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In print and on-line, science fiction and fantasy is thriving as never before. A multitude of astonishingly creative and gifted writers are boldly exploring the mythic past, the paranormal present, and the promises and perils of myriad alternate worlds and futures. There are almost too many new and intriguing stories published every year for any reader to be able to experi In print and on-line, science fiction and fantasy is thriving as never before. A multitude of astonishingly creative and gifted writers are boldly exploring the mythic past, the paranormal present, and the promises and perils of myriad alternate worlds and futures. There are almost too many new and intriguing stories published every year for any reader to be able to experience them all. So how to make sure you haven’t missed any future classics? Award-winning editor and anthologist Jonathan Strahan has surveyed the expanding universes of modern sf and fantasy to find the brightest stars in today’s dazzling literary firmament. From the latest masterworks by the acknowledged titans of the field to fresh visions from exciting new talents, this outstanding collection is a comprehensive showcase for the current state of the art in both science fiction and fantasy. Anyone who wants to know where the future of imaginative short fiction is going, and treat themselves to dozens of unforgettable stories, will find this year’s edition of Best Science Fiction and Fantasy to be just what they’re looking for! Contents: Introduction by Jonathan Strahan “The Contrary Gardener” by Christopher Rowe “The Woman Who Fooled Death Five Times” by Eleanor Arnason “Close Encounters” by Andy Duncan “Great Grandmother” in the Cellar by Peter S. Beagle “The Easthound” by Nalo Hopkinson “Goggles c 1910″ by Caitlín R. Kiernan “Bricks, Sticks, Straw” by Gwyneth Jones “A Bead of Jasper, Four Small Stones” by Genevieve Valentine “The Grinnell Method” by Molly Gloss “Beautiful Boys” by Theodora Goss “The Education of a Witch” by Ellen Klages “Macy Minnot’s Last Christmas” on Dione by Paul McAuley “What Did Tessimond Tell You?” by Adam Roberts “Adventure Story” by Neil Gaiman “Katabasis” by Robert Reed “Troll Blood” by Peter Dickinson “The Color Least Used” by Nature by Ted Kosmatka “Jack Shade in the Forest” of Souls by Rachel Pollack “Two Houses” by Kelly Link “Blood Drive” by Jeffrey Ford “Mantis Wives” by Kij Johnson “Immersion” by Aliette de Bodard “About Fairies” by Pat Murphy “Let Maps to Others” by K.J. Parker “Joke in Four Panels” by Robert Shearman “Reindeer Mountain” by Karin Tidbeck “Domestic” Magic by Steve Rasnic Tem & Melanie Tem “Swift, Brutal Retaliation” by Megan McCarron “Nahiku West” by Linda Nagata “Fade to White” by Catherynne M. Valente “Significant Dust” by Margo Lanagan “Mono No Aware” by Ken Liu


