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Now a dozen years old, the award-winning collection continues to provide dozens of the best stories of the year, including work by remowned veterans and exciting newcomers... Rounded out with a long list of honorable mentions and Gardner Dozois's entertaining summation of the year in science fiction, this remains the one book for every science fiction reader. Contents xi • S Now a dozen years old, the award-winning collection continues to provide dozens of the best stories of the year, including work by remowned veterans and exciting newcomers... Rounded out with a long list of honorable mentions and Gardner Dozois's entertaining summation of the year in science fiction, this remains the one book for every science fiction reader. Contents xi • Summation: 1994 • (1995) • essay by Gardner Dozois 1 • Forgiveness Day • [Yeowe and Werel • 2] • (1994) • novella by Ursula K. Le Guin 40 • The Remoras • [The Great Ship Universe] • (1994) • novelette by Robert Reed 65 • Nekropolis • (1994) • novelette by Maureen F. McHugh 93 • Margin of Error • (1994) • shortstory by Nancy Kress 98 • Cilia-of-Gold • (1994) • novelette by Stephen Baxter 118 • Going After Old Man Alabama • (1994) • shortstory by William Sanders 131 • Melodies of the Heart • (1994) • novella by Michael F. Flynn 206 • The Hole in the Hole • [Wilson Wu and Irving • 1] • (1994) • novelette by Terry Bisson 230 • Paris in June • (1994) • shortstory by Pat Cadigan 243 • Flowering Mandrake • (1994) • novelette by George Turner 273 • None So Blind • (1994) • shortstory by Joe Haldeman 281 • Cocoon • (1994) • novelette by Greg Egan 305 • Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge • [Birthright Universe] • (1994) • novella by Mike Resnick 343 • Dead Space for the Unexpected • (1994) • shortstory by Geoff Ryman 355 • Cri de Coeur • (1994) • novella by Michael Bishop 402 • The Sawing Boys • (1994) • novelette by Howard Waldrop 417 • The Matter of Seggri • (1994) • novelette by Ursula K. Le Guin 446 • Ylem • (1994) • novelette by Eliot Fintushel 465 • Asylum • (1994) • novella by Katharine Kerr 492 • Red Elvis • (1994) • novelette by Walter Jon Williams 507 • California Dreamer • (1994) • shortstory by Mary Rosenblum 520 • Split Light • (1994) • shortstory by Lisa Goldstein 531 • Les Fleurs Du Mal • [Biotech Revolution] • (1994) • novella by Brian Stableford 585 • Honorable Mentions: 1994 • (1995) • essay by Gardner Dozois


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Now a dozen years old, the award-winning collection continues to provide dozens of the best stories of the year, including work by remowned veterans and exciting newcomers... Rounded out with a long list of honorable mentions and Gardner Dozois's entertaining summation of the year in science fiction, this remains the one book for every science fiction reader. Contents xi • S Now a dozen years old, the award-winning collection continues to provide dozens of the best stories of the year, including work by remowned veterans and exciting newcomers... Rounded out with a long list of honorable mentions and Gardner Dozois's entertaining summation of the year in science fiction, this remains the one book for every science fiction reader. Contents xi • Summation: 1994 • (1995) • essay by Gardner Dozois 1 • Forgiveness Day • [Yeowe and Werel • 2] • (1994) • novella by Ursula K. Le Guin 40 • The Remoras • [The Great Ship Universe] • (1994) • novelette by Robert Reed 65 • Nekropolis • (1994) • novelette by Maureen F. McHugh 93 • Margin of Error • (1994) • shortstory by Nancy Kress 98 • Cilia-of-Gold • (1994) • novelette by Stephen Baxter 118 • Going After Old Man Alabama • (1994) • shortstory by William Sanders 131 • Melodies of the Heart • (1994) • novella by Michael F. Flynn 206 • The Hole in the Hole • [Wilson Wu and Irving • 1] • (1994) • novelette by Terry Bisson 230 • Paris in June • (1994) • shortstory by Pat Cadigan 243 • Flowering Mandrake • (1994) • novelette by George Turner 273 • None So Blind • (1994) • shortstory by Joe Haldeman 281 • Cocoon • (1994) • novelette by Greg Egan 305 • Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge • [Birthright Universe] • (1994) • novella by Mike Resnick 343 • Dead Space for the Unexpected • (1994) • shortstory by Geoff Ryman 355 • Cri de Coeur • (1994) • novella by Michael Bishop 402 • The Sawing Boys • (1994) • novelette by Howard Waldrop 417 • The Matter of Seggri • (1994) • novelette by Ursula K. Le Guin 446 • Ylem • (1994) • novelette by Eliot Fintushel 465 • Asylum • (1994) • novella by Katharine Kerr 492 • Red Elvis • (1994) • novelette by Walter Jon Williams 507 • California Dreamer • (1994) • shortstory by Mary Rosenblum 520 • Split Light • (1994) • shortstory by Lisa Goldstein 531 • Les Fleurs Du Mal • [Biotech Revolution] • (1994) • novella by Brian Stableford 585 • Honorable Mentions: 1994 • (1995) • essay by Gardner Dozois

