Like its two distinguished processors, Year's Best SF 3 is a cybercopia of astonishing stories from familiar favorites and rising stars, all calculated to blow your mind, scorch your, senses, erase your inhibitions, and reinitialize your intelligence.
With stories from:
Gregory Benford, Terry Bisson, Greg Egan, William Gibson, Nancy Kress, Robert Silverberg, Gene Wolfe and more...
About the Author
David G. Hartwell is a senior editor of Tor/Forge Books. His doctorate is in Comparative Medieval Literature. He is the proprietor of Dragon Press, publisher and bookseller, which publishes The New York Review of Science Fiction, and the president of David G. Hartwell, Inc. He is the author of Age of Wonders and the editor of many anthologies, including The Dark Descent, The World Treasury of Science Fiction, The Hard SF Renaissance, The Space Opera Renaissance, and a number of Christmas anthologies, among others. Recently he co-edited his fifteenth annual paperback volume of Year's Best SF, and co-edited the ninth Year's Best Fantasy. John Updike, reviewing The World Treasury of Science Fiction in The New Yorker, characterized him as a "loving expert." He is on the board of the IAFA, is co-chairman of the board of the World Fantasy Convention, and an administrator of the Philip K. Dick Award. He has won the Eaton Award, the World Fantasy Award, and has been nominated for the Hugo Award forty times to date, winning as Best Editor in 2006, 2008, and 2009.
Read an Excerpt
Kamala Shastri came back to this world as she had left it naked. She tottered out of the assembler, trying to balance in Tuulen Station's delicate gravity. I caught her and bundled her into a robe with one motion, then eased her onto the float. Three years on another planet had transformed Kamala. She was leaner, more muscular. Her fingernails were now a couple of centimeters long and there were four parallel scars incised on her left cheek, perhaps some Gendian's idea of beautification. But what struck me most was the darting strangeness in her eyes. This place, so familiar to me, seemed almost to shock her. It was as if she doubted the walls and was skeptical of air. She had learned to think like an alien.
"Welcome back." The float's whisper rose to a whoosh as I walked it down the hallway.
She swallowed hard and I thought she might cry. Three years ago, she would have. Lots of migrators are devastated when they come out of the assembler; it's because there is no transition. A few seconds ago Kamala was on Gend, fourth planet of the star we call epsilon Leo, and now she was here in lunar orbit. She was almost home; her life's great adventure was over.
"Matthew?" she said.
"Michael." I couldn't help but be pleased that she rememberd me. After all, she had changed my life.
I've guided maybe three hundred migrations comings and goings since I first came to Tuulen to study the dinos. Kamala Shastri's is the only quantum scan I've ever pirated. I doubt that the dinos care; I suspect this is a trespass they occasionally allow themselves. I know more about her at least, as she was three years ago than I know about myself. When the dinos sent her to Gend, she massed 50,391.72 grams and her red cell count was 4.81 million per mm'. She could play the nagasvaram, a kind of bamboo flute. Her father came from Thana, near Bombay, and her favorite flavor of chewyfrute was watermelon and she'd had five lovers and when she was eleven she had wanted to be a gymnast but instead she had become a biomaterials engineer who at age twenty-nine had volunteered to go to the stars to learn how to grow artificial eyes. It took her two years to go through migrator training; she knew she could have backed out at any time, right up until the moment Silloin translated her into a superluminal signal. She understood what it meant to balance the equation.
I first met her on June 22, 2069. She shuttled over from Lunex's L1 port and came through our airlock at promptly 10:15, a small, roundish woman with black hair parted in the middle and drawn tight against her skull. They had darkened her skin against epsilon Leo's UV; it was the deep blue-black of twilight. She was wearing a striped clingy and velcro slippers to help her get around for the short time she'd be navigating our .2 micrograv.
"Welcome to Tuulen Station." I smiled and offered my hand. "My name is Michael." We shook. "I'm supposed to be a sapientologist but I also moonlight as the local guide."
"Guide?" She nodded distractedly. "Okay." She peered past me, as if expecting someone else.
"Oh, don't worry," I said, "the dinos are in their cages."
Her eyes got wide as she let her hand slip from mine. "You call the Hanen dinos?"
"Why not?" I laughed. "They call us babies. The weeps, among other things."
She shook her bead in amazement. People who've never met a dino tended to romanticize them: the wise and noble reptiles who had mastered superluminal physics and introduced Earth to the wonders of galactic civilization. I doubt Kamala had ever seen a dino play poker or gobble down a screaming rabbit. And she had never argued with Linna, who still wasn't convinced that humans were psychologically ready to go to the stars.
"Have you eaten?" I gestured down the corridor toward the reception rooms.
"Yes ... I mean, no." She didn't move. "I am not hungry."
"Let me guess. You're too nervous to eat. You're too nervous to talk, even. You wish I'd just shut up, pop you into the marble, and beam you out. Let's just get this part the hell over with, eh?"
"I don't mind the conversation, actually."
"There you go. Well, Kamala, it is my solemn duty to advise you that there are no peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on Gend. And no chicken vindaloo. What's my name again?"
"See, you're not that nervous. Not one taco, or a single slice of eggplant pizza. This is your last chance to eat like a human."
"Okay." She did not actually smile-she was too busy being brave-but a corner of her mouth twitched. "Actually, I would not mind a cup of tea."