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In print and on-line, science fiction and fantasy is thriving as never before. A multitude of astonishingly creative and gifted writers are boldly exploring the mythic past, the paranormal present, and the promises and perils of myriad alternate worlds and futures. There are almost too many new and intriguing stories published every year for any reader to be able to experi In print and on-line, science fiction and fantasy is thriving as never before. A multitude of astonishingly creative and gifted writers are boldly exploring the mythic past, the paranormal present, and the promises and perils of myriad alternate worlds and futures. There are almost too many new and intriguing stories published every year for any reader to be able to experience them all. So how to make sure you haven’t missed any future classics? Award-winning editor and anthologist Jonathan Strahan has surveyed the expanding universes of modern sf and fantasy to find the brightest stars in today’s dazzling literary firmament. From the latest masterworks by the acknowledged titans of the field to fresh visions from exciting new talents, this outstanding collection is a comprehensive showcase for the current state of the art in both science fiction and fantasy. Anyone who wants to know where the future of imaginative short fiction is going, and treat themselves to dozens of unforgettable stories, will find this year’s edition of Best Science Fiction and Fantasy to be just what they’re looking for! Contents: Introduction by Jonathan Strahan “The Contrary Gardener” by Christopher Rowe “The Woman Who Fooled Death Five Times” by Eleanor Arnason “Close Encounters” by Andy Duncan “Great Grandmother” in the Cellar by Peter S. Beagle “The Easthound” by Nalo Hopkinson “Goggles c 1910″ by Caitlín R. Kiernan “Bricks, Sticks, Straw” by Gwyneth Jones “A Bead of Jasper, Four Small Stones” by Genevieve Valentine “The Grinnell Method” by Molly Gloss “Beautiful Boys” by Theodora Goss “The Education of a Witch” by Ellen Klages “Macy Minnot’s Last Christmas” on Dione by Paul McAuley “What Did Tessimond Tell You?” by Adam Roberts “Adventure Story” by Neil Gaiman “Katabasis” by Robert Reed “Troll Blood” by Peter Dickinson “The Color Least Used” by Nature by Ted Kosmatka “Jack Shade in the Forest” of Souls by Rachel Pollack “Two Houses” by Kelly Link “Blood Drive” by Jeffrey Ford “Mantis Wives” by Kij Johnson “Immersion” by Aliette de Bodard “About Fairies” by Pat Murphy “Let Maps to Others” by K.J. Parker “Joke in Four Panels” by Robert Shearman “Reindeer Mountain” by Karin Tidbeck “Domestic” Magic by Steve Rasnic Tem & Melanie Tem “Swift, Brutal Retaliation” by Megan McCarron “Nahiku West” by Linda Nagata “Fade to White” by Catherynne M. Valente “Significant Dust” by Margo Lanagan “Mono No Aware” by Ken Liu

30 review for The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume 7

  1. 5 out of 5

    Janet Jay

    A better than average anthology. Standouts were Katabasis, the color least used by nature, domestic magic, significant dust, & mono no aware. Special shoutout to Ken Liu's incredible story "Paper Menagerie” which was only mentioned in here but available to read online. It won a shitton of awards so I looked it up, and it made me cry. Remember the last short story I cried at? Me neither. Anyway, back to this— it made me want to look up the rest of this anthology series. I forgot how good fant A better than average anthology. Standouts were Katabasis, the color least used by nature, domestic magic, significant dust, & mono no aware. Special shoutout to Ken Liu's incredible story "Paper Menagerie” which was only mentioned in here but available to read online. It won a shitton of awards so I looked it up, and it made me cry. Remember the last short story I cried at? Me neither. Anyway, back to this— it made me want to look up the rest of this anthology series. I forgot how good fantasy could be when well-curated.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Speculative. Much more fantasy than sci-fi. Many women authors.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Pfaller

