Year’s Best Science Fiction, 13th Annual Collection. Gardner Dozois. 1996

Introduction.

These story summaries were written c1996 and have been brought together for this review in August 2002.

Ursula K. Le Guin. A Woman’s Liberation.
Originally in : Asimov’s Science Fiction, July 1995.

A Hainish story in which Shomeke starts from very humble origins as a slave on a farm, but the future opens up many more options for her.

Ian R. MacLeod. Starship Day.
Originally in : Asimov’s Science Fiction, July 1994.

A special day! The travellers on the first starship from Earth will awaken. A special day! The travellers on the first starship from Earth will awaken. A special day! The travellers on the first starship from Earth will awaken.

Robert Reed. A Place with Shade.
Originally in : The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, April 1995.

A terraforming contract on a large scale offers a peculiar set of challenges.

Greg Egan. Luminous.
Originally in : Asimov’s Science Fiction, September 1995.

Massive computing power is used to probe mathematical certainties. And if 2+2 does not equal 4, then what does that mean for the fabric of the universe? Maths was never this much fun at school.

Michael F. Flynn. The Promise of God.
Originally in : The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, March 1995.

A male werewitch is brought to the peak of his powers through a female rixler. But even his powers are not able to save her. Or him.

Pat Cadigan. Death in the Promised Land.
Originally in : Omni Online, March 1995.

Hi-tech whodunit in a VR setting where the stakes are high.

Joe Haldeman. For White Hill.
Originally in : Far Futures

Far Future sculpture competition on Earth. In the war with the Fwndyri, the planet has been reduced by nanophages to little more than dust. Worse is to come, and the narrator’s affair with White Hill is challenged by the one possible means of escape.

John Kessel. Some Like it Cold.
Originally in : Omni, Fall 1995

Future Hollywood moguls raid moment-universes (alternate worlds/multiverses) for stars for their movies. No prizes for guessing who the star in question is in this story.

Allen Steele. The Death of Captain Future.
Originally in : Asimov’s Science Fiction, October 1995.

A comic book hero manages to go out in grand style.

Maureen F. McHugh. The Lincoln Train.
Originally in : The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, April 1995.

Abe Lincoln survives the assassination attempt (just). What is described is presumably alternate history, although my knowledge of the American Civil War isn’t such that where this harrowing tale of forced relocation of slave-owning families deviates from reality.

David Marusek. We Were Out of Our Minds With Joy.
Originally in : Asimov’s Science Fiction, November 1995.

Far future with virtual immortality, and personal AI butlers dealing with communication. An artist and politician are lucky to be given the opportunity for a baby, but the putative father falls foul of some very nasty surveillance, and comes out a changed character.

Michael Swanwick. Radio Waves.
Originally in : Omni, Winter 1995.

Very spooky scary – the kind of story Stephen King would have written in his heyday. A ghost avoids falling off the world, where the rules of gravity are reversed, but he has to evade his nemesis.

Greg Egan. Wang’s Carpet.
Originally in : New Legends.

Paolo Venetti is cloned a thousand times and sent out exploring for life-supporting planets. One of his clones comes across a planet with tile-like ‘intelligent life’.

Mary Rosenblum. Casting at Pegasus.
Originally in : Asimov’s Science Fiction, April 1995.

Lesbian lurve, with estranged partners, one seeking something through kite flying as art.

Dan Simmons. Looking for Kelly Dahl.
Originally in : Omni Online, September 1995.

An alcoholic teacher is reunited with an ex-pupil, who chases him across different landscapes and timescapes.

James Patrick Kelly. Think Like a Dinosaur.
Originally in : Asimov’s Science Fiction, June 1995.

Dino-like aliens, the Hanen, have the technology to encode individuals and transmit them vast distances as superluminal signals. Kamala Shastri is transmitted, but not without problems. And the resolution of that problem is a major challenge to the human who is involved in the transmission of those signals – new ways need new ways of thinking.

Ursula K. Le Guin. Coming of Age in Karhide.
Originally in : New Legends.

Sov is approaching her kemmerday – her coming of age. In the kemmerhouse she undergoes an awakening/transformation.

Poul Anderson. Genesis.
Originally in : Far Futures.

Somewhat overlong epoch spanning saga.

Nancy Kress. Feigenbaum Number.
Originally in : Omni Winter 1995.

A teacher struggles with the ability to see the ideal person behind the actual person (literally).

Geoff Ryman. Home.
Originally in : Interzone 93, March 1995.

An old man living in a very brutalised society made bearable only by the ability to spend a lot of time in a more ideal world.

Terry Bisson. There Are No Dead.
Originally in : Omni, January 1995.

An idyllic summer day, but such days cannot last forever, and children grow up, and can never return?

Paul J. McAuley. Recording Angel.
Originally in : New Legends.

Set in the author’s ‘Confluence’ milieu – an archivist has to record the impact of a stranger on the city.

William Sanders. Elvis Bearpaw’s Luck.
Originally in : Wheels of Fortune.

A native American game of chance.

Brian Stableford. Mortimer Gray’s ‘History of Death’.
Originally in : Asimov’s Science Fiction, April 1995.

A classy far future history told through the eyes and writing of an emortal, who studies humanity’s attitudes to death over the millenia.

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