Year’s Best Science Fiction, 23rd Annual Collection. Gardner Dozois. St. Martins Griffin, 2006

The 23rd annual volume of what must now be a ‘venerable institution’. How does Gardner’s take on the best for 2005 match mine. This is probably a rhetorical question, as the last five or so volumes which I’ve read after having read a lot of short SF for the year in question have shown a very close match on what we see as being the best SF. As ever, a story by story run through which comments drawn from previous reviews where applicable.

Ian McDonald. The Little Goddess.
Originally in : Asimovs, June 2005

When the story appeared in its original magazine appearance I enthused:

    The issue gets off to a strong start with the reminisences of a girl who has been the ‘Kumari Devi’, a Living Goddess. She remembers how she as a young child she was chosen, the bloodcurdling rituals, the separation from family, and the years waited on hand and foot, worshipped as a god, but only whilst she remains pre-pubescent. This early part of the story, with only a few references to the fact that we are about fifty years hence in Nepal, is unsettling and alien (assuming that most Asimovs readers are not Nepalese). As I’ve stated before, often such settings are more ‘alien’ than many offworld settings in poorer SF. The sfnal elements come into play when the young girl, returned to her community, finds her next role in life is to be that of a wife. As soon as she is 14 she is betrothed to a Brahmin, one of the higher castes in India, who benefit from tweaked DNA, giving them twice the usual longevity, but consequently grown at half the usual pace. Her husband, aged 20, is therefore physically only a 10 year old boy, and the wedding night comes as a shock to her (I’m guessing here, but this may be the first SF short story to feature a strap-on?)

    Following her failed marraige, she becomes involved in smuggling – not as a drug mule, but by transporting outlawed AI’s in her own skull. However, this becomes increadingly hazardous, and a final smuggling run, with a risky complement of 5 AI’s ‘on board’ sees her finally able to take a grip on her future, and to be able to become, in effect, a little goddess in her own right.

    A powerful story, in which you can almost smell the ghee and feel the heat, evidently sharing some story elements with his very well received novel ‘River of Gods’ from last year, and which, on this basis, I may well choose to be one of the few novels I read this year.

And, gentle reader, ‘River of Gods’ was one of the few novels I did read last year (or maybe earlier this year) and I have to say that the novel was every bit as good as this novella, and I would humbly suggest if you haven’t read either that novel or this novella, then you have missed out, big-time.

Paolo Bacigalupi. The Calorie Man.
Originally in : The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Oct/Nov 2005

Similarly, when first reading this, I was enthusiastic :

    Bacigalupi, like Ted Chiang, doesn’t write very often, but when he does, like Ted Chiang, they’ve been stories to make you sit up and notice (‘The Fluted Girl’ (F&SF Jan 2003), ‘The People of Sand and Slag’ (F&SF Feb 2004), ‘The Pasho’ (Asimovs Sept 2004)). They’re not quite up to the standard of Chiang, but close enough. As before, he creates a quite unique setting on which to hang his story. The story is set on the Mississippi delta, near-future, but quite different from the society now, as humanity is reduced to mostly manual energy creation and utilisation, with what energy that is created being stored in springs for future use. He gradually explains all, as Lalji sets out on a mission upriver to bring back a man who just might have the answer to the yoke under which the agribusiness monopolies have been putting us under.

    The imagery of a slower paced life, with most of the country turned over to agriculture, and the sacrifices which Lalji has made, is an effective one, and the story rolls towards the inevitable dramatic conclusion. I read this directly after reading Tom Purdom’s ‘Bank Run’ in Asimov’s October issue (not yet reviewed) and there is a stark contrast – Bacigalupi is a far more thoughtful, interesting story, with sharp detail and exploration of implications of the technological impact he has postulated, whereas Purdom’s isn’t. (It is at best, a simple ‘fast-paced adventure’.) Suffice to say, the story in hand would sit well in Asimovs, and Purdom’s would have been better placed in Analog.

