19th October 2022. Eleanor Arnason’s ‘Tunnels’ is in Neil Clarke’s ‘Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 6’. I read the first half, skimmed the second and am somewhat bemused as to it’s inclusion in the volume.
18th October 2022. The previous story in Neil Clarke’s ‘Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 6’ fairly zipped through a lot of action, whereas in contrast Matthew Kressel’s ‘Still You Linger, Like Soot in the Air’, very little happens, but there’s a lot going on in the mind of the protagonist. And similary exploring inner space, the first story in Bleiler and Dikty’s ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1953’ (well, the first story in the UK edition which I have, which has fewer stories) William F. Temple’s ‘Counter-Transference’ looks at the stresses humanity is facing from the constant change we are facing, and how we might evolve as a result of those stresses.
15th October 2022. Howdy folks, I’m back again after a three-month absence. Nothing dramatic to account for the absence, just a lot hot summer, watching ‘For All Mankind s3’, and getting rather engrossed in a side project : developing (for fun, not commercially) a text-only version of the original Resident Evil 1 computer game for the Sinclair Spectrum Next retro-computer. Yes, really. More details here. I was also reading Arkady Martine’s ‘A Memory Called Empire’ and it’s sequel ‘A Desolation Called Peace’, both Hugo Award winners for Best Novel. They’re lengthy, very complex, very layered, with strong characterisation and a whole heap more. Which is a bit unfair on the first short story I’ve read since that intensive and absorbing read, which was from Neil Clarke’s ‘Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 6’, namely Rati Mehrotra’s ‘Knock, Knock Said the Ship’. As a short story it was obviously going to struggle to compare favourably. But leaving out the looming presence of that excellent duology, the Mehrotra story did rather zip through at an extremely fast pace, and wasn’t a standout read for me. [15th Oct 2022]
20th July 2022. A bit of a beef with Neil Clarke’s The Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 6, in that he has put two stories one after another, both scientist fiction, both near future climate and geopolitical change. Fortunately both S.B. Divya’s ‘Textbooks in the Attic’ and M. L. Clark’s ‘Seeding the Mountain’ have plenty of good characterisation, background, and cultural and geo-political dimension to them, which often isn’t the case with scientist fiction. On the climate change issue, with the cost of fuel going sky high, would you believe that wannabe British PM Rishi Sunak has just said that he plans to keep the planning changes put in place a while back that make building onshore wind farms basically impossible??
20th July 2022. The last story in Bleiler/Dikty’s ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories 1952’ is Ray Bradbury’s ‘The Pedestrian’ which provides a warning to the generations to come. He didn’t quite get it right though – it’s not a question of walking on deserted pavements because everyone is indoors glued to the tv, it’s walking on congested pavements dodging the people with people glued to their mobile phone!
11th July 2022. The pre-penultimate and penultimate stories of Bleiler/Dikty’s ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories 1952’ are dark ones. William Tenn’s ‘Generation of Noah’ takes a brief look at one man seeking to survive the imminent nuclear war, despite the ridicule of neighbours. He has the last laugh. And Mack Reynolds and Fredric Brown ‘Dark Interlude’ sees a time traveller from the far future on a one-way ticket falling for a girl in the southern states of America. Sadly, something that is of little consequence to him, is of great importance to the local good old boys.
30th June 2022. Dilman Dila’s ‘Red_Bati’ in Neil Clarke’s The Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 6 is a nice little story as far as it goes. It doesn’t go into places where no man has gone before, but it’s nice enough.
29th June 2022. Coming towards the end of Bleiler/Dikty’s ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories 1952’! Slightly slower progress than might have been expected on account of watching the Amazon Prime TV series ‘Night Sky’ which I’ve enjoyed a lot. First half of the series particuarly so, with wonderful performances, but just a bit concerned as whether s2 can live up to that. Anyhoo, before s2 arrives, there’s s3 of ‘For All Mankind’ to be watched. But back to the 1950s SF. Arthur Porges’ ‘The Rats’ has a resilient loner about to go underground to sit out the imminent nuclear war. The only thing he has to do is to get rid of his rodent problem. Unfortunately for him, his cunning plan to build his underground shelter on an abandoned nuclear testing site means that he’s dealing with rats who have been exposed to radiation…. Jack Vance’s ‘Men of the Ten Books’ poses an ethical dilemma for explorers who stumble across a planet with the descendants of a crashed rocket ship from some 300 years ago. The people they find are living in a veritable nirvana. Do they really want to introduce them to the whole seething mass of humanity and inevitably ruin them and their planet?
