Friday, March 20, 2009

David Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer (Ed)'s "Year's Best SF 14" (2009) (Volume 14 of annual anthology series): Annotated table of contents & review

Cover image of the anthology titled Year's Best SF 14 by David Hartwell and Kathryn CramerKathryn Cramer has posted the ToC of the 2009 edition of her anthology series, containing short fiction first published during the year 2008.
Update 12 July 2009: This book has been published, & ToC is now available at publisher's site.

Where I'm aware of an online copy of a story, I provide the download link. Link on publisher name yields more stories from publisher; link on author or editor name yields more works of author/editor.

Read stories are ranked according to my preference. For these stories, my rating is in brackets. In case I've a separate post on a story, link on story title goes there.

Table of contents (21 stories, best first, unread last).

  1. [ss] Ted Chiang's "Exhalation" (A); download text/MP3; Jonathan Strahan (Ed)'s "Eclipse Two: New Science Fiction and Fantasy": A "man"'s quest for knowledge in an unusual universe reveals something unexpected & alarming.

    Added to my "best of the year 2008" list.
  2. [novella] Carolyn Ives Gilman's "Arkfall" (A); read online (no download); F&SF, September 2008: Adventure in an exotic waterworld.

    Added to my "best of the year 2008" list.
  3. Tobias Buckell & Karl Schroeder's "Mitigation" (A); Lou Anders (Ed)'s "Fast Forward 2"; environment: When a robbery did some good too!

    Added to my "best of the year 2008" list.
  4. [novelette] Alastair Reynolds' "Fury" (B); Jonathan Strahan (Ed)'s Eclipse Two: New Science Fiction & Fantasy; space opera: A ruler gets punishment for crimes committed long ago.
  5. Ted Kosmatka's "N-Words" (B); podcast (including downloadable MP3), alternate link for MP3; John Joseph Adams' Seeds of Change (2008); What if a few Neanderthal kids were left stranded in our world?

    This is an old trope, with many stories. Best known I'm aware of are Isaac Asimov's "The Ugly Little Boy" & L Sprague de Camp's "The Gnarly Man".
  6. [ss] Jeff VanderMeer's "Fixing Hanover" (B); Nick Gevers (Eds)'s Extraordinary Engines; steampunk: Genius inventor is atoning for the sin of having invented an extraordinary machine his government used to subdue its neighbors.
  7. [novelette] Paolo Bacigalupi's "Pump Six" (B); Paolo Bacigalupi's Pump Six and Other Stories; dystopia; download MP3: What if the people began becoming dumber, more of them every generation?
  8. Sue Burke's "Spiders" (B); Asimov's, March 2008: A man takes a walk through a forest with his 5 year old son, pointing out jungle life to him.

    Its only claim to being science fiction is because the author says story is set on an unnamed world that is not earth. I consider it non-genre, but a decent read.
  9. [novelette] Mary Rosenblum's "The Egg Man" (B); Asimov's, February 2008; dystopia: A Mexican medical aid worker in a ravaged community in the US.
  10. Robert Reed's "The House Left Empty"; Asimov's, April/May 2008: (B): Description of a post-disaster world where communities are tiny & self sufficient, no one travels beyond their little local community area that one can walk around, & where strangers are generally suspect.

    Title comes from regret of one of the characters near end: Instead of being in "an asteroid or comet with us safe in the middle, starting a ten thousand year voyage to whichever sun we want our descendants to see first", their universe has shrunk to these tiny neighborhoods.
  11. [ss] Gwyneth Jones' "Cheats" (as by Ann Halam) (C); Jonathan Strahan (Ed)'s The Starry Rift: Two kids playing an immersive VR multiplayer online game get digitized by already digitized volunteers, end up traveling with them to a far off world, & getting duplicate bodies on this far off world!
  12. [novelette] Kathleen Ann Goonan's "Memory Dog" (C); Asimov's, April/May 2008: Personal loss, rebellion against a repressive government, a man's mind coinhabiting the body of a female dog, jargon, ...
  13. [ss] Neil Gaiman's "Orange" (C); read online (no download); video of author reading the story; Jonathan Strahan's The Starry Rift: Tales of New Tomorrows (2008); fantasy: Jemima Ramsey, 17, is describing how her sister Nerys, 15, turned into "a giant orange glow & was controlling our minds" as a result of using some sort of body lotion! And that then aliens came & took her away!

    Unusual presentation - a series of answers to a questionnaire, but without questions.
  14. [ss] Daryl Gregory's "Glass" (C); download (requires free registration); Technology Review, November/December 2008: A drug trial to increase empathy (by increasing the rate of firing of "mirror neurons" that control it) among the normally non-violent prisoners has turned at least one into a violent one.
  15. Elizabeth Bear & Sarah Monette's "Boojum" (C); download; Ann VanderMeer & Jeff VanderMeer (Ed)'s "Fast Ships, Black Sails"; space opera: Monsters, pirates, ...
  16. [ss] M Rickert's "Traitor" (C); F&SF, May 2008: A woman suffering from survivor's guilt now prepares & sends little girls on suicide missions - for ... military, terrorists, or something.
  17. Rudy Rucker's "Message Found in a Gravity Wave" (C); download; Nature Physics, #664: A man has learnt that our universe is about to end - by detecting a message coded as gravity waves from the version of the universe that existed before big bang! Written in somewhat humorous vein, but I found it just so much senseless mumbo-jumbo.
  18. Cory Doctorow's "The Things that Make Me Weak and Strange Get Engineered Away"; download text/MP3; I think I've read it - it was one of the first two stories published by Tor online last year; cannot recollect many details, however.
  19. Vandana Singh's "Oblivion: A Journey": Not read.
  20. Michael Swanwick's "The Scarecrow’s Boy"; F&SF, October/November 2008: Not read.
  21. Jason Sanford's "The Ships Like Clouds, Risen By Their Rain"; download; Interzone, #217: Not read.


  1. Gardner Dozois (Ed)'s "The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection": Short fiction first published during 2008.
  2. Jonathan Strahan's "Best SF and Fantasy of the Year, Volume 3": Short fiction first published during 2008.
  3. Rich Horton (Ed)'s "Science Fiction: The Best of the Year, 2009 Edition": Short fiction first published during 2008.
  4. Rich Horton (Ed)'s "Unplugged: The Best of Online Fiction": Short fiction first published online during 2008.
  5. My Best of the year 2008 short fiction list (includes links to more "best of 2008" lists): Short fiction first published during 2008.
  6. Collections & anthologies.
  7. "Best of" lists.

Fact sheet.

First published: Due May 2009 from HarperEos.