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The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume 1

by Neil Clarke (Editor)

Other authors: David Brin (Contributor), Qiufan Chen (Contributor), John Chu (Contributor), Brenda Cooper (Contributor), Aliette de Bodard (Contributor)25 more, Eddie Del Rio (Cover artist), Seth Dickinson (Contributor), Taiyo Fujii (Contributor), Jingfang Hao (Contributor), Nancy Kress (Contributor), Naomi Kritzer (Contributor), Rich Larson (Contributor), Ann Leckie (Contributor), David D. Levine (Contributor), Ken Liu (Contributor), Paul McAuley (Contributor), Ian McDonald (Contributor), Seanan McGuire (Contributor), Sean McMullen (Contributor), Sam J. Miller (Contributor), An Owomoyela (Contributor), Robert Reed (Contributor), Alastair Reynolds (Contributor), Kelly Robson (Contributor), Geoff Ryman (Contributor), Carter Scholz (Contributor), Martin L. Shoemaker (Contributor), Carrie Vaughn (Contributor), Nick Wolven (Contributor), Caroline M. Yoachim (Contributor)

Series: The Best Science Fiction of the Year (1)

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693283,262 (3.86)None
To keep up-to-date with the most buzzworthy and cutting-edge science fiction requires sifting through countless magazines, e-zines, websites, blogs, original anthologies, single-author collections, and more-a task accomplishable by only the most determined and voracious readers. For everyone else, Night Shade Books is proud to introduce the inaugural volume of The Best Science Fiction of the Year, a new yearly anthology compiled by Hugo and World Fantasy award-winning editor Neil Clarke, collecting the finest that the genre has to offer, from the biggest names in the field to the most exciting new writers. The best science fiction scrutinizes our culture and politics, examines the limits of the human condition, and zooms across galaxies at faster-than-light speeds, moving from the very near future to the far-flung worlds of tomorrow in the space of a single sentence. Clarke, publisher and editor in chief of the acclaimed and award-winning magazine Clarkesworld, has selected the short science fiction (and only science fiction) best representing the previous year's writing, showcasing the talent, variety, and awesome "sensawunda" that the genre has to offer.… (more)
Recently added by__Kat, dmturner, daves0, RaysKaos, hullbass, bradleyhorner, private library, tr10pt1c0n, Zoes_Human, User65

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This mammoth volume assembles three score proper science fiction stories from the year 2015. Everything in it has the "what if this goes on?" variety of plot. Some of the stories are set in the near future, some farther off, and reading all of them gave this reader the feeling that I was in a hall of mirrors with endless reflections going off in all directions, providing different perspectives on some of the same ideas.

One takeaway of the field represented here was that many of the stories were cluttered with invented vocabulary and names as a substitute for vividness, and focused too much on world-building or on the technical details of the various sciences they drew from. But that could be my reaction because I am drawn to lucidity and simplicity in stories. I particularly enjoyed Nancy Kress's "Cocoons," "Martin Shoemaker's "Today I Am Paul," and Naomi Kritzer's "Cat Pictures, Please" for those reasons, and also because they seemed more story-like than some of the others, with characters I cared more about. I confess that I grew up reading SF in a time when it shared more clarity and story structure with modern YA, so I sometimes get impatient.

There were a lot of common themes in the stories; space travel, culture, politics, war, diplomacy. Many of the stories focus on the provisional nature of identity in a universe populated by avatars, machine consciousnesses, and altered humans. The last story posited consciousness in a murmuration of starlings. Some stories had travel portals to get around the vast distances of space, while others used generation ships, stasis, or stored data to get humans or their successors from one place to another.

The brief biographies of authors prefacing each story were an intimidating roster of publications. Having pulled away from hard science fiction after my first few decades (I moved into reading more fantasy), I was unfamiliar with many of the names. This is a good introduction to the present-day field, and I recommend it. ( )
  dmturner | Jun 29, 2020 |
I'm honestly boggled by how much I loved this collection of short stories. Clarke put together a really great anthology and I feel edified and thrilled about almost every single one of these.

There's a lot of extra-sol colonization stories, each and every one of them very different in tone and complexity, but all of these were pretty awesome. I was rather surprised and awed by the level of both science and the complexity of the stories.

There were also some really fantastic AI stories with one dovetailing into a robot story with "Today I am Paul" and especially that gem of a story, "Cat Pictures Please".

I've read a few of them from this collection already, but they're still great, like "Folding Beijing".

What I was pretty thrilled about, in general, was reading Geoff Ryman, David Brin, and Seanan McGuire, but I was even more pleasantly surprised by the stories by Yoon Ha Lee and Sean McMullen.

In fact, I think I've just discovered some of my absolute favorite new unknown authors through this book! It's crazy. I've been reading so many novels and just a handful of short stories all this time, completely missing out on a whole WIDE FIELD OF AWESOMENESS. I've got to get EVERYTHING by Sean McMullen now. It's crazy. This is like a NEED for me, now. :)

There were a few I didn't really care for, but I can't say they were written badly or they weren't that interesting because every story in this collection was interesting. It's just a matter of taste and subject matter. But there were over thirty great stories here and I think I'm in love. I think I'm gonna check out every single one of these collections that Neil Clarke puts together. If this is going to be a representative sample, I'm going to be in dog heaven. :)
( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
11 of the 30 stories in this also appear in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Third Annual Collection. These would include three of the best stories: "Today I Am Paul" by Martin L. Shoemaker, "Calved" by Sam J. Miller, and "Meshed" by Rich Larson. It also includes the two I least liked from this collection: "Botanica Veneris: Thirteen Papercuts by Ida Countess Rathangan" by Ian McDonald and "A Murmuration" by Alastair Reynolds. I didn't even bother to finish the former.

So what does this new series have to offer that Dozois' award winning The Year's Best Science Fiction collections do not?

For one thing, better introductions for the book and the individual stories. I'm interested in the overall state of affairs of science fiction and short work, but TYBSF's summation is 28 pages long and reads like a company report. Neil Clarke gives the same overview, in laymen's terms, in 6. Likewise, the individual introductions to the stories in TYBSF go on a bit longer than needed, seeming to sometimes attempt to list everything ever written by the author. Clarke keeps them short here - a paragraph, a couple of their more significant works.

It also offers 19 stories that aren't in the other volume. Even better, 16 of those were strong stories, warranting 4 or 5 star stories from me. The remaining 3 were good. I wasn't wowed but I liked them.

So which to read? Well, who says you can't have two collections? After all, between the two, there are still 44 distinct stories in addition to the 11 repeats. Other than the introductory material, which many don't even read, I'd call it a draw between these two magnificent science fiction collections.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via a Goodreads giveaway. Many thanks to all involved in providing me with this opportunity. ( )
  Zoes_Human | Feb 22, 2020 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Clarke, NeilEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brin, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chen, QiufanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chu, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cooper, BrendaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
de Bodard, AlietteContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Del Rio, EddieCover artistsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dickinson, SethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fujii, TaiyoContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hao, JingfangContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kress, NancyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kritzer, NaomiContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Larson, RichContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Leckie, AnnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Levine, David D.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Liu, KenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McAuley, PaulContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McDonald, IanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McGuire, SeananContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McMullen, SeanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Miller, Sam J.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Owomoyela, AnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Reed, RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Reynolds, AlastairContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Robson, KellyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ryman, GeoffContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Scholz, CarterContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shoemaker, Martin L.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Vaughn, CarrieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wolven, NickContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Yoachim, Caroline M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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