is just downright terrible. One of the stories is a long incoherent ramble that goes nowhere. A few shine but it's about one in four.
I normally buy these volumes as a means to get exposed to new writers, and then seek out their books to purchase. I love short stories and do buy 3-4 of these types of volumes every year.
I can safely say this is the worst volume in the series and can safely be ignored.
Buy one of the award nomination volumes this year and hope that next year's crop is better than this.
One major beef with Gardner is that he is fond of giving away too much of the story in the opening comments. I'd really like to read the story as the author lays it out, and Gardner writing, "The following story about a businessman who time travels back to the Jurassic to find his long lost love but ends up instead quantum teleporting to Mars" gives out way too much detail and no doubt must be annoying to the writer who would like to introduce his story without giving out the essentials of the plot.
I prefer the method I've read in Gene Wolfe's collections, where the story opens without any of the prattle, then the author's comments are at the end. Where they should be, when you have absorbed the story and what he has to say is relevant.
Blowing the plot in advance, giving us all kinds of details about the author's life, means much less before we've read his story.
HAVE DESSERT AFTER THE MEAL NOT BEFORE
Please give it some thought.