The Year’s Best Science Fiction. 33rd Annual Collection. (ed Gardner Dozois, St. Martin’s Griffin, 2016).

Another year, another instalment in Dozois’ take on the best SF of the year. As I normally do, here follows a list of the stories, with links to those online, and links to reviews of those stories I read when they first appeared.

Ian McDonald. The Falls : A Luna Story
First published in ‘Meeting Infinity’ (ed Strahan, Solaris Books 2015)

McDonald is a classy writer at both short and long form, and here he gives a master class in writing a classy, intriguing opening to a story : “My daughter fell from the top of the world. She tripped, she gripped, she slipped and she fell. Into three kilometres of open air.” Slightly redolent of Ted Chiang’s ‘Story of Your Life’, we follow a mother-daughter story, which is interspersed with scientific descriptions, and thoughts on AI, in a story that keeps you engrossed to the very end.

Aliette de Bodard. Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight.
Originally in Clarkesworld Magazine, January 2015, and online here

I read it last year and noted : “..hit the spot nicely, with the accustomed oriental mannerisms, familial devotions and structures that clearly mark it out as a Xuya story”. Full review here.

Elearnor Arnason. Ruins.
Originally in : Old Venus (ed GRR Marting and Gardner Dozois) 2015

Ann Leckie. Another Word for World.
Originally in : Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft (ed Jennifer Henshaw and Allison Linn)

Presumably an anthology where you turn a page very now and then and get an entirely blue page and have to put the book down and return to it 5 minutes later?

Rich Larson. Meshed.
Originally in : Clarkesworld February 2016, and still online here

Gwyneth Jones. Emergence
Originally in : Meeting Infinity (ed Strahan 2015)

When I read it last year I noted : “..A *lot* of ideas, but covered sketchily, and not particularly satisfactorily.” Full review here.

Carter Scholz. Gypsy
Originally in : Gypsy (PM Press 2015) and also The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nov/Dec 2015

When I read the story in the inestimable F&SF I noted : “..An echo of Arthur C. Clarke in the way Scholz blends technology, societal issues, and challenges on an individual level.” Full review here

Chaz Brenchley. The Astrakhan, the Homburg, and the Red Red Coat.
Originally in : Lightspeed Magazine, June 2015

Indrapramit Das. The Muses of Shuyedan-18.
Originally in : Asimov’s Science Fiction, June 2015.

One of the stories of the year IMHO and I noted “..a great story from Das that does what I like an SF story to do – look at the future of humanity, explore the alien, and learn something about humans on a micro level or humanity on a macro level”. Full review here.

Carrie Vaughn. Bannerless.
Originally in : The End Has Come (ed John Joseph Adams)

“The End Is..” triptych from Adams was a bit hit for me, with me looking forward to the second and third instalments. I’m surprised other publishers haven’t followed suit. The Vaughn story was a good one, but a singleton story, and not one that really stands out in my memory. Full review here.

Sean McMullen. The Audience.
Originally in : Analog Science Fiction and Fact, June 2015.

James S.A. Corey. Rates of Change
Originally in : Meeting Infinity (ed Strahan)

When I read the story last year I noted : “..a thoughtful look at one of the central conceits of the collection theme – how will change in the near future impact the very essence of humanity.” Full review here.

Sam J. Miller. Calved.
Originally in : Asimovs September 2015.

I read it last year and noted it was the fourth really strong story by this new author I’d read in the past 12 months. Full review here.

Ian McDonald. Botanica Veneris : Thirteen Papercuts by Ida Countess Rathagan.
Originally in : Old Venus.

John Kessel. Consolation.
Originally in : Twelve Tomorrows (MIT)

Allen M. Steele. The Children of Gaal.
Asimovs, April/May 2015

Like his ‘Coyote’ series, Steele’s ‘Arkwright’ series of stories has failed to move me (in both cases I found the initial story intriguing, but other stories increasingly leaden). I found this story interesting to start, but the final several pages of lengthy explanation quite tedious. Full review here.

Martin L. Shoemaker. Today I am Paul.
Originally on : Clarkesworld, August 2015 (and still online).

I didn’t get to read this story online, or in this volume, but did read it in Nebula Awards Showcase 2017, which showcased the best SF in 2015, and which included this story on account of it being nominated in the Short Story Award category. I liked the story – full review here.

Paolo Bacigalupi. City of Ash.
Originally online on : Matter, July 27 2015 and (still online).

James Sarafin. Trapping the Pleistecene.
Originally in : The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, May/June 2015.

Not a story that really grabbed me when I read it last year. Full review here.

Nancy Kress. Machine Learning.
Originally in : Future Visions : Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Inhuman Garbage.
Originally in : Asimovs, March 2015.

I read a few pages of this “..police-procedural/detective story set in space..” and then decided to bale out. Full review here.

Paul J. McAuley. Planet of Fear.
Originally in ‘Old Venus’

Ned Beauman. It Takes More Muscles to Frown.
Originally in : Twelve Tomorrows.

Joe Pitkin. The Daughters of John Demetrius.
Originally in : Analog, October 2015.

John Barnes. Silence Like Diamonds.
Originally online on : Light Reading, July-August 2015 (and still online

Nick Harkaway. Billy Tumult.
Originally in : “Stories for Chip: a Tribute to Samuel R. Delany”

Seanan McGuire. Hello, Hello; Can You Hear Me, Hello”
Originally in : “Future Visions”

Geoff Ryman. Capitalism in the 22nd Century or A.I.r
Originally in : “Stories for Chip : a Tribute to Samuel R. Delany”

Rich Larson. Ice.
Originally online on : Clarkesworld, October 2015 and still online

I noted “.. well handled story of sibling love/hate, with a rivalry compounded by one being human norm, and the other…”

Benjamin Rosenbaum. The First Gate of Logic.
Originally in : “Stories for Chip : a Tribute to Samuel R. Delany”

Michael F. Flynn. In Panic Town, on the Backward Moon
Originally in : “Mission : Tomorrow (ed Bryan Thomas Schmidt)”

Kelly Robson. The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill.
Originally online on Clarkesworld, February 2015 and still online here

I read and enjoyed it last year, noting it a “challenging read”. Full review here.

Nick Wolven. No Placeholder for You, My Love
Originally in Asimovs, August 2015.

I read last year and noted “ intriguing love story”.

Kelly Link. The Game of Smash and Recovery.
Originally in : Strange Horizons, October 17 2015, and still online here.

Madline Ashby. A Stopped Clock.
Originally in : “The Atlantic Council Art of Future Warfare Project : War Stories from the Future”

Aliette de Bodard. The Citadel of Weeping Pearls.
Originally in : Asimovs, October/November 2015.

I didn’t engage with this particularly long story, but Lois Tilton, in her days for reviewing it on Locus Online considered it at length.


Another handsome volume, chock full of (mostly) great stories.

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