30 review for The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twelfth Annual Collection

  1. 5 out of 5

    Werner

    Note, Dec. 2, 2020: When I read short story collections intermittently over a long period of time, my reactions are similarly written piecemeal, while they're fresh in my mind. That gives the reviews a choppy, and often repetitive, quality. Recently, I had to condense and rearrange one of these into a unified whole because of Goodreads' length limit; and I was so pleased with the result that I decided to give every one of these a similar edit! Accordingly, I've now edited this one. On the whole, Note, Dec. 2, 2020: When I read short story collections intermittently over a long period of time, my reactions are similarly written piecemeal, while they're fresh in my mind. That gives the reviews a choppy, and often repetitive, quality. Recently, I had to condense and rearrange one of these into a unified whole because of Goodreads' length limit; and I was so pleased with the result that I decided to give every one of these a similar edit! Accordingly, I've now edited this one. On the whole, I'm not a big reader of "year's best" collections in any genre; but I was able to get this one cheaply several years ago at a yard sale, so I snapped it up. Dozois has edited these annual SF anthologies for a number of years; it isn't the only annual series covering the genre, but it's one that commands considerable respect from both fans and critics. This volume, covering the year 1994, is the only one I'm familiar with, but I know and appreciate Dozois' excellent editorial skills from his Modern Classics of Fantasy collection (see my review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... ). He begins with a detailed survey of developments and trends in the English-language science fiction world (his geographical scope, here and in the selections that follow, includes Great Britain, Canada and Australia along with the U.S.; George Turner and Greg Egan, for instance, are Australian.) For me, this covered too limited a chronological scope to be very interesting or illuminating, especially since I was reading it some years after 2000; but for a regular reader of the series, all of the volume introductions taken together would constitute a valuable running history of the contemporary SF genre. This is followed by 23 stories from 22 authors (Le Guin is represented twice), as listed in the book description above. These include both well-known writers like Le Guin, Bisson, Haldeman, Nancy Kress, etc. and writers whom I was encountering for the first time. Each story is preceded by a short but useful bio-bibliographic introduction to the author. As an editor, Dozois is clearly drawn to well-written, effective stories that communicate clearly and exhibit strong stylistic skills, a description that applies to most of the material here. Sometimes he selects something I don't like; but usually in those cases my reaction is to the messages or premises of the story, not to poor writing per se. The few stories I genuinely disliked were the two examples of New Wave SF, which I don't personally care for, Eliot Fintushel's "Ylem" and Pat Cadigan's "Paris in June" (Cadigan's effort is at least coherent and accessible; "Ylem" is not), and the two exercises in contemporary hard-Left "political correctness," Katharine Kerr's "Asylum" and Egan's "Cocoon," in which cardboard characters parrot cliches as they move through a predictable plot. (Neither of these stories is designed to make a case for a position --the authors assume that all right-thinking people already share their position-- but rather to demonize anyone who holds "incorrect" positions.) But these four are the only clunkers in a collection of 23, and that's not a bad percentage. Stephen Baxter's "Cilia-of-Gold" and Mike Resnick's misanthropic "Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge" have premises and messages so bound up with Darwinist ideology and pseudo-science that it's very difficult for a reader who doesn't share that world-view to muster the "willing suspension of disbelief" to make them work; but they do have a narrative drive, and a "what's happening next?" quality to them, that can carry you along while you're reading. For that matter, George Turner's "Flowering Mandrake," with its conception of inborn hatreds for another species and its view of inter-stellar relations in terms of a fight to the death for survival of the fittest, certainly draws on Darwinist ideas (and unintentionally reminds us why Darwinism and racism have historically been cozy bedfellows); but there those elements are muted enough to make the story readable as a grim, gripping cautionary tale, and the idea of a star-faring race of motile, sentient plants is highly original and well worked out. All of the other stories range from good to outstanding. Two selections here really have no speculative fiction element: Waldrop's "The Sawing Boys," a comic re-imagining of the folk tale of the "Bremen Town Musicians" transposed to 1920s backwoods Tennessee, and "Split Light," in which Lisa Goldstein draws on her Jewish heritage to re-tell the story of 17th-century Messianic claimant Shabbetai Zevi. And William Sanders' "Going After Old Man Alabama," premised as it is on Cherokee folk magic and shamanism (Sanders is himself Cherokee), is really supernatural fiction. But regardless of genre-label quibbles, all three of these are top-notch stories! Among the strictly science fiction stories, my personal favorites include Bisson's humorous "The Hole in the Hole;" Michael F. Flynn's haunting "Melodies of the Heart;" Mary Rosenblum's poignant "California Dreamer;" and Maureen F. McHugh's "Necropolis". But special mention has to be made of Brian Stableford's "Les Fleurs du Mal," which (at least at one level) is a far-future murder mystery in which the