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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 December 2014
This collection devoted to what Gardner Dozois considered as best SF published in 2012 is slightly weaker than the one from previous year. It contains mostly average stories and reading it was not always an easy or pleasant thing.

For this collection Gardner Dozois again decided against including long novellas, so thanks God in this collection I didn't have to struggle through 70+ pages juggernauts, which this editor liked so much in the past... In many of previous collections those super-sized novellas were usually also the weakest parts of those anthologies, so here their absence is a very welcome thing. This also allowed Gardner Dozois to offer us as much as 29 stories.

This year, for my personal taste, only three stories could be considered as VERY GOOD: "Old paint", "The Wreck of the 'Charles Dexter Ward'" and "Eater-of-Bone".

On another hand there were only four stinkers: "Memcordist", "In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns", "Chitai Heiki Koronbin", "The water thief".

One story, "Holmes Sherlock", I was unable to rate, because I decided not to read it. I hated all previous stories by Eleanor Arnason and I simply didn't have the strength to suffer through another one...

Other stories ranged from GOOD (7) to READABLE (14).

I now read twenty eight Gardner Dozois collections (from third to thirtieth) and if that one certainly was not the worse, it was however somehow - mediocre... 2012 clearly wasn't a good year for SF, maybe because the authors had their minds taken by the approaching end of the world...))) Most stories in this anthology suffer from poor character development, lack of humour and wit, weak endings (or even worse, lack of such), clichés by bushels, excessive political correctness and finally a general lack of enthusiasm for the matter.

On another hand this collection includes also, as usual, an overview of what happened in SF (largely understood) in 2012 and that section is invariably always very precious. At the end there is also the very useful section of "honourable mentions" - stories which couldn't be selected for this collection because of lack of space (and this is already a HUGE book!), but which were also of good quality.

Below, more of my impressions, with some SPOILERS:
----------------------------------
"Weep for day" by Indrapramit Das - on an alien tidally locked planet human colonists living on the luminous part of it fight a war of conquest against the Nightmares from the darker part; a lesbian woman describes how she came to dislike her parents, her brother and especially her society and feel sorry for the Nightmares. READABLE, but very predictable and clichéd - also terribly depressing.

"The Man" by Paul McAuley - another story in the long running Jackaroo cycle; on a colonised exoplanet an old woman meets a strange wanderer - on the surface of things he is human, but is he REALLY human? A READABLE thing, even if I found the ending weak.

"The stars do not lie" by Jay Lake - humans once colonized an alien planet; later their descendants forgot about it and anybody who claims that it happened is considered a heretic. Then one day an astronomer makes a stunning discovery. A good idea but the further we go in this story, the less sense it makes and the ending is beneath everything. This 42 pages novella is READABLE, but barely.

"Memcordist" by Lavie Tidhar - well, one of my least favourite authors delivered again... This is a kind of "Truman Show" in space - a guy whose life is being watched life by paying subscribers. However this life is not really interesting and the story is as chronologically disordered as possible. Tedious and messy (but thanks God short), this is a thing to AVOID.

"The Girl-thing Who Went Out for Sushi" by Pat Cadigan - as humanity colonises the moons of outer planets of Solar System, some people opt for very radical body transformations (in fact species changing) to better adapt to new environment; a very rich former beauty queen decides to do this too - and complications follow. I cannot say that I cared a lot for the general idea as I believe our destiny is to bend and transform our environment to our needs and not surrender to it - but still, it is a well written, solid, GOOD, honest story.

"Holmes Sherlock" by Eleanor Arnason - I cannot rate this story about a civilization of homosexual rodents, because I decided not to read it; after suffering through a grand total of six stories by E. Arnason in previous collections and having thoroughly hated every single one of them I decided to save myself some pain and skip it. You will have to read it and make up your own mind.

"Nightfall on the Peak of Eternal Light" by Richard A. Lovett and William Gleason - a guy with a past runs away to the colony on the Moon; a dangerous hitman follows him there... Nicely written, this 48 pages adventure novella is for once rather optimistic (a rare thing in GD collections) and also kind of a relaxing thing - a GOOD, solid, honest story.

"Close Encounters" by Andy Duncan - an old man who in the 50s, when he was still young, was abducted by UFO, receives the visit of a journalist - it brings back some painful memories... Seemed promising first, but then took a disappointing turn and ended poorly. Still, a READABLE thing.

