The Best Science Fiction of the Year, Volume 4 (ed Neil Clarke, Nightshade Books 2019)

With no more Dozois anthologies, this is the only pure SF annual best volume this year (I think there’s a new title appearing in 2020).

So I’ll slowly work my way through the volume, reviewing stories and putting summaries of those reviews below, with links to the fuller reviews. In a homage to the recently departed Dozois, Clarke provides a mini-summation of the type that Dozois so diligently supplied in his long-running series.

Simone Heller. When We Were Starless.
Originally published online on Clarkesworld Magazine, and still online there.

Clarke opens the anthology with a strong story from his own publication. In my review I noted “Heller is an author new to me, but a name I would be looking out for now if I was still in the habit of reading a lot of short SF in it’s original appearance.” Read the Full Best SF Review here.


Kelly Robson. Intervention.
Originally in : Infinity’s End (ed Strahan, 2018)

I read this in it’s original appearance, and remember that I wasn’t really grabbed by the story of a spacer who turns her back on her team to become a creche leader. However, both Strahan and Clarke included it in their year’s bests, so clearly it ticked several of their boxes.

Nick Wolven. Lab B-15
Originally in : Analog Science Fiction and Fact, March/April 2018.

Scientist fiction in which there is a mystery about Lab B-15 which the protagonist has to solve, not aided by his aloof, non-communicative personality. A bit slow for me – it’s not ‘Source Code’.[20th Oct 2019]


Alastair Reynolds. Different Seas.
Originally in : Twelve Tomorrows 5, MIT Press 2018.

Trying to re-engage my brain with reading SF, I checked the contents list and headed for this story, looking forward to a lengthy galactic-spanning yarn. However this is much more tight and tethered to Earth. Lilith is onboard an otherwise unmanned oceangoing cargo ship when a major auroral storm damages her vessel. Such has been the global impact of this storm that rescue or repair is not going to happen quickly for her, and her vessel and it’s cargo, and Lilith herself are in grave danger. However, help is provided, through a maintenance ‘bot controlled through telepresence from a women whose life, unlike Lilith’s, is up and out amongst the planets. In the short time her saviour is with her, Lilith’s life is not only saved, but energised for a starrier future. [20th Oct 2019]

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