weapon is genetically-engineered spores that, when introduced into a victim's body, germinate into a black-flowered carnivorous plant that consumes the flesh from within. (This genre-blender is also a cornucopia of allusions to delight fans of 19th-century literature: the title comes from a long poem by Baudelaire, police detective Charlotte Holmes works with a colleague named Watson, one suspect calls himself Rappaccini after the scientist in Hawthorne's "Rappaccini's Daughter," and another character is named Oscar Wilde and imitates aspects of his namesake's persona.) Another story that deserves mention is Walter Jon Williams' alternate-history yarn "Red Elvis," which is clearly based on very accurate knowledge of the life and times of the real Elvis, and makes use of a particularly effective surprise ending. Both Le Guin selections are set in her "Hainish universe;" her short fiction as a whole is uneven in quality, IMO, but these two tales are among her good ones and feature the kind of careful world building and cultural (and sometimes cross-cultural) analysis she's justly famous for. Her second story here, "The Matter of Seggri," like her novel The Left Hand of Darkness, uses an alien race's unusual gender characteristics that result from long-ago genetic engineering gone awry --in this case, a gender imbalance of about 16 adult females to one adult male-- to make points about gender roles in our own society. Aspects of Seggrian sex attitudes and practices will (or at least should) strike readers as thoroughly disgusting, but that's the point --they're intended to disgust; not to be a Utopian model, but rather to make us realize that this isn't the way for males and females to relate to each other. One caveat --a number of these stories do have some bad language, sometimes including the f-word. The only two stories where this is particularly intrusive are Geoff Ryman's "Dead Space for the Unexpected" and LeGuin's "The Matter of Seggri." In the former, it is arguable that the crass language serves to highlight the crassness of the social situation the author is skewering (and the cutthroat world of corporate culture that he depicts differs from today's only in the degree of its intrusive monitoring, not in its basic ethos); but in the latter, it belies even the usual "realism" defense --how realistic is it that an alien culture that never heard of Earth would employ German- derived obscenities and vulgarisms to name its bodily functions? The vast majority of these stories, though, that consideration aside, are solid, worthwhile, absorbing works that always entertain and often stimulate thought. And while they may employ futuristic technology or alien landscapes as premise or trappings, they really focus, as the best science fiction always does, on human beings: human feelings, relationships, and decisions --the heart of what all literature has always really been about, whatever genre it is. I'd highly recommend this volume; and it's whetted my interest in other annual numbers of the series as well, if ever I run across any!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    This one's actually got a nice cover (many of the others in this series are truly nasty). This was the first Dozois I got, having lapsed from SF years previously. Okay, what could possibly be new? I thought. Then I found one cracking story after another - Cilia-of-Gold by Stephen Baxter, Flowering Mandrake by George Turner, a trenchant view of the search for the gay gene in Cocoon by Greg Egan, the wonderful Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge by Mike Resnick, a funny and moving alternative-Elvis where This one's actually got a nice cover (many of the others in this series are truly nasty). This was the first Dozois I got, having lapsed from SF years previously. Okay, what could possibly be new? I thought. Then I found one cracking story after another - Cilia-of-Gold by Stephen Baxter, Flowering Mandrake by George Turner, a trenchant view of the search for the gay gene in Cocoon by Greg Egan, the wonderful Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge by Mike Resnick, a funny and moving alternative-Elvis where Jesse survives in the womb, not Elvis, replicates his brother's career precisely except he sees the light, joins the workers' struggle, resists the draft and eventually takes the bullet for Martin Luther King. And more. Anyway, I now have all of Gardner Dozois' large annual collections except the first two which were small-press productions and therefore very rare and sell for stupid prices (hint - how about a reprint?). And science fiction seems to be very healthy - which is surprising. In the days of Wells and Verne and Conan Doyle it was new and engaging. Then in the 20s and 30s it became the pulpiest of all genres, the mags all had insanely lurid covers It was truly despised. But gradually its potential began to emerge in the 40s and burst into flower in the 50s and 60s. Like the similarly teenage-focused musical genre of rock & roll, it grew and grew until it had taken over vast areas of popular culture. Rock became the default form of popular music after Elvis and SF became the default form of big fat adventure movies after Star Wars. Has there been a kids' movie in the last 20 years which hasn't been SF or fantasy? The big loud in-your-face science fiction is what gets noticed, but underneath all the Hollywood megabudget spinoff hysteria there is still a lot of great writing being done, in the form of short stories and novellas. What Hollywood thinks of as science fiction is what fans think of as space opera, a sub-genre, and you can see the attraction because it's loud and there are a lot of effects, but the SF of sparkling, challenging, convoluted, infuriating and (this was not always the case) beautifully written SF is still here like a river hidden behind a mountain.