So the Asimovs’ nature of this story makes it no surprise to me that this wass one of Dozois’ three F&SF stories in this year’s issue.

Alastair Reynolds. Beyond the Aquila Rift.
Originally in : Constellations DAW Books, 2005.

I reviewed this anthology last year link and said of this story:

    shows what (Alastair Reynolds) can do at shorter length – for my money I much prefer him at this length than at fat space opera length. He effectively twists two threads of the story together, tying them up at the end with a flourish. It is a simple plot – a pilot awoken after a much longer spell in suspended animation. Where he is, but more importantly, how he is, is cleverly teased out, leaving the reader (if not the protagonist) with a view of a tiny speck of humanity in a very big picture.

This was one of five stories I suggested as the ‘pick of the bunch’ from the collection, although Dozois differs from me in that the other story from this volume (Liz Williams, see below) wasn’t one of my top picks, although this is not a big deal as I did point out that the anthology was a particularly strong one.

Daryl Gregory. Second Person, Present Tense.
Originally in : Asimovs, Sept 2005

Another story whose inclusion in this volume my original review would appear to support:

    A well handled, clever take on issues of identity, which only gradually (and to good effect) explains to the reader exactly what is happening. At first it would appear that the body of a young woman is now playing host to another person, who is far from happy at her putative role as the daughter of the parents in whose body she is. An upload into the body of brain-dead accident victm, perhaps? But the answer it much more subtle, as the daughter in fact OD’ed on a drug which has had the effective of essentially wiping her personality and memory. Two years’ therapeutic intervention has resulted in a new persona for whom her previous self is a stranger. She has to come to terms with who she was/is/will be, as do her parents, as we follow them through some painful moments in the journey to some kind of resolution.

Jay Lake and Ruth Nestvold. The Canadian Who Came Almost All the Way Back from the Stars.
Originally in : SCI FICTION

The first story in the volume which I hadn’t read in its original appearance, and further cause for annoyance that the dickwits at The SciFi Channel felt that saving a bit of money of SCI FICTION to re-use elsewhere in its products was good sense. Mind you I have to point out that I have the SciFi channel on my tv but have in the last five years watched about a sum total of 15 minutes of it. (For the record this was the first five minutes of the adapation of Philip Jose Farmer’s ‘Riverworld’ and the first ten minutes of the new ‘Battlestar Galactica’ which was more than enough to confirm that their idea of what science fiction is is somewhat at odds with mine.

For example, this story is my idea of what science fiction is. It’s very good – in some ways redolent of one of my favourite SF stories, James Tiptree Jr’s ‘The Man Who Walked Home’, both in its overall feel as well as conceit and also quality.

Here a maverick scientist somewhat surprised the scientific community by evidently making a very long journey in space in a very short space of time. Said scientific community is of the opinion that he embarked on an ultimately unsuccesful journey (ie unsuccesful in terms of it not being a return flight, whilst evidently being successful in the outbound journey). However his wife has belief in him, and awaits his return. The relationship between her and the protagonist is well-played, and the ending (the story title is a giveaway) is a melancholy but ultimately uplifting one.

Michael Swanwick. Triceratops Summer.
Originally on :

Another story I hadn’t read originally. A short short made available on last year to promote a novel. So why didn’t I read this short short which was online? Well, it was online on but not on and blocked internet users from outside the USA reading the story. Which is even more galling than the Science Fiction Book Club preventing non-US citizens from getting a hold of their books. gaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

Anyhoo, as you except from Swanwick, a neat little story, in which the effrets of a short-term visit to current times by a group of triceratops (triceratopii?) on a small group of people is observed. Neat, without being a wowza.

Robert Reed Camouflage.
Originally in : Down These Dark Spaceways, SFBC, 2005.

From one of a series of excellent anthologies from the aforementioned Science Fiction Book Club. (Fortunately the publishers are good at sending out review copies).

