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Year's Best SF 18 Hardcover – 10 Dec 2013

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (10 Dec. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765338157
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765338150
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 3.5 x 24.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,061,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"An editor extraordinaire."
--"Publishers Weekly" on David Hartwell"
"
"We are in the hands of a loving expert."
--John Updike on "The Hard SF Rennaissance
""Hartwell has produced a pool of anthologies that attempt to stand as definitive volumes. "The Science Fiction Century" is another such successful landmark collection."
--"Publishers Weekly
""This ranks as one of the definitive anthologies of the genre--and it makes the perfect introduction to the field of science fiction. . . . "The Science Fiction Century" shows great breadth and range. . . . Editor Hartwell succeeds by including a wide range of authors, styles, and themes."
--"The Des Moines Register "on "The Science Fiction Century"

An editor extraordinaire. "Publishers Weekly on David Hartwell"

We are in the hands of a loving expert. "John Updike on The Hard SF Rennaissance"

Hartwell has produced a pool of anthologies that attempt to stand as definitive volumes. "The Science Fiction Century" is another such successful landmark collection. "Publishers Weekly"

This ranks as one of the definitive anthologies of the genre--and it makes the perfect introduction to the field of science fiction. . . . "The Science Fiction Century" shows great breadth and range. . . . Editor Hartwell succeeds by including a wide range of authors, styles, and themes. "The Des Moines Register on The Science Fiction Century"" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Widely acclaimed as the most influential SF editor of his age, DAVID G. HARTWELL lives in Pleasantville, New York. He has won the World Fantasy Award and multiple Hugo Awards for his editorial work. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


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By John M. Ford TOP 1000 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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Great Stories from a Master Anthologist year on year
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars 20 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 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.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 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.
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 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.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 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!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Miss These 3 April 2014
By Christina Paige - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you do not already know that anthologies make some of the finest reading, here is a perfect opportunity to see what brilliant people you share the planet with.
For the past decade or so, SF has tended toward grim, bleak, dystopic stuff. Hardly surprising, when you consider the grim, bleak, dystopic stuff happening all over, under ground, on the surface, and in outer space. But over the last 18 months a sense of ironic humor has reasserted itself, along with the love of word-smithing, and some of the best stories of 2012 have found there way into this collection. Here are some highlights.
Megan Lindholm usually writes under another name these days, so it was cool to see this name again, starting things off with “Old Paint”, in which an old family car has a life of its own. It’s a generational story with snazzy hard SF details that feels simultaneously poignant and liberating.
Robert Reed had me laughing in shocked admiration within the first paragraph of “Prayer”. Again, really cool tech, and a split narrator perspective that’s futuristic cyberpunk. The two narrators are a 14 year old girl and a cognitive gun, and the evolving question is, in a war between the U.S. and Canada fought over religion and oil, are they on the same side, or not?
“The Battle of Candle Arc” is a masterpiece example of the Art of war, and Yoon Hu Lee introduces each frisson of alarm and ambiguity perfectly.
Three of the stories are linked because they are reprinted from the Palencar Project,: “Dormanna” by Gene Wolfe, “The Woman Who Shook the World Tree” by Michael Swannick, and Gregory Benford’s “The Sigma Structure Symphony”, which is a fantastic story about decoding SETI messages.
And John Barnes is represented by “Swift As a Dream and Fleeting As a Sigh”, about an AI who has to fill the billions of nanoseconds of processing time that fill the interstices of its interactions with humans.
One of the outstanding features of many of these stories is the ability of the authors to get outside the limits of their biology. They really are thinking in new ways. I can’t think of a better gift to give anyone who loves to read, or who is interested in technology, or neuroscience, or history, or psychology. Any R&D companies looking for SF to mine for ideas: here’s the mother lode.
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