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The Best of the Best: 20 Years of the Year's Best Science Fiction (2005)

by Gardner Dozois (Editor)

Other authors: Stephen Baxter (Contributor), Greg Bear (Contributor), Terry Bisson (Contributor), Pat Cadigan (Contributor), Ted Chiang (Contributor)32 more, John Crowley (Contributor), Tony Daniel (Contributor), Greg Egan (Contributor), William Gibson (Contributor), Molly Gloss (Contributor), Ursula K. Le Guin (Contributor), Eileen Gunn (Contributor), Joe Haldeman (Contributor), James Patrick Kelly (Contributor), John Kessel (Contributor), Nancy Kress (Contributor), Ursula K. Le Guin (Contributor), Ian R. MacLeod (Contributor), David Marusek (Contributor), Paul J. McAuley (Contributor), Ian McDonald (Contributor), Maureen F. McHugh (Contributor), Robert Reed (Contributor), Mike Resnick (Contributor), Geoff Ryman (Contributor), William Sanders (Contributor), Lucius Shepard (Contributor), Robert Silverberg (Contributor), Brian Stableford (Contributor), Bruce Sterling (Contributor), Charles Stross (Contributor), Michael Swanwick (Contributor), Steven Utley (Contributor), Howard Waldrop (Contributor), Walter Jon Williams (Contributor), Connie Willis (Contributor), Gene Wolfe (Contributor)

Series: The Best of the Best (1983-2002, short stories)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3581969,082 (3.98)9
Features the finest science fiction writings from the past two decades of the annual "The Year's Best Science Fiction," including writings from such authors as Greg Bear, Pat Cadigan, Robert Silverberg, and Ursula K. Le Guin.

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» See also 9 mentions

English (17)  Italian (1)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
I admit: I read only 14 stories out of 26, but please understand me: I just couldn't take it any more! For me, Dozois' yearly Best of SF were always a so-so mix: some good, many bad. But in this Best of Best he overdid himself: it's actually Worst of the Best! From 20 years!
The first problem: almost none is actually scifi, but, you know, "edgy", "slippy" and so on. Second and bigger problem: they are exactly the kind of artsy texts going for the ravishing, highly polished form and completely forgetting the need for an actual, original and good story. Just what usually Dozois and Datlow are looking for, and exactly what I run away from.
From the first 14 I actually enjoyed 3 (Greg Bear, Pat Cadigan, Eileen Gunn) and strongly disliked the others (even Gene Wolfe, a first for me). The average rating was 2,2/5, but I felt so badly cheated in not actually getting scifi for my bucks, that the overall feeling is even worse. It is a firm "Did not like it." ( )
  milosdumbraci | May 5, 2023 |
Reviews of some of the stories:

Blood Music, by Greg Bear--Medically Adaptable Biochips are injected into the bloodstream of their creator.

Salvador, by Lucius Shepherd--the ugly truth of our troops in a 3rd world country, stoned out of their minds on drugs and armed with state-of-the-art weapons.

Trinity, by Nancy Kress--an experiment to bring God to sense his humans. 5 🌟 for this one.

Snow, by John Crowley--Living your life, you will have countless hours of the dull, ordinary stuff of life. The countless hours of cleaning, washing dishes, grocery shopping; then you will have a few hours of exciting and/or fear-ridden, grief-stricken ones. When you're old, and you look back at your life, what do you access in your memory? How does it look to you?

Even the Queen by Connie Willis--In the future, women are more liberated than we are now. Hard to believe that there exist groups of women who would shun that liberation and go back to a bondage that even the Queen had to suffer.

Guest of Honor by Robert Reed--What do rich people do for fun? Money buys everything, so after awhile you're just bored, and you struggle to find meaning in your life. This is the theme of this short story...

Mortimer Gray's History of Death by Brian Stableford--I like this author and how he thinks. I like his character Mortimer Gray, who lives in a universe where people have emortality--this means they CAN be killed by a deadly accident. Mortimer takes on the century-encompassing task of writing a 10-volume opus on mankind's hate, fear and relationship of and with death, beginning with the Crimean war and ending in the 31st century. Curiously, humans in Stableford's novella never did anything to help non-human animals achieve a longer or happier life, though at one point he mentions that tissue culture is taking place in factories.

