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For the first time in a decade, a compilation of the very best in science fiction, from a world authority on the genre. For decades, the Year's Best Science Fiction has been the most widely read short science fiction anthology of its kind. Now, after thirty-five annual collections. comes the ultimate in science fiction anthologies. In The Very Best of the Best, legendary ed For the first time in a decade, a compilation of the very best in science fiction, from a world authority on the genre. For decades, the Year's Best Science Fiction has been the most widely read short science fiction anthology of its kind. Now, after thirty-five annual collections. comes the ultimate in science fiction anthologies. In The Very Best of the Best, legendary editor Gardner Dozois selects the finest short stories for this landmark collection.


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For the first time in a decade, a compilation of the very best in science fiction, from a world authority on the genre. For decades, the Year's Best Science Fiction has been the most widely read short science fiction anthology of its kind. Now, after thirty-five annual collections. comes the ultimate in science fiction anthologies. In The Very Best of the Best, legendary ed For the first time in a decade, a compilation of the very best in science fiction, from a world authority on the genre. For decades, the Year's Best Science Fiction has been the most widely read short science fiction anthology of its kind. Now, after thirty-five annual collections. comes the ultimate in science fiction anthologies. In The Very Best of the Best, legendary editor Gardner Dozois selects the finest short stories for this landmark collection.

30 review for The Very Best of the Best: 35 Years of the Year's Best Science Fiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mona

