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4.0 out of 5 stars The Latest of the Best SF, 18 Oct 2013
This review is from: The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirtieth Annual Collection (Paperback)
This collection contains twenty-nine science fiction stories published in 2012, selected as the best by experienced science fiction editor and writer Gardner Dozois. The book begins with a Summation of the significant events and influences of the year. As usually, this is an exhaustive review, covering trends across media types and SF subgenres. Dozois notes that e-books have neither faded away nor replaced printed books. People are reading more of both than in years past.

The majority of the book's 654 pages are devoted to the stories, which can be enjoyed without reference to the Summation. Here are my six favorites.

Pat Cadigan's "The Girl-Thing Who Went Out For Sushi" is entertaining SF at its traditional best--taking a new idea and exploring its implications as a story unfolds around a likeable character. An injured girl working in Jupiter orbit decides to transfer to the body of a genetically-enhanced octopoid. Just like her friends.

Richard Lovett and William Gleason's "Night on the Peak of Eternal Light" visits a sparsely-settled Moon that depends partially on the tourist trade from Earth. The permanent settlers see their world differently than their visitors. Each of them has a story and some of them have troubling secrets.

Brit Mandelo's "The Finite Canvas" is a well-executed story-within-a-story. An assassin visits a clinic with an unusual request. She wants a tattoo to commemorate her latest and last killing. As partial payment, she tells the doctor her story during the painful procedure.

Adam Roberts' "What Did Tessimond Tell You?" asks a question and then teases the reader about the answer until the story's end. Why would members of a Nobel Prize-winning research team suddenly lose all interest in their work and wander away, one by one?

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.

Steven Popkes' "Sudden, Broken, and Unexpected" is about sex, hugs, and rock-n-roll. A once-famous studio musician works with a virtual pop star to script her next concert. His ex-girlfriend tries to reverse-engineer the virtual star's programming and reengineer a relationship with the musician.

And a notable mention for Robert Reed's "Eater-of-Bone." It was a good story, but not as good as it might have been, in my opinion. I like Reed's Great Ship stories and have enjoyed the accumulated wisdom of long-lived characters ever since encountering Lazarus Long in Robert Heinlein's Methuselah's Children. This story had both aspects but less of each than I expected. It wasn't bad, but it whetted more than it satisfied.

This is a solid SF collection, worth your time and money. Spend a little extra time with the story introductions, both before and after reading each story. You will walk away with good ideas about what SF you can read and enjoy next.
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