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Year's Best Sf: 6 (Year's Best SF (Science Fiction)) Mass Market Paperback – 3 Aug 2001
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Top customer reviews
This series, ably edited by David G Hartwell, goes head to head with the Gardner Dozois series and a whole subspecies of other annual compilations which somehow survive to re-emerge next year, so good luck to them.
This volume purports to be the best SF of 2000. I say purports to be since the publishing history is a little strange, giving a first paperback publication date of June 2000, when some of the stories included were not published until July/August 2000. Looking at the publication dates of the stories included we notice that, yes, it seems that possibly all of the work included comes from a time before August 2000, which is unfortunate if your excellent SF story was published in, say, November 2000.
This volume (no 6) comprises of:-
The Reef - Paul J McAuley (Skylife Ed Benford/Zebrowski 2000)
Reality Check - David Brin (Nature, Vol 404 2000)
The Millennium Express - Robert Silverberg (Playboy, Jan 2000)
Patient Zero - Tananarive Due (F & SF 2000)
The Oort Crowd - Ken MacLeod (Nature, Vol 406 2000)
The Thing About Benny - M Shayne Bell (Vanishing Acts, Tor 2000 Ed Ellen Datlow)
The Last Supper - Brian Stableford (Science Fiction Age, Mar 2000)
Tuberculosis Bacteria Join UN - Joan Slonczewski (Nature, Vol 405 2000)
Our Mortal Span - Howard Waldrop (Black Heart, Ivory Bones, Avon Books/Eos, Ed Ellen Datlow and Terri Wilding)
Different Kinds of Darkness - David Langford (F & SF, Jan 2000)
New Ice Age, or Just Cold Feet? - Norman Spinrad (Nature, Vol 405 2000)
The Devotee - Stephen Dedman (Eidolon #29/30 2000)
The Marriage of Sky & Sea - Chris Beckett (Interzone Mar 2000)
In The Days of the Comet - John M Ford (Nature, Vol 405 2000)
The Birthday of the World - Ursula K LeGuin (F& SF, Jun 2000)
Oracle - Greg Egan (F& SF, Jul 2000)
To Cuddle Amy - Nancy Kress (Asimov's, Aug 2000)
Steppenpferd - Brian W Aldiss (F&SF, Feb 2000)
Sheena 5 - Stephen Baxter (Analog, May 2000)
The Fire Eggs - Darrell Schweitzer (Interzone, Mar 2000)
The New Horla - Robert Sheckley (F&SF July 2000)
Madame Bovary, C'est Moi - Dan Simmons (Nature, Vol 407 2000)
Grandma's Jumpman - Robert Reed (Century, Spring 2000)
Bordeaux Mixture - Charles Dexter Ward (Nature, Vol 404 2000)
The Dryad's Wedding - Robert Charles Wilson (Star Colonies, 2000)
Built Upon The Sands of Time - Michael Flynn (Analog July/Aug 2000)
Seventy-Two Letters - Ted Chiang (Vanishing Acts, Tor 2000 Ed Ellen Datlow)
This anthology doesn't have the yearly review and "honourable mentions" list offered by Dozois. It is also less voluminous than Dozois mastodons and more focused on short stories, instead of novellas. Still, there is twenty seven stories to discover here and most of them are good - and some are REAL good. Also, only five of them figured also in Dozois selection (they are marked below with letters GD) therefore it is still economically sound to purchase both of those 2000 anthologies.
Below, my more detailed impressions with some limited SPOILERS
"Reef" by Paul J. McAuley - on one of Kuiper Belt dwarf planets a vacuum adapted life form is found. It can be very useful but isn't it also dangerous? This story is pretty interesting but it is also based on a "cliché" used and abused in books and movies since like always - evil greedy mad businessmen vs. holy altruistic rational scientists... Here it is so overblown that it hurts the story a little. (GD)
"Reality check" by David Brin - a 2-pages long ironic reflexion on immortality and how would it affect us... Not bad.
"The Millennium Express" by Robert Silverberg - a very stupid story about jaded immortals and a possible way to jump-start some changes in an extremely decadent society - it seems that the best way is to destroy the great buildings from our history and all the principal collections of world's artistic heritage...
"Patient Zero" by Tananarive Due - this writer is more known for her horror stories, but her first foray into Sci-Fi is very successful; the story has a form of a diary written by a child confined in a high security hospital; by its style it is somehow close to "Flowers for Algernon" - but it is absolutely not a copy or a mere remake of this already legendary novel. A very good story. (GD)
"The Oort Crowd" by Ken MacLeod - this story is only 2-pages long, but I almost died laughing when reading it, and here is why. Ken MacLeod is a self-declared Trotskyist and deadly enemy of capitalism - well, in this story, after capitalism seemingly triumphed over all its enemies, "gods" from outer space come to our rescue, to help us turn to "less profligate use of our planet" (in other words, state controlled socialist misery). How great must be the desperation of a Trotskyist to make him look for the salvation from the heavens...)))
"The thing about Benny" by M. Shayne Bell - an amusing short story happening in the near future; it is about the search for plants unknown to the science in the most unexpected of all places...))) Some familiarity with songs by ABBA can help appreciate this story more. Enjoy! (GD)
"The last supper" by Brian Stableford - a very tongue-in-cheek story about the progress, the "progressists", one insufferable broad and one lonely surviving conservative - and all served by Jerome, the greatest chef of the future...))) I really liked that one...)))