    Overall rating of whole anthology: 4 This is a terrific anthology, edited by the late, great Gardner Dozois. It’s long too, chock full of stories by many different, and very diverse, authors, so you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck. The overall quality of the stories is very high. I liked this anthology much better than the one I read previously, The New Space Opera 2. I love science fiction, but I’m not a big space opera fan, so this volume was much more to my liking. The two audio readers, Wi Overall rating of whole anthology: 4 This is a terrific anthology, edited by the late, great Gardner Dozois. It’s long too, chock full of stories by many different, and very diverse, authors, so you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck. The overall quality of the stories is very high. I liked this anthology much better than the one I read previously, The New Space Opera 2. I love science fiction, but I’m not a big space opera fan, so this volume was much more to my liking. The two audio readers, Will Damron and Vivienne Leheny, are top of the line. The number of characters and atmospheres they successfully created are staggering. My only (very small) quibble with Will Damron is that he’s not great at British accents. The Potter of Bones by Elinor Arnason 4 Audio read by Vivienne Leheny A lovely story which reminds me of Ursula LeGuin. If you need blood, guts, gore, and action, this won’t be for you. A slow paced and ambiguous tale of Haik, a red haired member of a furry race who knows when and who knows where. Not a lot of action or a definite ending, but it’s Haik’s story, maybe set in the distant past. Haik creates coveted pottery with images of the animals she’s encountered on solitary archaeological forays along the shore. She puts together a sort of theory of evolution that’s too advanced for most of the people around her. Haik’s female lover is an actress and writer with her own traveling theater troupe. Rogue Farm by Charles Stross 4 Audio read by Will Damron I’ve enjoyed previous Charles Stross stories for his bizarre sense of humor and general weirdness. Stross has a unique and totally original voice. This story doesn’t disappoint. A cybernetic farm collective that absorbs individual humans and wants to travel to Jupiter trespasses on Joe and Maddie’s farm land and they are pissed. This strange and funny story includes Stross’s usual peculiar details, such as a talking, pot smoking dog named Bob. The Little Goddess by Ian McDonald 5 Audio read by Vivienne Leheny An absolutely brilliant and daring story taking place in Nepal and India in the 2030s and 2040s. Its subject is different forms of divinity and holiness. In this tale, implanted AIs are juxtaposed with a brutal world that sees women as commodities and where high tech coexists with a police state crackdown on tech. The tale’s narrator and central character is a young Nepali woman. The author knows a great deal about South Asian cultures, I’m guessing through first hand experience. I won’t say more about this one, except that it’s a must-read. I’m definitely going to read more by this author. He’s amazingly talented. Dead Men Walking by Paul McAuley 4 Read by Will Damron War veteran Roy Bruce is living a quiet life on remote Ariel, one of Uranus’s moons. Ariel is a prison planet for political prisoners and other outlaws and he’s been a prison guard for ten years, breeding musical crickets, attending a sweat lodge, and living in a tiny cabin. He’s pretty contented. But overnight, everything changes when a terrifying threat comes into his “silly little life”. Good story. Tin Marsh by Michael Swanwick 4 Audio read by Vivienne Leheny Two prospecting partners on Venus, Parang (female) and McArthur (male), have come to hate each other after months of working together in isolation. Their interaction starts to unravel into deadly insanity. Good Mountain by Robert Reed 5 Read by Will Damron Great story. The apocalypse comes to some unknown world at some indefinite time, and it’s terrifying. Where the Golden Apples Grow by Kate Baker 4 Audio read by Will Damron Powerful story about two boys and a man and the very dangerous long distance hauling business on Mars. Among other things. The Sledge-Maker’s Daughter by Alastair Reynolds 4 Audio read by Vivienne Leheny Strong story. A young woman gets help from an old woman reputed to be a witch. I liked this much better than the other work I read by this author, Slow Bullets. This tale was quite different, so he’s a very versatile writer. I’m going to revisit his work, and perhaps read some of his novels. Glory by Greg Egan 4 Read by Vivienne Leheny Strong story about a mathematician and her colleague, who will go to any lengths for their research. Including adopting alien bodies. Finisterra by David Moles 4 Read by Vivienne Leheny Bianca Nazario, an engineer, takes a dicey but well paying job in space without fully understanding what’s involved. But she desperately needs the money... The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm by Daryl Gregory 4 Audio read by Will Damron Trovenia is at war. There are “slaybots”, U-men, etc. The Trovenian leader is the apparently unkillable Lord Grimm. Strange story. It does convey the frightening chaos of a war zone quite well. Utriusque Cosmos 3 Read by Vivienne Leheny I’m skipping this one, as I recently read it in the collection The New Space Opera 2 and wasn’t crazy about it. I’m sure that Vivienne Leheny, an excellent reader, did a better job than the actress who read it there. Events Preceding the Helvetican Renaissance by John Kessel 3 Read by Will Damron I’m skipping this one too, as it was also in The New Space Opera 2, a collection I recently read. This story wasn’t a favorite either. Useless Things by Maureen McHugh 4 Read by Vivienne Leheny Good story about a woman living alone in the New Mexico desert, trying to survive. Apparently not science fiction though, although it’s unclear...it might be set in a sort of post apocalyptic America. Mongoose by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear 4 Read by Vivienne Leheny In the audio the title was read as “The Boojum”, which made more sense then the Kindle title (“Mongoose”), which made no sense. Since Kindle books are riddled with errors, I’m inclined to believe that the audio title was the right one. A Boojum is a type of living being that’s also a space ship. The Lavinia is a Boojum that hosts a crew of pirates. Black Alice, a pirate engineer, has a special relationship with the ship. A Boojum is a dangerous imaginary animal from Lewis Carroll’s poem “The Hunting of the Snark”. Hair by Adam Roberts 4 Read by Will Damron The narrator is a lawyer for the Company. His client and somewhat narcissistic best friend, Nic, has come up with a revolutionary invention to eradicate poverty. Nic has also absconded on his legal obligations to the Company, his employer. Now what? The Things by Peter Watts 5 Read by Vivienne Leheny The movie “The Thing from Another World” from the monster’s viewpoint. Confusing at times, but a very powerful story. The Emperor of Mars by Allen Steele 4 Read by Will Damron A temporary resident of Mars goes crazy. Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain by Yoon Ha Lee 4 Read by Vivienne Leheny A woman possesses a weapon of unimaginable destructiveness. Martian Heart by John Barnes 4 Read by Will Damron A teenaged couple goes to Mars and takes up prospecting, with very mixed results. Nice Martian love story. The Invasion of Venus by Stephen Baxter 4 Read by Will Damron Aliens invade Venus and humans on Earth learn a little about Venus, a little about the aliens, and a lot about themselves. Weep for Day by Indrapramit Das 5 Audio read by Vivienne Leheny Stunning story about a tidally fixed planet with a day side that never has night and a night side that never has day. I will definitely read more by this talented writer. The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi by Pat Cadigan 4 Read by Vivienne Leheny Cute and highly imaginative story about people who choose to change species, and the politics and prejudices associated with that choice (mostly the bigotry of humans against those species). Mainly set in the areas around Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus (with Earth included by reference). The Memcordist by Lavie Tidhar 4 Read by Will Damron Strange and haunting story about a future on other planets in our solar system. Pym is the central character, and millions view (in real time) his life and his search for his lost love. The Best We Can by Carrie Vaughn 4 Read by Vivienne Leheny Poignant and vivid story about the frustration of an astronomer who discovers an object near Jupiter that might be a probe sent by an alien civilization (i.e., first contact and perhaps the most important event in human history) and her difficulty getting others to take her or her idea seriously. The Discovered Country by Ian R. McLeod 4 Audio read by Will Damron A strange story about a virtual afterlife where people upload their mental processes to a computer. (Neal Stephenson used a similar concept in his recent book “Dodge”, but his take on it is much different). A well crafted and admirable story, but it left me a little cold for some reason, maybe because it was difficult to care about the characters. Pathways by Nancy Kress 4 Read by Vivienne Leheny I enjoyed this story. Not surprising, as I’m a long time fan of Nancy Kress. I don’t know if I’d call the story science fiction, though. It does take place in some future version of America with a libertarian president. But it’s the story of a young and bright but uneducated mountain girl, Ludie, who decides to take part in an experimental study. Ludie, and many of her family, have an inherited, rare, and fatal genetic disorder (Fatal Familial Insomnia). FFI is a real disease, and the experimental procedure seemed quite plausible to me. The Hand is Quicker ... by Elizabeth Bear 5 Audio read by Will Damron A terrifying and depressing story about homelessness in the future, when “undesirables” are literally invisible to the middle and upper classes, who have a virtual technology called “skinning” that shields them from reality. Someday by James Patrick Kelly 3 Audio read by Vivienne Leheny I’ve never been a huge fan of this writer, although he writes well enough. Here, a woman who lives in a small village on a backwater colony planet decides to have a baby. She practices the unusual mating ceremony of her area to conceive the child. I think the surprise ending, which was entirely out of keeping with the rest of the story, ruined it for me. Sometimes surprise endings seem contrived and forced; the one in this story did. Plus, a few of the characters became rather grating as the story progressed. Also, the main character, the woman, seemed a bit undeveloped. The Long Haul, From the ANNALS OF TRANSPORTATION, The Pacific Monthly, May 2009 by Ken Liu 4 Audio read by Will Damron This is a story of an alternative steam punk timeline in our world where long distance transportation is dominated by the more fuel efficient zeppelins rather than by airplanes, which also exist in this alternate timeline. There are lots of places for zeppelins to land, etc. The story describes a zeppelin trip from Zanghou, China to Las Vegas. The zep is hauling cargo. There isn’t a traditional story arc (conflict, denouement, etc.). It’s more like a leisurely travelogue. I love steam punk and zeppelins, so I enjoyed this. Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight by Aliette de Bodard 4 Read by Vivienne Leheny A lovely, moving story about two siblings grieving the death of their mother, an important scientist. The brother, Quang Tu, is a civil servant. His sister, Tiger in the Banyan, is a living space ship. I haven't always liked other stories by this writer; but I did admire this one. Calved by Sam J. Miller Audio read by Will Damron 5 Heart wrenching story about an immigrant in Sweden in the future (he fled NY when the city was destroyed). He’s forced to do menial labor, as he can't get any other work. His great love for his son is the one thing that matters to him. But he’s not sure his son loves him any more. Emergence by Gwyneth Jones 4 Read by Vivienne Leheny A tale contemplating the future on the Jupiter Moons (and Earth) and its sentient AIs, death, life, immortality, virtual reality, etc. A judicial proceeding goes very wrong and has consequences for several of the people involved. Rates of Change by James S.A. Corey 3.5 Read by Vivienne Leheny I wonder why so many male writers create female characters that are shallow and/or dislikeable. The story is interesting, but the central character, Diana, is pretty unsympathetic. Her son is hurt in an accident after changing species. She handles it badly. Jonas and the Fox by Rich Larson 4 Read by Will Damron Suspenseful story of a man in hiding in an unexpected place on a colony world engaged in a civil war. KIT: Some Assembly Required by Kathie Koja and Carter Scholz 4 Read by Will Damron An AI based on sixteenth century playwright Christopher Marlowe runs amok (that is, passes the Turing Test). Wasn’t sure how to rate this, but it gets points for creativity. Winter Timeshare by Ray Nayler 4 Read by Vivienne Leheny Two lovers go to a lot of trouble to meet in Istanbul once a year in the winter. Their jobs keep them separated the rest of the time. My English Name by R.S. Benedict 4 Read by Will Damron. Strangely compelling story (horror really) about a dubious and mysterious Western “changeling” living in China who “wears” a succession of different bodies of various genders, appearances, and nationalities.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dan Trefethen