Coming of Age in Karhide by Ursula LeGuin--How would you like it if, when you get puberty and you get horny, you don't get shamed, you don't have to suppress it, you don't get boys playing/preying on your innocence? Instead, you get encouragement, love, support, and a safe place for it to happen? Plus, you get to choose what gender you'll be while you're in "kemmer." When you're not in kemmer, you're gender-less. How cool is that?

The Dead by Michael Swanwick--I lost my job to technology early in adulthood, and never was able to have as good of a job since then. You can imagine how this affected me and my earnings, and how angry I was about it. Now imagine losing your job to a zombie. Yep, a zombie who requires no pay, no sick days, can be catheterized so no bathroom breaks. Swanwick has written a story that may make you feel ill.

The Undiscovered by William Sanders--Shakespeare gets on the wrong ship and ends up in a tribe of Indians early 1500s.

Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang--5 Stars for this novella, for originality and for making your brain go in directions that it never went before. Aliens come to visit, but they won't meet us in person, they won't say why they're here, beyond communicating to the people of Earth, "seeing and observing." Earth is expecting a"gift exchange," not seeing the gift for what it is.

The Wedding Album by David Marusek--A story about Sim City, and what life is like for the Sims.

( )
  burritapal | Oct 23, 2022 |
This is a large book with a treasure-trove of short fiction. The best part is that there is hardly a dud in the bunch. Some stories appealed more than others but this collection is highly recommended. ( )
  ScoLgo | Dec 29, 2020 |
There are gems here for every science fiction reader. I loved the stories connected to biology, race and gender. Some of the more futuristic stories relating to multiple identities or space/time travel or technology are not to my liking, but that's just personal.

There are Hugo, Nebula, Locus, Theodore Sturgeon award winners scattered throughout. The Best of the Best is great introduction for new science fiction readers or for those looking to survey the breadth of achievement within this genre.

When I consider short stories I love, I consider primarily sticking power. What I mean by this is I can recall at a whim a character or moment of realisation at the core of the story. How and why are often more important than what. It's no coincidence it's often the best written stories that have this knack.


Blood Music by Greg Bear - Fast-paced short story covering themes such as biotechnology, nanotechnology and consciousness. Cleverly structured to reflect the life cycle of a cell.

Kirinyaga by Mike Resnick - More anthropological study than sf. What happens when an educated man decides to lead a colony steeped in spiritual and pre-modern practices? How does the outside "civilised" world react?

Dinner in Audoghast by Bruce Sterling - A great example of why science fiction shouldn't just be concerned about the future. On the surface, this story is about a conversation among a group of feasting African aristocracy. Its striking ironic significance only comes to light towards the end.

The Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang - Beautiful, thought-provoking novella. A moving combination of psychology, linguistics and cultural dynamics. Template for the acclaimed 2016 movie Arrival.

Even the Queen by Connie Willis - Humorous and humanistic. This is the kind of story you can actually imagine playing out in the not-so-distant future. My wife does not read science fiction, the fact she enjoyed this speaks volumes.

None So Blind by Joe Haldeman - Science fiction horror from the author of The Forever War. It's well known that blindness augments other senses. But why is this? And what happens when this knowledge is used for human advancement?

Coming of Age in Karhide by Ursula K. Le Guin
Bears Discover Fire by Terry Bisson
Tales from the Venia Woods by Robert Silverberg
The Dead by Michael Swanwick
Snow by John Crowley
The Undiscovered by William Sanders
A Dry Quiet War by Tony Daniel
Daddy's World by Walter Jon Williams
The Lincoln Train by Maureen F. McHugh
Salvador by Lucius Shepard
10^16 to 1 by James Patrick Kelly