    You'd think the year's best collection would fare a little better than most anthologies, simply because all these stories are supposedly "good." At the end of the day - it's still an anthology, all centered around the theme of what the editor thinks is "best." Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of great writing here, and even the ones that didn't resonate with me still had beautiful prose. And I did enjoy a lot of the stories here, and the editor, Jonathan Strahan, really packs them in. Overall, You'd think the year's best collection would fare a little better than most anthologies, simply because all these stories are supposedly "good." At the end of the day - it's still an anthology, all centered around the theme of what the editor thinks is "best." Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of great writing here, and even the ones that didn't resonate with me still had beautiful prose. And I did enjoy a lot of the stories here, and the editor, Jonathan Strahan, really packs them in. Overall, I felt like there was too much urban fantasy, magical realism and dystopian sci-fi. Strahan even comments on this in the prologue, acknowledging that sci-fi is in a state of flux - in the past, sci-fi has always been about what we could achieve, humanity bringing out the best in itself via science. The future we imagined is here, and there are no jet packs. What's to say the next twenty years will be different? The tone of this book is decidedly bleak, and the vast majority of the stories are either dystopian sci-fi or post apocaliptic sci-fi. Thinking back, there are very, very few of these stories that would fall into what I'd call Fantasy, and even those are in the urban fantasy / magical realism sub-genre. All this is very "hot" right now, and the editor may have seen his job as capturing a snapshot of what happened in 2012. If so, he probably did a bang up job. However, I've got to believe there's more sword and sorcery fantasy out there. Stuff that feels more medieval, dream-like and epic in scope. I'd even settle for just plain high or low fantasy, but those sub-genres are largely missing from this book. My favorite story by far was "Two Houses" by Kelly Link. It had an eerie, bordering on horror-ish vibe to it. This sci-fi fiction about a team of deep space explorers reminded me a ton of Prometheus (which I liked, incidentally.) and a few other horror stories with twist endings that I won't include here so as not to ruin the ending for you. The story does a phenomenal job capturing the feeling of isolation and grief with the imagery surrounding the characters as they move through the spaceship and deal with the loss of their sister ship is haunting. I also enjoyed how Link explored how even though these two ships have been disconnected by a vacuum for years, when the other ship disappears, it has profound effects on the crew. Even though there was a lack of a physical connection, the implied emotional connection was just as powerful. Collections like these are a must for any fan of the genres. Just because I wasn't feeling this year's as a whole, doesn't mean there weren't some phenomenal works of fiction.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    AS anthologies go this was as good as most. There are 32 stories and one can expect to like some, dislike some and feel pretty indifferent about others. That is the reason for my only lukewarm three stars. I really liked stories by Peter Beagle, Theodora Goss, Robert Reed, Rachel Pollack, K.J Parker and Ken Liu and in most respects those are long established already popular writers. Most of the stories in the anthology left me feeling, well, that I am not sure what i just read. The anthology i AS anthologies go this was as good as most. There are 32 stories and one can expect to like some, dislike some and feel pretty indifferent about others. That is the reason for my only lukewarm three stars. I really liked stories by Peter Beagle, Theodora Goss, Robert Reed, Rachel Pollack, K.J Parker and Ken Liu and in most respects those are long established already popular writers. Most of the stories in the anthology left me feeling, well, that I am not sure what i just read. The anthology is a collection of genre fiction. The genre promised is science fiction and fantasy. Many of the stories in this collection did not seem except in the most tangental way of that genre. If anything much of it was literary fiction. Nothing wrong with that, and I can't fault the writers who are collected here, all the stories are well edited and well presented but it just does not seem to be what is promised by the title. Flip through the antholgy as you like, there are a few good fantasy, sci-fi stories but a lot of filler in my opinion.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    Really great collection of science fiction and fantasy short stories, most of them by authors I've never read. My next book will definitely be by one of them, and it'll be a struggle deciding which author I'll choose! This anthology was maybe more heavy on the science fiction than the fantasy, but two of the fantasy stories are coming to mind as particularly awesome. If you like short stories, this is a great bunch!

  6. 4 out of 5

    kenneth h. robinson

    Science and Humanity What does it mean to be a human when confronted by events and technologies beyond all reckoning? This compilation of tales gives a hint through the visions and aspirations of the varied authors. I have long been a fan of science-fiction for over sixty years. I wasn't disappointed with this outstanding volume.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    Didn't keep notes, sigh. As before, Althea Ann's review is the go-to. Thanks, Althea -- this is the sort of short-fiction review I find most useful, though it's a lot of work.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Althea Ann