    As much as I admired the late Gardner Dozois' taste in stories, I was disappointed in this volume. Not that the stories are bad – they're very good. But the title is deceptive; this is NOT the best of 35 years of science fiction. Gardner published two volumes of “the best of the best” before this, covering the first 20 years of his annual compilation. This volume covers the years 2003-2017. That leaves out significant authors from the past 35 years: Octavia Butler, Ursula Le Guin, James Tiptree As much as I admired the late Gardner Dozois' taste in stories, I was disappointed in this volume. Not that the stories are bad – they're very good. But the title is deceptive; this is NOT the best of 35 years of science fiction. Gardner published two volumes of “the best of the best” before this, covering the first 20 years of his annual compilation. This volume covers the years 2003-2017. That leaves out significant authors from the past 35 years: Octavia Butler, Ursula Le Guin, James Tiptree Jr., William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Greg Bear, Gene Wolfe, Connie Willis, Robert Silverberg... there were Giants in the Earth in those days. Some veteran authors are in this volume: Nancy Kress, Michael Swanwick, Greg Egan, Ian McDonald, James P. Kelly, Pat Cadigan, as well as some exciting new ones like Yoon Ha Lee, Rich Larson, Lavie Tidhar, Elizabeth Bear, Sam Miller. I rated this volume as high as I did because, as I said, Gardner had excellent taste and these stories are quite good and satisfying, with a good mix of veteran and new authors. But I can't help but feel that it doesn't measure up to the previous volumes. Perhaps that's because I remember those stories when they were new and I was younger. But maybe the 1980s and 1990s were a bit of a Golden Age for progressive SF, and I was lucky to catch it at the time.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andreas

