cover image The Year's Best Science Fiction, Tenth Annual Collection

The Year's Best Science Fiction, Tenth Annual Collection

. Tor Books, $27.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-09423-2

Although Dozois ( Geodesic Dreams ) has assembled a collection of 24 very good stories and enhances it with a useful list of runner-up titles, one suspects these tales betray Dozois's idiosyncratic taste more than they represent ``the year's best.'' Consider Ian R. MacLeod's alternative speculation on the Beatles. ``Never quite made it to the very top,'' says one woman in this story, which finds an unemployed, 50-year-old John Lennon smoking, drinking and picking the fluff off his feet, while Paul, George, Ringo and Stuart Sutcliffe--who never did make it to the top--are still plugging along. It may be entertaining to Beatles fans, but not much more than that. Frederick Pohl describes how ``vid'' superstar Rafiel Gutmaker-Fensterborn, a mortal in a largely immortal society, give his final performance (in a tap-dance version of Oedipus Rex ) and finally evades oblivion the old-fashioned way: parenthood. Nancy Kress gives a grim picture of the near future in which gene scans for potential disease can be used to deny people employment and health insurance and doctors who dare treat the uninsurables can endanger their own lucrative careers and risk becoming professional outcasts. (July)