Year's Best SF 14
by David G. Hartwell
Edited by David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer
Cover Artist: Bob Warner
Review by Carolyn Frank
Eos Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061721748
Date: 01 June 2009 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Many wonderful science fiction short stories were published in 2008. Based on their in-depth knowledge of the genre, David Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer have been selecting the most-worthy science fiction short stories for inclusion in their yearly anthology for the prior 13 years. The Year's Best SF 14 is the compendium of their choices for 2008. These stories are for the science fiction fan, who enjoys venturing out of this world, this time, this universe, but not out of logic or comprehension.
In "Arkfall" by Carolyn Ives Gilman, Osaji, a colonist in an ocean-world living on bio-ship, is thrust into an entirely new portion of her planet when an underwater volcano erupts. Her travels through the undersea environment, which is slowly being terraformed, showcases a complex but imaginative native ecosystem. Through learning about and exploiting the capabilities of some native species, Osaji is able to take control of her life.
In "Orange" by Neil Gaiman, Jemima, an older teen age girl, reveals her reaction to the invasion of earth by aliens through the medium of written answers to 70 unwritten questions by an unseen investigator. In her quest to obtain the perfect tan, her 15 year old sister had covered herself in some sort of orange alien paint, which then engulfed her. Jemima appears to take the entire preposterous episode in stride; this is not going to change her life!
In "Pump Six" by Paolo Bacigalupi, Trav is a maintenance man keeping the sewage pumps working in a future century Manhattan. As bad chemicals in the environment have sapped people's intelligence over time, knowledge and even schooling has faded. Although the infrastructure and many factories were well-made, years of little to no maintenance is causing more and more machinery to break down. And when sewage pump six shuts itself down, Trav finds himself as the last man even slightly capable of staving off total societal collapse.
In "Boojum" by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette, Black Alice is an engineer in a living space ship. These ships, called boojums, serve as cargo ships hauling various items around the outer part of the solar system. While Black Alice is performing a repair on the outside of the ship, space pirates come to call. The ship provides an option to being killed by the space pirates, but which option is worse?
Each of the 21 stories in the book provide a unique perspective on how life could or would be lived in times or places not in our current space-time. If you enjoy core science fiction, not fantasy, not horror, but speculations on real or imagined science or technology, you will thrill to many, if not all, of these tales.