    Dozois published 35 annual anthologies with his selection of the best SF stories of the previous year. He concentrated those 35 books even further down to three volumes by selecting the best of those: The first anthology covering 1983-2002, another one publishing only novellas (which I haven’t read yet), and now this anthology covering SF stories and novellas from 2003-2017. Insofar is the title misleading, as this volume is only one of three collecting the best SF short works; and also, they "on Dozois published 35 annual anthologies with his selection of the best SF stories of the previous year. He concentrated those 35 books even further down to three volumes by selecting the best of those: The first anthology covering 1983-2002, another one publishing only novellas (which I haven’t read yet), and now this anthology covering SF stories and novellas from 2003-2017. Insofar is the title misleading, as this volume is only one of three collecting the best SF short works; and also, they "only" publish works which have been published in his annual anthologies. Sadly, Dozois passed away shortly after that, so this really concludes his life’s work as an editor. The annual anthologies are really monstrous doorstoppers. Everyone who reads anthologies knows that they take far longer to digest than any novel of the same size. And it isn’t healthy to read through them like a novel. My mode is mostly one or two stories per day, and writing a review for each one - you'll find the reviews linked below with every story. What is to be expected from this anthology? First of all, a huge amount of stories: 38 stories spread over 686 pages. In comparison to the first anthology, nearly all of the stories are actually core SF in several typical subgenres. Dozois tended to select literary stories which might not be to everyone's taste, but fit mine very well. The anthology is exceptionally good, the first five stories already outstanding. There are a couple of five star stories in it, many four star stories, and only one bummer. While the average grade is around four stars, I've rounded up to five stars - because anthologies can't be assessed on an average value only: Most anthologies have a lot of stories in them which don't fit one's taste at all. I can fully recommend this anthology for readers of SF created in this millenium. The links to reviews in the list below lead to my blog. Contents (stories are ordered from oldest to newest): 1 • ★★★★+☆ • The Potter of Bones • 2002 • Planetary SF novella by Eleanor Arnason • retelling of the scientific discovery of evolution theory by an alien Darwin • review 39 • ★★★★★ • Rogue Farm • 2003 • Transhuman SF short story by Charles Stross • a posthuman collective wants to reach Jupiter • review 51 • ★★★★★ • The Little Goddess • 2005 • Near future SF novella by Ian McDonald • India 2047 child-goddess’s coming-of-age • review 84 • ★★★★☆ • Dead Men Walking • 2006 • Quiet War novelette by Paul McAuley • a dying clone dictates his story on an Uranus moon • review 99 • ★★★★☆ • Tin Marsh • 2006 • SF novelette by Michael Swanwick • prospectors on Venus really hate each other • review 114 • ★★★☆☆ • Good Mountain • 2005 • SF novella by Robert Reed • fleeing from a catastrophic fire across a strange world • review 160 • ★★★☆☆ • Where the Golden Apples Grow • 2006 • Mars novella by Kage Baker • Two settler boys have an adventure steering a truck on Mars • review 204 • ★★★★☆ • The Sledge-Maker's Daughter • 2007 • Post-Post-apocalyptic short story by Alastair Reynolds • a hag passes on gifts to a teenage girl • review 222 • ★★★★☆ • Glory • 2007 • Planetary SF novelette by Greg Egan • two xenomathematicians extracted new proofs from remainders of an extinguished race • review 243 • ★★★☆☆ • Finisterra • 2007 • Planetary SF novelette by David Moles • an aeroengineer gets a job to help harvest huuuuuuge floating animals on a foreign planet • review 269 • ★★★☆☆ • The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm • 2008 • Superhero novelette by Daryl Gregory • A welder survives in a war between steampunkish robots and superheroes/villains • review 286 • ★★★★☆ • Utriusque Cosmi • 2009 • Posthuman SF novelette by Robert Charles Wilson • an alien cloudified fleet rescues humans from an apocalyptic catastrophe • review 304 • ★★★+☆☆ • Events Preceding the Helvetican Renaissance • 2009 • Space Opera novelette by John Kessel • a monk steals the last instance of a creation myth • review 328 • ★★★+☆☆ • Useless Things • 2012 • Near Future SF short story by Maureen F. McHugh • a doll maker makes her way in New Mexico after economic collapse and climate change • review 342 • ★★★★☆ • Boojum • 2009 • Horror Space Opera novelette by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette • pirates on a living space ship make a Lovecraftian bounty • review 358 • ★★★☆☆ • Hair • 2009 • Near Future SF novelette by Adam Roberts • genemodded hair feeds the poor • review 377 • ★★★★★ • The Things • 2010 • First Contact short story by Peter Watts • Carpenter‘s „The Thing“ from the alien‘s perspective • review 391 • ★★★+☆☆ • The Emperor of Mars • 2010 • Near Future SF novelette by Allen Steele • a grunt worker on Mars goes mad • review 407 • ★★★★☆ • Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain • 2010 • Time Travel short story by Yoon Ha Lee • four weapons with different fantastical effects • review 413 • ★★★+☆☆ • Martian Heart • 2011 • YA Near Future SF short story by John Barnes • a pair of young Martian settlers start as prospectors • review 425 • ★★★☆☆ • The Invasion of Venus • 2010 • First contact short story by Stephen Baxter • aliens arrive in the Solar system; they don't head for Earth but for Venus • review 435 • ★★★+☆☆ • Weep for Day • 2012 • SF novelette by Indrapramit Das • review 450 • ★★★★★ • The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi • 2012 • SF novelette by Pat Cadigan • review 467 • ★★★★☆ • The Memcordist • 2012 • SF short story by Lavie Tidhar • review 478 • ★★★☆☆ • The Best We Can • 2013 • First Contact short story by Carrie Vaughn • a quiet alien spacecraft stays in a sub-Saturn orbit • review 487 • ★★★+☆☆ • The Discovered Country • 2013 • Posthuman novelette by Ian R. MacLeod • a man finds himself among the uploaded superrich, renewing old acquaintances • review 510 • ★★★★+☆ • Pathways • 2013 • Near SF novelette by Nancy Kress • medical research •  review 531 • ★★★☆☆ • The Hand is Quicker • Near SF novelette by Elizabeth Bear • perception control • review 547 • ★★★☆☆ • Someday • SF short story by James Patrick Kelly • human reproduction on a colonial planet • review 558 • ★★★★☆ • “THE LONG HAUL from the Annals of Transportation, The Pacific Monthly, May 2009” • alternative history short story by Ken Liu • review 573 • ★★★☆☆ • Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight • 2015 • Xuya Space Opera short story by Aliette de Bodard • a family doesn't get back the memories of a famous scientist, because the government needs it more urgently • review 587 • ★★★★☆ • Calved • CliFi short story by Sam J. Miller • review 598 • ★★★☆☆ • Emergence • SF short story by Gwyneth Jones • review 613 • ★★+☆☆☆ • Rates of Change • SF short story by James S. A. Corey • transplanting brains into designer bodies •  review 624 • ★★★☆☆ • Jonas and the Fox • 2016 • YA SF novelette by Rich Larson • a poet embodied in a child wants to flee the planet after a revolution • review 641 • ☆☆☆☆☆ (DNF at 50%) • KIT: Some Assembly Required • 2016 • short story by Kathe Koja and Carter Scholz • only for fans of Marlowe with lots of references. I was totally confused and started skimming - the story led nowhere 652 • ★★★+☆☆ • Winter Timeshare • 2017 • Far future short story by Ray Nayler • Two women meet each year in Istanbul in rented bodies • review 666 • ★★★★☆ • My English Name • 2017 • Weird fiction novelette by R. S. Benedict • a shape shifter works as English teacher in China • review