28th June 2022. Fritz Leiber’s ‘Appointment in Tomorrow’ in Bleiler/Dikty’s ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories 1952’ has stood the test of time well. It offers some double-crossing, some double-double crossing, heaps of chutzpah, come uppances, tech forecasting, great dialog, and some great writing. And also, it’s available in full on Project Gutenber.
23rd June 2022. Two more stories from Bleiler/Dikty’s ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1952’. Peter Phillips”At No Extra Cost’ is a dialogue-heavy robotic ethics story that could easily have been written by Asimov himself. Anthony Boucher’s ‘Nine-Finger Jack’ left me feeling that I’m missed something important in the story, but I think it was just that the humour didn’t gel with me.
20th June 2022. Three dark and disturbing stories from Bleiler/Dikty’s ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1952’. British SF stalward ohn Christopher’s ‘Balance’ looks at the threat a multi-faceted genius might provide, in a story some 15years after his first published novel. Idris Seabright’s ‘Brightness Falls from the Air’ looks at how an alien bird-like race have been crushed under humanity’s rapacious galactic expansion. And, following up his oh-so-dark story in the previous year’s volume Richard Matheson’s ‘Witch War’ shows even more literary chutzpah, that will have marked him out further as One To Watch. [22nd June 2022]
14th June 2022. Two readable stories from Bleiler/Dikty’s ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1952’. The humour and time travel conceit in Wilson Tucker’s ‘The Tourist Trade’ stand up well to the test of time. Nancy Kress’ ‘Invisible People’ in Neil’s Clarke’s ‘The Best Science Fiction of the Year 6’ is well written, which hardly needs to be said, but some 30 years on from her seminal ‘Beggars in Spain’ this story in a similar vein doesn’t quite hit those heights!
9th June 2022. David Grinnell’s ‘Extending the Holdings’ in Bleiler/Dikty’s ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1952’, is a short, wry and lightweight tale of someone attempting to reach for the moon.
7th June 2002. Two good stories in Bleiler/Dikty’s ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1952’, C. M. Kornbluth’s ‘The Marching Morons’ is darkly satirical, and Betsy Curtis’ ‘A Peculiar People’ is an altogether gentler story.
26th May 2022. Carolyn Ives Gilman ‘Exile’s End’ is far-future, ethnographic and looks at cultural appropriation. It’s a worthy story, but just misses out on that something extra to make it a special story. It’s in Neil’s Clarke’s ‘The Best Science Fiction of the Year 6’.
25th May 2022. Two more good stories in Neil’s Clarke’s ‘The Best Science Fiction of the Year 6’. Bogi Takács ‘The 1st Interspecies Solidarity Fair and Parade’ is a clever look at communities and individuals rebuilding after alien invasion. Adrian Tchaikovsky’s ‘Oannes, From The Flood’ is of the near-future technology/climate stories type (ie not SF) but is a good read. In other news viz. time dilation, tomorrow is my youngest son’s 30th birthday. How is that even possible?? In related news (i.e. awareness of the passing of time and me being in my seventh decade) I’ve spent quite some time transcribing my hand written diaries from 1978-1996 and incorporating scanned photos that match entries in the diaries. I’ve got more diaries to do, and I’ll reference the several twitter accounts and other places I’ve written my sage words of wisdom, and they’re going to be packed up and uploaded somewhere, in the sound conviction that in decades to come there’ll be AI technology that will be good enough to take this trove of words and recreate some virtual avater that is a version of this mortal self. And … hang on a second, the wife is telling me it’s time for my tablets…. And also just read and enjoyed, in Bleiler/Dikty’s ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1952’, Alfred Bester’s ‘Of Time and Third Avenue’ in which a bar in said location is the scene for a bit of persuasion needed to ensure an almanac from the future retuns to it’s rightful temporal location.