    **** The Contrary Gardener - Christopher Rowe In a war-torn future America, 'agriculture' is no longer practiced - but everyone grows 'victory gardens' featuring bio-engineered crops to help with the war effort. (And everyone still turns out for the Kentucky Derby, fancy hats and all.) A talented gardener's complicated personal relationship with her father comes into play, when he sets her up for a meeting with some 'friends' who want a favor. New author to me; I'm favorably impressed. *****The W **** The Contrary Gardener - Christopher Rowe In a war-torn future America, 'agriculture' is no longer practiced - but everyone grows 'victory gardens' featuring bio-engineered crops to help with the war effort. (And everyone still turns out for the Kentucky Derby, fancy hats and all.) A talented gardener's complicated personal relationship with her father comes into play, when he sets her up for a meeting with some 'friends' who want a favor. New author to me; I'm favorably impressed. *****The Woman Who Fooled Death Five Times - Eleanor Arnason A myth from an alien culture. I absolutely love this sort of thing, and this is done very, very well - it rings true. Apparently, Arnason has written a whole string of stories about the Hwarhath - they sound fascinating; I'll have to seek them out. **** Close Encounters - Andy Duncan I'm not usually a fan of UFO-type stories, but this is a nicely done, wistful tale of an elderly man who's put his former fame as an alleged contactee behind him. But when a lovely woman knocks on his door asking for an interview, the past gets stirred up unexpectedly. **** Great-grandmother in the Cellar - Peter S. Beagle Excellent, traditional-feeling fantasy story. A young woman is cast into a magical sleep by her no-good suitor, and her brother must call on his deceased but magical great-grandmother to help remedy the situation. *****The Easthound - Nalo Hopkinson OK, I previously said the Hopkinson selection in the previous volume of this anthology was my favorite. But this story is now my favorite Hopkinson. I wholeheartedly loved it. It is quite similar to the Star Trek episode, 'Miri' (also one of my favorites). However, it's a lot bleaker - and there are werewolves. **** Goggles - Caitlin R. Kiernan A wonderfully bleak entry into the steampunk genre. Well, it's really steampunk only in the throwaway details - we're given to know that the state of the world is due to Tesla's experiments, and that there was a former age of dirigibles, etc. But what we've got here is a group of children, hiding in a bunker and guided by a probably-insane teacher, going on highly-dangerous missions to scavenge food. *** Bricks, Sticks, Straw - Gwyneth Jones Four AI software clones - copies of the minds of actual human researchers - are stranded in the outer solar system when something goes wrong with their mission. Each deals differently with their newly-found independence. **** A Bead of Jasper, Four Small Stones - Genevieve Valentine At either end of a monitoring station, a staffer keeping an eye on the progress of a ship that has just left Earth. On one end, a young man whose parents took him to space at a young age, who's homesick for the Earth he will never see again. On the other end, an Indian woman filled with longing for the chance she'll never have to escape the dying Earth. Very poignant. *** The Grinnell Method - Molly Gloss Hmm. Although the ornithologist here is explicitly only following the Grinnell method of taking notes, there are some interesting parallels with Joseph and Hilda Wood Grinnell's actual life: Joseph's widow, Hilda, was (like the protagonist) also an educated scientist whose work was probably under-appreciated, and who continued her husband's work after his death. Interesting! Here, the scientist finds a young girl to mentor, and notices bizarre events connected to an atmospheric phenomenon. And - that's about it. Nice set-up, but very inconclusive. *** Beautiful Boys - Theodora Goss A researcher theorizes that the bad-boys who steal her heart are actually aliens here to seduce Earth women. I wasn't as impressed with this as I expect to be by Goss' work. *** The Education of a Witch - Ellen Klages In this exploration of sibling jealousy, a young girl takes Disney's Maleficent as a role model - with unexpectedly dramatic results. I can't say I can't relate... (http://images6.fanpop.com/image/photo...) *** Macy Minnot's Last Christmas on Dione, Ring Racing, Fiddler's Green, The Potter's Garden - Paul McAuley This is good, but it seems like an addendum, or 'bonus' material to a longer work. Mai Kumal accedes to her estranged father's last wish, after he dies, and travels through space to the habitat where he spent his last days. She spends some time getting to know the people he lived with, and viewing the art that he was devoted to, coming to a greater appreciation of who he was as a person and an artist. It's weirdly structured, with a rather long ancillary story shoved in there (the 'Ring Racing' segment). I really felt like there ought to be another novel somewhere about Mai's father's life, but I don't believe there is. **** What Did Tessimond Tell You? - Adam Roberts Take the wry, academic humor of Connie Willis, cross it with the science-oriented ideas of Ted Chiang, and you've got something close to this story. I didn't like it quite as much as Willis or Chiang - but it's really quite good. *** Adventure Story - Neil Gaiman Imagine if, late in life, your mother told you, sort of offhandedly, about the time, before he met her, that your deceased father was involved in goings-on straight out of 'The Lost World.' Brief, funny, but there's not much to it. *** Katabasis - Robert Reed Contrasts an alien woman's current job as a porter for a future fad for extreme trekking (people are immortal, thanks to technology, so they can take a lot of abuse in alien landscapes), with her past experience making nearly the same trek as part of her tribe's last, desperate act (a trek that makes the Trail of Tears look like an afternoon stroll). Some good stuff here, but it dragged a bit (something that often happens when characters are going through boring and agonizing experiences.) **** Troll Blood - Peter Dickinson Very, very nice mythopoeic piece melding academic study of Scandinavian sagas with an actual encounter with the subject of one of these Beowulf-type sagas. My