  4. 5 out of 5

    Pedro L. Fragoso

    The title of this anthology is, euphemistically puting it, deceptive; in blunt terms, it feels like a fraud. Gardner Dozois had already done 2 anthologies of anthologies, and he called them The Best of the Best (2005), and The Best of the Best - Volume 2 (two years later). This is Volume 3: The title, as it is, feels very much like a publisher's business decision to leverage the editor's death; at a minimum it's disrespectfully and also, it stinks, and furthermore, it's not true (the stories her The title of this anthology is, euphemistically puting it, deceptive; in blunt terms, it feels like a fraud. Gardner Dozois had already done 2 anthologies of anthologies, and he called them The Best of the Best (2005), and The Best of the Best - Volume 2 (two years later). This is Volume 3: The title, as it is, feels very much like a publisher's business decision to leverage the editor's death; at a minimum it's disrespectfully and also, it stinks, and furthermore, it's not true (the stories herein don't reflect the last 35 years: For that to stand one has to include in the reasoning the contents of the previous 2 tommes of this trilogy of "anthologies from (or of?) anthologies"). It's regrettable because considering this as The Best of the Best - Volume 3 (encompassing not the last 35 years, but rather the latest 15 years of the editor's career and life), which is what we actually have here, the selection is excellent (diverse, risky, authorative) and thank Dozois for the work. As for me, short stories (and specifically such an anthology of very diverse short stories by very different authors) aren't definitely not my coup of tea; too exhausting. I much prefer a doorstop by Neal Stephenson, say, even with all the non sequiturs and loose ends...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    Some excellent writing in here; time to add some new authors to my sci-fi favorites list.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Marcus

    Great collection of sci-fi short fiction. On par with the usual annual collections

  7. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Replogle

    Wonderful stories. All of them were great. But the book is over 600 pages long and over 2 inches thick. My hands can't handle this kind of weight anymore. Wonderful stories. All of them were great. But the book is over 600 pages long and over 2 inches thick. My hands can't handle this kind of weight anymore.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Austin Beeman

