Science fiction round-up: The Year’s Best Science Fiction 1997

I checked this collection by Gardner Dozois out from the library (yes I still do that).  Science fiction generally holds its own: 20 years later most of the stories in the collection read like they could have been written now.  Here are my highlights (and I did not read all of the stories in the collection, and others fell into the “Ugh, what an awful story.” category.).

  • Tony Daniel, A Dry, Quiet War.  This was an exceptional story, I thought.  A line I will remember for a long time: ‘”Don’t you worry, skyfaller,” he said, “I know exactly where I stand now.”‘  A bit heavy-handed on the long time frame angle (billions of years) and the reluctant duty of the soldier.  But I fell for it.  I loved this line too: “In that moment, I spread out, stretched a bit in ways that Bex could not see, but that Marek could…”  I like how he used spread and stretched to try to convey the sense of the ability to “read/see” into multiple dimensions.
  • Maureen McHugh, The Cost to Be Wise.  Blogged about this when I read it, I really enjoyed the anthropological-style immersion.
  • Gregory Feeley, The Weighing of Ayre. A very nice historical sci-fi story, wonderful evocation of Holland in the 17th century and the discovery and uses of the microscope.
  • Michael Cassutt, The Longer Voyage. Very reminiscent of the sci-fi I read as a youth, about taking that voyage.  I guess it is the opposite of Joyce’s Eveline?
  • Nancy Kress, Flowers of Aulit Prison.  I really liked the story, even though there were seeming oddities in internal consistency.  I looked her up, but maybe it was a tawdry covers of her novels, or the plodding plot summaries of Wikipedia, but they did not seem as interesting.  I’ll try something else of hers, just in case.
  • Gregory Benford, Immersion.  A decent read, but the whole psycho-history trope, endlessly looped back to, was a bit risible to a social scientist like me. And pretty stale for sci-fi I would think.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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