cover image The Year's Best Science Fiction

The Year's Best Science Fiction

. Bluejay Books, $17.95 (609pp) ISBN 978-0-312-20445-7

Dozois, the most celebrated editor in SF (10 Hugo Awards and counting) and himself a story writer of great distinction, has for the 16th time gleaned some of the most interesting and literate short fiction of the year for this most respected of best-of's. The 25 chosen works encompass pyrotechnic cyberpunk in dystopic future worlds, alien landscapes and transgalactic politics rigorously extrapolated, cutting-edge physics, metaphysics, comedy low and high, and a touch of fantasy, all of it carried off with wonderful style. And many are the styles. Ursula K. Le Guin is represented by a fantasy in the classic mode, ""The Island of the Immortals,"" a meditation on a theme of Swift's: the true consequences of immortality. Allen Steele's comic Martian Christmas story, ""Zwarte Piet's Tale,"" reads like a Reader's Digest essay, and that is part of its art--to make the alien seem utterly familiar. By contrast, Robert Charles Wilson's ""Divided by Infinity"" implies the existence in things most familiar of something deeply alien. There are hard SF stories by Greg Egan, Geoffrey Landis and the prolific Robert Reed. Ted Chiang's ""Story of Your Life,"" one of only four ever published by him, typifies Dozois's editorial aesthetic, offering genuine scientific insights in an emotionally rich context--the nature of causality itself is illumined through a careful dialogue with extraterrestrials and the tragic death of a child. Some of the stories trace modern trends to their horrible future conclusions--the evil results of genetic engineering, the continued evolution of weaponry, the depletion of world resources. Others point to solutions outside Earth: the colonization of other worlds, the mining of the asteroids or the branching proliferation of whole quantum universes. Once again, Dozois delivers an exemplary volume of exemplary SF. (June)