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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Showcase of the Best of a Thriving Field, 6 April 2010
Nicholas Lees (UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Mammoth Book of Best New SF 21 (Paperback)
When I was a teenager I loved science-fiction short-stories, especially those by Philip K Dick. I was inspired by the ability of great SF writers to explore a mind-stretching concept or possibility whilst delivering a concise narrative punch. Reading this collection of the best SF short-fiction rekindled this interest. In all honesty, I was surprised that such high quality writing is being published in the genre as well as impressed by Dozois's skill as an editor and connoisseur. The whole spectrum of contemporary SF is on display here, from a classic time travelling tale that manages to add something new to a well worn premise (Silverberg's 'Against the Current'), to far future space opera (McDonald's 'Vethandi's Ring'), to a moving end-of-the-universe fable (Baxter's 'Last Contact'). For fans of their novel length works, McDonald gives us another glimpse of India in the 2040s in 'Sanjeev and Robotwallah' and MacLeod expands on the compelling and plausible world he created in 'Learning the World' in his 'Lighting Out - giving us a glimpse at what living through a technological singularity might look like.

Other stand out stories include Egan's 'Glory', which plays with the idea that a truly civilized society may not have what it takes to either find a purpose or secure its survival in a hostile universe, and Vandana Singh's 'Of Love and Other Monsters', a story of distance and alienation that marks her out as one of the most interesting new writers in the field and a possible successor to Ursula Le Guin. Elsewhere, Reynolds is as adept as ever at creating strange yet believable far-futures, Asher provides some good honest page-turning space-opera adventure, and Elizabeth Bear contributes a well crafted study of what loss might mean to a being without a mind.

This is an impressive collection that has introduced me to several new authors. SF has been caricatured, not always unfairly in the past, of populating its narratives with flat characters, stale cliches and wooden dialogue. What is striking here is the richness of the concerns of the writers, who show a keen interest in the relationship between SF issues and social, political and psychological concerns. If you are at all interested in short science-fiction writing, I strongly recommend you pick up a copy. I think you will be pleasantly surprised, as I was, by the breadth and quality of what is being written.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anthologies don't get better than this, 3 Nov 2008
Amazon Customer "edz314" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mammoth Book of Best New SF 21 (Paperback)
As per usual a stunning collection of short Science Fiction complied by, well to me, the editor par excellence, Gardner Dozois.

I can't recommend this collection highly enough, to me its annual publication is *the* science fiction event of the year and I greatly look forward to it. This edition comprises thirty three excellent short stories from authors like Alastair Reynolds, Stephen Baxter, Neal Asher and Robert Reed (plus loads more). The stories range from a tale about a millennia old pan-galactic conflict, dimension jumping steam-punk zeppelins, a very dangerous and unusual artefact on Titan, Eastern European nanotech and an extremely moving, bleak and very English view of the last days of the universe. In addition to the stories, as usual Gardner Dozois summarises Science Fiction in general over the last year, which I find as engrossing as the collected fiction.

A word of warning, I found Stephen Baxter's tale "last contact" both excellently written and moving but also profoundly depressing; with the lines (and minor spoiler).

"'After lunch the kids went for their nap. Bill put their pills in their lemonade'.
Maureen knew she meant the little blue pills the NHS had given out to every household.
`Bill lay down with them. He said he was going to wait with them until he was sure - you know. That they wouldn't wake up, and be distressed. Then he was going to take his own pill'"

Affecting me more than any prose I've read this year. I greatly enjoy Stephen Baxter's writing but sometimes wish that he didn't write so often about the end of the world or that he wasn't so horribly effective in making it seem like a real human tragedy rather than merely another narrative device.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth dipping into, 29 Aug 2011
This review is from: The Mammoth Book of Best New SF 21 (Paperback)
Having not read a compilation like this before, I starting reading this with some mixed feelings. My initial doubts were soon abolished, each story is different enough and interesting enough to feel that they deserve their own books and not just a short section. Admitedly, not all of the stories are fantastic, some just don't seem to have enough science-fiction content to be branded in a book called 'Best New Scifi' but do not let this put you off, it is still highly recommended. I will be buying the next one in the series!
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The Mammoth Book of Best New SF 21
The Mammoth Book of Best New SF 21 by Gardner Dozois (Paperback - 11 Sep 2008)
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