THE YEAR'S BEST SCIENCE FICTION: Twenty-first Annual Collection
, . . St. Martin's Griffin, $35 (665pp) ISBN 978-0-312-32479-7
With stories that run the gamut from alternate history to strange admixtures of SF and fantasy to bizarrely inexplicable worlds, and with authors ranging from big names to first-timers, Hugo-winner Dozois shows off the dazzling range of the genre in his annual compendium. Several authors deal with the loneliness of humans in the galaxy. In William Barton's "Off on a Starship," young Wally accidentally leaves Earth on an automated spaceship, only to discover that there are no other people out there—and when he finally comes home, it's not as a boy but as a god. Walter Jon Williams's bittersweet "The Green Leopard Plague" explores the economic and social consequences of conquering world hunger. Geoff Ryman's timely "Birth Days" follows a gay researcher as he finds a way to "cure" homosexuality, with unexpected results. Other standout stories include Kage Baker's rollicking "Welcome to Olympus, Mr. Hearst," where the Company takes on Hearst, and loses; and Michael Swanwick's fantastic "King Dragon," where the dragon's lackey strikes back. This hefty tome has enough content for a summer of reading, and the range of stories indicates that SF still doesn't know the meaning of the word "boundaries."
Reviewed on: 06/28/2004