Year’s Best SF 2. David G. Hartwell. Harper Prism 1997


Not a full review, as the summaries were written five years ago.

Dave Wolverton. After a Lean Winter.
Originally in : Fantasy & Science Fiction

Written for an HG Wells War of the Worlds volume, this Jack Londonesque tale is set in the cold cold of Northern Canada.

Terry Bisson. In the Upper Room.
Originally in : Playboy

Virtual Reality with a lingerie angle – excellent story..

John Brunner. Thinkertoy.
Originally in :

Hi-tech construction kits offer two bereaved children a chance to..

Gregory Benford. Zoomers.
Originally in : Future Net

Hi-tech commodity traders in virtual arial dogfighting.

Sheila Finch. Out of the Mouths.
Originally in : Fantasy & Science Fiction, December 1996

Xenolinguists attempt to bridge the chasm between humans and Venatixi through raising together infants from each species. The experiment is a hands-down failure.

James Patrick Kelly. Breakaway, Backdown.
Originally in :

Cleo attempted to breakaway to a life amongst the stars. But she is backdown on terra firma.

Yves Meynard. Tobacco Words.
Originally in :

On a small manmade planet, a small community services the needs of the space fleet. Caspar’s sister offers a quasi-religious service to absolve spacers of their sins. A non-human lands with urgent needs. This excellent story is from a French Canadian writer, translated by the author from French. Very subtle, and the picture on the family wall that is an ever so minutely (relativety) changing video feed from a long gone ship is an image which sticks in the mind.

Joanna Russ. Invasion.
Originally in : Asimov’s January 1996

Incorrigible and cutsey aliens.

Brian Stableford. The House of Mourning.
Originally in : Off Limits

A mutated virus has caused problems for prostitutes and their clients.

Damon Knight. Life Edit.
Originally in :

Very short SF – a neat little throwback.

Robert Reed. First Tuesday,
Originally in : Fantasy & Science Fiction

The ultimate in political contact with the voters – a VR presidential visit to a poor family.

David Langford. The Spear of the Sun.
Originally in : Interzone

Very clever rewrite of SF history, with GK Chesterton having taken the role of John W Campbell. In this story Father Brown solves a deep space murder mystery.

Gene Wolfe. Counting Cats in Zanzibar.
Originally in : Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine

One of the first indistinguishable-from-human robots meets up with one of those who helped create him. She has been on the run for some time and their short lived relationship is doomed.

Bruce Sterling. Bicycle Repairman.
Originally in : Intersections: the Sycamore Hill collection.

A cyberpunk cycle repairman gets involved in political intrigue.

Gwyneth Jones. Red Sonja and Lessingham in Dreamland.
Originally in : Off Limits: More Tales of Alien Sex.

VR sex, with a dashing hero whose behaviour is far from heroic.

Allen Steele. Doblin’s Lecture.
Originally in :

Hartwell makes great play about his collection containing only stories which are ‘clearly SF’. So what is this story doing in this collection? Shows that Truth is Stranger than Fiction, as the OJ Simpson case covered some similar ground. Other elements of the story are acted out in some parts of the world ie public executions, relatives of those being executed being required to pay for bullets.

Kathleen Ann Goonan. The Bride of Elvis.
Originally in : Science Fiction Age

The King of Rock and Roll as an ET.

Kate Wilhelm. Forget Luck.
Originally in :

Luck is in the genes.

Connie Willis. Non-Stop to Portales.
Originally in :

A charming tale of tourists sightseeing the home town of Jack Williamson as the founding father of SF.

Stephen Baxter. Columbiad.
Originally in :

Written in the style of HG Wells/Jules Verne, telling the story of a visit to the planet Mars

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