cover image The Year's Best Science Fiction

The Year's Best Science Fiction

. St. Martin's Press, $25.99 (620pp) ISBN 978-0-312-07891-1

While generally sound, this collection is badly in need of a trimming. It is hard to see, for example, why Dozois thought to include Geoffrey A. Landis's uninspired throwback to the time when manned lunar landings were still the stuff of science fiction. And Dozois's breathless introductions to these 28 stories are annoying distractions. Still, there is more than enough material here with real merit. Outstanding are Nancy Kress's story about children genetically altered to require no sleep and Connie Willis's chillingly restrained tale of an ancient evil haunting the rubble-strewn streets of World War II London. Gregory Benford finds a new world at the intersection of particle physics and Eastern mysticism. Unsurprisingly, computers appear frequently in these pages but, in what may be a telling example of the late Isaac Asimov's benign influence, they pose no threat to humans--none, that is, beyond their ability to capture our sympathy, as they do in Chris Beckett's tale of an Italian macchina , or robot, and our love, as illustrated by Mark L. Van Name and Pat Murphy's customized Home Information and Appliance Network. (July)