Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Thought-provoking Fiction

The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Ninth Annual CollectionThe Year's Best Science Fiction: 
Twenty-Ninth Annual Collection 
by Gardner R. Dozois

There is a vast amount of science fiction published in any given year. For almost thirty years Gardner Dozois has culled through the published stories to compile The Year's Best Science Fiction. This edition contains a breadth of stories that spans from fantasy and horror to hard science fiction and space opera. The anthology was included in my reading for a summer course at the University of Chicago. In addition to preparation for our discussion each week the stories share another aspect that kept me reading; they were all well written, some exceptionally so.
 With thirty-five stories I can only share a list of some of my favorites among them. These included "The Beancounters Cat" by Damien Broderick, "Martian Heart" by John Barnes, "The Invasion of Venus" by Stephen Baxter, "After the Apocalypse" by Maureen F. McHugh, "The Smell of Orange Groves" by Lavie Tidhar (perhaps the most poetic of the stories), "Cody" by Pat Cadigan, and "The Boneless One" by Alec Nevala-Lee (This last a true Science Fiction horror story). For this reader the best story was the last in the collection, "The Man Who Bridged the Mist" by Kij Johnson.  I liked it because it won me over in the sense that when I began to read it I thought I would not like it both because it was too long (one of the two longest in the collection) and because it appeared to be too fantasy-oriented for my taste (a taste that runs more to science--believable or not).  It defied my expectations with beautiful writing while demonstrating universal themes of love, friendship, achievement, and death while providing a consistent alien background in both the social and scientific sense.  Johnson's story proved a worthy capstone to a great collection of twenty-first century Science Fiction.
 With more than two dozen other stories there are sure to be several that will please the reading palate of any who enjoy Science Fiction.

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