"The Finite Canvas" by Brit Mandelo - a lesbian doctor is asked by an impressively shaped female assassin to make an unusual intervention - as part of payment, she tells her the story of her last killing... I usually don't care at all for LGBT SF - but this one is exceptionally well written. A GOOD story and a recommended reading.

"Steamgothic" by Sean McMullen - in our time, a guy who is into steam engines and goth stuff is contacted by a strange couple who claim that they found the wreckage of an airplane build in... 1852! This is the epic story of restoration/reconstruction of this "airplane" and of all the consequences it will have on human history... A GOOD, honest, solid thing with alternate history elements.

"In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns" by Elizabeth Bear - in a future high-tech India a murder was committed and two police detectives are charged with the investigation; the only possible witness is a genetically-modified talking cat named Chairman Miao... The beginning seemed very promising, but after a couple of pages the whole thing became just a tedious slog to nowhere... I gave up after 27 pages and didn't finish it, because I was all out of Fs to give about whodunit in this completely failed whodunit... AVOID

"Macy Minnot's Last Christmas on Dione, Ring Racing, Fiddler's Green, the Potter's Garden" by Paul McAuley - in the future, when humanity colonized most of Solar System, including some of Kuiper Belt's worlds, a woman goes to Dione to bury her estranged father... There are some good moments in this story, but there are also many boring lengths. Still, a READABLE thing.

"Twenty Lights to 'The Land of Snow'" by Michael Bishop - a star ship carries Tibetan refugees (and the Dalai Lama) to an exoplanet, where they want to recreate their lost motherland. At one moment the question of reincarnation of Dalai Lama is posed... An original, quite well written novella, albeit maybe just a little bit too long for its own good - it also contains possibly one of the most amusing (and certainly THE most pompous) copulation description ever...))) Still, a honest, solid, GOOD thing.

"Astrophilia" by Carrie Vaughn - and yet another sample of LGBT SF; under the pretext of a post-apocalyptic story this in fact is just a soft-core, gentle Sapphic romance. A READABLE thing although completely pandering to global warming hysteria and for my taste much too sympathetic towards an extremely brutal totalitarian Malthusianism.

"What Did Tessimond Tell You?" by Adam Roberts - as it becomes very clear at the first two pages, this is an "end of the world" story; nothing really very original but well written; I also rather liked the description of a Nobel prize winning scientist who still remains a practising Catholic... A honest, solid, GOOD thing.

"Old Paint" by Megan Lindholm - somewhere in the 2030s a struggling single mother of two inherits an old car... I will say no more, as you deserve to discover this VERY GOOD heart-warming tale by yourself. A recommended reading.

"Chitai Heiki Koronbin" by David Moles - giant robots piloted by humans are humanity last chance when facing alien invaders... one of the pilots ultimately can't take the pressure... This short story begins well, then turns into total cliché and then abruptly crashes in flames - denying also to the reader any kind of ending... AVOID!

"Katabasis" by Robert Reed - another story in the long running cycle of Great Ship; this time it describes the story of two very dangerous long treks in high gravity - one touristic, one definitely not... Maybe because of the topic, reading it was a kind of a slog, really - this novella has only 34 pages, but it seemed longer, MUCH longer... A READABLE thing, but barely.

"The Water Thief" by Alastair Reynolds - a story about a Tanzanian woman living in a refugee camp with her daughter; when awaiting relocation she tries to get any kind of job she can find... An interesting initial idea but rather poorly executed - also the story totally panders to global warming hysteria and the ending doesn't make much sense... I DIDN'T LIKE IT.

"Nightside on Callisto" by Linda Nagata - a group of very old women (having very short life expectancy, they are considered expendable) is send on a special mission to Callisto - then suddenly their equipment malfunctions... Even if the original idea is absolutely ludicrous, the story is not half bad written. A READABLE thing.

"Under the Eaves" by Lavie Tidhar - in the same future high-tech Israel which this author already described in earlier stories in previous collections a woman falls in love with the wrong... well, I guess we have to call him "guy", for want of better word... I don't care much for the vision of the world in Lavie Tidhar stories, but this thing is nevertheless READABLE.

"Sudden, Broken, and Unexpected" by Steven Popkes - a composer and guitarist, who once was worldly famous as a one-hit-wonder, is offered a second chance by world's most popular "artist" - who just happens to be an AI... This long novella is a solid, honest GOOD thing - if only it had a real ending it would be a masterpiece...

