REVIEW SUMMARY: 5 standouts + 17 good stories – 8 less-than-stellar = a very good anthology.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Anthology of 30 sf stories from the year 2005
PROS: 22 stories good or better, 5 of them outstanding.
CONS: 8 stories mediocre or worse.
BOTTOM LINE: Another good collection of stories on par with the past few volumes.
Continuing the much-loved, annual tradition of picking the top short sf stories of the year, author/editor Gardner Dozois’ presents the twenty-third volume of The Year’s Best Science Fiction, an anthology containing 30 stories from 2005 and spanning 800 pages. The anthology has much of what we come to expect from the series – a representative sample of science fiction that showcases the breadth of the genre. There is also the voluminous summation of the science fiction year. As comprehensive as the series’ summations are, I can’t help but think that they get even better as time goes on. Looking back at early editions in the series (yes, I have most of them and no, I have not read most of them) proves that the summations increase in nostalgic value with each passing year.
Overall, this anthology is on par with the other volumes I’ve read, which sits at a very comfortable “very good”. (See the reviews for #19, #20, #21 and #22.) By my tally, 22 of the 30 stories were good or better with 5 of those rising to the outstanding level. That means that eight of the stories were mediocre or worse. This can be expected as the tastes of editor and reader are sure to differ. It should be noted that there are two stories this year by Alastair Reynolds, whose fiction tends to agree with me. Perhaps, then, it’s no wonder that’s why he snagged two of the top five ratings.
The five standout stories were “Beyond The Aquila Rift” and “Zima Blue” by Alastair Reynolds, “Second Person, Present Tense” by Daryl Gregory, “The Canadian Who Came Almost All The Way Home From The Stars ” by Jay Lake And Ruth Nestvold and “Burn” by James Patrick Kelly.
As noted below, twelve of the stories contained in this volume have been previously reviewed by me. Also, stories available online are linked.