only complaint was that the resolution felt a little bit too easy, but overall this is a beautiful, resonant story. **** The Color Least Used By Nature - Ted Kosmatka A grand tragedy. Possibly one of the most emotionally wrenching things I've read, ever. I'm giving it 4 stars, because I feel like the writing deserves it, but - I can't honestly say I *liked* it, emotionally. It's about the life of a Hawaiian man, caught in a changing culture, contributing to the dying of his island's last magic, and failing in life at nearly everything he does. Written with understanding and honesty - but oh, people are jut awful in their weakness. *** Jack Shade in the Forest of Souls - Rachel Pollack An adventure that definitely feels like part of a series - but I don't believe it is. Jack Shade is a poker-playing occult specialist who seems to specialize in freeing trapped souls... But when a mild-mannered but wealthy widower asks for his help, he unwittingly gets into something deeper than expected. *** Two Houses - Kelly Link A small group of astronauts, far out in lonely space, tell each other ghost stories and succeed in freaking each other out. I actually really liked the main 'secondary' story in the piece (creepy art installation!), but I didn't think that the parallel that was set up worked as well as it should have. **** Blood Drive - Jeffrey Ford A very funny and dark satire of our gun culture and school shootings. ** Mantis Wives - Kij Johnson "Love will tear us apart, again." Anthropomorphism of mantises who have made sexual cannibalism an art form serves as a commentary on human relationships. Creepy, but felt more like notes than a finished product. * Immersion - Aliette de Bodard Written well, but I strongly disagree with de Bodard's metaphorical characterization of sophisticated 'galactic' (global) culture as an addictive habit that will take over and destroy 'purer,' 'simpler' cultures. Sure, sure, the 'tourism' device she imagines certainly could have the problems and potentials she mentions, but that's not what she's really talking about. She's talking about 'cultural immersion,' and objecting to (or treating with condescending sympathy) people who choose not to remain 'true' to their 'ancestral culture,' and characterizing them as 'lost souls.' I read the end of the story as an argument in favor of some kind of 'separate but equal' scenario, and an argument that people from different backgrounds literally cannot *think* in the same way and can never truly understand each other. As a believer in shared humanity, and a believer in the ability of creative works (and yes, even our technological devices) to help different peoples understand one another, I find the underlying messages in this story not just wrong, but pernicious. ***** About Fairies - Pat Murphy A very autobiographical-feeling story which deals sensitively and effectively with dealing with the illness and death of a parent, whilst in the middle of life. And about Peter Pan, and the sanitization of dangerous myths, and, of course, about fairies... Truly excellent. I really wish Pat Murphy was more prolific as a writer. **** Let Maps to Others - K.J. Parker Another excellent short story by Parker, which makes me pleased that I ordered two books from this author since reading the story in last year's 'Best' anthology. There are really two parts to this story - the first explores academic competition and one-upmanship, taken to a disturbing level. The second, following from the results of the first, probes literal exploration, and the consequences of obsession - with a heaping dose of irony. ** Joke in Four Panels - Robert Shearman Overly sentimental and kind of squicky (pretend to be a loyal dog? Really?) analysis of the 'Peanuts' comic strip. **** Reindeer Mountain - Karin Tidbeck Already read, in 'Jagannath': "Two sisters, rivals. A conflict over a family heirloom. A family tale, folklore about the mysterious Sidhe-like 'vittra.' One girl has always dreamed of other worlds. She'd be delighted to be swept off by a fairy lover to 'under the hill.' But that's not what happens." *** Domestic Magic - Steve Rasnic Tem & Melanie Tem Just because your mother happens to have the powers of a witch, doesn't mean that she's a good mother... ** Swift, Brutal Retaliation - Meghan McCarron A pair of sisters in a mildly dysfunctional family are haunted by the ghost of their recently-deceased brother. Really not up to best-of-the-year standards; the conclusion where it sums up everyone's feelings and motivations is written very awkwardly. *** Nahiku West - Linda Nagata A noir murder-mystery set in a future where nanotech biotech is ubiquitous - but strictly regulated. The story does an excellent job of capturing the angsty tropes of the genre, while creating a scenario that depends on its imagined future - the sci-fi setting isn't just a veneer. *** Fade to White - Catherynne M. Valente A dystopic, Handmaid's Tale-influenced tale where WWII went far more nuclear than it did in our timestream. Most American men are infertile. Radiation is everywhere. And society is desperately clinging to the 1950's-style myth of a perfect America filled with blonde children and devoted housewives. ** Significant Dust - Margo Lanagan A teenager, horsing around, has accidentally caused her sister's paralysis, and is consumed with guilt. She has run from the situation, and is now in what seems to be a remote Australian roadhouse/outpost, which seems to be plagued by disoriented time travellers and UFOs. But it's not really clear. The way the story's structured, with slow reveals, leads the reader to expect that things will eventually become clear - but they don't, and it end very inconclusively (and for me, unsatisfyingly.) *****Mono No Aware - Ken Liu. "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few - or the one." Ken Liu has done it again. This story should win awards this year. Here, Liu explores the Japanese cultural concept of acceptance of the transience of all things, in the face of an Earth facing imminent destruction from a rogue asteroid - and characters who make the decisions they believe to be right. I'm not usually a big proponent of self-sacrifice, but the examples in this story make a good case. Emotionally wrenching, and beautiful. 3.4 average rounds up to 4, because I want it to.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Huang