"Fireborn" by Robert Charles Wilson - more fantasy than SF, even if some robots are involved; in a kind of alternate reality a young girl and her more-or-less boyfriend meet a quasi-immortal woman - then she offers them a job... The characters are not really likeable and the writing is not so great - it is a READABLE thing, but barely.

"Ruminations in an Alien Tongue" by Vandana Singh - an old woman, once counted amongst world's top mathematicians, lives her last years near an alien artefact - which she studied for most of her life. This story actually begins very, very well - but progressively it dissolves into tedious nonsense. READABLE, but barely.

"Tyche and the Ants" by Hannu Rajaniemi - a little girl lives alone in a secret compound on Moon; to fight solitude she invents herself imaginary companions; then one day strange robots invade her world... This is a very strange, in fact even weird story, but still READABLE - also, some of passages reminded me very pleasantly of childhood readings about Moomintrolls...

"The Wreck of the 'Charles Dexter Ward'" by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear - a follow up on wonderful 2008 "Boojum" and 2009 "Mongoose" stories which figured in two of earlier collections, this 29- pager continues to explore the "boojumverse", a highly successful combination of Lovecraftian mythos with classical SF; in this story we follow a medical doctor who is hired to assist in the salvage of the wreck of "Charles Dexter Ward" - a formerly alive but now unfortunately dead (although is it ENTIRELY dead?) "boojum" space ship. It is a VERY GOOD story, but I strongly advise to read "Boojum" and "Mongoose" before attacking that one - otherwise you will not enjoy it fully.

"Invisible Men" by Christopher Barzak - inspired by the classical story by H.G. Wells, this thing describes the life and fate of Invisible Man as seen by a discreet but very present observer. A READABLE thing, but nothing more.

"Ship's Brother" by Aliette de Bodard - in a very weird alternate future in which humanity, divided between rival Chinese and Azteca empires, went to space, a young boy becomes very hostile to his little sister, who is destined to be transformed in a central unit of a spaceship AI... READABLE, but barely.

"Eater-of-Bone" by Robert Reed - surprise, surprise. Robert Reed always was a very prolific author but somewhere around 2009 he started to show effects of some kind of burnout. And then, with this novella, he managed to produce a high quality, surprisingly original thing. One of the great clichés used, re-sued and abused in SF is the topic of highly advanced aliens landing on Earth in distant past and being worshipped as gods. Well, here the familiar tune is played in reverse - this novella is about a group of quasi immortal humans from the Great Ship who were marooned on an alien planet. There, they became monster-gods ("Eaters-of-Bone") for local small, primitive alien aborigines. Even if the ending is slightly weaker than I hoped for, this is nevertheless a VERY GOOD story.
-----------------------------
CONCLUSION: this is a very average, in fact somehow mediocre collection, albeit not exactly bad. Only ten stories out of 29 are really worth reading (three VERY GOOD and seven GOOD). If you can get them somewhere else (like online), I don't think it is absolutely necessary to buy this book.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 December 2014
This collection devoted to what Gardner Dozois considered as best SF published in 2012 is slightly weaker than the one from previous year. It contains mostly average stories and reading it was not always an easy or pleasant thing.

For this collection Gardner Dozois again decided against including long novellas, so thanks God this time I didn't have to struggle through 70+ pages juggernauts, which this editor liked so much in the past... In many of previous collections those super-sized novellas were usually also the weakest parts of those anthologies, so here their absence is a very welcome thing. This also allowed Gardner Dozois to offer us a grand total of 29 stories.

This year, for my personal taste, only three stories could be considered as VERY GOOD: "Old paint", "The Wreck of the 'Charles Dexter Ward'" and "Eater-of-Bone".

On another hand there were only four stinkers: "Memcordist", "In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns", "Chitai Heiki Koronbin" and "The water thief".

One story, "Holmes Sherlock", I was unable to rate, because I decided not to read it. I hated all previous stories by Eleanor Arnason and I simply didn't have the strength to suffer through another one...

Other stories ranged from GOOD (7) to READABLE (14).

I now read twenty eight Gardner Dozois collections (from third to thirtieth) and if that one certainly was not the worse, it was however somehow - mediocre... 2012 clearly wasn't a good year for SF, maybe because the authors had their minds taken by the approaching end of the world...))) Most stories in this anthology suffer from poor character development, lack of humour and wit, weak endings (or even worse, lack of such), clichés by bushels, excessive political correctness and finally a general lack of enthusiasm for the matter.

