older updates fwiw

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.

31st August 2021. Ken Liu’s ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ in Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction Volume 1’ is a depressing read, looking at the aftermath of a mass shooting, made worse by the mother’s decision to use her dead daughter’s image in a campaign against shuch events. Fortunately, the following story in the volume, Vandana Singh’s ‘Reunion’ is much more upbeat, and has lots to like about it.

30th August 2021. Elizabeth Bear’s ‘Soft Edges’ in Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction Volume 1’ was just a little too reliant on lengthy debate of a moral dilemma to work as a story for me, although it had some nice touches. MAGA-hat wearers will probably have their head explode if they read it.

29th August 2021. Just read Peter Watts’ ‘Cyclopterus’ and Suyi Davies Okungbowa’s ‘Dune Song’ in Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 1’. Both near-future eco-catastrophe stories, it would have been better to have separated them in the volume.

28th August 2021. Just read Anil Menon’s ‘The Robots of Eden’ and Alice Sola Kim’s ‘Now Wait for This Week’ in Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 1’, particularly enjoying the latter.

illustration by Scott Bakal for S.I. Huang’s ‘As the Last I May Know’.

17th August 2021. Just read S.I. Huang’s ‘As the Last I May Know’ in Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction Volume 1’. It won the 2020 Hugo Award for Best Short Story FWIW, but for me it was a bit retro and simplistic for my liking. Next up in the volume is Fran Wilde’s multiply-nominated ‘A Catalog of Storms’, which is bang in the middle of Weird Unexplained Shit Going On territory, and as fantasy is somewhat out of place in a SF anthology.

16th August 2021. Just read Han Song’s ‘Submarines’ in Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction Volume 1’.

12th August 2021. Just read Rich Larson’s ‘Contagion’s Eve at the House Noctambulous’ in Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction Volume 1’, and by golly it’s a good one. I haven’t put the story illustration to the left for, well, reasons.

10th August 2021 – just read, in Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction Vol. 1’ Karin Tidbeck’s ‘The Last Voyage of Skidbladnir‘, which I rather enjoyed. You can read it over on Tor.com and props to Victor Mosquera for the illustration. However, the following story in the volume, Malka Older’s ‘Sturdy Lanterns and Ladders‘ is Earth and ocean-based and didn’t do much for me. And even worserer, a real oh bugger! moment, it transpires that next up in the volume, Ted Chiang’s ‘It’s 2059 and the Rich Kids are Still Winning‘ is not only just three pages long, it’s also just an op-ed (albeit one from the future) covering well established issues around their being more to achievement than IQ and education, rather than it being a story. #disappointment

Illustration by Eli Minaya for ‘Painless’

9th August 2021 – Rich Larson’s ‘Painless’ and A.T. Greenblatt’s ‘Give the Family My Love’ close out Neil Clarke’s ‘Best Science Fiction of the Year #5 strongly. Bring on #6. And muchly enjoyed the Men In Black/Fifth Element vibe of Tobias S. Buckell’s ‘The Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex’ in Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction Vol. 1’. But Saleem Haddad’s ‘Song of the Birds’ has an altogether darker tone.

5th August 2021 – five stories read in Neil Clarke’s ‘Best Science Fiction of the Year #5, just two left, which is good timing as #6 won’t be too long before it lands on my doormat.

25th July 2021 : finished reading Nebula Awards Showcase #54. Good news : large enough print to be able to read it without my reading glasses. Bad news : whilst there were a couple of Nebula-standard stories in there, there were a couple of really really poor stories, and the remainder were very average.

25th July 2021 : bit of a break from reading, but Charlie Jane Anders’ The Bookstore at the End of America was a doozy of a story to mark my return.

21st May 2021 : over the past week I’ve read Ann Leckie’s ‘The Justified’, Annalee Newitz’ ‘Old Media’, Alec Nevala-Lee’s ‘At the Fall’ and Ray Nayler’s ‘The Ocean Between the Leaves’ in Neil Clarke’s ‘The Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 5’.

21st April 2021 : big development here folks, the Nebula Awards Showcase 54 volume has, I realise, such large print that I can read the book with my Laptop Glasses, of which I have several pairs, meaning that I don’t have to play the game Where Are My Fcking Reading Glasses!, which involves stomping round the house. Sometimes that game evolves into Seriously, Where Are My Fcking Reading Glasses!, which goes off into tangents including No, Those Are My Reading Small Print Glasses! or No, Those Are William’s Glasses!! Anyhoo, I duly read, in quick order, A.T. Goodblatt’s ‘And Yet’ a haunted house/revisiting the childhood horrors story which felt just a little too like previous stories in a similar vein. But as a librarian, my fancy was truly tickled by Alix E. Harrow’s ‘A Witch’s Guide to Escape : a Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies’ and I have passed the story over to my ex-children’s librarian wife for her to read it.

7th April 2021 : busy of late walking the streets enumerating, in a job the kind of which only comes along every ten years or so. I just read Karen Osborne’s ‘Cratered in Neil Clarke’s ‘The Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 5’, but which didn’t quite do it for me.

The new slimmed down presentation of Best SF reflects a reduction to reviewing just the Year’s Best volumes. To see what I was up to in the 20 years before that, check out BestSF.net on The WayBack Machine