  3. 4 out of 5

    James Field

    I bought this science fiction book in a library sale and hurried home to read it. Unfortunately, it took me longer than anticipated; twenty three short stories and novellas demand time. The stories are a strange mix of types and subgenres, some of which I don't understanding why they were included in a collection of science fiction, others rely on sex to make them interesting. I rated each story, took the average, and ended up with a score of 2,9 – not very impressive. Only four stories received I bought this science fiction book in a library sale and hurried home to read it. Unfortunately, it took me longer than anticipated; twenty three short stories and novellas demand time. The stories are a strange mix of types and subgenres, some of which I don't understanding why they were included in a collection of science fiction, others rely on sex to make them interesting. I rated each story, took the average, and ended up with a score of 2,9 – not very impressive. Only four stories received a top mark of 5, and I will certainly look into the authors' other works. These were: The Remoras-Robert Reed; Going After Old Man Alabama-William Sanders; Flowering Mandrake-George Turner; Seven Views of Olduvia Gorge-Mike Resnick. It is my opinion that these stories are true science fiction, well written and captivating. For those who have read and enjoyed 'Flowering Mandrake by George Turner', I would recommend a novella by Sean DeLauder titled 'The Speaker for the Trees.' Another intriguing novel exploring the possibility of intelligent plant life.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rena Sherwood