"Now, tea they've got." She let me guide her toward reception room D; her slippers snicked at the velcro carpet. "Of course, they brew it from lawn clippings."
"The Gendians don't keep lawns. They live underground. "
"Refresh my memory." I kept my hand on her shoulder; beneath the clingy, her muscles were rigid. "Are they the ferrets or the things with the orange bumps?"
"They look nothing like ferrets."
We popped through the door bubble into reception D, a compact rectangular space with a scatter of low, unthreatening furniture. There was a kitchen station at one end, a closet with a vacuum toilet at the other. The ceiling was blue sky; the long wall showed a live view of the Charles River and the Boston skyline, baking in the late June sun. Kamala had just finished her doctorate at MIT.
I opaqued the door. She perched on the...
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The one piece of dross comes from an unexpected source: William Gibson and his story "Thirteen Views of a Cardboard City". It's a minute, camera-eye examination of a cardboard structure in a Tokyo subway and obviously inspired by J.G. Ballard's work. I detected no point to the series of descriptions, or, indeed, anything of a fantastical or science fictional nature. Nancy Kress' "Always True to Thee, in My Fashion" gives us a witty satire with a world where the seasonal variations of fashion cover not only clothes but also your pharmaceutically modulated attitudes.. The caged dinosaur of Gene Wolfe's "Petting Zoo" represents not only the lost childhood of the story's protagonist but a vitality lost from the race of man. Tom Cool gives us "Universal Emulators" with its future of economic hypercompetition that has created a black market for those who impersonate, in every way, the few employed professionals. In effect, the emulators grant them an extra set of hands. Its plot and characters would have done Roger Zelazny proud. The voice of past science fiction writers echos through many of the anthology's best stories. Jack London's _The Sea Wolf_ provides the inspiration for Michael Swanwick's "The Wisdom of Old Earth". Its heroine realizes, despite whatever dangers she overcomes guiding posthumans through the Pennsylvania's jungles, she will never bootstrap herself into being their equal. H.G. Wells looms over Robert Silverberg's "Beauty in the Night". Its child hero undertakes the first successful assassination of the brutal aliens that have occupied Earth, but his reasons have more to do with his oppressive father rather than the aliens' behavior. John C. Wright's "Guest Law" is a welcome return to the flashy decadence of Cordwainer Smith's fiction. Its hero, a slave-engineer, watches in disgust as his aristocratic overlords corrupt the customary requirements of hospitality to justify piracy in deep space. Gregory Benford's "The Voice" responds to Ray Bradbury's _Fahrenheit 451_. Here the convenience of implanted intelligent agents, hooked up to a computer network, led to literacy fading, and not a repressive regime of firemen. Benford agrees with Bradbury about literacy's value but also undercuts him on the supremacy of writing as a means of communication. James Patrick Kelly and Brian Stableford tackle similar themes in two excellent tales about children, the needs they fufill for parents, and the possiblity of replacing them with surrogates. The heroine of Kelly's "Itsy Bitsy Spider", estranged from her actor father for 23 ages, is horrified to discover that her enfeebled father's legal guardian is also equipped to simulate her as a child. Stableford's "The Pipes of Pan" has a future recovering from ecological catastrophe where real children are not allowed. However, parents can have children genetically altered to never age and reproduce. But those children suddenly start growing up.Jack Williamson's "The Firefly Tree" is a Bradbury-like tale of aliens who travel far but whose invitation to join an intergalactice republic goes no further than a farm boy. Though I usually hate stories narrated by smart-alecky teenagers, I didn't mind S.N. Dyer's "The Nostalginauts" with its problem of time travelers going back 25 years to reminisce about their younger selves. The technological speculations of Greg Egan's "Yeyuka" are interesting. However, I didn't find the political criticisms inherent in this story of First World companies exploiting the misery of a Third World cancer epidemic that convincing or plausible, and they seemed a bit of a repeat of those in his novel _Distress_. While Terry Bisson's "An Office Romance" was fun and poked fun at, in passing, Microsoft and those who find the computer screen a satisfying substitute for the world outside, its romance, in the bowels of a computer system, reminded me of _Tron_ in that both stories borrowed computer terminology to create a cyberverse that only superficially resembles t
+ means hit, - means miss:- Petting Zoo (1997) by Gene Wolfe- The Wisdom of Old Earth (1997) by Michael Swanwick- The Firefly Tree (1997) by Jack Williamson- Thirteen Views of a Cardboard City (1997) by William Gibson+ The Nostalgianauts (1996) by S. N. Dyer+ Guest Law (1997) by John C. Wright+ The Voice (1997) by Gregory Benford+ Yeyuka (1997) by Greg Egan- An Office Romance (1997) by Terry Bisson+ Itsy Bitsy Spider (1997) by James Patrick Kelly+ Beauty in the Night (1997) by Robert Silverberg- Mr. Pale (1997) by Ray Bradbury+ The Pipes of Pan (1997) by Brian Stableford+ Always True to Thee, in My Fashion (1997) by Nancy Kress+ Canary Land (1997) by Tom Purdom+ Universal Emulators (1997) by Tom Cool- Fair Verona (1997) by R. Garcia y Robertson- Great Western (1997) by Kim Newman+ Turnover (1998) by Geoffrey A. Landis- The Mendelian Lamp Case (1997) by Paul Levinson- Kiss Me (1997) by Katherine MacLean+ London Bone (1997) by Michael Moorcock