On another hand this collection includes also, as usual, an overview of what happened in SF (largely understood) in 2012 and that section is invariably always very precious. At the end there is also the very useful section of "honourable mentions" - stories which couldn't be selected for this collection because of lack of space (and this is already a HUGE book!), but which were also of good quality.

Below, more of my impressions, with some SPOILERS:
----------------------------------
"Weep for day" by Indrapramit Das - on an alien tidally locked planet human colonists living on the luminous part of it fight a war of conquest against the Nightmares from the darker part; a lesbian woman describes how she came to dislike her parents, her brother and especially her society and feel sorry for the Nightmares. READABLE, but very predictable and clichéd - also terribly depressing.

"The Man" by Paul McAuley - another story in the long running Jackaroo cycle; on a colonised exoplanet an old woman meets a strange wanderer - on the surface of things he is human, but is he REALLY human? A READABLE thing, even if I found the ending weak.

"The stars do not lie" by Jay Lake - humans once colonized an alien planet; later their descendants forgot about it and anybody who claims that it happened is considered a heretic. Then one day an astronomer makes a stunning discovery. A good idea but the further we go in this story, the less sense it makes and the ending is beneath everything. This 42 pages novella is READABLE, but barely.

"Memcordist" by Lavie Tidhar - well, one of my least favourite authors delivered again... This is a kind of "Truman Show" in space - a guy whose life is being watched life by paying subscribers. However this life is not really interesting and the story is as chronologically disordered as possible. Tedious and messy (but thanks God short), this is a thing to AVOID.

"The Girl-thing Who Went Out for Sushi" by Pat Cadigan - as humanity colonises the moons of outer planets of Solar System, some people opt for very radical body transformations (in fact species changing) to better adapt to new environment; a very rich former beauty queen decides to do this too - and complications follow. I cannot say that I cared a lot for the general idea as I believe our destiny is to bend and transform our environment to our needs and not surrender to it - but still, it is a well written, solid, GOOD, honest story.

"Holmes Sherlock" by Eleanor Arnason - I cannot rate this story about a civilization of homosexual rodents, because I decided not to read it; after suffering through a grand total of six stories by E. Arnason in previous collections and having thoroughly hated every single one of them I decided to save myself some pain and skip it. You will have to read it and make up your own mind.

"Nightfall on the Peak of Eternal Light" by Richard A. Lovett and William Gleason - a guy with a past runs away to the colony on the Moon; a dangerous hitman follows him there... Nicely written, this 48 pages adventure novella is for once rather optimistic (a rare thing in GD collections) and also kind of a relaxing thing - a GOOD, solid, honest story.

"Close Encounters" by Andy Duncan - an old man who in the 50s, when he was still young, was abducted by UFO, receives the visit of a journalist - it brings back some painful memories... Seemed promising first, but then took a disappointing turn and ended poorly. Still, a READABLE thing.

"The Finite Canvas" by Brit Mandelo - a lesbian doctor is asked by an impressively shaped female assassin to make an unusual intervention - as part of payment, she tells her the story of her last killing... I usually don't care at all for LGBT SF - but this one is exceptionally well written. A GOOD story and a recommended reading.

"Steamgothic" by Sean McMullen - in our time, a guy who is into steam engines and goth stuff is contacted by a strange couple who claim that they found the wreckage of an airplane build in... 1852! This is the epic story of restoration/reconstruction of this "airplane" and of all the consequences it will have on human history... A GOOD, honest, solid thing with alternate history elements.

"In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns" by Elizabeth Bear - in a future high-tech India a murder was committed and two police detectives are charged with the investigation; the only possible witness is a genetically-modified talking cat named Chairman Miao... The beginning seemed very promising, but after a couple of pages the whole thing became just a tedious slog to nowhere... I gave up after 27 pages and didn't finish it, because I was all out of Fs to give about whodunit in this completely failed whodunit... AVOID

"Macy Minnot's Last Christmas on Dione, Ring Racing, Fiddler's Green, the Potter's Garden" by Paul McAuley - in the future, when humanity colonized most of Solar System, including some of Kuiper Belt's worlds, a woman goes to Dione to bury her estranged father... There are some good moments in this story, but there are also many boring lengths. Still, a READABLE thing.