    Mixed bag Some stories are great while others I couldn't get through. Anthologies like this are useful for getting to know different authors' works and reading more by the ones I like.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bernard

    A solid collection It’s hard to call any collection the “best” but this one is pretty good. A nice mix of space opera, fantasy, and hard sci fi, the diversity of styles and topics keeps it interesting.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Will Fenton

    Excellent collection! Has given me several more authors to search out, and also reminded me that sci-fi isn't just blasters, spaceships and laser-blades.

  12. 5 out of 5

    KevinS

    Not bad but just like the first or second volume heavily weighted to fantasy versus SF.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joy

    This was on sale recently and I grabbed it, as I'd like to widen my reading and haven't done a lot of short fiction recently. I've generally enjoyed anthologies in the past, but unfortunately found this one to be rather disappointing. First, it should more likely be called "The Best Science Fiction and Horror of the Year," as I found very little in the collection that fit into the fantasy category unless it's being redefined as horror. I do not like horror stories, I don't like things that make m This was on sale recently and I grabbed it, as I'd like to widen my reading and haven't done a lot of short fiction recently. I've generally enjoyed anthologies in the past, but unfortunately found this one to be rather disappointing. First, it should more likely be called "The Best Science Fiction and Horror of the Year," as I found very little in the collection that fit into the fantasy category unless it's being redefined as horror. I do not like horror stories, I don't like things that make me squidgey, and I don't like being surprised with either one. There were several stories in the collection that I did not read beyond the first page, because I could tell that it was going to be something that would make me very unhappy with “Mantis Wives” by Kij Johnson being a prime example. It's entirely possible that this story along with the several others I skipped or skimmed are good stories by good authors, but I have zero interest in that type of category and don't want to read it. There were two absolute gems in the collection, which along with some of the concepts in other stories kept this from being a one-star review. Many of the science fiction or speculative fiction in the collection was rather pessimistic or horror-tinged, which does not make for an enjoyable reading experience in my opinion. I'm not opposed to reading different ideas about the future or a different world, but it felt like story after story was just unhappy and depressive, and that really began to wear on me by about 2/3 of the way through the book. “The Contrary Gardener” by Christopher Rowe started off the collection and it was fantastic and left me wanting to learn more about the ecosystem and the world that was set up by the story. “Fade to White” by Catherynne M. Valente was an absolutely perfect, brilliant diamond of a story and I was desperately unhappy to see it end, I wanted to keep going and learn more about the world setting and the people living within it. The story was masterfully written, a gorgeous example of "show don't tell," and something that was oddly sad, hopeful, and fascinating all at the same time. This story is solely responsible for one of the stars I have given the anthology, and I'll be looking up more work by this author. I don't think I'll buy another anthology edited by this editor, as we clearly have different opinions on what should go into the topic of "science fiction and fantasy." I'm glad I read it for Valente's story alone, but I think I'll be off to read something a little more positive with a HEA to break from this book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Emilie

