Year's Best Science Fiction, 12th Ed.
Gardner Dozois. St. Martin's Press, $27.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-13222-4
Dozois's Year's Best, like any successful representative of a large constituency, sometimes suffers from blandness and inconsistency. As usual, it's oversized--23 stories, nearly 600 pages--and includes a variety of types of SF as well as near-horror, fantasy and humor. Five of the stories are final nominees for Nebulas, and two new ``Hainish'' stories by Ursula LeGuin were nominated for Tiptree Awards; ``The Matter of Segrri'' won. No story here is less than competent and professional; but, with a few exceptions, there is a voiceless sameness in the writing, practically a house style, that over so many pages grows tedious. (Nearly half the stories, by page count, come from the Dozois-edited Asimov's Science Fiction.) A number are flawed (``hard'' SF stories about ``aliens'' that think just like humans) or unremarkable, but these are outweighed by many fine pieces and by standouts such as LeGuin's ``Forgiveness Day,'' perhaps the best story in the book; Eliot Fintushel's ``New Wave''-like ``Ylem''; William Sanders's ``Going After Old Man Alabama'' and Terry Bisson's ``The Hole in the Hole,'' both of which are winning and funny; Katherine Kerr's chilling ``Asylum''; and Michael Bishop's grand and humane ``Cri de Coeur.'' Dozois's intelligently and ably put-together anthology does its stated job as well as any one book or editor could. Even with competition, it would still be the best of the Best. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/03/1995