"Twenty Lights to 'The Land of Snow'" by Michael Bishop - a star ship carries Tibetan refugees (and the Dalai Lama) to an exoplanet, where they want to recreate their lost motherland. At one moment the question of reincarnation of Dalai Lama is posed... An original, quite well written novella, albeit maybe just a little bit too long for its own good - it also contains possibly one of the most amusing (and certainly THE most pompous) copulation description ever...))) Still, a honest, solid, GOOD thing.

"Astrophilia" by Carrie Vaughn - and yet another sample of LGBT SF; under the pretext of a post-apocalyptic story this in fact is just a soft-core, gentle Sapphic romance. A READABLE thing although completely pandering to global warming hysteria and for my taste much too sympathetic towards an extremely brutal totalitarian Malthusianism.

"What Did Tessimond Tell You?" by Adam Roberts - as it becomes very clear at the first two pages, this is an "end of the world" story; nothing really very original but well written; I also rather liked the description of a Nobel prize winning scientist who still remains a practising Catholic... A honest, solid, GOOD thing.

"Old Paint" by Megan Lindholm - somewhere in the 2030s a struggling single mother of two inherits an old car... I will say no more, as you deserve to discover this VERY GOOD heart-warming tale by yourself. A recommended reading.

"Chitai Heiki Koronbin" by David Moles - giant robots piloted by humans are humanity last chance when facing alien invaders... one of the pilots ultimately can't take the pressure... This short story begins well, then turns into total cliché and then abruptly crashes in flames - denying also to the reader any kind of ending... AVOID!

"Katabasis" by Robert Reed - another story in the long running cycle of Great Ship; this time it describes the story of two very dangerous long treks in high gravity - one touristic, one definitely not... Maybe because of the topic, reading it was a kind of a slog, really - this novella has only 34 pages, but it seemed longer, MUCH longer... A READABLE thing, but barely.

"The Water Thief" by Alastair Reynolds - a story about a Tanzanian woman living in a refugee camp with her daughter; when awaiting relocation she tries to get any kind of job she can find... An interesting initial idea but rather poorly executed - also the story totally panders to global warming hysteria and the ending doesn't make much sense... I DIDN'T LIKE IT.

"Nightside on Callisto" by Linda Nagata - a group of very old women (having very short life expectancy, they are considered expendable) is send on a special mission to Callisto - then suddenly their equipment malfunctions... Even if the original idea is absolutely ludicrous, the story is not half bad written. A READABLE thing.

"Under the Eaves" by Lavie Tidhar - in the same future high-tech Israel which this author already described in earlier stories in previous collections a woman falls in love with the wrong... well, I guess we have to call him "guy", for want of better word... I don't care much for the vision of the world in Lavie Tidhar stories, but this thing is nevertheless READABLE.

"Sudden, Broken, and Unexpected" by Steven Popkes - a composer and guitarist, who once was worldly famous as a one-hit-wonder, is offered a second chance by world's most popular "artist" - who just happens to be an AI... This long novella is a solid, honest GOOD thing - if only it had a real ending it would be a masterpiece...

"Fireborn" by Robert Charles Wilson - more fantasy than SF, even if some robots are involved; in a kind of alternate reality a young girl and her more-or-less boyfriend meet a quasi-immortal woman - then she offers them a job... The characters are not really likeable and the writing is not so great - it is a READABLE thing, but barely.

"Ruminations in an Alien Tongue" by Vandana Singh - an old woman, once counted amongst world's top mathematicians, lives her last years near an alien artefact - which she studied for most of her life. This story actually begins very, very well - but progressively it dissolves into tedious nonsense. READABLE, but barely.

"Tyche and the Ants" by Hannu Rajaniemi - a little girl lives alone in a secret compound on Moon; to fight solitude she invents herself imaginary companions; then one day strange robots invade her world... This is a very strange, in fact even weird story, but still READABLE - also, some of passages reminded me very pleasantly of childhood readings about Moomintrolls...

"The Wreck of the 'Charles Dexter Ward'" by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear - a follow up on wonderful 2008 "Boojum" and 2009 "Mongoose" stories which figured in two of earlier collections, this 29- pager continues to explore the "boojumverse", a highly successful combination of Lovecraftian mythos with classical SF; in this story we follow a medical doctor who is hired to assist in the salvage of the wreck of "Charles Dexter Ward" - a formerly alive but now unfortunately dead (although is it ENTIRELY dead?) "boojum" space ship. It is a VERY GOOD story, but I strongly advise to read "Boojum" and "Mongoose" before attacking that one - otherwise you will not enjoy it fully.