    I'm going to be reviewing each story as I read it so that I don't forget my thoughts by the end of the volume! The contrary Gardener by Christopher Rowe - 4 stars. It's set in a futuristic US where people grow programmed vegetables for ammunition and other supplies in 'victory gardens'--which sounds incredibly bizarre, but this story is so evocative and has such a strong and vividly painted world that I didn't doubt it for a minute. I love the protagonist and felt I knew her well (which I miss in I'm going to be reviewing each story as I read it so that I don't forget my thoughts by the end of the volume! The contrary Gardener by Christopher Rowe - 4 stars. It's set in a futuristic US where people grow programmed vegetables for ammunition and other supplies in 'victory gardens'--which sounds incredibly bizarre, but this story is so evocative and has such a strong and vividly painted world that I didn't doubt it for a minute. I love the protagonist and felt I knew her well (which I miss in a lot of short stories). An intriguing, immersive story, definitely recommend. The Woman Who Cheated Death Five Times by Eleanor Arnason - 3 stars. Not a bad story but also not one I expect to remember in a few months time. It might appeal more to people who love the folktale style of story, but personally I found myself much more interested in the culture of aliens that the tale supposedly comes from than the story itself, which was pretty 'meh' for me. Great Grandmother in the Cellar by Peter S. Beagle - 5 stars. What a terrifying, marvelous story! I tore through this one because I simply had to know what happened immediately. I don't want to spoil anything by summarizing, so I'll just say that it's very well paced and creepy in a good way (which I don't often say, since I'm so easily frightened by horror) and has a very satisfying ending. Easthound by Nalo Hopkinson - ? stars. I don't know how to rate this one. Personally, I found it disturbing and unrewarding. But technically, it was a well written story that would probably be excellent to the people it appeals to. It's flat out horror, complete with a downer ending where the scary stuff is entirely unresolved, and that is sooooo not my cup of tea. If you like to be shocked and chilled and uncomfortably unable to stop thinking about it, then this defs accomplishes that.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sandie