I read only a couple of stories in this themed anthology, on the basis that I like neither ‘detective SF’ (the theme of the anthology), nor themed anthologies per se (several stories on the same theme – duh?) and reviewed briefly. More fool me (see the Gerrold story below).

This was one of the stories I read in the volume :

    set in his mind-bogglingly ginormous alien artefact-cum-spaceship (ie Marrow) which is wending its way through the galaxy with a very mixed group of passengers. Pamir is called out of retirement (a long retirement, as life is long to the extent of virtual immortality) to identify who it is who is murdering the ex-partners of a beautiful young human, who has been consorting with those of an alien persuasion. The setting, and the alien cultures and religions are much more what I like to get from SF.

The reference to this being ‘muchmore what I like to get from SF’ being a reference to the other story I read in this volume, which was one by Robert J Sawyer, which somewhat unfathomably to me, was a Hugo nominee. Suffice to say that Dozois other pick for the volume, David Gerrold’s ‘Quake Zone’… well, scroll down to read my musings.

Ken MacLeod A Case of Consilience.
Originally in : Nova Scotia, Crescent 2005.

This Scottish anthology was IMHO ‘a good mix of SF, alternate history and horror, interspered with some dry humour. It’s a handsome paperback that deserves to do well’ review and first up was this story of which I said:

    A rare piece of short SF from MacLeod who has published a string of well-received novels over the past ten years. Donald MacIntrye, Minister of the Church of Scotland, finds himself on the ETcetera Station, posted outside the orbit of Neptune, as the discovery of many alien intelligences throws up yet another challenge to Christianty. He sees his presence there as not being simply chance, and in determining whether an underground fungus a hundred metres across is truly and intelligent species, he finds himself up to his ears (and beyond) in bringing the word of God to others.

    An excellent start to the volume, with a couple of mentions to SF forebears in their views on the matter in hand, and a story which rather shows up the weakness of the interminable xenolinguist stories we have these days.

Fortunately, it appears that the craze for xenolinguistic stories has somewhat passed.

Bruce Sterling. The Blemmye’s Strategem.
Originally in : Fantasy & Science Fiction, January 2005

Sterling has appeared in many of these Dozois anthologies, but I’m not 100% convinced about this story’s inclusion, in a volume which is as ever quite clearly stays away from anything too left-field :

    Good to see some short fiction from Sterling, albeit not SF. Here he gives Gene Wolfe a run for his money, in a very strange fantasy set in the The Holy Land and drawing on some mediaeval mythology. The Blemmye is a ‘man’ from the land of Prester John, who is notable for having no head – his face is on his chest. But the Blemmye loves on far stranger than he. The Abbess Hildegard and her lover Sinan aid this ruler of their land, and are on hand when he falls, saving his beloved (crablike) from the clutches of impish devils.

    The structure of the story is somewhat disjointed, making for an unsettling narrative, if an intriguing one

William Sanders. Amba.
Originally in : Asimovs, December 2005

When it appeared I wrote :

    More close to home, and somewhat less sfnal, as the primary sf component is the extent to which the speed of the changes wrought by global warming has caught us unawares. National boundaries have been redrawn as the rising oceans reclaim coastline, and we have essentially a ‘science thriller’ as some shady doings in the Russian wilderness expose a very unpleasant side to human nature, as chinese migrant labour is being used as a very disposable resource. The gangmaster who has been despatching his workcrews is brought to book by the protagonist, a hunter cum tourist guide.

For me, I’d have guessed that Dozois pick from this issue of Asimovs for this volume would have been the much more sfnal Kristine Kathryn Rusch story ‘ Diving into the Wreck’.

