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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 14 September 2012
Firstly a warning: this book has exactly the same contents as Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Ninth Annual Collection, The. The two series run in parallel each year and it's always confusing. The "Year's Best" series comes out slightly earlier and has better artwork on the cover, but suffers from being wider (and therefore less easy to hold) and more expensive. You pay your money, you takes your choice. I bought both one year but Amazon took one back, but be careful anyway.

Gardner Dozois's SF annual collections are a must-read for fans of SF short fiction, a real annual treat. This year is no exception and contains some excellent stories. Ranking each story between 1 (poor) and 5 (outstanding), I rated this year's stories as follows: 4 2-star stories, 10 3-star, 16 4- star and 5 5-star stories. The 5-star stories this year (in my opinion, and of course everyone will have a different set of favourites) were:
"The Beancounter's Cat" by Damien Broderick, the story of a young woman's journey on a space habitat, dressed up partially as a fairy tale.
"The Dala Horse" by Michael Swanwick, again this starts off reading like a fairy tale, but tells the story of a young girl's adventures in a future post-war Scandinavia: very visual
"The Ice Owl" by Carolyn Ives Gilman, the story of a young woman's political awakening on a far-flung planet
"What we found" by Geoff Ryman, a lesson in story telling, you almost don't notice the SF element (or care that it's a small part of the tale)
"A Militant Peace" by David Klecha and Tobias S Buckell - I am always wary of collaborations, but this is a really inventive tale of how North Korea might be invaded peacefully in the future.

Dozois always puts a novella at the end and this year the selection is "The Man Who Bridged The Mist", a 50-page tale by Kij Johnson. It's extremely well written and just fell short of a 5-star rating because it seems to fall into a semi-fantasy alternative earth rather than hard SF. I don't like fantasy or horror and this collection almost always avoids strong elements of either. Johnson's tale is almost but not quite SF, but that aside is a wonderful work and worth the wait.

The book is a long read (650 pages including the useful summary at the start), but I did notice a slight degradation in quality from last year, when I rated only 3 3-star and 23 4-star stories, so (again, only in my opinion) around 7 less stories made 4 stars and fell into the 3-star ("ok") category.

A cold division of total points divided by number of stories (35) gives 3.62 which I am more than happy to round up to 4, because this collection remains essential reading on an annual basis. Highly recommended.
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on 12 September 2012
There is a certain joy to be had from reading from a collection of short stories in that you are never quite sure what it is you will get from a tale that is so briefly told , be it sudden quick laughter,a slightly cold shiver of surprise or a moments thoughtful reflection before you move on to sample the next delight.
What you are virtually guaranteed when you read the annual mammoth selection of Gardner Dozois is consistent quality, which is why I have read every volume that has been produced for more years than I care to remember.This one is no exception to that rule and may it long continue well into the future.
Every year he manages to distill into these thick volumes the very best short story science fiction there is to be found in the world and that is no small task ,given the sheer numbers actually out there.What always stands out amongst the huge variety of stories is just how wonderfully different each is,yet the common thread often connecting them isn't so much the science in the fiction but the humanity to be found within the character of the story. And some are as unique and fascinating as the circumstances and futures,the stars and planets that they are found inhabiting.
Yes, there is wonderful inventiveness often at play here and many a thrill that comes from reading a clever sketched future but it is the sheer skill in the writing that impresses time and again, as Dozois picks the very best from the most talented authors of this field and crams as many as he can into this huge volume.And ,as always, this collection has some superb examples of the genre.
My only complaint that I have with the book is that I thought ,for a brief moment after opening up the package ,that somebody had let a can of fizzy drink explode and dry across the cover. It was only the lack of stickiness that made me realise this was actually an intended effect.Such gimmicks are not required. Please don't do it again.
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on 4 October 2012
Gardner Dozois has been compiling these annual anthologies of the best new SF for so long now there's a danger of taking them for granted.

Let's hope that never happens. Once again, he's compiled a huge but easily digestible selection of the year's best SF which is notable for its breadth of subject matter and styles, whilst being absolutely consistent in terms of the quality of the writing. As ever, big names rub shoulders with rising stars and he doesn't ignore writers from outside the USA. It would be a laudable achievement in any one year. To do it every year for almost three decades is phenomenal, particularly in a cultural climate of increasing faddishness and hyperbole.

So, another year, another brilliant anthology. The same good things that get said every year can and will be said about this volume. But don't let familiarity with what Dozois does blind you to how exciting and enjoyable the books are, and this year's is no exception. A huge treat and a huge bargain.

PS Kindle readers can be ressured that the e-book version doesn't feel like someone has spilled pop on it.
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on 16 April 2014
Another excellent anthology. There are quite a few more stories written in present tense than I normally see in this anthology, so if you really don't like reading present tense (I'm not a fan) you may want to skip some of the entries, but there are more than enough entries in the anthology to ensure that it doesn't matter too much - if you don't like one story, there are probably half a dozen more you'll love. It has quite a few well-known favourites in there, too, such as Catherynne Valente, which is always a treat.
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on 6 July 2013
I've been a keen buyer of Gardner Dozois' annual roundup of the SF scene for the best part of twenty years, and this anthology is of a consistently high standard. I'd recommend it to anyone wanting to keep abreast of the best current writing in the genre. One point worth making this year is the high proportion of British authors included - whether this is due to falling standards in the US or better opportunities for publishing short stories in the UK, I'm not sure.
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on 18 February 2013
This year's edition sees a broadening of what qualifies as 'sci-fi' to include tales that I'd class as fantasy and those stories that don't really fit into any traditional genre. Previous editions were indeed a mammoth feast of sci-fi with only a couple of duds but this edition struggles to make it to a 50% success rate. The good stories come from established authors and are great - buy this book cheaply or on kindle and you'll still get your money's worth.
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on 27 February 2014
I have bought all anthologies of the last 13 years, and they offer a wide-ranging tour through the different domains of Science Fiction, catering for all tastes. I discovered new authors, read some known ones with renewed pleasure, and explored new sub-genres. The lengthy Introduction by Gardner Dozois, summing up the year's activities across all types of SF and media, is worth buying by itself ... And it makes one want to read even more books ...
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on 22 April 2013
Am halfway through and haven't yet come across many stories that make me pug the book down afterwards because of the satisfaction the story gave me, which is a common event for me while reading these, but still a good collection
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on 12 March 2013
I have bought several of these collections previously as they make good light reading. However this edition disappoints with little I would re-read. I will try one more.
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on 22 December 2015
Great Stories from a Master Anthologist year on year
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