Have you ever tried to review an anthology? It’s a lot harder than you might think! Over six hundred pages from almost forty authors was not just an investment in time but it was also a chance to get to know some new writers and revisit some that I hadn’t read in a while.
I was, at first, a bit apprehensive about digging into this hefty tome, but once I started, I was amazed at how quickly I shot through the stories. In an era where many of our devices and gadgets were once thought of as science fiction, how much of what we read today will be available for purchase in the future? We look at science fiction as entertainment but much of it foreshadows our culture and what we can expect in days to come. This, my friends, is what The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Second Annual Collection is all about.
Now, having said all that, this collection is literally a little bit of every sub-genre of sci-fi. I have always been more of a fantasy reader when it comes to this combined section of the local bookstore but I am definitely familiar with many of these authors. I started reading more science fiction in my early thirties when I started managing a Waldenbooks (RIP, store 969) and became intimately familiar with it all. As you know, it’s a broad spectrum that falls under this heading. For some publishers, anything futuristic renders it into this category whilst others have a bit more criteria for inclusion. So I did what I usually do, I started on page one and read through to page six hundred and fifty-four! Without looking too closely at the authors, I found myself really loving the differences in the stories.
From Ian McDonald‘s short sentences about introspection to Ken Liu‘s passionate tale of cybernetic implants, this compilation started off with a bang and just kept on going! Dig a bit deeper and Lavie Tidhar‘s exploration of the cycle of life is utterly thrilling while at the same time sad beyond measure, proving that life is meant to be lived, experienced. With the likes of Elizabeth Bear, who has not one but two stories in this anthology (as does the aforementioned Ken Liu). Other mainstays like Alastair Reynolds remind me why I fell in love with their work originally. But one author, whom I had never previously encountered, really got my attention. Cory Doctorow hands down made me sit back and think. About life, death, and everything in between. Almost fifty pages of some of the most prolific writing you can find in this field. I will be finding his previous work and I will be binge reading it soon!
While I may have cited only a few writers here, I am by no means trying to ignore the remainder. As it stands, I could spend an entire day composing line after line that speaks to how great their tales were and how I love this book. But I won’t. Instead, I’ll simply say that this is the perfect book for the occasional science fiction reader. Or for anyone building or supplying a library. It is, without a doubt, exactly what it says it is. The year’s best science fiction. I am quite pleased that I was afforded the opportunity to embrace this and review it. Had I not, I would never have discovered many of these authors, and isn’t that what we love so much about anthologies? I urge you to acquire this for your collection or at the very least request it from your local library or literary institution. Always forward, never look back. The future is happening all around us. Are you ready for it?