Mary Rosenblum. Search Engine.
Originally in : Analog, September 2005

When it appeared last year I wrote:

    Private Eye Aman Bourton has a Fed turn up, who wants him to trace the whereabouts of a young man who has gone below the radar of the otherwise all-seeing RFIDscape. The young man, the same age as Aman’s son, has followed the same route as his son – getting his chip removed and joining the Gaiist movement, those fighting the technological advance for the sake of mother Earth, Gaia. However, whilst the young guy believes he is now operating incognito, it is only a matter of minutes before the data warehouses accessible to Aman’s ‘Search Engine Inc’ are hot on his trail – for even a vegan paying with cash leaves a trail. Soon Aman is confronting the young guy, but it turns out that Aman’s office assistant has an interest in the case, and a shootout ensures. Aman is injured, but decides enough is enough and joins the Gaist cell, led by… (can you guess who?)

    An interesting setup, although the plot fits together just a bit too neatly.

I mentioned this as a story ‘above the run of the usual mill’, with reference to a very weak year for Analog (which however continues to outsell Asimovs).

Chris Beckett. Piccadillly Circus.
Originally in : Interzone, May/June

Whilst Asimovs continues to look like a 1950s pulp (albeit with more up to date content), and Analog continues to look and read as a 1950s pulp, the new Interzone actually looks and reads like a 21st Century magazine. It is due, it would appear, in electronic format, so hopefully will become more accessible to the US sf reading population. Beckett has appeared many times in this magazine, and has previously appeares in both Asimovs and other of Dozois’ annual collections. Of this I said:

    The eighteenth story of Beckett’s in Interzone, and one of the best that I have read. A near-future London is the setting, and for Clarissa Fell it is decaying, dark and lifeless. However, for the rest of the population, now uploaded into an Urban Consensual Field, the virtual London which they inhabit, still largely co-terminous with the bricks and mortar reality, is still a vibrant, brightly lit place. Clarissa is determined to visit Picadilly Circus, to see the lights she saw as a child – the real lights – and she is pottering into central London, her Implants enabling her, when she chooses, to be part of the virtual London. Beckett effectively illustrates, as she flicks between the dark, lonely London which she inhabits, and the vibrant virtual London, that which will be lost when the virtual life replaces ‘real’ life – a process, IHMO, which we are already embarked upon, as there is an increasingly consensual ‘other’ reality coming at us (or at those who choose to receive it) from the media, which bears little resemblance to reality.

David Gerrold In the Quake Zone.
Originally in : Down These Dark Spaceways, SFBC 2005

As mentioned above, I only read two stories from this anthology last year, and this wasn’t one of them. Doh!

One the face of it, a quick plot summary isn’t all that promising : a private eye goes back in time to prevent a serial murders reign of terror. But the story offers so much more.

Time quakes are pitching people in the 20th century USA back and forth, and the protagonise is a ‘nam-vet who has been recruited by an agency specialising in carrying out a variety of tasks for their clients. Sent back to the 50s, to save one of a series of murdered young men, we gradually find out more about the PI in question, the young men in question (gay men cruising for sex), and a whole lot more.

The PI gets too close to the young man – but rather than being an obvious bit of same sex bonking, there’s a tension and an unresolved physical side to their mutually needy relationship. And as the bigger picture evolves, there is a lurching change of time (and effectively of place) as that big picture is unfurled for us.

To be honest, this story is just so far superior to the SF detective stories which appear, I’d prefer to call a halt on the whole subgenre, or at least consign it to a very specific genre mag (Asimov’s Creaky SF Whisky Smoking Detective Tales).

Similarly, I’d have to ask people why they would read the interminable ‘The Company’ stories of Kage Baker, featuring time-hopping cyborgs. (Actually I’d only rhetorically ask them that, as I reckon that the SciFi channel viewing community quite like the comfort zone of quite simple tales with recurring characters and themes that don’t stretch but merely fill).

Liz Williams. La Malcontenta.
Originally in : Strange Horizons

One of the shorter stories in the volume, which can be a problem coming straight after a substantial novella of the depth of Gerrold’s. Not a whole lot of story or characterisation to mention, being a short vignette of a young girl’s resistance to the role mapped out for her on Mars.