    THE VERY BEST OF THE BEST IS RATED 83%. 38 STORIES : 3 GREAT / 25 GOOD / 7 AVERAGE / 3 POOR / 0 DNF Let’s get this on the table right at the start. The title is a lie. This does not cover the entire 35 years that Gardner Dozois edited ‘Best of the Year’ anthologies, but only 2002 to 2017. There are two other volumes with very similar names that cover the rest of that time. With that out of the way, this is a fitting tribute to one of the Science Fiction genre’s most important editors. You’ll start THE VERY BEST OF THE BEST IS RATED 83%. 38 STORIES : 3 GREAT / 25 GOOD / 7 AVERAGE / 3 POOR / 0 DNF Let’s get this on the table right at the start. The title is a lie. This does not cover the entire 35 years that Gardner Dozois edited ‘Best of the Year’ anthologies, but only 2002 to 2017. There are two other volumes with very similar names that cover the rest of that time. With that out of the way, this is a fitting tribute to one of the Science Fiction genre’s most important editors. You’ll start to notice a Dozois-style as you read through this stories. He strongly favorited long novellas - some of which could have been published as stand alone books - with dense and interesting world-building. There is also a lot of action and violence in these stories. Full of the kind of action and excitement that one finds in Hollywood SciFi movies, but with substantively more thoughtful worlds. While only three stories made the “Great List,” most of the ‘merely’ good stories and this collection is highly recommended. It is a good anthology to read as a way of discovering new writers to explore further. “Good Mountain” by Robert Reed. It might be considered a glorified travelogue, but it does that so gracefully and through such an interesting world. I felt totally immersed in the world of floating wooden islands that coalesce long enough for civilizations to arise. What comes together must break apart. Hence the drama of this great story. “The Invasion of Venus” by Stephen Baxter. Another Baxter story makes my Great List. One of the things that the universe should accomplish is humble us. This story does a great job of expressing that. Interstellar war breaks out in our solar system, but we aren’t party to it. “Pathways” by Nancy Kress. Kress writes with great empathy for her characters. This is the story of a bright young woman with no education trying to save her family from a horrible genetic disease by courageously volunteering for a medical experiment that she doesn’t understand. I absolutely adored this. *** THE VERY BEST OF THE BEST IS RATED 83%. 38 STORIES : 3 GREAT / 25 GOOD / 7 AVERAGE / 3 POOR / 0 DNF “The Potter of Bones” by Eleanor Arnason. 2002 Average. Well written but ultimate pointless story of a Cat-Person society and one woman who wants to study the fossil record. “Rogue Farm” by Charles Stross. 2003 Good. A husband and wife work to drive off a “farm,” a grotesque being made of human and mechanical parts. “The Little Goddess” by Ian McDonald. 2005 Good. In a very well realized future India, we follow a young woman destined for spiritual royalty and her life when that ends. “Dead Men Walking” by Paul McAuley. 2006 Good. A military clone must risk revealing himself when a series of brutal murders occurs on his adopted planet. “Tin Marsh” by Michael Swanwick. 2006 Good. A suspenseful cat and mouse game between two prospecting partners on Venus who’s relationship has gone very badly. “Good Mountain” by Robert Reed. 2006 Great. Riding in the flesh of a giant animal across a planet being chased by apocalypse. This is a spectacularly well realized world, very different from our own, but never so different that you get lost. A travelogue through an alien landscape, with just enough suspense to drive the story. “Where the Golden Apples Grow” by Kage Baker. 2006 Good. Two young boys from very different backgrounds and the hard life of long distance hauling on Mars. “The Sledge-Maker’s Daughter” by Alastair Reynolds. 2007 Average. Feels like fantasy, but isn’t. The daughter from the title dodges an abusive man to end up at a witch’s house to get a lot of exposition about the world. “Glory” by Greg Egan. 2007 Good. Provincial squabbles get in the way of exploration of an ancient civilization’s mathematic remnants. “Finisterra” by David Moles. 2007 Good. The continents ride on the backs of enormous animals and our character has taken a job to kill one of them. “The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm” by Daryl Gregory. 2008 Good. The brutal violent reality of living in the Super Villian’s home city. “Utrinsque Cosmi” by Robert Charles Wilson. 2009 Average. From far beyond the universe, a woman visits herself when she was a girl, before she was ‘raptured’ by the Fleet. “Events Preceding the Helvetican Renaissance” by John Kessel. 2009 Good. A fast-paced SF spy story with a monk and soldier on the run with a religion’s holy documents. “Useless Things” by Maureen McHugh. 2009 Good. In post-apocalyptic New Mexico, a woman tried to make a small living designing high quality dolls, but a chance encounter will change how she views her world. “Boojum” (inaccurately titled as “Mongoose”) by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette. 2009. Good. A living pirate ship. A horrible booty. An act of mercy. A new frontier. “Hair” by Adam Roberts. 2009 Average. A tech wiz tries to use a genetic modification to save the starving poor. “The Things” by Peter Watts . 2010 Poor. “Who’s Goes There?” retold from the alien’s perspective. Hard to focus on with a stupid and offensive ending. “The Emperor of Mars” by Allen M. Steele. 2010 Good. Tragedy drives an astronaut into the worlds of fictional Mars. “Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain” by Yoon Ha Lee. 2010 Good. Chinese-infused story of a woman in command of a powerful weapon. She is hired to use a weapon that will destroy a person entire lineage. “Martian Heart” by John Barnes. 2011 Good. SF love story about teenage convicts who have a second chance on Mars. Touching. “The Invasion of Venus” by Stephen Baxter. 2011 Great. Interstellar war forces humanity to understand its place in the universe. “Weep For Day” by Indrapramit Das. 2012 Good. On a planet with permanent Dayside and Nightside, a family trip to see a “Nightmare” starts a chain reaction that will change a young woman’s life - and the future of the entire planet. “The Girl-Thing Who Went Out For Sushi” by Pat Cadigan. 2012 Poor. A story about people who change species, but it has nothing interesting to say and is written in an unintentionally unpleasant voice. “The Memcordist” by Lavie Tidhar. 2012 Good. A future “Influencer” is watched by millions as he searches the galaxy for his lost love. “The Best We Can” by Carrie Vaughn. 2013 Average. Bureaucracy and other nonsense frustrate an astronomer who has discovered an alien probe near Jupiter “The Discovered Country” by Ian R. MacLeod. 2013 Good. A perfect digital afterlife is the setting for a man who is sent to reconnect with a former lover who holds a position of power in this ‘world.’ “Pathways” by Nancy Kress. 2013. Great. Heroic tale of a bright, uncultured, mountain girl who is willing to undergo scientific testing for help discover a cure for her family’s rare genetic disease.. “The Hand Is Quicker…” by Elizabeth Bear. 2014. Good. The wealthy in the future have a Digital skin that keeps their view of the world pristine and interesting. Until you are unable to make payments. “Someday” by James Patrick Kelly. 2014 Poor. Strange mating rituals amongst a group of humans who have different biology. “The Long Haul, From the Annals of Transportation, The Pacific Monthly, May 2009” by Ken Liu. 2014 Good. A cozy alternate steampunk history journey by Zeppelin from China to Las Vegas. “Three Cups of Grief, By Starlight” by Aliette De Bodard. 2015 Good. Two siblings mourn their scientist mother’s death. On is a civil servant. The other is a sentient spaceship. “Calved” by Sam J. Miller. 2015 Good. An immigrant who fled NY for Sweden tries very hard to have a good relationship with his teenage son leading him into a devastating and ironic mistake. “Emergence” by Gwyneth Jones. 2015 Average. Lots of creative speculation that never comes around to a compelling story. AI issues of sentience, slavery, immortality and culture difference come to a head when a woman much return to earth from the Outer Worlds. “Rates of Change” by James S.A. Corey. 2015 Good. In an world where people transfer their consciousness to other bodies, a mother has trouble dealing with a son who chooses to live in a body designed for beneath the sea. “Jonas and the Fox” by Rich Larson. 2016 Good. A revolutionary poet hides with his family until a tragic death and a surprise discovery change the entire situation. “KIT: Some Assembly Required” by Kathe Koja and Carter Scholz. 2016 Average. Christopher Marlowe (Elizabethan playwright) is brought back from the dead as an AI. “Winter Timeshare” by Ray Nayler. 2017 Good. A couple spends a year together in Istanbul - in artificial bodies - and that causes problems with the local population. “My English Name” by R.S. Benedict. 2017. Good. The challenges of having a life and relationships when you are an unknown thing trying to live within a human body.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cosmo Crawley

    I haven’t read much science fiction since I devoured the works of Heinlein, Asimov, Pohl, Herbert, Dick and the likes as a high school kid so I thought this book would be an ideal way of getting a taste of what I have been missing for the past 30 years. I was struck by how many of the stories are written in a flat, objective prose style which reads like a piece of reportage or an article in a journal of anthropology. This is fine if it suits the subject matter but when you’ve read thirteen stori I haven’t read much science fiction since I devoured the works of Heinlein, Asimov, Pohl, Herbert, Dick and the likes as a high school kid so I thought this book would be an ideal way of getting a taste of what I have been missing for the past 30 years. I was struck by how many of the stories are written in a flat, objective prose style which reads like a piece of reportage or an article in a journal of anthropology. This is fine if it suits the subject matter but when you’ve read thirteen stories in this style you start to hanker after a sense of wonder, or excitement, or horror, or mystery or any of those things which used to keep you reading feverishly until the break of dawn. The other striking feature is that many of the stories don’t have much science fiction in them: there is no futuristic technology or aliens or alternative history or dystopia or global catastrophe or any other the other things which used to have books consigned to the science fiction shelves of book shops. In other cases a few science-fictiony tropes are just tacked on to a story which would have made just as much sense without them. So we might have a tale in which nothing much happens to a group of beings who talk, think and act just like pre-industrial humans except that they have four nipples and are covered in fur. (I admit that I couldn’t finish that one so maybe something did happen to them in the end.) That said, the stories don’t lack variety: there’s a cyber-punkish tale about a human-mechanical hybrid farm which I think is meant to be funny; one where the author can’t decide whether he wants to write a comedy, a satire or a moving reflection on the evils of war – and fails on all counts; one about space pirates who hoist the jolly roger and keelhaul mutineers which is mildly amusing in a Lost in Space sort of way; and one about sword-wielding knights in shining armour who ride in steam trains and commit genocide against the indigenous inhabitants of a tidal locked planet. The latter story isn’t my cup of tea but at least it is well written and atmospheric which was a relief after the surfeit of colourless prose preceding it. A few of the other stories are also interesting and well written, with honourable mention going to Peter Watts’ clever retelling of “Who Goes There” from the alien’s perspective. But surely the test for the success of such an anthology is that it should make you eager to read more works by the authors included. On this count the score for me was one out of 39. I’d never heard of Greg Eagan before but his story “Glory” is a classic of the “first contact with aliens” sub-genre and my next project will be to read his oeuvre from start to finish. For those of you with a better knowledge of contemporary science fiction than I, this should give you enough of an idea of my tastes for you to judge my judgement of this collection.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ari

