The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Fifth Annual Collection (ed Gardner Dozois, St Martins/Griffin 2018)

The final volume of Dozois’ Year’s Best anthologies…
 
After reading SF up to my mid-teens, I didn’t read much for a decade or so, and it was picking up, by chance, a UK edition of one of the mid-1980s Dozois anthologies that got me into reading short SF, and I haven’t looked back since. I only had a few short email exchanges with Gardner over the years, but I do remember that when I posted on the site way back in 2002 that my father had died, Gardner made the effort to send an email expressing his condolences, and that touched me, and was I feel a mark of the man.

The volume arrived today (Mon 13th August 2018). Here are the contents, and I will insert story reviews of the following weeks and months as I savour the volume. The only silver lining to the this last volume cloud, is that my plan is to go back to Volume 1, and make my way through all 35 volumes, reading those stories I haven’t yet read, and those I want to read again. Watch this space. (Well, not *this* space, but some space on the home page).

Indrapramit Das. The Moon Is Not a Battlefield.
Originally in : Infinity Wars (ed Strahan, Solaris 2017).

A strong opening to the volume, a thoughtful and powerful reflection by a retired Indian lunar combat soldier – reflections on childhood life in the slums of India, decades spent as a combat soldier on the moon, and retirement slightly closer back to Earth. Bother internal and personal, and outward looking. Full Best SF review here.

R.S.Benedict. My English Name.
Originally in: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, May/June 2017.

An ‘interesting’ choice from Dozois, as I’d put this story clearly into the horror genre, or, failing that, fantasy. A well-told story, but not SF. The narrator is a creature who does not know it’s own origins, but what it does know is how to inhabit the bodies of humans and pass themselves off as human. We find out quite a bit of the icky bits around getting into a body (it’s not mind-transfer, it’s actually getting -in- the body), and the tricky bits about maintaining the body and maintaining the facade of being the human whose body they are inside. The current guise for the creature is that of a Brit who is teaching English as a Foreign Language in the Far East, who finds him/itself surprisingly close to another man. The climax in an ambulance beats the Hannibal Lecter/Sgt. Pembry ambulance scene, hands down.

Rich Larson. An Evening with Severyn Grimes.
Originally in : Asimovs Science Fiction, July/August 2017.

Also chosen by Neil Clarke in his anthology of this year’s best, where I read it and enjoyed it, noting lots of action, but plenty of dialogue and back story to make it a rounded read.

Carter Scholz. Vanguard 2.0.
Originally in : Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities (ed Finn/Eschrich, Arizona State University 2017), and available online here.

As with the opening story in the volume, this fourth one is also a reflective one, which will similarly disappoint seekers of action-driven adventure, but the geo-political background and the other detail in it make it much, much more than, say, a story about an EVA going wrong and the astronaut having to save themselves. Full Best SF review here.

Michael Swanwick. Starlight Express.
Originally in : Asimovs Science Fiction, September/October 2017.

Oh for the days when I was reading several stories a year from Swanwick! This is a short, thoughtful story which oozes class and what a setting! Full Best SF review here.

Linda Nagata. The Martian Obelisk.
Originally in : Tor.com, July 2017.

Also chosen by Neil Clarke this year, and I enjoyed it, with one quibble.

Kelly Robson. We Who Live in the Heart.
Originally published in : Clarkesworld, May 2017.

Also chosen by Neil Clarke this year, and I reckoned the setting was a real doozy, and enjoyed the story.

Ray Nayler. Winter Timeshare.
Originally in : Asimovs Science Fiction, January/February 2018.

Also chosen by Rich Horton in his take on the year’s best SF&F.

Nancy Kress. Dear Sarah.
Originally in : Infinity Wars (ed Strahan, Solaris 2017)

Alastair Reynolds. Night Passage.
Originally in : Infinite Stars (ed Schmidt, Titan Books.

