The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Vol. 4
Jonathan Strahan, . . Night Shade Books, $19.95 (500pp) ISBN 978-1-59780-171-3
Strahan’s introduction calls 2008 “a good but not exceptional year for short fiction,” and in accurate reflection, all 29 stories collected here are good, but few are great. The standouts are memorable in a variety of ways: for sheer power of narrative voice, Pat Cadigan’s “Truth and Bone”; for human connections to inscrutable aliens, Damien Broderick’s “This Wind Blowing, and This Tide”; for humor amid life-and-death peril, Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear’s “Mongoose.” Hard SF fans should seek out the imperiled far future Earth of Stephen Baxter’s “Formidable Caress,” while a sense of wonder and menace permeates Peter Watts’s “The Island.” A few stories don’t feel as strong as they might have been, but there are no real wrong turns.
Reviewed on: 02/08/2010