"Invisible Men" by Christopher Barzak - inspired by the classical story by H.G. Wells, this thing describes the life and fate of Invisible Man as seen by a discreet but very present observer. A READABLE thing, but nothing more.

"Ship's Brother" by Aliette de Bodard - in a very weird alternate future in which humanity, divided between rival Chinese and Azteca empires, went to space, a young boy becomes very hostile to his little sister, who is destined to be transformed in a central unit of a spaceship AI... READABLE, but barely.

"Eater-of-Bone" by Robert Reed - surprise, surprise. Robert Reed always was a very prolific author but somewhere around 2009 he started to show effects of some kind of burnout. And then, with this novella, he managed to produce a high quality, surprisingly original thing. One of the great clichés used, re-sued and abused in SF is the topic of highly advanced aliens landing on Earth in distant past and being worshipped as gods. Well, here the familiar tune is played in reverse - this novella is about a group of quasi immortal humans from the Great Ship who were marooned on an alien planet. There, they became monster-gods ("Eaters-of-Bone") for local small, primitive alien aborigines. Even if the ending is slightly weaker than I hoped for, this is nevertheless a VERY GOOD story.
-----------------------------
CONCLUSION: this is a very average, in fact somehow mediocre collection, albeit not exactly bad. Only ten stories out of 29 are really worth reading (three VERY GOOD and seven GOOD). If you can get them somewhere else (like online), I don't think it is absolutely necessary to buy this book.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 December 2014
This collection devoted to what Gardner Dozois considered as best SF published in 2012 is slightly weaker than the one from previous year. It contains mostly average stories and reading it was not always an easy or pleasant thing.

For this collection Gardner Dozois again decided against including long novellas, so thanks God I didn't have to struggle through 70+ pages juggernauts, which this editor liked so much in the past... In many of previous collections those super-sized novellas were usually also the weakest parts of those anthologies, so here their absence is a very welcome thing. This also allowed Gardner Dozois to offer us as much as 29 stories.

This year, for my personal taste, only three stories could be considered as VERY GOOD: "Old paint", "The Wreck of the 'Charles Dexter Ward'" and "Eater-of-Bone".

On another hand there were only four stinkers: "Memcordist", "In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns", "Chitai Heiki Koronbin", "The water thief".

One story, "Holmes Sherlock", I was unable to rate, because I decided not to read it. I hated all previous stories by Eleanor Arnason and I simply didn't have the strength to suffer through another one...

Other stories ranged from GOOD (7) to READABLE (14).

I now read twenty eight Gardner Dozois collections (from third to thirtieth) and if that one certainly was not the worse, it was however somehow - mediocre... 2012 clearly wasn't a good year for SF, maybe because the authors had their minds taken by the approaching end of the world...))) Most stories in this anthology suffer from poor character development, lack of humour and wit, weak endings (or even worse, lack of such), clichés by bushels, excessive political correctness and finally a general lack of enthusiasm for the matter.

On another hand this collection includes also, as usual, an overview of what happened in SF (largely understood) in 2012 and that section is invariably always very precious. At the end there is also the very useful section of "honourable mentions" - stories which couldn't be selected for this collection because of lack of space (and this is already a HUGE book!), but which were also of good quality.

Below, more of my impressions, with some SPOILERS:
----------------------------------
"Weep for day" by Indrapramit Das - on an alien tidally locked planet human colonists living on the luminous part of it fight a war of conquest against the Nightmares from the darker part; a lesbian woman describes how she came to dislike her parents, her brother and especially her society and feel sorry for the Nightmares. READABLE, but very predictable and clichéd - also terribly depressing.

"The Man" by Paul McAuley - another story in the long running Jackaroo cycle; on a colonised exoplanet an old woman meets a strange wanderer - on the surface of things he is human, but is he REALLY human? A READABLE thing, even if I found the ending weak.

"The stars do not lie" by Jay Lake - humans once colonized an alien planet; later their descendants forgot about it and anybody who claims that it happened is considered a heretic. Then one day an astronomer makes a stunning discovery. A good idea but the further we go in this story, the less sense it makes and the ending is beneath everything. This 42 pages novella is READABLE, but barely.

"Memcordist" by Lavie Tidhar - well, one of my least favourite authors delivered again... This is a kind of "Truman Show" in space - a guy whose life is being watched life by paying subscribers. However this life is not really interesting and the story is as chronologically disordered as possible. Tedious and messy (but thanks God short), this is a thing to AVOID.