16th May 2022. Two stories in Neil’s Clarke’s ‘The Best Science Fiction of the Year 6’ from authors who work I’ve enjoyed in the past, and who deliver the goods. James Patrick Kelly’s ‘Your Boyfriend Experience’ has a slightly different take on sexbots, and Mercurio D. Rivera’s ‘Beyond the Tattered Veil of Stars’ is a clever look at simulation theory.
10th May 2022. TBH I struggled with Arula Ratnakar’s ‘Lone Puppeteer of a Sleeping City’, in Neil’s Clarke’s ‘The Best Science Fiction of the Year 6’, which I found just a bit too dense and difficult to engage with.
9th May 2022. Julie Novakova’s ‘The Long Iapetan Night’ in Neil’s Clarke’s ‘The Best Science Fiction of the Year 6’ was an okay read, but I felt it missed just that little something special.
8th May 2022. Carrie Vaughn’s ‘Sinew and Steel and What They Told’ in Neil’s Clarke’s ‘The Best Science Fiction of the Year 6’ is also far future and off earth and slo very good.
4th May 2022. As his stories invariably do for me, Ray Nayler’s ‘Eyes of the Forest’ in Neil’s Clarke’s ‘The Best Science Fiction of the Year 6’ hits the spot nicely, especially as it’s far future and offworld, stories of which ilk were fairly few and far between in Strahan’s take of the Year’s Best.>
30th April 2022. Pleased to report that a) Neil’s Clarke’s ‘The Best Science Fiction of the Year 6’ has now been delivered and it opens with Tobias S. Buckell’s ‘Scar Tissue’ which I enjoyed; and b) Rich Horton has posted the ToC for his Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Edition 2021, although with the rider Amazon is showing just a Kindle version, as it does for the 2020 Edition.
29th April 2022. Well, I didn’t think it was quite so long since I had read something for Best SF. I’ve been engrossed of late, ekeing out, as I tend to do with something I enjoy reading (i.e. prolonging the pleasure and not wanting to reach the end) Arkady Martine’s ‘A Memory Called Empire’. A very good novel indeed, although frustratingly what sticks in the mind most are a couple of anachronistic references (heating up coffee in a microwave, and eating ice cream in a park from a tub with a plastic spoon, and flourescent lighting – all out of place many millenia and half a galaxy away!). That novel was a dense read, so quite handy that I was able to return to the short SF with an easy read viz Walter Kubilius’ ‘The Other Side’, from ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1952’. Very much just the kind of delicate digestif after such a full repast.
7th March 2022. Just finished Bleiler and Dikty’s ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1951’, with Frank Belknap Long’s ‘Two Face’ seeing human visitors to a planet come face to face with an indigenous race who turn out to be two-faced (Eloi/Morlock) and Fritz Leiber’s ‘Coming Attraction’ looking into some very dark corners of the post-WWII Cold War human psyche.
28th Feb 2022. Well, Charles L. Harness’ ‘The New Reality’ in Bleiler and Dikty’s ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1951’ requires the reader to sit up and pay attention, as there’s a *lot* of commplicated stuff to get your head around! Just two stories left in the volume. Hopefully I’ll get to read them, provided the evil RasPutin keeps his murderous kleptomaniacal fingers off that big red button….
27th Feb 2022. Coming towards the end of Bleiler and Dikty’s ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1951’. Ray Bradbury’s ‘The Fox in the Forest’ has a married couple fleeing back in time to 1930s Mexico to hide from their life working for a perpetual war effort where chemical weapons are the norm.. ‘Fredric Brown. The Last Martian’ is an altogether lighter tale, about a man who believes himself to be the last Martian and who is surprised to find himself on Earth in a human body. There is a twist in the final page that cheered my spirits as I feared the reader was to be left to make up their mind!
