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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Science Fiction: The Best of 2003

Science Fiction: The Best of 2003, edited by Karen Haber and Jonathan Strahan. New York: ibooks, 2004. ISBN: 0-7434-7919-X.

This is an excellent collection of excellent science fiction stories, some better than others, but all worth reading. Some of the authors, like Ursula LeGuin, Neil Gaiman, Vernor Vinge, Stephen Baxter, are familiar (to me, anyhow), some, like Michael Swanwick, Susan Mosser, Lucius Shepherd, less so.

Probably my favorite is "The Cookie Monster," by Vernor Vinge, in which the characters slowly come to realize that they are nothing but computer simulations; their personalities and memories have been uploaded into a massive computer simulation where they are essentially working as free slave labor for the man who is controlling the computers.

Other favorites include "Bernardo's House," by James Patrick Kelly, in which an artificially intelligent house, part computer, part almost human, gains a new and interesting inhabitant; "The Tale of the Golden Eagle," by David D. Devine, which has the aura of one of those old-time golden age stories by Jack Vance or his ilk; and "The Empire of Ice Cream," by Jeffrey Ford, which explores the subject of synesthesia in a very personal way. The final story in the book, "Only Partly Here," by Lucius Shephard, is the first fiction I've encountered, sci-fi or otherwise, that is based on the aftermath of 9/11.

But there's not a story in the collection that isn't entertaining in its own right. Highly recommended for all science fiction readers.

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