"The Girl-thing Who Went Out for Sushi" by Pat Cadigan - as humanity colonises the moons of outer planets of Solar System, some people opt for very radical body transformations (in fact species changing) to better adapt to new environment; a very rich former beauty queen decides to do this too - and complications follow. I cannot say that I cared a lot for the general idea as I believe our destiny is to bend and transform our environment to our needs and not surrender to it - but still, it is a well written, solid, GOOD, honest story.

"Holmes Sherlock" by Eleanor Arnason - I cannot rate this story about a civilization of homosexual rodents, because I decided not to read it; after suffering through a grand total of six stories by E. Arnason in previous collections and having thoroughly hated every single one of them I decided to save myself some pain and skip it. You will have to read it and make up your own mind.

"Nightfall on the Peak of Eternal Light" by Richard A. Lovett and William Gleason - a guy with a past runs away to the colony on the Moon; a dangerous hitman follows him there... Nicely written, this 48 pages adventure novella is for once rather optimistic (a rare thing in GD collections) and also kind of a relaxing thing - a GOOD, solid, honest story.

"Close Encounters" by Andy Duncan - an old man who in the 50s, when he was still young, was abducted by UFO, receives the visit of a journalist - it brings back some painful memories... Seemed promising first, but then took a disappointing turn and ended poorly. Still, a READABLE thing.

"The Finite Canvas" by Brit Mandelo - a lesbian doctor is asked by an impressively shaped female assassin to make an unusual intervention - as part of payment, she tells her the story of her last killing... I usually don't care at all for LGBT SF - but this one is exceptionally well written. A GOOD story and a recommended reading.

"Steamgothic" by Sean McMullen - in our time, a guy who is into steam engines and goth stuff is contacted by a strange couple who claim that they found the wreckage of an airplane build in... 1852! This is the epic story of restoration/reconstruction of this "airplane" and of all the consequences it will have on human history... A GOOD, honest, solid thing with alternate history elements.

"In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns" by Elizabeth Bear - in a future high-tech India a murder was committed and two police detectives are charged with the investigation; the only possible witness is a genetically-modified talking cat named Chairman Miao... The beginning seemed very promising, but after a couple of pages the whole thing became just a tedious slog to nowhere... I gave up after 27 pages and didn't finish it, because I was all out of Fs to give about whodunit in this completely failed whodunit... AVOID

"Macy Minnot's Last Christmas on Dione, Ring Racing, Fiddler's Green, the Potter's Garden" by Paul McAuley - in the future, when humanity colonized most of Solar System, including some of Kuiper Belt's worlds, a woman goes to Dione to bury her estranged father... There are some good moments in this story, but there are also many boring lengths. Still, a READABLE thing.

"Twenty Lights to 'The Land of Snow'" by Michael Bishop - a star ship carries Tibetan refugees (and the Dalai Lama) to an exoplanet, where they want to recreate their lost motherland. At one moment the question of reincarnation of Dalai Lama is posed... An original, quite well written novella, albeit maybe just a little bit too long for its own good - it also contains possibly one of the most amusing (and certainly THE most pompous) copulation description ever...))) Still, a honest, solid, GOOD thing.

"Astrophilia" by Carrie Vaughn - and yet another sample of LGBT SF; under the pretext of a post-apocalyptic story this in fact is just a soft-core, gentle Sapphic romance. A READABLE thing although completely pandering to global warming hysteria and for my taste much too sympathetic towards an extremely brutal totalitarian Malthusianism.

"What Did Tessimond Tell You?" by Adam Roberts - as it becomes very clear at the first two pages, this is an "end of the world" story; nothing really very original but well written; I also rather liked the description of a Nobel prize winning scientist who still remains a practising Catholic... A honest, solid, GOOD thing.

"Old Paint" by Megan Lindholm - somewhere in the 2030s a struggling single mother of two inherits an old car... I will say no more, as you deserve to discover this VERY GOOD heart-warming tale by yourself. A recommended reading.

"Chitai Heiki Koronbin" by David Moles - giant robots piloted by humans are humanity last chance when facing alien invaders... one of the pilots ultimately can't take the pressure... This short story begins well, then turns into total cliché and then abruptly crashes in flames - denying also to the reader any kind of ending... AVOID!

"Katabasis" by Robert Reed - another story in the long running cycle of Great Ship; this time it describes the story of two very dangerous long treks in high gravity - one touristic, one definitely not... Maybe because of the topic, reading it was a kind of a slog, really - this novella has only 34 pages, but it seemed longer, MUCH longer... A READABLE thing, but barely.

