Welcome to Best SF – reviewing the very best SF short stories since 2000. Use the links below to browse recent reviews and visit the Review Index for over twenty years’ worth of reviews, of SF published from 1949 to date. Or use the search option at the top of the page. Currently reviewing Bleiler and Dikty’s ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1950’.
Latest updates :
21th October 2021. Having closed the 1949 volume, Henry Kuttner’s ‘Private Eye’ opens ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1950’.The story has two distinct elements. Firstly, an sfnal device that predates Philip K. Dick’s ‘The Minority Report’ by five years, with an all-seeing eye that the cops can use. Thus, rather than being a whodunnit, the second, and predominant element is that the story is a we-know-he-planned-to-do-it-and-they-know-he-did-it-but-can-they-find-historical-evidence-that-he-planned-to-do-it. If you like classic American detective fiction, and classic science fiction, this will be your cup of tea! Or cup of joe, to be a bit more in keeping with the type of story I suppose.
19th October 2021. Henry Kuttner’s ‘Happy Ending’ does indeed provide a happy ending to ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1949’, a story which is enjoyable throughout, but a very clever ending makes it even more of a great read and a concluding story in the volume.
16th October 2021. An author new to me, and I enjoyed Wilmar H. Shiras’ ‘In Hiding’ in ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1949’, although it was a bit overlong. A story that stands the test of time as there are no sfnal elements to date it, and it’s a psychological character study that works well today.
15th October 2021. I did read it in ‘The Early Asimov Volume 3’ back in around 1975, but have no memory of it (whilst other stories by Asimovs on a similar theme have stayed in the memory), but I was able to enjoy afresh Isaac’s Asimov’s ‘No Connection’ in ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1949’. The good news is that nuclear war probably isn’t going to be the end of humanity. The bad news is that since Asimov’s day we’ve dreamed up way more ways of addressing that issue.
6th October 2021. Not without it’s faults (primarily a *lot* of lecturing) Poul Anderson’s ‘Genius’ in ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1949’, creates a big backdrop and explores an interesting premise. And the following story, Ray Bradbury’s ‘And the Moon Be Still as Bright’ paints a bleak picture of the future (or lack of one) for the ancient, dead culture of Mars in the face of despoilation by humanity.
2nd October 2021. Enjoyed both J.J. Coupling’s ‘Period Piece’ and Fredric Brown’s ‘Knock’ in ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1949’, with the former standing the test of time well. Top marks to Coupling for having an automaton controlled by a remote computer through a ‘tight beam’.
1st October 2021. Ken Liu’s ‘Quality Time’ in Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year Volume Thirteen’ didn’t quite hit the heights his stories usually do.
30th September 2021. Two stories from ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1949’ which rather show their age : Erik Fennel’s ‘Doughnut Jockey’ is a good one if you’re interested in what rocket science in 1948 was thinking with reference to interplanetary flight, and Martin Gardner’s ‘Thang’ is an ultra-short with a single conceit.
30th September 2021. I’ve also re-started my review of Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year Volume 13’ from 2019, which I only got halfway through reading. First up is an excellent story, Vandana Singh’s ‘Widdam’ which looks at the response of government and corporations to climate change (ignore it and just fuck up the planet more), but with just a glimmer of hope for us. Dave Hutchinson’s ‘Golgotha’ in contrast, stretched my suspension of disbelief until it went ker-twang!
29th September 2021. Just enjoyed Lewis Padgett’s ‘Ex Machina’ in The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1949. And the following story Murray Leinster’s ‘The Strange Case of John Kingman’ is an interesting First Contact story.
26th September 2021. As there are a few weeks before the 2021-published Year’s Best SF volumes hit the doormat, I thought I’d get underway a project long planned, and I’m reading The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1949 (yes, 1949!), and start with a doozy in the shape of Ray Bradbury’s ‘Mars is Heaven!.
21st September 2021. Whoops, I was a bit previous in my last entry, as I hadn’t in fact quite finished Neil Clarke’s Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 2, but that is something I have now done as I have read, an enjoyed, Ken Liu’s ‘Dispatches from the Cradle: The Hermit—Forty-Eight Hours in the Sea of Massachusetts’. And FWIW after a couple of month’s with WordPress’s Gutenberg block editor, I’m back using the Classic Editor. How can the WordPress guys and gals get it so so badly wrong??
14th September 2021. Rather surprisingly, as I tend to really like Buckell’s stories, Karen Lord and Tobias Buckell’s ‘The Mighty Slinger’ in Neil Clarke’s Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 2, really didn’t do much for me, feeling somewhat sketchy rather than deep. And I’ve finished reading the few outstanding (as in not read) stories in that volume, with Karl Bunker’s ‘They Have All One Breath’ which looks at humanity under a benevolent but ultimately controlling AI.
12th September 2021. Alastair Reynolds’ ‘The Iron Tactician’ in Neil Clarke’s Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 2, revisits his epoch- and galaxy-spanning character Merlin, who has some deep space mysteries to resolve in the search for a weapon to defend humanity against an implacable enemy.
10th September 2021. Read and enjoyed Nick Wolven’s ‘Metal Demimonde’ in Neil Clarke’s Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 2, just a couple of stories to go before I’ve filled the gap in that volume and time to root out another.
9th September 2021. Read Aliette de Bodard’s ‘Pearl’ in Neil Clarke’s Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 2.
6th September 2021. Read Xia Jia’s ‘Night Journey of the Dragon-Horse’ in Neil Clarke’s Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 2. It’s poetic and charming.
4th September 2021. Having finished last year’s Year’s Best volumes, and whilst I wait for this year’s Year’s Best volumes, I’m going to read a few stories I never got round to reading in previous year’s Year’s Best volumes. First up is T.R. Napper’s ‘A Strange Loop’ a darkly comic cautionary tale about a man selling his memories to get his wife and daughter back, which was published in Neil Clarke’s ‘The Best Science Fiction of the Year, Volume 2’ way back in 2017. (Spoiler alert : he doesn’t!)
3rd September 2021. An enjoyable read as I get towards finishing Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction Volume 1’, Fonda Lee’s ‘I (28M) created a deepfake girlfriend and now my parents think we’re getting married’ is a plausible, amusing, well handled story of a young man whose initially harmless subterfuge becomes increasingly complicated. Hopefully Lee is touting the story’s film rights. And the final story in the volume is Caroline M. Yoachim’s ‘The Archronology of Love’ which didn’t quite move me as such stories might.
2nd September 2021. Coming towards the end of Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction Volume 1’ and Sofia Rhei’s ‘Secret Stories of Doors’ is a very, very clever piece or writing. Sadly, Greg Egan’s ‘This Is Not The Way Home’ falls quite some what short of what I was looking forward to, and Chinelo Onwualu’s ‘What The Dead Man Said’ has a very interesting setting but the story doesn’t make the most of it, and is in fact a ‘confronting your past and finding closure’ story that has no need for an sfnal setting.
1st September 2021. A counterpoint to the positive take on dealing with eco-catastrophe that Vandana Singh provided in the previous story in Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction Volume 1’ E. Lily Yu’s ‘Green Glass : A Love Story’ is blackly satirical and looks at just how the super-wealthy can rise above the rising sea levels, in a world where sourcing some fresh milk is a trickier ask than sending a rocket to the moon to gather a piece of green glass for a piece of jewelry.