The Best of the Best: 20 Years of the Year’s Best Science Fiction is a 2005 science fiction anthology edited by Gardner Dozois. It contains thirty six of the best science fiction short stories collected in the series from 1984 – 2004.
Gardner Dozois was the editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine from 1984 to 2004. Being one of the premier magazines for science fiction short stories its probably safe to say that he oversaw some of the greatest stories of that time period.
During that time he also created a yearly collection of what he considered to be the best short stories, novelettes and novellas of the previous year. That series, which is still going strong to this day, is known as The Year’s Best Science Fiction.
In 2005, twenty years after the first edition of the series was published, Dozois released a special “Best of” collection containing what he considered to be the best science fiction short stories of the last twenty years. The Best of the Best: 20 Years of the Year’s Best Science Fiction includes a foreword by Robert Silverberg, a preface by Dozois himself and thirty six stories selected by Dozois from among prior annual editions of The Year’s Best Science Fiction – including several Hugo and Nebula award winners.
When the idea of putting a Best of the Best retrospective anthology together first occurred to me, it seemed like a straightforward task, perhaps even an easy one. It was not. In fact, this may have been one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had to do. … For one thing, in order to figure out what stories in those volumes were really the best, I had to reread a significant proportion of the 6,306,634 words, especially as I found that I barely remembered some of the stories from earlier volumes.
Doing all that reading was not the hardest part, though. Looking back through the twenty-one volumes only served to remind me how many good stories had appeared in them over the years.
My Two Cents:
I like reading stories by a wide variety of authors, so this collection suited me well. I found the variety of authors, styles and story lengths to be a very good mix. The stories ranged from very hard scifi to stories that were so soft they could barely be considered science fiction. Yes, there were a few that I didn’t care for too much, but overall I found this to be a highly entertaining and great variety of high quality science fiction stories. It also allowed me to read several Hugo and Nebula award winning stories that I couldn’t find online. If you enjoy great science fiction short stories, then I highly, HIGHLY recommend this book!
• The good:
- High quality – all of these stories are very well written.
- A great variety of authors, styles and story lengths.
- Several famous stories – There are many Hugo and Nebula winners (and nominees) included in this collection.
• The bad:
- There wasn’t much I didn’t like, but if my arm was twisted I would say that a handful of the stories were so soft they could barely be considered science fiction.
Where You Can Find The Best of the Best: 20 Years of the Year’s Best Science Fiction:
- I am sure that almost any large bookstore (in the USA anyway) will either have this book in stock or be able to order it for you.
- You can preview a large portion of this book on Google Book Search.
- A few of the stories included in this book are available freely online – you just have to search long and hard for them. (See links to the ones I have reviewed for more info.)
- The Best of the Best: 20 Years of the Year’s Best Science Fiction is available from Amazon.com at a great price.
Related Yet Still Interesting Links:
- You can learn more about The Year’s Best Science Fiction series at Wikipedia.
- Here is an excerpt of an interview Gardner Dozois did with Locus Magazine about the need for stories in our lives.
- Award winning author Michael Swanwick tells us why Gardner Dozois is a great writer.
- You can learn more about Gardner Dozois, the editor of The Best of the Best: 20 Years of the Year’s Best Science Fiction, at Wikipedia.
Stories included in The Best of the Best: 20 Years of the Year’s Best Science Fiction:
Here are the short stories, novelettes and novellas included in this 655 page collection: (I have reviewed several of them – click the links to read more about each individual story)
- Greg Bear: “Blood Music”
- Gene Wolfe: “A Cabin on the Coast”
- Lucius Shepard: “Salvador”
- Nancy Kress: “Trinity”
- Howard Waldrop: “Flying Saucer Rock and Roll”
- Bruce Sterling: “Dinner in Audoghast”
- Pat Cadigan: “Roadside Rescue”
- John Crowley: “Snow”
- William Gibson: “The Winter Market”
- John Kessel: “The Pure Product”
- Eileen Gunn: “Stable Strategies for Middle Management”
- Mike Resnick: “Kirinyaga”
- Robert Silverberg: “Tales from the Venia Woods”
- Terry Bisson: “Bears Discover Fire”
- Connie Willis: “Even the Queen”
- Robert Reed: “Guest of Honor”
- Joe Haldeman: “None So Blind”
- Brian Stableford: “Mortimer Gray’s History of Death”
- Maureen F. McHugh: “The Lincoln Train”
- Greg Egan: “Wang’s Carpets”
- Ursula K. LeGuin: “Coming of Age in Karhide”
- Michael Swanwick: “The Dead”
- Ian McDonald: “Recording Angel”
- Tony Daniel: “A Dry, Quiet War”
- William Sanders: “The Undiscovered”
- Paul J. McAuley: “Second Skin”
- Ted Chiang: “Story Of Your Life”
- Stephen Baxter: “People Came From Earth”
- David Marusek: “The Wedding Album”
- James Patrick Kelly: “10^16 To 1″
- Walter Jon Williams: “Daddy’s World”
- Steven Utley: “The Real World”
- Geoff Ryman: “Have Not Have”
- Charles Stross: “Lobsters”
- Ian R. MacLeod: “Breathmoss”
- Molly Gloss: “Lambing Season”