Stephen Baxter. The Children of Time.
Originally in : Asimovs, July 2005.

I do normally like Baxter, but this was one of his stories last year which failed to grab:

    A counterpoint to a number of Baxter’s stories which feature humanity spreading out throughout the Universe over the millenia and gradually changing to suit their environs, and others of his stories which have seen humanity make enforced changes to survive on a changing Earth. Here we see short episodes in the lives of several children, separated by aeons, as humanity barely changes, whilst Earth undergoes changes through fire, ice and tectonic changes. The omniscient narrator is present throughout, which doesn’t really work for me in this case (ie we don’t really need to know that a particular river used to be known as the Seine by previous generations), and to me the lack of change in humanity (the key point of the story) doesn’t quite ring true – I much preferred Baxter’s vision of humans taking on penguin-like characterists (‘Huddle’ F&SF May 1999).

Vonda N. McIntyre. Little Faces.
Originally in : SCI FICTION.

When it appeared last year I wrote :

    A bravura piece of far future SF from a master. Positing an all female future, in which longevity and extreme hi-tech enable humans to explore the universe at their leisure in symbiotic relationships with their spaceships, and in which the humans have strange creatures as companions, living in their bodies. As a group of star-travellers gather in orbit, some old human frailties emerge, and the delicate balance is threatened.

    As good a piece of hard sf as you’ll find this year.

So if you haven’t read it, follow the link above and read it!

Gene Wolfe Comber.
Originally in : Postscripts #3

When it appeared I wrote:

    Excellent, vivid piece from Wolfe. He envisages cities, large cities similar to those we know, built on large bodies of rock which are afloat on the oceans. The cities ride the waves, massive waves, and when another city hoves into view, and a collision in imninent, smaller, more human dramas unfold.

If you’re a tyro SF writer, find out what Wolfe takes to feed his imagination and get yourself a humongous box of it, ingest it, and get writing.

Harry Turtledove. Audubon in Atlantis.
Originally in : Analog December 2005

I have to admit when I saw this title in the contents page of this year’s anthology a sucked-lemon expression appeared on my face :

    Another alternate history from Turtledove. His ‘He Woke in Darkness’ (Asimovs, Aug 2005) recently gave an (obvious) alternate take on the Civil Rights movement, Here he details a scientific journey in which a possibly extinct species of large bird of bird is being sought on an Atlantean island. The entertainment factor comes in the detail of the trip taken by a 19th century ornithologist, as opposed to any real alternate history elements. For me, with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle having written several Professor Challenger stories a l-o-n-g time ago, this story felt very retro for 2005.

Hannu Rajaniemi. Deus Ex Homine.
Originally in : Nova Scotia, Crescent 2005

The second story from this anthology to appear here, and I highlighted it :

    A story from a new writer – a Finnish mathematician who specialises in String Theory. Very Charlie Stross in its content and delivery, in a nearish future Scotland when the Rapture of the Nerds unleashes a godplague (volition bonding, recursively self-improving and self-replicating). Jukka, a young Finnish man, and Aileen, are separated by the godplague, but are able to overcome. If you like Stross you’ll love this (I do and I did). One for Dozois 23rd methinks.

If it wasn’t for the fact that you can google Rajaniemi to confirm his existence, I’d have put my money on this being a pseudonym of Stross’.

Stephen Popkes. The Great Caruso.
Originally in : Fantasy & Science Fiction, May 2005.

When it appeared I wrote :

    A long-term smoker sources some dubious cigarettes, and finds that her lungs have been subtly changed by inhaled nano-tech. One of the beneficial side effects of the nanites is an improved singing voice, which she uses to good effect. When pneumonia finally takes her, she finds that the nanites have taken the shape of Enrico Caruso to accompany her on the next stage of her journey. A germ or two of ideas in the story, but not really impactful.