Trinity by Nancy Kress
Roadside Rescue by Pat Cadigan
Recording Angel by Ian McDonald
The Winter Market by William Gibson
The Pure Product by John Kessel
A Cabin on the Coast by Gene Wolfe
People Came from Earth by Stephen Baxter
The Real World by Steven Utley

Flying Saucer Rock & Roll by Howard Waldrop
Mortimer Gray's History of Death by Brian Stableford
Have Not Have by Geoff Ryman
Lobsters by Charles Stross
Breathmoss by Ian R. MacLeod
The Wedding Album by David Marusek
Wang's Carpets by Greg Egan
Guest of Honor by Robert Reed
Second Skin by Paul J. McAuley
Stable Strategies for Middle Management by Eileen Gunn
Lambing Season by Molly Gloss ( )
  jigarpatel | Dec 11, 2019 |
All star review of the best short sci fi over the last 20 years. ( )
  jerry-book | Jan 26, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dozois, GardnerEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baxter, StephenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bear, GregContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bisson, TerryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cadigan, PatContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chiang, TedContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Crowley, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Daniel, TonyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Egan, GregContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gibson, WilliamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gloss, MollyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Guin, Ursula K. LeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gunn, EileenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Haldeman, JoeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kelly, James PatrickContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kessel, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kress, NancyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Le Guin, Ursula K.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
MacLeod, Ian R.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Marusek, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McAuley, Paul J.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McDonald, IanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McHugh, Maureen F.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Reed, RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Resnick, MikeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ryman, GeoffContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sanders, WilliamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shepard, LuciusContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Silverberg, RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stableford, BrianContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sterling, BruceContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stross, CharlesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Swanwick, MichaelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Utley, StevenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Waldrop, HowardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Williams, Walter JonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Willis, ConnieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wolfe, GeneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed

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The Best of the Best (1983-2002, short stories)

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The Mammoth Book of the Best of Best New SF contains all the stories in The Best of the Best: 20 Years of the Year's Best Science Fiction plus three more stories. These books should not be combined together.
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Features the finest science fiction writings from the past two decades of the annual "The Year's Best Science Fiction," including writings from such authors as Greg Bear, Pat Cadigan, Robert Silverberg, and Ursula K. Le Guin.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Anthology contains:
  • Foreword / Robert Silverberg
  • Preface / Gardner Dozois
  • Blood Music / Greg Bear
  • A Cabin on the Coast / Gene Wolfe
  • Salvador / Lucius Shepard
  • Trinity / Nancy Kress
  • Flying Saucer Rock and Roll / Howard Waldrop
  • Dinner in Audoghast / Bruce Sterling
  • Roadside Rescue / Pat Cadigan
  • Snow / John Crowley
  • The Winter Market / William Gibson
  • The Pure Product / John Kessel
  • Stable Strategies for Middle Management / Eileen Gunn
  • Kirinyaga / Mike Resnick
  • Tales from the Venia Woods [Roma Eterna] / Robert Silverberg
  • Bears Discover Fire / Terry Bisson
  • Even the Queen / Connie Willis
  • Guest of Honor / Robert Reed
  • None So Blind / Joe Haldeman
  • Mortimer Gray's History of Death / Brian Stableford
  • The Lincoln Train / Maureen F. McHugh
  • Wang's Carpets / Greg Egan
  • Coming of Age in Karhide [Hainish] / Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Dead / Michael Swanwick
  • Recording Angel / Ian McDonald
  • A Dry, Quiet War / Tony Daniel
  • The Undiscovered / William Sanders
  • Second Skin [The Quiet War] / Paul J. McAuley
  • Story of Your Life / Ted Chiang
  • People Came from Earth / Stephen Baxter
  • The Wedding Album [Cathy] / David Marusek
  • 10¹⁶ to 1 / James Patrick Kelly
  • Daddy's World / Walter Jon Williams
  • The Real World [Silurian Tales] / Steven Utley
  • Have Not Have / Geoff Ryman
  • Lobsters [Macx Family] / Charles Stross
  • Breathmoss [Breathmoss Universe] / Ian R. MacLeod
  • Lambing Season / Molly Gloss
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