REVIEW SUMMARY: More hits than misses.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Anthology of nine novellas from the year 2005.
PROS: 6 stories ranging from good to excellent, the best being a fantasy piece.
CONS: 3 stories mediocre or worse.
BOTTOM LINE: A good assortment of stories from 2005, 3 of them award nominees.
Jonathan Strahan’s Best Short Novels: 2006 aims to collect the best science fiction and fantasy novellas from 2005; whether or not it meets that goal is left up to interpretation, of course. While I can say there were stories from 2005 that I enjoyed better than some of the entries, there are still quite a handful of really enjoyable stories in this volume. As with any anthology, your mileage may vary.
The least enjoyable stories for me this year were hovering in the realm of fantasy. This is not surprising, really, given my preference for science fiction. As I mentioned with last year’s volume, the varied genre selection turns out to be a double-edged sword for readers like myself who may not find a particular genre suitable to their tastes.
That said, I was absolutely blown away that the most enjoyable story was indeed a fantasy: “The Cosmology of the Wider World” by Jeffrey Ford. This story worked on so many levels for me and really made me think hard about why I sometimes do not enjoy fantasy. That fact alone makes it a stunning achievement.
Statistics-wise: Three of the stories in this volume turned out to be award nominees; two for the Hugo (“The Little Goddess” and “Inside Job”), one for both the Hugo and Nebula (“Magic for Beginners”). I had already read all of these as part of my Hugo and Nebula Award nominee reading projects.
Reviewlettes of the stories follow.
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