24th Feb 2022. A bit of a break from short SF, partly on account of watching the recent Dune movie and decided to re-read the original novel for the first time since 1975. And I fairly zipped through it, which came as a suprise, as I’ve struggled with novels of late, let alone very long ones. I’ve also been watching ‘For All Mankind’ on Apple TV, currently series 2 and enjoying it. But, having just finished Dune (the ending snuck up on me as I’d forgotten the 100-odd pages of appendices at the back of the book) I thought I’d have a little light ‘digestif’ so to speak in the shape of Richard Matheson’s ‘Born of Man and Woman’ which is just a few pages long, and, I guessed one of the lighter stories in Bleiler and Dikty’s ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1951’. Well, it *was* short. Light it certainly was not…
7th February 2022. Damon Knight’s ‘To Serve Man’ in Bleiler and Dikty’s ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1951’ is a delicate little morsel. The following story, L. Sprague de Camp’s ‘Summer Wear’ is similarly light, as light as the summer clothes which are being taken to an alien planet in an attempt to persuade the denizens to embrace Earth couture. Interestingly the story is very much part of a much bigger series of stories by de Camp, an author who I have little knowledge of. So far!
28th January 2022. Well, the divisional round of NFL playoffs was a treat this year, although for a long-standing Bills fan, their game against the Chiefs was a difficult watch! Anyoo, reading-wise, Alfred Bester’s ‘Oddy and Id’ looks at the role of the Freudian id a millenia hence.
21st January 2022. By way of a palate-cleanser between the Year’s Best volumes I’m reading, I’m just started on L. Ron Hubbard presents Writers of the Future Volume 36 and the first story by C. Winspear certainly didn’t feel terribly out of place amongst my rich diet of Year’s Best stories.
20th January 2022. I’ve finished my ‘review’ of Nebula Awards Showcase #55 which doesn’t have a whole lot of SF in it, as is the case these days.
20th January 2022. Bleiler and Dikty’s ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1951’ contains stories from a selection of authors that is pretty much a roll-call of the great writers of the 1950s/1960s : Poul Anderson, Alfred Bester, Ray Bradbury, Fredric Brown, L Sprague de Camp, Gordon Dickson, Charles Harness, Damon Knight, Cyril Kornbluth, Fritz Leiber, Katherine MacLean, Richard Matheson, Frank M Robinson, and A E van Vogt. But at least for this reader, William F. Temple is a name that doesn’t register as do those names. However his ‘Forget-me-not’ is an enjoyable read, and stands head and shoulders up there with any of the other stories I’ve read in this series so far. And Katherine MaLein’s ‘Contagion’ next up in the volume is an entertaining and memorable read.
18th January 2022. Ha! You might almost think I planned it this way. Having just finished Strahan’s latest Year’s Best (see entry below) and lamenting the majority of stories being near-future and AI/tech/environment/DNA rather than sfnal stories, my next story to read is from Bleiler and Dikty’s ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1951’ and A.E. van Vogt’s ‘Process’ is far future, deep space, and features as a protagonist a continent-spanning sentient forest.
16th January 2022. Last up in Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 2’ is Neon Yang’s ‘The Search for [Flight X]’ which I enjoyed, with the proviso that it isn’t SF. I make a note of this issue in my short conclusion about the book – 20 of the 26 stories are near-future and they cover tech, AI, environmental issues and such like, and to varying degrees don’t really provide what I’m looking for in SF, leaving just a half dozen set off Earth and in the future.
13th January 2022. Coming towards the end of Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 2’ Tochi Onyebuchi’s ‘How to Pay Reparations: a Documentary’ addresses a humongously complicated and charged issue, but in a documentary-transcript format which doesn’t quite work for me. Nick Wolven’s ‘Sparklybits’ is similarly near-future, looks at issues surrounding the increasing presence of tech (internet of things) and AI, but has a more traditional narrative approach, which worked better for me.
12th January 2022. I enjoyed Marian Denise Moore’s ‘A Mastery of German’ in Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 2’, but was disappointed when it ended as I was anticipation the story kicking into top gear.
9th January 2022. If you like forensic, procedural stories about manufacturing electonic parts and logistics theoreof, then Roger Flint Young’s ‘Not to be Opened’ in ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1951’ is the story for you. I don’t, and it wasn’t.
6th January 2022. As with the Siddiqui story in the volume, Usman T. Malik’s ‘Beyond These Stars Other Tribulations of Love’ has a lot of humanity in it, but the sfnal element is marginal.
