Years Best Science Fiction 16th Annual Collection. Gardner Dozois 1999

Introduction.

The story summaries below were written when this was, along with Hartwell, my main source of reading matter for short SF. Summaries were written in 1999.

Greg Egan. Oceanic.
Originally in : Asimov’s Science Fiction, August 1998.

Coming of Age story on a watery world, set against a backdrop of religious fervor.

Geoffrey A. Landis. Approaching Perimelasma.
Originally in : Asimov’s Science Fiction, January 1998

The physics of diving into a black hole. And how to get yourself out of a deep deep hole. I should have paid more attention during Physics classes at school. The physics is undoubtedly 100% kosher, but it’s all gobbledegook to me.

Cory Doctorow. Craphound.
Originally in : Science Fiction Age March 1998

An antique dealer/second hand dealer/craphound comes up against some offworld interest.

Tanith Lee. Jedella Ghost.
Originally in : Interzone, September 1998

Jedella has been protected all her life. Very protected. The innocent turns up one day and stays, and..

Bruce Sterling. Taklamakan.
Originally in : Asimov’s Science Fiction, October/November 1998

Deep, deep in the desert an alien spaceship is discovered. And it holds many, many secrets.

Ursula K. Le Guin. The Island of the Immortals.
Originally in : Amazing Stories, Fall 1998

Legend has is that there is an island in which an insect bite can lead to immortality. But is this a blessing, or a curse?

Paul J. McAuley. Sea Change, with Monsters.
Originally in : Asimov’s Science Fiction, September 1998

The Quiet War let loose macroforms – subterranean genmod creatures. Indira is a hunter, and she takes on a job on Europa, where a monastery claims that a ‘dragon’ is responsible for damaging their undersea farm. All is not as it seems.

Robert Charles Wilson. Divided by Infinity.
Originally in : Starlight 2

A second hand bookshop find of ‘anomalous’ books, perhaps from another timeline, leads to a message from outer space. Unfortunately, the message is not a happy one for planet Earth.

Howard Waldrop. US.
Originally in : Event Horizon www.eventhorizon.com October 1998

Lightweight 3x alternate histories/futures following the Lindbergh infant kidnapping.

Ian McDonald. The Days of Solomon Gursky.
Originally in : Asimov’s Science Fiction, June 1998

A couple in at the beginning of nano-engineering. The story starts small, develops into a sweeping galaxy-spanning saga, and returns almost (but not quite) back upon itself. One of the highlights of this collection with enough SF in there for anyone, but a corresponding amount of humanity to balance.

Robert Reed. The Cuckoo’s Boys.
Originally in : Science Fiction Age, September 1998

A rogue scientist ‘fathers’ a large number of highly able offspring through unwilling surrogate mothers.

William Browning Spencer. The Halfway House at the Heart of Darkness
Originally in : Lord of the Fantastic

A VR addict is deep, deep in trouble and rehab. But the tables are turned and she ends up saving her counselor and herself.

Michael Swanwick. The Very Pulse of the Machine.
Originally in : Asimov’s Science Fiction, February 1998

Martha Kivelsen is on Io, dragging a sled with the dead body of her colleague. This produces an unexpected effect with profound consequences.

Ted Chiang. Story of Your Life.
Originally in : Starlight 2

First Contact – describes (at times in a little too much detail and dips into Diagram Supplied territory) the struggle to communicate at even a basic level with extra-terrestrials. Once the fundamentally alien principle behind the alien communication is resolved, progress is better. The nature of this communication, in which the whole has to be seen before the parts can be analysed is interwoven with an extremely well written mother-daughter story which benefits from a knowledge of the whole. He doesn’t write much, but what he does write is worth reading.

Liz Williams. Voivodoi.
Originally in : Terra Incognite Summer 1998

Eco-disaster in Eastern Europe causes problems for a family, whose son is badly affected. He finds his home amongst similarly affected others.

Stephen Baxter. Saddlepoint: Roughneck.
Originally in : Science Fiction Age, May 1998

Drilling on the Moon, against a backdrop of a compromised planet Earth. Deep beneath the mantle, an intelligence of a different nature is stirring. Avoids the Diagram Supplied, but does give an extended verbatim technical presentation.

Rob Chilson. This Side of Independence.
Originally in : The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, February 1998

Earth has reached the end of its useful life, and it is being aggressively mined for its last resources. Some still choose to live on the planet.

Chris Lawson. Unborn Again.
Originally in : Dreaming Down Under

Using ‘genetic materials’ to combat the likes of Alzheimers may have side-effects. One person who knows this to their cost exacts an insidious revenge.

Tony Daniel. Grist.
Originally in : Asimov’s Science Fiction, December 1998

Genmod future full of transhuman characters. War is imminent, but there are some who may have within their powers the ability to prevent it. Andre Sud, priest is one of them. Bioengineering with the aid of nanotech grist, and more Ian M. Banks than Ian M. Banks. A highlight from this volume.

Gwyneth Jones. La Cenerentola.
Originally in : Interzone, October 1998

Virtual Reality beauties are the far from ugly Ugly Sister to the Cinderella of this story.

William Barton. Down in the Dark.
Originally in : Asimov’s Science Fiction, December 1998

A comet strike on Earth leaves a couple of thousand remnants of humanity scattered around the Solar System. But on one moon contact with an intelligence paints (literally) a more optomistic picture than had appeared to be the case.

Jim Grimsley. Free in Asveroth.
Originally in : Bending the Landscape: Science Fiction

Powerful tale of three captives making good their escape from the two-legs who have invaded their planet. Their escape is not final.

Cherry Wilder. The Dancing Floor.
Originally in : Dreaming Down Under

A space habitat carved out of an asteroid contains more than at first appears to be the case.

Ian R. MacLeod. The Summer Isles.
Originally in : Asimov’s Science Fiction, October/November 1998

Alternate history in interwar England. A mix of Pat Barker’s Regeneration and Robert Harris’ Fatherland?

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