Best Science Fiction of the Year 1. ed Terry Carr. 1972

After a successful series of Year’s Best volumes co-edited with Donald A. Wollheim beteen 1965 and 1971, both went their own way with their own series. This is Carr’s first solo volume.

Occam’s Scalpel. Theodore Sturgeon.
Originally in : If

Any tyro short SF writers should read this as an example of a master story-teller at work. It would prove difficult to describe the story without spoiling the story, so I won’t do that (Terry Carr in the Best Science Fiction of the Year 1 gives away a little too much in his intro), but suffice to say that in a short story Sturgeon keeps the reader off balance as the story twists and turns to a far from expected conclusion.

The scalpel is in the hands of someone carrying out an autopsy, which doesn’t give too much away.

The Queen of Air and Darkness. Poul Anderson.
Originally in : Fantasy and Science Fiction

Hugo and Nebula Award Winner. Anderson describes vividly a very alien planet and its inhabitants, and how their lives are threatened by, and how they threaten the lives of, the explorers from Earth. Magic and science come face to face.

In Entropy’s Jaws. Robert Silverberg.
Originally in : Infinity 2.

John Skein is on an interplanetary voyage. The drop from FTL travel can cause some travellers problems, and in this instance he suffers a massive reaction. He subsequently has flashbacks and flashforwards, and in PKDickian style, what is real, and what is not, and when it is, or will be, or was real, becomes difficult to identify.

The Sliced-Crosswise Only-on-Tuesday world. Philip Jose Farmer.
Originally in : New Dimensions 1

Inventive love story, in which overcrowding leads to people living only one day in seven, spending the rest in suspended animation. For Tom Pym Wednesday seems to hold more for him, including the promise of true love.

A Meeting With Medusa. Arthur C. Clarke.
Originally in :

Falcon, having surviving an airship crash (more than surviving!) is the logical choice for a balloon-drop visit to Jupiter’s atmosphere.

The Frayed String on the Stretched Forefinger of Time. Lloyd Biggle Jr.
Originally in : Fantasy and Science Fiction

A whodunit with a clever twist: science has enabled the police to keep tabs on potential murderers and so arrest them *before* the crime is commited. But has one putative murder found a way to commit a murder and to beat the rap?

How can we sink when we can fly? Alexei Panshin.
Originally in : Four Futures

A most interesting piece of fiction in two parts. The first part relates the struggle the author has in writing a story to an idea put forward by Isaac Asimov, the second part is the story which he writes.

Vaster than Empires and More Slow. Ursula K. Le Guin.
Originally in : New Dimensions 1

Set in the author’s Hainish universe, a team of planetary surveyors struggle against a most insidious enemy – the very planet upon which they have landed. The interplay between the individuals is well observed and described.

All the Last Wars at Once. George Alec Effinger.
Originally in : Universe 1

Bleak, dark look at man’s inhumanity to man and the societal demarcation and polarisation which in this story lead to a most violent conclusion.

The Fourth Profession. Larry Niven.
Originally in : Quark/4.

Aliens, known as The Monks due to their habits (the ones they wear, as opposed to living a life of poverty and prayer) arrive in the USA. One Monk turns up in Frazer’s bar and during the course of some serious drinking, offers him what would appear to be education tablets. The following day the Secret Service arrive and Frazer struggles to recall the content of the tablets he swallowed, before he realises that he has to ensure that the aliens plans do not mean trouble for Earth.

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