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Dozois’ 24th Annual Collection

by Rob Friesel

As with many “Year’s Best” type anthologies (regardless of genre), it is difficult to evaluate Gardner Dozois’ The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Fourth Annual Collection as if it were a whole. Unlike a themed collection (e.g., Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse), you cannot easily ask how each story is helping to advance or otherwise round-out the speculation or evaluation of that given theme. But that’s OK; that’s not why we pick up and read a collection like this. And it’s a hazard we’re willing — nay: happy — to take on.

That said, the rating for the collection here is a computed average of my ratings on the individual stories themselves. Out to four decimal places, the 24th Annual Collection scores: 3.3929

And now for the individual ratings1 based on the 5-star scale used at GoodReads.com:

  1. “I, Row-Boat” (Cory Doctorow) – ★★★
  2. “Julian: A Christmas Story” (Robert Charles Wilson ) – ★★★
    • Not sure how this one sits with me; a re-read might better inform whether it’s holding up Christianity or vs. some ethical secularism but… Tough to say on the first hit. Also: steampunkish and yet not; definitely a post-Peak Oil tale and I wonder to myself if it wasn’t short-listed for inclusion in Wastelands or not.
  3. “Tin Marsh” (Michael Swanwick) – ★★
  4. “The Djinn’s Wife” (Ian McDonald) – ★★★★
    • If you’re too intimidated by River of Gods then this will almost serve as a substitute.
  5. “The House Beyond Your Sky” (Benjamin Rosenbaum) – ★★★
    • Attempts depth but comes off as a bit opaque. A compact, dense story though and probably worth a re-read sometime.
  6. “Where The Golden Apples Grow” (Kage Baker) – ★★★
    • Interesting and twisted take on the “Prince and the Pauper” fairy tale (though with two paupers). I wanted to like it a lot more but I found the story a bit predictable and maybe just a little pedantic. But I’m curious to see more by this gifted writer.
  7. “Kin” (Bruce McAllister) – ★★
    • Couldn’t relate; felt forced. Also: where’s “the greater good” in exceptions?
  8. “Signal to Noise” (Alastair Reynolds) – ★★★★★
    • Wow; head-spinningly good.
  9. “The Big Ice” (Jay Lake & Ruth Nestvold) – ★★★
    • Action for action; great for what it is.
  10. “Bow Shock” (Gregory Benford) – ★★★
  11. “In the River” (Justin Stanchfield) – ★★★★★
    • This is a good one to rub up against Blindsight for comparison.
  12. “Incarnation Day” (Walter Jon Williams) – ★★★★
    • Nice use of voice and tone; also: it’s like a post-human Pinocchio!
  13. “Far As You Can Go” (Greg Van Eekhout) – ★★★★
  14. “Good Mountain” (Robert Reed) – ★★★
    • Had trouble getting into this one; too far afield?
  15. “I Hold My Father’s Paws” (David D. Levine) – ★★★
  16. “Dead Men Walking” (Paul J. McAuley) – ★★
  17. “Home Movies” (Mary Rosenblum) – ★★★
    • A la PKD, but not enough D.
  18. “Damascus” (Daryl Gregory) – ★★★
    • I liked this better as that X-Files episode2  Also: I don’t get the title. (Seems such a shame, had so much potential…)
  19. “Life on the Preservation” (Jack Skillingstead) – ★★
    • I wanted to like it but it seemed like a bit of a warm-up…
  20. “Yellow Card Man” (Paolo Bacigalupi) – ★★★★
    • Heavy and cynical and intense and sometimes a little hard to follow. Worth a re-read to pull it all together.
  21. “Riding the Crocodile” (Greg Egan) – ★★★
  22. “The Ile of Dogges” (Elizabeth Bear & Sarah Monette) – ★★
    • Trying to hard to be exactly what it is?
  23. “The Highway Men” (Ken MacLeod) – ★★★★
  24. “The Pacific Mystery” (Stephen Baxter) – ★★★★
  25. “Okanoggan Falls” (Carolyn Ives Gilman) – ★★★★
  26. “Every Hole Is Outlined” (John Barnes) – ★★★★
  27. “The Town on Blighted Sea” (A.M. Dellamonica) – ★★★★★
  28. “Nightingale” (Alastair Reynolds) – ★★★★★

BONUS ROUND: a quick detail of the reading pace (for comparison purposes only):

Reading Pace for...

Click through for full size.

Review originally published on GoodReads.com.

  1. With comments where I have them… []
  2. You know the one I’m talking about?  The one from Season Two? []

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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