5th January 2022. Charlie Jane Anders’ ‘If You Take My Meaning’ in Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 2’, follows on from her novel ‘The City in the Middle of Night’ and gives a glimpse into an intriguing world.
4th January 2022. Possibly my favourite story so far in Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 2’, from an author new to me, Ozzie M. Gartrell’s ‘The Transition of OSOOSI’ has a lot to offer.
3rd January 2022. Three near-future tech stories in Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 2’. Suzanne Palmer’s ‘Don’t Mind Me’ is a cautionary one which looks at a means by which conservative/Christian parents can prevent their offspring from being exposed to language and subject matter which they don’t approve of (you can guess what kind of topic!). Karl Schroeder’s ‘The Suicide of our Troubles is a more optimistic look at some novel ways in which tech (gaming, cryptocurrency, blockchain, augmented reality) can bring together communities and challenge ecological issues. And Sameem Siddiqui’s ‘Airbody’ has an sfnal underpinning (renting out your body to host a virtual visitor) but beyond that is a story about moving far away from home and your roots, and looking at past regrets, and could easily be retooled as a non-SF story.
2nd January 2022. I enjoyed Ray Nayler’s ‘Father’ in Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 2’ , especially as the alternate history 1950s suburban USA setting struck a chord with the stories I’ve been reading of late in the Bleiler/Dikty anthologies of late forties/early fiftes best SF.
1st January 2022. Yes 2022 FFS. I’m sure I must have read it at some point in the past, and the seasoned SF reader will be pretty sure what’s happening and what’s going to happen, but I still enjoyed Bill Brown’s ‘The Star Ducks’ in ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1951’.
30th December 2021. Two more stories from Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 2’ and both from a couple of long-time favourite authors. Pat Cadigan’s ‘The Final Performance of the Amazing Ralphie’ has an entertaining AI-controlled wannable magician who pulls much more than single dove out from his virtual sleeve, and which is complemented by the much more intense Maureen McHugh ‘Yellow and the Perception of Reality’ which is an altogether more complication looks at the nature of our perception of ‘reality’.
28th December 2021. Timons Esaias’ ‘GO. NOW. FIX.’ in Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 2’ is an entertaining drama in which, in a world with an Internet of Things, saving the day can be done by the most unassuming and unlikely device. And from that same source A.T. Greenblatt’s ‘Burn or The Episodic Life of Sam Wells as a Super’ is a well-handled character-driven story about trying to fit in, albeit in a superhero setting, which I tend not to engage with as a rule. That rule being that I mostly read science fiction. Bu the next story in the volume did hit the spot for me – Rich Larson’s ‘How Quini the Squid Misplaced His Klobučar’ is some good old-fashioned cyberpunk, and a cracking example of it. But how in God’s green earth are we only six months away from the freaking 40th anniversary of the publication of William Gibson’s ‘Burning Chrome’??
21st December 2021. Unlike the previous story in ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1951’, which was somewhat dated, Cyril M. Kornbluth’s ‘The Mindworm’ stands the test of time, and it’s a cracking sf/horror story.
19th December 2021. Alastair Reynolds’ ‘Polished Performance’ in Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 2’ is an altogether lighter yarn from Reynolds than you would expect, but is an entertaining look at how the robotic crew address the issue of the loss of the human cryosleepers in their charge. A bit less reading of late, as I’ve been catching up with Fargo series 4, and the Apple TV ‘Foundation’. I liked the way ep1 of the latter stayed fairly close to the opening pages of Asimov’s first story in the sequence, and the Cleon clones angle I liked, other bits less so, so far.
18th December 2021. From Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 2’, Nadia Afifi’s The Bahrain Underground Bazaar uses an sfnal device (virtual immersive experiences) to get inside the head of an older woman, and Ken Liu’s ’50 Things Every AI Working with Humans Should Know’ is a wry take on matters AI.
12th December 2021. Until you read my review of Gene Doucette’s ‘Schrödinger’s Catastrophe’ in Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 2’, it will, for you, be both a good review and not a good review. However, I can tell you that Andy Dudak’s ‘Midstrathe Exploding’ has a very clever idea and it’s very well handled, and I was a bit miffed that the story wasn’t much longer.