For me a bit of a miss, especially is in the issue of F&SF in which it appeared, Laird Barron’s ‘The Imago Sequence’ and Alex Irvine’s ‘The Golems of Detroit’ were for my money quite clearly ahead of this one.

Neal Asher. Softly Spoke the Gabbleduck.
Originally in : Asimovs, August 2005

    The planet Myrial is an intriguing setting, it’s indigenous Sheq (shit eating quadrapeds) living in groups of seven, a protected species. Rumour has it that the planet has also got a mysterious offworld Gabbleduck somewhere in the forests and canyons. The protagonist is hired by a wealthy brother and sister, and their PA, to do some sightseeing. However, the couple have other plans, and the siblings, having dispatched a group of sheq, have him and their PA in their sights. The story is a straightforward fast-paced adventure (concluding very abruptly), and with the slightly comical portrayal of the Gabbleduck, sits slightly imbalanced with the setting and the characters, which would suit a more complex story than such a straightforward yarn.

Alastair Reynolds. Zima Blue.
Originally in : Postscripts #4

When it appeared in this low-profile but quality UK mag I wrote:

    Not the Widescreen Space Opera of Reynold’s novels, but a more thoughtful piece which reminded me somewhat of J.G. Ballard’s ‘Vermillion Sands’ stories. However, the Ballard thing may just have to sprung to mind on account of it featuring a swimming pool (albeit a full one)! An artist who has been modifying his body towards cyborgisation, whilst working on increasing large canvases/installations, has decided to come full circle. A journalist interviews him, as he tells his story from his early days as an automated robot who cleaned a swimming pool and who had a small element of autonomous AI. Successive upgrades over hundreds of years have led him to the point where he simply wants to regress and to return to the womb/pool to live out his days. A change of pace for Reynolds, and successfully so.

David Moles. Planet of the Amazon Women.
Originally in : Strange Horizons

A (to my mind) title which suggested a cheesy-retro story – certainly not a very boggling story of causal violation, gender, religion, and a whole lot more. Ideally I would take an hour to re-read the story, and then craft an erudite review which would take anohter hour or more. But heigh-ho, life is short, and as there is already Lois Tilton’s erudite review (I abase myself in the presence of her far superior eruditey) on TangentOnline I shall not do that. (Mind you I often have a sneaking suspicion with such erudite reviews that the author, when reading the review, is pleasantly surprised to find out just how clever they have been with the story, which wasn’t obvious to them when writing it!)

Dominic Green The Clockwork Atom Bomb.
Originally in : Interzone May/Juen 2005

    An interesting setting – a relatively near-future Africa, with that continent ravaged by civil war and hi-tech weaponry and ordinance. Mativi is a Weapon’s Inspector, and he is v-e-r-y disturbed at what he finds in the Congo – the locals have been disposing of increasing volumes of materials into ranked masses of machines, each of which contain a black hole at their centre. The setting, and the set-up are fine, but the denouement doesn’t quite reach the heights it could have. We hear of the potential damage that could be done should one of the black holes escape (memorably covered by Paul J McAuley in ‘How We Lost The Moon, A True Story by Frank W. Allen’). The rather blase treatment of a suicide of a Congolese official at the end jars, as does the use of the adjective ‘blacks’ at the beginning (“..made social parriahs (sic) of blacks all over Europe..”). Oh, and the illustrations…

Chris Roberson. Gold Mountain.
Originally in : Postscripts #5

When I read it last year I wrote:

    Roberson’s ‘Companions to Owls’ (Asimovs March 2006) is a cracker of a story, and ‘Red Hands, Black Hands’ (Dec 2004) (online at InfinityPlus) was a finalist of the Sidewise Alternate History Award. This is a follow-up to the latter, and for me provides a bit more oomph. The earlier story was a tale of courtly intrigue in a China which has global domination. Here the tale of the construction on an orbital elevator is told, through the story of an elderly American who was part of the construction team in his youth. We learn of the sacrifices he has made, leaving the States with his brother, and how love came between the pair which led to his brother’s fatal fall from high up the elevator.