    [***] The Potter of Bones by Eleanor Arnason [***] Rogue Farm by Charles Stross [***] The Little Goddess by Ian McDonald [***] Dead Men Walking by Paul McAuley [*] Tin Marsh by Michael Swanwick [***] Good Mountain by Robert Reed [**] Where the Golden Apples Grow by Kage Baker [***] The Sledge-Maker’s Daughter by Alastair Reynolds [**] Glory by Greg Egan [**] Finisterra by David Moles [***] (read before) The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm by Daryl Gregory [****] Utrinsque Cosmi by Robert Charles Wilson [***] The Potter of Bones by Eleanor Arnason [***] Rogue Farm by Charles Stross [***] The Little Goddess by Ian McDonald [***] Dead Men Walking by Paul McAuley [*] Tin Marsh by Michael Swanwick [***] Good Mountain by Robert Reed [**] Where the Golden Apples Grow by Kage Baker [***] The Sledge-Maker’s Daughter by Alastair Reynolds [**] Glory by Greg Egan [**] Finisterra by David Moles [***] (read before) The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm by Daryl Gregory [****] Utrinsque Cosmi by Robert Charles Wilson [***] Events Preceding the Helvetican Renaissance by John Kessel [**] Useless Things by Maureen McHugh [***] Mongoose by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette [****] Hair by Adam Roberts [**] The Things by Peter Watts [*] The Emperor of Mars by Allen M. Steele [***] Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain by Yoon Ha Lee [**] Martian Heart by John Barnes [***] The Invasion of Venus by Stephen Baxter [**] Weep For Day by Indrapramit Das [**] The Girl-Thing Who Went Out For Sushi by Pat Cadigan [**] The Memcordist by Lavie Tidhar [**] The Best We Can by Carrie Vaughn [***] The Discovered Country by Ian R. MacLeod [**] Pathways by Nancy Kress [***] The Hand Is Quicker… by Elizabeth Bear [***] Someday by James Patrick Kelly [**] The Long Haul, From the Annals of Transportation, The Pacific Monthly, May 2009 by Ken Liu [**] Three Cups of Grief, By Starlight by Aliette De Bodard [****] Calved by Sam J. Miller [*] Emergence by Gwyneth Jones [**] Rates of Change by James S.A. Corey [***] Jonas and the Fox by Rich Larson [***] KIT: Some Assembly Required by Kathe Koja and Carter Scholz [*] Winter Timeshare by Ray Nayler [***] My English Name by R.S. Benedict

  11. 5 out of 5

    Pearse Anderson

    Rest in Peace, Dozois. He gave so much to the industry and helped bring up so many authors. This ToC is a great overview of the early aughts industry, with stories that sparkled with brilliance and emotion to others that fell flat for me. I really like the setup of this antho, and its thickness tbh (it was one of two big books I read over Christmas break). Some of my favorites include: The Potter of Bones My English Name The Long Haul, from The Annals of Transportation, The Pacific Monthly, May 2009 Rest in Peace, Dozois. He gave so much to the industry and helped bring up so many authors. This ToC is a great overview of the early aughts industry, with stories that sparkled with brilliance and emotion to others that fell flat for me. I really like the setup of this antho, and its thickness tbh (it was one of two big books I read over Christmas break). Some of my favorites include: The Potter of Bones My English Name The Long Haul, from The Annals of Transportation, The Pacific Monthly, May 2009 The Memcordist Mongoose The Things My English Name UGH I love those stories. Getting great mems. OK luv u byebye

  12. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    A very good collection, full of interesting ideas and humanity (or something related). Some more favorites: Emergence by Gwyneth Jones My English Name by R.S. Benedict The Best We Can by Carrie Vaughn And many others. A very good collection, full of interesting ideas and humanity (or something related). Some more favorites: Emergence by Gwyneth Jones My English Name by R.S. Benedict The Best We Can by Carrie Vaughn And many others.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Ramey

    My husband and I started this 50 hour audio book after covid 19 hit. We listen to it while taking long drives in the evening with our baby. Both of us are delighted with the fabulous story telling. 😀 Elaborate plots with scary twists. No two small stories are the same. We were concerned the technology would be outdated or bland but we were wrong. The book spured on exciting conversations, which helped ease some of the tension from this pandemic. It was bit of a commitment with the large amount o My husband and I started this 50 hour audio book after covid 19 hit. We listen to it while taking long drives in the evening with our baby. Both of us are delighted with the fabulous story telling. 😀 Elaborate plots with scary twists. No two small stories are the same. We were concerned the technology would be outdated or bland but we were wrong. The book spured on exciting conversations, which helped ease some of the tension from this pandemic. It was bit of a commitment with the large amount of material but well worth it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sean Callaghan