8th December 2021. I was mildly entertained by the bit of wry humour and satire in Max Barry’s ‘It Came From Cruden Farm’ in Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 2’, but almost a quarter of a century after Men In Black, I didn’t think there was enough in the story about alien visitations to Earth to be a Year’s Best story.
6th December 2021. I really enjoyed the lyrical and touching Yoon Ha Lee’s ‘The Mermaid Astronaut’ in Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 2’ .
28th November 2021. The humour in Reginald Bretnor’s ‘The Gnurrs Come from the Voodvork Out’ comes across as rather dated, but as it appeared in ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1951’, this is to be expected.
27th November 2021. There are some sympathetically well-drawn characteristics in Meg Elison’s ‘The Pill’ in Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 2’ .
22nd November 2021. An author new to me, although with Hugo/Nebula/Locus noms and wins under their belt, Sarah Gailey’s ‘Drones to Ploughshares’ in Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 2’ didn’t really do much for me at all.
20th November 2021. Two great stories start off Jonathan Strahan’s ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 2’, viz. Vina Jie-Min Prasad’s ‘A Guide for Working Breeds’ and Rebecca Campbells ‘An Important Failure’
6th November 2021. First up in ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1951’ is Frank M. Robinson’s ‘The Santa Claus Planet’, which rather suprisingly isn’t an example of the best SF from the previous year, as this was it’s first print appearance. Which I might need to point out to younger readers means that, as it was 1951, it hadn’t appeared anywhere before either, as there was only print in which to appear at that time!
5th November 2021. You have to turn somewhat of a blind eye to some of the science in John D. MacDonald’s ‘Flaw’, but it’s well written, as you might expect from such an experienced author, albeit rather downbeat. And ‘The Year’s Best Science Fiction Stories : 1950’ ends with Ray Bradbury’s ‘The Man’, a short, thoughtful piece on the nature of faith and the need to search for something.
31st October 2021. Wilmar R. Shiras’ ‘Opening Doors’ in ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1950’ follows on from her ‘In Hiding’ from the previous year’s volume, and is more of the same – lengthy and detailed, without much happening at all. Very much a novel serialisation feel to it. The following story, Robert W. Krepps’ ‘Five Years in the Marmalade’ is an altogether lighter piece, a droll little spacefaring tale. And Ray Bradbury’s ‘Dwellers in Silence’ provides us with another bleak tale set amongst the deserted, wind-swept ruins of the ancient Martian civilization. (Lots of reading today as I’m laid low-ish with a stinking cold that precludes me doing much more than sitting down, reading or watching TV). Fredric Brown’s ‘Mouse’ sees a small-scale alien First Contact, however, as the humble rat killed millions through the plague, the fact that the dead inhabitant of the alien vessel is a small mouse, doesn’t mean there isn’t a potential for bad, bad things to happen. Robert Moore Williams ‘Refuge for Tonight’ really does stand out in ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1950’ as a story that could have been written 7 days ago, not 70 years ago, with elements in the story used in computer games/movies over the decades since. Murray Leinster’s ‘The Life-Work of Professor Muntz’ doesn’t feature Professor Muntz, as he is already posthumous at the beginning of the story, but his life work enables the coarse, and entirely noncogniscent of what is happening, Mr. Grebb to avoid being the fall guy for a crooked supervisor’s nefarious fiddling (at least in this plane). An amusing piece.
28th October 2021. Clifford (no D) Simak’s ‘Eternity Lost’ in ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1950’, stands the test of time well. Conversely Robert Spencer Carr’s ‘Easter Eggs’ is rather too embedded in the immediate postwar Red Peril panic in the USA for it to do so.
27th October 2021. Light in tone and gently humorous, Theodore Sturgeon’s ‘The Hurkle is a Happy Beast’ gets some proper SF in to ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1950’, three stories in.
25th October 2021. Will F. Jenkins aka Murrary Leinster’s ‘Doomsday Deferred’ in ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories : 1950’ is nicely written, but doesn’t satisfy much in terms of providing SF.
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.
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.
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
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