The Best of the Best Volume 2: 20 Years of the Best Short Science Fiction Novels • 2007 • SF anthology by Gardner Dozois

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Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dozois published 35 annual anthologies with his selection of the best SF stories of the previous year. He concentrated those 35 books even further down to three volumes by selecting the best stories:

The first anthology covering 1983-2002, then this one publishing only novellas from the same years, and finally a newer anthology covering SF stories and novellas from 2003-2017. Insofar is the title a little bit misleading, as this volume is only one of three collecting the best SF short works; and also, they “only” publish works which have been published in his annual anthologies.

The annual anthologies are really monstrous doorstoppers. Everyone who reads anthologies knows that they take far longer to digest than any novel of the same size. And it isn’t healthy to read through them like a novel. 

What is to be expected from this anthology? First of all, 13 novellas spread over 642 pages. They are all SF stories from different subgenres. There are First Contact stories, Near Future and Far Future SF, Time Travel, Posthumanism, Hard SF, and Planetary Romances. 

Dozois tends to select literary stories which might not be to everyone’s taste. In contrast to the other two anthologies, this one isn’t as great. There are several awesome titles in it, like Haldeman’s Hemingway Hoax, Kress’s Beggars in Spain, or Silverberg’s Sailing to Byzantium which I consider must-reads of SF. But there were also a couple of novellas which I “only” liked. 

In summary, the anthology is well worth your money and I highly recommend it. Just get the other two anthologies first, they are exceptionally good. 

Contents (stories are ordered from oldest to newest):

  1. 1 • ★★★★+☆ • Sailing to Byzantium • 1985 • Far future SF novella by Robert Silverberg • a man is hauled to the 50th century filled with theme park cities • review
  2. 45 • ★★★★☆ • Surfacing • 1988 • First contact novella by Walter Jon Williams • A linguist explores the strange syntax of cetacean like aliens • review
  3. 89 • ★★★★★ • The Hemingway Hoax • 1990 • Multidimensional Time Travel novella by Joe Haldeman • a Hemingway scientist forges lost stories by the master, but the timelords don’t want him to • review
  4. 158 • ★★★★☆ • Mr. Boy • 1990 • Posthumanism novella by James Patrick Kelly • a genetically rejuvenated 25 years old in the body of a 12 year old boy is coming-of-age • review
  5. 204 • ★★★★★ • Beggars in Spain • 1991 • Near Future SF novella by Nancy Kress • review
  6. 261 • ★★★★☆ • Griffin’s Egg • 1991 • Hard SF novella by Michael Swanwick • workers on the Moon watch a World War on Earth swapping over • review
  7. 318 • ★★★+☆☆ • Outnumbering the Dead • 1990 • Transhumanity novella by Frederik Pohl • a famous dancer is one of a few among immortal humans • review
  8. 379 • ★★★★☆ • Forgiveness Day • 1994 • Planetary Romance novella by Ursula K. Le Guin • Freedom and feminism on Hainish planet Werel and Yeowe • review
  9. 418 • ★★☆☆☆ • The Cost to Be Wise • 1996 • Planetary Romance novella by Maureen F. McHugh • anthropologist has a hard time with people on a remote planet • review
  10. 455 • ★★★★☆ • Oceanic • 1998 • Planetary Romance novella by Greg Egan • science versus religion some 20k years on a terraformed planet • review
  11. 491 • ★★★+☆☆ • Tendeléo’s Story • 2000 • First contact novella by Ian McDonald • the Chaga eat up Africa • review
  12. 542 • ★★★☆☆ • New Light on the Drake Equation • 2001 • Near Future SF novella by Ian R. MacLeod • Geezer Scientist operates the last SETI station • review
  13. 584 • ★★★+☆☆ • Turquoise Days • 2002 • Planetary Romance novella by Alastair Reynolds • Swimming with the Pattern Jugglers • review

Meta: isfdb, published 2007 by St Martin’s Griffin.

This entry was posted in Anthology, Fantasy, Science Fiction. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The Best of the Best Volume 2: 20 Years of the Best Short Science Fiction Novels • 2007 • SF anthology by Gardner Dozois

  1. Ola G says:

    Hmm the previous two anthologies are better, you say?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wakizashi33 says:

    Great review 👍 I really enjoyed The Hemingway Hoax. I also liked New Light on the Drake Equation. I need to read more of these collections but as you say, it takes time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: #SciFiMonth Mission Log: week one

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