"Tuberculosis bacteria join UN" by Joan Slonczewski - the title says it all...))) A very nice 2-pages long (or rather short) fake article from future press about this historical event...)))
"Our mortal span" by Howard Waldrop - this author frequently offers good stories, but this time it is not the case. In a future amusement park a kind of robotic troll goes on a rampage, seemingly to start a revolution of robotic toys against humans. Or something like that... A failed effort.
"Different kinds of darkness" by David Langford - this story about advanced mathematics and terrorism is very original - and darn well written! Enjoy!
"New Ice Age or just cold feet?" by Norman Spinrad - an ironic 2-pages long report about a brawl amongst world top scientists when discussing the possibility of the return of Ice Age in XXIV century. Wickedly good!
"The devotee" by Stephen Dedman - the JEWEL IN THE CROWN! The BEST story in the collection! In a near future, a Private Eye is hired by concerned parents to find their missing daughter. This 18-years old girl has only one leg - but gosh, will she make him run! Brilliantly written, full of humour, this story reminded me a little bit both Raymond Chandler and Alistair McLean books - but it is NOT a mere imitation, but a pretty original thing. To resume it in one word - MASTERPIECE!
"The marriage of sky and sea" by Chris Beckett - a somehow unpleasant space explorer/travel writer goes to live amongst people from a distant world, who, separated for generations from the rest of humanity, regressed to the tribal stage of society and a roughly early Neolithic technology. There he will discover many strange customs - and meet his destiny... Not bad at all.
"In the days of the comet" by John M. Ford - another 2-pager, this time about a quite unique kind of communication between space civilisations. Interesting.
"The birthday of the world" by Ursula K. Le Guin -on an alien planet, beings not very different from humans arrived in their development roughly to the stage of Early Bronze civilization; an unexpected and terrifying prophecy signals that some very hard times are ahead... This is a very, VERY good story, the SECOND BEST in the collection, mixing some SF with fantasy. (GD)
"Oracle" by Greg Egan - the only story in the collection which I didn't like at all - and to my personal taste absolutely the WORST in this anthology. It initially deals with a project of improvement of the present by "repairing" the past, but then turns into an anti-Christian pamphlet... (GD)
"To cuddle Amy" by Nancy Kress - yet another 2-pager, about some future aspects of parents/teenage children love-hate relationships
"Steppenpferd" by Brian W. Aldiss - a VERY interesting story about humans living in a kind of ZOO, created by an incredibly powerful and ancient alien race; the main character of this story is a wise abbot, running an ecumenical (but still mostly Christian) monastery, which is a part of ZOO exhibition. I liked most of this story very much, but even after reading the last two pages three times, sadly, I couldn't understand the ending, which is a pity. But maybe other readers can figure it out - I sincerely wish them to succeed.
"Sheena 5" by Stephen Baxter - a mixture of good and bad; the good stuff is the story of a genetically upgraded squid send by humans in space to accomplish a suicide mission; the bad is a vision of future so stupidly stereotyped that I almost wanted to throw up: humanity exhausting resources of Earth and plunging into poverty and wars because of it, blah, blah, blah...
"The Fire Eggs" by Darrell Schweitzer - again a mixture of good and bad; one day Fire Eggs arrive on Earth - there is millions of them and they cannot be destroyed, touched or moved ; then they stay where they landed doing nothing. The good stuff is the general idea and some humour - the bad stuff is the religion bashing (with an especially hateful attack on Christianity) and the depressingly morbidly misanthropic way in which humanity is portrayed.
"The new Horla" by Robert Sheckley - inspired by the famous novella by Maupassant about a mysterious invisible creature, this story is nevertheless not very successful - in fact, this is the first story ever by this author which I didn't really like
"Madame Bovary, c'est moi" by Dan Simmons - another 2-pager, about people migrating to their favourite books - with a very, VERY powerful punch line
"Grandma's Jumpman" by Robert Reed - good, solid story inspired by things which really sometimes happened during World War II and immediately after; original, well written and definitely a good read, but I didn't really appreciate the left-winged half-anarchist half-pacifist message hammered into reader's head with both fists on every single page...
"Bordeaux mixture " by Charles Dexter Ward - another 2-pager, written by a guy named Henry Gee who assumed this very-famous Lovecraft'ian alias - this is about the genetically modified tomatoes - and it is a pretty funny and witty thing
"The dryad's wedding" by Robert Charles Wilson - on a distant exoplanet Isis a human colonist recovering from a horrible accident starts to hear voices - for me this is the THIRD BEST story in the collection. Enjoy!
"Built upon the sands of time" by Michael F. Flynn - very clever, very well written and extremely amusing story about time modifications - all of this occurring in an Irish pub, where the two owners battle the thirst raging in the crowd of patrons...))) The FOURTH BEST story in the collection and a real delight to read!
"Seventy-two letters" by Ted Chiang - long, powerful, original and somehow disturbing, this is the FIFTH BEST story in the collection. It takes place in an alternate XIX century, in which all various medieval "scientific" theories are actually real... It took hard work, good research and a lot of headology to write this novella - kudos to Ted Chiang. Enjoy!
CONCLUSION: this is a very good collection - to buy, read and keep. Enjoy!
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