Gwyneth Jones The Fulcrum.
Originally in : Constellations, DAW 2005.

The previous story was from Peter Crowther’s Postscripts, and this from the latest in a series of excellent anthologies he has edited (ie Mars Probes / Moon Shots). When reading it previously I wrote:

    a .. claustrophobic affair, set on board a very seedy vessel, full of criminals, low-life and aliens on exercise bikes. There’s more than a touch of the Wild West about the story – just imagine Deadwood with most of the swearing removed, but a quasi-human grotesquely being milked of a very precious fluid, skanky VR ho’s, criminals and prospectors. Well worth a read, although the squeamish may grimace once or twice.

Peter Watts and Derryl Murphy. Mayfly.
Originally in : Tesseracts Nine : New Canadian Speculative Fiction

A short, dark, disturbing take on the lengths(depths) parents will go to have the cutest child, as an AI is forcibly and repeatedly inserted into a resisting toddler’s body.

Elizabeth Bear. Two Dreams on Trains.
Originally in : Strange Horizons

A short, Sterling-esque piece in which we look at the motivations of a mother who is ‘decorating’ (ie tattooing/scarring) her body, and her son who is decorating (ie tagging/graffiting) a spaceship, the both to make their mark.

Joe Haldeman. Angel of Light.
Originally in : Cosmos

This was also collected in Hartwell/Kramer’s recent take on the Year’s Best in which I said :

    From an Australian magazine, a wry look at a near future in which a blend of Christianity and Islam is popular, and a 1930s pulp SF magazine challenges a Chrislam man, and proves of interest to a real life BEM.

James Patrick Kelly Burn.
Originally in : Burn, Tachyon Publications, 2005.

A small print chapbook which the size of this Dozois anthology ensures (alongside Dozois keen eye of quality) that this novelette gets a wider audience than would have been the case. I read this recently and gave a longer review than would make sense to paste here, so hie ye over to that review for why this story is ‘satisfying on so many levels’ and a top quality story on which to finish this top quality anthology.


This year the balance feels much more even than it has perhaps been in the past with regard to the magazine fiction, with the story sources being :5 from Asimovs, 2 Analog, 3 F&SF, 3 SCI FICTION, 2 Interzone, 3 Postscripts, 3 Strange Horizons, 1 Cosmos. From original anthologies there were 2 stories from each of Nova Scotia, Down These Dark Spaceways, and Constellations, and 1 story from Tesseracts. And the two other items were the short from Amazon, and Jim Kelly’s chapbook.

The volume starts very strongly and there only a few stories to which I would give a meh.

Last year I noted very little overlap between this and the Hartwell/Cramer anthology. This year there is some overlap ( Hannu Rajaniemi’s ‘Deus Ex Homine’, ‘Daryl Gregory’s Second Person, Present Tense’, ‘Ken MacLeod’s ‘A Case of Consilience’, and Joe Haldeman’s ‘Angel of Light’). As in recent years Hartwell/Cramer flatter to deceive in putting in a lot of short shorts, and with the recent Strahan series of year’s best anthologies currently stalled, the SF reader has to date a simple choice between Dozois and Hartwell/Cramer, and unless you are desperately short of cash, need a pocket sized book, really don’t like the longer length stories, want a broader spread of SFF, or ‘scientist fiction’ as espoused in Analog, then Dozois remains king of the hill for quality, literary, proper SF.

[UPDATE 23rd August 2006 : Following the Hartwell/Cramer and this Dozois anthology, there followed Science Fiction The Best of the Year 2006 Edition (ed Rich Horton) and Science Fiction The Very Best of 2005 (ed Jonathan Strahan)]

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