    Disappointing when you consider the last 35 years have seen writers like Gibson, Jemisin, Willis, etc. change the way we see scifi. These were very middle-of-the-road-stories, all things considered. Good stories, but few that gave me the "wow" you'd expect from the best of the best. Standouts are McHugh's and Arnason's, but the rest were mostly forgettable. Read Vandermeer's Big Book of SF for a much more satisfying experience of SF short fiction. Disappointing when you consider the last 35 years have seen writers like Gibson, Jemisin, Willis, etc. change the way we see scifi. These were very middle-of-the-road-stories, all things considered. Good stories, but few that gave me the "wow" you'd expect from the best of the best. Standouts are McHugh's and Arnason's, but the rest were mostly forgettable. Read Vandermeer's Big Book of SF for a much more satisfying experience of SF short fiction.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ralph Blackburn

    Disappointing! This was probably a very hard task coming up with a great representative book of all the short science fiction works over the last 35 years. So much was missed! What we got was from my perspective some good stories, many forgettable, and a huge gap of missing genre-defining material. A real head-scratcher!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Luke Bjorge

    Very average stories at best. I’ve never skipped stories in a collection before and I skipped at least six before I gave up at about page 500 and stopped reading. There were three or four very good stories but not worth reading the rest of the chaff. Save yourself the headache and read something else.

  17. 4 out of 5

    John

    Uneven, as such collections tend to be, but a few gems in the pile. A lot of the stories seemed to me to be about switching bodies--evidently a hot theme. In the audio edition the intros all come off as dry recitations of titles and awards, but the readers do a good job except when they try on British or other accents.

  18. 5 out of 5

    MJ

    I enjoyed many of these stories. Though towards the last 1/3rd they seemed pretty much the same. Odd. As a note there were slightly fewer than 1/3 stories by women. Given that the years cover 2002 - 2017 I would have thought there'd been a few more worthy choices from women writers. I enjoyed many of these stories. Though towards the last 1/3rd they seemed pretty much the same. Odd. As a note there were slightly fewer than 1/3 stories by women. Given that the years cover 2002 - 2017 I would have thought there'd been a few more worthy choices from women writers.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Absolutely marvelous collection of short stories. I have always preferred short stories to novels, but seldom indulge these days. Having plowed through 700 pages of them though, my interest is well revived. Highly recommended for anyone with a love of well written short science fiction.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    This was the last year of Gardner Dozois editing before he died. He collected his favorite stories from the previous years. This is an excellent collection and I would recommend it to anyone who reads science fiction and for those who don't regularly read it. This was the last year of Gardner Dozois editing before he died. He collected his favorite stories from the previous years. This is an excellent collection and I would recommend it to anyone who reads science fiction and for those who don't regularly read it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Craig

    While the stories were well written, most of them leave you with meh, okay, that was interesting. Only about 3 or 4 that really pop out. Didn't finish the last couple hundred pages. It was kind like watching the weather channel. While the stories were well written, most of them leave you with meh, okay, that was interesting. Only about 3 or 4 that really pop out. Didn't finish the last couple hundred pages. It was kind like watching the weather channel.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin

    It is what it says. A beautiful collection with just enough background.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bob In

    A fine collection of sci fi short stories.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Josephine

    The very best of the best is a matter of opinion. Some where good, some you wonder why they were added, and others had no science fiction thread.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    A Struggle to get through alot of the stories didn't seem to have a conclusion. A Struggle to get through alot of the stories didn't seem to have a conclusion.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Not finished. made it halfway thru. Was there anything at the end that was really good? Some interesting ones, but nothing seemed so outstanding.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Young

    There are a few that I didn't care for, but on the whole, it was an enjoyable read. For the most part, the stories are all memorable, interesting, and fun reads! There are a few that I didn't care for, but on the whole, it was an enjoyable read. For the most part, the stories are all memorable, interesting, and fun reads!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Toni

    Excellent collection, lots of variety, creative and compelling. I actually found myself pondering the stories after hearing them. This is why I read sci-fi!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kris Davidson

    Lord help science fiction if this represents the best of 35 years of the genre.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I picked this up because I've long felt that I was ignoring the vibrant SF short fiction scene, and this definitely scratched an itch. I wouldn't predict that most people will love every story, as you might expect from a best of the best anthology (I found the stories ranged from mind blowing to just interesting), but I think this is for the best. This isn't a collection of crowd-pleasers: the works are pretty different, and I expect everyone would have their favorites. I particularly liked: The I picked this up because I've long felt that I was ignoring the vibrant SF short fiction scene, and this definitely scratched an itch. I wouldn't predict that most people will love every story, as you might expect from a best of the best anthology (I found the stories ranged from mind blowing to just interesting), but I think this is for the best. This isn't a collection of crowd-pleasers: the works are pretty different, and I expect everyone would have their favorites. I particularly liked: The Little Goddess by Ian McDonald (OMG this was my favorite) The Potter of Bones by Eleanor Arnason Dead Men Walking by Paul Mcauley Where the Apples Grow by Kage Baker Glory by Greg Egan Finisterra by David Moles The Illusetrated BIography of Lord Grimm by Daryl Gregory Utriusque Cosmi by Robert CHarles Wilson Mongoose by Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear Martian Heart by John Barnes The Invasion of Venus by Stephen Baxter The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi by Pat Cadigan The Best We Can by Carrie Vaughn The Hand is Quicker by Elizabeth Bear The Long Haul, From the Annals of Transportation, The Pacific Monthly, May 2009 by Ken Liu Emergence by Gwyneth Jones Rates of Change by James S. A. Corey (wild) My English Name by R.S. Benedict

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