Aliette de Bodard. The Dragon That Flew Out of the Sun.
Originally in : Cosmic Powers (ed Adams, Saga Press.

Naomi Kritzer. Waiting Out the End of the World at Patty’s Place Cafe.
Originally in : Clarkesworld, March 2017.

James S.A. Corey. The Hunger After You’re Fed.
Originally in : Wired – the Fiction Issue.

Jack Skillingstead and Bert Courtier.
Originally in : Clarkesworld February 2017.

Jaine Fenn. The Martian Job.
Originally in : The Martian Job (Newcon Press 2017)

Lavie Tidhar. The Road to the Sea.
Originally in : Sunvault : stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation.

Greg Egan. Uncanny Valley.
Originally in : Tor.com, August 2017.

An interesting whodunnit/didIdoit that was also chosen by Neil Clarke in his take on the Year’s Best SF.

Indrapramit Das. The Wordless.
Originally in : Clarkesworld Magazine #82, March 2017 and still online.

Also chosen by Neil Clarke and I noted this was an excellent, well-written story.

Jessica Barber and Sara Saab. Panhumanism : Hope and Pragmatics.
Originally in : Clarkesworld Magazine, September 2017.

Harry Turtledove. Zigeuner.
Originally in : Asimovs Science Fiction, September/October 2017.

Alec Nevala-Lee. The Proving Ground.
Originally in : Analog Science Fiction and Science Fact, January/February 2017.

Tobias S. Buckell. Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance.
Originally in : Cosmic Powers (ed Adams, Saga Press 2017).

Also chosen by Neil Clarke in his take on the Year’s Best, and I noted it was a clever story.

Sean McMullen. The Influence Machine.
Originally in : Interzone #269.

Nancy Kress. Canoe.
Originally in : Extrasolar (ed Gevers, PS Publishing 2017)

Kelly Jennings. The History of the Invasion Told in Five Dogs.
Originally in : The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, May/June 2017.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Prime Meridian.
Originally in : Prime Meridian (Innsmouth Free Press 2017)

Ian McHugh. Triceratops.
Originally in : Asimovs Science Fiction, May/June 2017.

Eleanor Arnason. Mines.
Originally in : Infinity Wars (ed Strahan, Solaris 2017)

Rich Larson. There Used to Be Olive Trees.
Originally in : The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January/February 2017.

Bill Johnson. Whending My Way Back Home.
Analog Science Fiction and Science Fact, January/February 2017.

Madeline Ashby. Death on Mars.
Originally in : Visions, Ventures Escape Velocities (ed Finn, Arizona State University 2017)

Also chosen by Clarke in his take on the Year’s Best and I noted it was short, tight, claustrophobic and up close and personal (in contrast to a preceding story by Robert Reed).

Bruce Sterling. Elephant on Table.
Originally in : Chasing Shadows (ed Brin and Potts, Tor 2017)

Suzanne Palmer. Number Thirty-Nine Skink.
Originally in : Asimovs Science Fiction, March/April 2017.

I read it in it’s original magazine publication, and I noted it a clever story.

Vina Jie-Min Prasad. A Series of Steaks.
Originally in : Clarkesworld Magazine, January 2017.

Another story chosen by Clarke, and when I read it in its original publication I noted the story doesn’t read like one from a novice writer, the characterisation is excellent, and I’d be keen to read more from this writer.

Finbarr O’Reilly. The Last Boat-Builder in Ballyvoloon.
Originally in : Clarkesworld, October 2017.

Another story chosen by Clarke, and when I read it there I noted it was very well told, and altogether a pleasure to read.

Robert Reed. The Residue of Fire.
Originally in : Extrasolar (ed Gevers, PS Publishing 2017)

Maureen McHugh. Sidewalks.
Originally in : Omni, October 2017.

Also chosen by Horton and Strahan in their take on the Year’s Best SF&F.

Michael F. Flynn. Nexus.
Originally in : Analog Science Fiction and Science Fact, March/April 2017.

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