"The Water Thief" by Alastair Reynolds - a story about a Tanzanian woman living in a refugee camp with her daughter; when awaiting relocation she tries to get any kind of job she can find... An interesting initial idea but rather poorly executed - also the story totally panders to global warming hysteria and the ending doesn't make much sense... I DIDN'T LIKE IT.

"Nightside on Callisto" by Linda Nagata - a group of very old women (having very short life expectancy, they are considered expendable) is send on a special mission to Callisto - then suddenly their equipment malfunctions... Even if the original idea is absolutely ludicrous, the story is not half bad written. A READABLE thing.

"Under the Eaves" by Lavie Tidhar - in the same future high-tech Israel which this author already described in earlier stories in previous collections a woman falls in love with the wrong... well, I guess we have to call him "guy", for want of better word... I don't care much for the vision of the world in Lavie Tidhar stories, but this thing is nevertheless READABLE.

"Sudden, Broken, and Unexpected" by Steven Popkes - a composer and guitarist, who once was worldly famous as a one-hit-wonder, is offered a second chance by world's most popular "artist" - who just happens to be an AI... This long novella is a solid, honest GOOD thing - if only it had a real ending it would be a masterpiece...

"Fireborn" by Robert Charles Wilson - more fantasy than SF, even if some robots are involved; in a kind of alternate reality a young girl and her more-or-less boyfriend meet a quasi-immortal woman - then she offers them a job... The characters are not really likeable and the writing is not so great - it is a READABLE thing, but barely.

"Ruminations in an Alien Tongue" by Vandana Singh - an old woman, once counted amongst world's top mathematicians, lives her last years near an alien artefact - which she studied for most of her life. This story actually begins very, very well - but progressively it dissolves into tedious nonsense. READABLE, but barely.

"Tyche and the Ants" by Hannu Rajaniemi - a little girl lives alone in a secret compound on Moon; to fight solitude she invents herself imaginary companions; then one day strange robots invade her world... This is a very strange, in fact even weird story, but still READABLE - also, some of passages reminded me very pleasantly of childhood readings about Moomintrolls...

"The Wreck of the 'Charles Dexter Ward'" by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear - a follow up on wonderful 2008 "Boojum" and 2009 "Mongoose" stories which figured in two of earlier collections, this 29- pager continues to explore the "boojumverse", a highly successful combination of Lovecraftian mythos with classical SF; in this story we follow a medical doctor who is hired to assist in the salvage of the wreck of "Charles Dexter Ward" - a formerly alive but now unfortunately dead (although is it ENTIRELY dead?) "boojum" space ship. It is a VERY GOOD story, but I strongly advise to read "Boojum" and "Mongoose" before attacking that one - otherwise you will not enjoy it fully.

"Invisible Men" by Christopher Barzak - inspired by the classical story by H.G. Wells, this thing describes the life and fate of Invisible Man as seen by a discreet but very present observer. A READABLE thing, but nothing more.

"Ship's Brother" by Aliette de Bodard - in a very weird alternate future in which humanity, divided between rival Chinese and Azteca empires, went to space, a young boy becomes very hostile to his little sister, who is destined to be transformed in a central unit of a spaceship AI... READABLE, but barely.

"Eater-of-Bone" by Robert Reed - surprise, surprise. Robert Reed always was a very prolific author but somewhere around 2009 he started to show effects of some kind of burnout. And then, with this novella, he managed to produce a high quality, surprisingly original thing. One of the great clichés used, re-sued and abused in SF is the topic of highly advanced aliens landing on Earth in distant past and being worshipped as gods. Well, here the familiar tune is played in reverse - this novella is about a group of quasi immortal humans from the Great Ship who were marooned on an alien planet. There, they became monster-gods ("Eaters-of-Bone") for local small, primitive alien aborigines. Even if the ending is slightly weaker than I hoped for, this is nevertheless a VERY GOOD story.
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CONCLUSION: this is a very average, in fact somehow mediocre collection, albeit not exactly bad. Only ten stories out of 29 are really worth reading (three VERY GOOD and seven GOOD). If you can get them somewhere else (like online), I don't think it is absolutely necessary to buy this book.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 October 2013
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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on 29 August 2013
The usual high quality, eclectic offering from Gardner Dozois. A couple of star turns and a very low turkey count
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