    1994 was a very bad year for science fiction. How bad? Dozois even stuck in a NON science fiction Howard Waldrop story called "The Sawing Boys." THAT's how bad. The absolute worst story is the last, "Les Fluers du Mal" which is apparently some insider joke about nineteenth century literature. It's ridiculous and pretentious. Oscar Wilde in the 23rd century? Oh, please. Brian Stableford is usually good, but this was awful. The best story (I thought) was Robert Reed's "The Remoras." Since that stor 1994 was a very bad year for science fiction. How bad? Dozois even stuck in a NON science fiction Howard Waldrop story called "The Sawing Boys." THAT's how bad. The absolute worst story is the last, "Les Fluers du Mal" which is apparently some insider joke about nineteenth century literature. It's ridiculous and pretentious. Oscar Wilde in the 23rd century? Oh, please. Brian Stableford is usually good, but this was awful. The best story (I thought) was Robert Reed's "The Remoras." Since that story can be found in other anthologies like The Big Book of Science Fiction you can skip this. Even the Hugo Award winners here are losers. Most of the other stories are ponderous novellas, incomprehensible drivel (if you have not read any of the novels the story is only an accompaniment to) or both. I do believe 1994 was the publication of the anthology Alien Sex. Skip any "best of" anthology for 1994 and just stick with Alien Sex. No matter what year it was published.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Travis Heermann

    This one seemed like a mixed bag for me. Some great stuff by Ursula LeGuin and a few others, plus other stuff ranging from quirky to WTF.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dahlgren General Library

    DA100000005139

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    every single one of these collections is essential reading for true fans of science fiction short stories... each lengthy volume has a stellar array of all mini-genres and areas of powerfully influential science fiction: hard science, speculative, steampunk, alien invasions, apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic, space opera, fantasy, aliens, monsters, horror-ish, space travel, time travel, eco-science, evolutionary, pre-historic, parallel universes, extraterrestrials... in each successive volume in the every single one of these collections is essential reading for true fans of science fiction short stories... each lengthy volume has a stellar array of all mini-genres and areas of powerfully influential science fiction: hard science, speculative, steampunk, alien invasions, apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic, space opera, fantasy, aliens, monsters, horror-ish, space travel, time travel, eco-science, evolutionary, pre-historic, parallel universes, extraterrestrials... in each successive volume in the series the tales have advanced and grown in imagination and detail with our ability to envision greater concepts and possibilities... Rod Serling said, "...fantasy is the impossible made probable. science fiction is the improbable made possible..." and in the pages of these books is the absolute best the vastness of science fiction writing has to offer... sit back, relax, and dream...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lord Humungus

    Lots of good material in this collection, including great stories by Le Guin (two of them!), Nancy Kress, Robert Reed, Mike Resnick. At this point, through these collections, I was pretty much sold on Nancy Kress and Mike Resnick. Robert Reed I've always had mixed opinions on, but Le Guin's gender/social politics were always interesting. Lots of good material in this collection, including great stories by Le Guin (two of them!), Nancy Kress, Robert Reed, Mike Resnick. At this point, through these collections, I was pretty much sold on Nancy Kress and Mike Resnick. Robert Reed I've always had mixed opinions on, but Le Guin's gender/social politics were always interesting.

  9. 5 out of 5

    John Devlin

    If you read one sci-fi book a year, this is the one. Always stories of high caliber with a few tossed in that will keep you thinking weeks later, not to mention the collection is a primer for what science and technology everyone will be talking about five to ten years from now.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    99-cent buy from Goodwill.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Timon Karnezos

    Egan's "Cocoon" was brilliant! Egan's "Cocoon" was brilliant!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    2/26/12: "Margin of Error" by Nancy Kress 3/1/12: "None So Blind" by Joe Haldeman 3/2/12: "Cocoon" by Greg Egan 2/26/12: "Margin of Error" by Nancy Kress 3/1/12: "None So Blind" by Joe Haldeman 3/2/12: "Cocoon" by Greg Egan

  13. 4 out of 5

    Twerking To Beethoven

  14. 5 out of 5

    Linda Mitchell

  15. 4 out of 5

    Letande D'Argon

  16. 5 out of 5

    JJacy1

  17. 5 out of 5

    Strawhead

  18. 5 out of 5

    Janis Ian

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dave Teske

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mord

  21. 5 out of 5

    OTIS

  22. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Ellison

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tim OBrien

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tracey Ledel

  25. 5 out of 5

    Eli

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kai

  27. 4 out of 5

    Joel Benford

  28. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

  29. 5 out of 5

    Diane

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

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