    Jonathan Strahan is known for his ability to select and collect the year's best stories in the genres of science fiction and fantasy. He has done several of these volumes, and the 2012 edition is one of his best. This is a long work, at 643 pages. It includes established authors as well as new voices. There is a good mix of male and female voices, as well as authors from diverse cultures. The authors are: Jonathan Carroll, Neil Gaiman, E. Lily Yu, Caitlin Kiernan, Karen Joy Fowler, Catherynne Va Jonathan Strahan is known for his ability to select and collect the year's best stories in the genres of science fiction and fantasy. He has done several of these volumes, and the 2012 edition is one of his best. This is a long work, at 643 pages. It includes established authors as well as new voices. There is a good mix of male and female voices, as well as authors from diverse cultures. The authors are: Jonathan Carroll, Neil Gaiman, E. Lily Yu, Caitlin Kiernan, Karen Joy Fowler, Catherynne Valente, A.N. Owomoyela, Geoff Ryman, Hannu Rajaniemi, Paul McCauley, Peter Watts, Nalo Hopkinson, K.J. Parker, Kelly Link, Cory Doctorow, Michael Swanwick, M. Rickert, Ken Liu, Dylan Horrocks, Maureen McHugh, Peter Beagle, Jeffrey Ford, Stephen Baxter, Robert Reed, Robert Shearman, Bruce Sterling, Margo Lanagan, Libby Bray, Nnedi Okorafor, Ian McDonald, Kij Johnson and Ellen Klagesti. In addition to diverse voices, Strahan has included an interesting mix of fantasy and science fiction. Some is science fiction written for the engineer and mathematician reader; some are dragon stories for fans of fantasies. Some stories are very short while others are novella length. My personal favorite was the one by Libby Bray in which a group of wild women banded together as thieves similar to Sundance and the Kid. Every reader in these genres will find a story to love. This book is recommended for readers of science fiction and fantasy as well as those who enjoy anthologies and discovering new authors.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sidsel Pedersen

    The introduction: Like a reduction of a year's Coode Street Podcast in one sitting - lovely and thoughtful. The Contrary Gardener: I really enjoyed the story. It had a really strange feel to it and I liked how it popped me right into the middle of the story and then expanded from there. Nice ending as well! The Woman who Fooled Death Five Times: Written as a myth from an alien civilization. It has an authentic myth feel to it and I like the voice. Close Encounters:

  17. 5 out of 5

    ~

    Some really striking stories that I loved and a few that I didn't care for. My favorites: The Easthound - Nalo Hopkinson GOGGLES - Caitlin R. Kiernan Katabasis - Robert Reed Jack Shade in the Forest of Souls - Rachel Pollack Two Houses - Kelly Link Blood Drive - Jeffrey Ford Immersion - Aliette de Bodard Let Maps To Others - KJ Parker (absolute fave overall) Nahiku West - Linda Nagata - Fade To White - Catherynne M. Valente Mono no aware - Ken Liu

  18. 5 out of 5

    Wm

    I didn't read every single story so I'm not going to give it a rating. I did read at 80-85% of them, though. There were many that I really liked and several that I didn't. But this anthology is worth picking up because of the stories by Rowe, Beagle, Valentine, Goss, Klages, Johnson, de Bodard, Parker and Tidbeck

  19. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    I'd love to give this collection 5 stars, but I didn't enjoy it that much. It is a good collection of stories, and many are very entertaining, but in-all, they seem far more depressing than I would have expected. I know it's a collection, and not all the stories will appeal to everybody, but there were at least a couple that I thought could have been left out with no problem and nothing lost..

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    Close Encounters - Nebula winner. Wonder if all the members read the story. Unless I'm missing something, the last page saves this rather mediocre story IMHO. Two Houses - quite creepy, kind of horror, SF, Fantasy in a blender. “What Did Tessimond Tell You? - typical end-of-world story.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Craig

    Superb compendium.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Replogle

    Definitely a satisfying read. Two of my favorites in the collection are Great-Grandmother in the Cellar by Peter Beagle, and About Fairies by Pat Murphy.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Davec

    The fading sunlight holds infinite beauty Though it is so close to the day's end.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dr. Ann Coker

    Wonderful collection I have made it a practice to read Strahan's annual collections for years. This particular anthology is absolutely the best so far.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    I really struggled with this one...there were a few good stories in here, but at least half were so boring I could barely finish them (in fact, I gave up on a few).

  26. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    A very eclectic and wonderful collection of speculative fiction from 2013.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Anthony A

    This particular volume is significantly better than all of the "best of" science fiction anthologies this year.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    Of course I loved "About Fairies" by Pat Murphy.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Deb Oestreicher

    I usually really enjoy "best of the year" collections, but the standards didn't seem particularly high for this collection. A few outstanding stories and a lot of ho-hum stuff.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Boris

    I liked it, nice read if you don't insist to read the best book ever. The quality of stories are not even: some good, some bad a couple are quite boring.

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