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The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume 4

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From Hugo Award-winning editor Neil Clarke, the best science fiction stories of the year are collected in a single paperback volume. Keeping up-to-date with the most buzzworthy and cutting-edge science fiction requires sifting through countless magazines, e-zines, websites, blogs, original anthologies, single-author collections, and more―a task accomplishable by only the m From Hugo Award-winning editor Neil Clarke, the best science fiction stories of the year are collected in a single paperback volume. Keeping up-to-date with the most buzzworthy and cutting-edge science fiction requires sifting through countless magazines, e-zines, websites, blogs, original anthologies, single-author collections, and more―a task accomplishable by only the most determined and voracious readers. For everyone else, Night Shade Books is proud to introduce the latest volume of The Best Science Fiction of the Year, a yearly anthology compiled by Hugo and World Fantasy Award-winning editor Neil Clarke, collecting the finest that the genre has to offer, from the biggest names in the field to the most exciting new writers. The best science fiction scrutinizes our culture and politics, examines the limits of the human condition, and zooms across galaxies at faster-than-light speeds, moving from the very near future to the far-flung worlds of tomorrow in the space of a single sentence. Clarke, publisher and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed and award-winning magazine Clarkesworld, has selected the short science fiction (and only science fiction) best representing the previous year's writing, showcasing the talent, variety, and awesome "sensawunda" that the genre has to offer.


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From Hugo Award-winning editor Neil Clarke, the best science fiction stories of the year are collected in a single paperback volume. Keeping up-to-date with the most buzzworthy and cutting-edge science fiction requires sifting through countless magazines, e-zines, websites, blogs, original anthologies, single-author collections, and more―a task accomplishable by only the m From Hugo Award-winning editor Neil Clarke, the best science fiction stories of the year are collected in a single paperback volume. Keeping up-to-date with the most buzzworthy and cutting-edge science fiction requires sifting through countless magazines, e-zines, websites, blogs, original anthologies, single-author collections, and more―a task accomplishable by only the most determined and voracious readers. For everyone else, Night Shade Books is proud to introduce the latest volume of The Best Science Fiction of the Year, a yearly anthology compiled by Hugo and World Fantasy Award-winning editor Neil Clarke, collecting the finest that the genre has to offer, from the biggest names in the field to the most exciting new writers. The best science fiction scrutinizes our culture and politics, examines the limits of the human condition, and zooms across galaxies at faster-than-light speeds, moving from the very near future to the far-flung worlds of tomorrow in the space of a single sentence. Clarke, publisher and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed and award-winning magazine Clarkesworld, has selected the short science fiction (and only science fiction) best representing the previous year's writing, showcasing the talent, variety, and awesome "sensawunda" that the genre has to offer.

30 review for The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume 4

  1. 5 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    Good anthology. I’d read many of these stories before, and have edited my earlier comments for this review. As you will see, many are online. Here are the standout stories, for me: ● “Traces of Us” by Vanessa Fogg. SF romance between two biochemists. Well-researched hard-SF. An easy 5 stars, and the best story in the anthology, I thought. Don’t miss! https://giganotosaurus.org/2018/03/01... ● “Different Seas” by Alastair Reynolds (Twelve Tomorrows). An astronaut helps out in a clipper-ship emerge Good anthology. I’d read many of these stories before, and have edited my earlier comments for this review. As you will see, many are online. Here are the standout stories, for me: ● “Traces of Us” by Vanessa Fogg. SF romance between two biochemists. Well-researched hard-SF. An easy 5 stars, and the best story in the anthology, I thought. Don’t miss! https://giganotosaurus.org/2018/03/01... ● “Different Seas” by Alastair Reynolds (Twelve Tomorrows). An astronaut helps out in a clipper-ship emergency, by proxy, after a big solar storm. Well-crafted story, up to Reynold’s high standards. 4.4 stars. ● “Okay, Glory” by Elizabeth Bear (Twelve Tomorrows). A billionaire’s smart house gets taken over by a ransomware hack. Recommended, 4.2 stars. ● “Freezing Rain, a Chance of Falling” by L.X. Beckett. In a near-future Toronto, a musician/writer has suffered a devastating loss of social-credit points. A wealthy old woman offers “help”. Good stuff. 4 stars. ● “Quantifying Trust” by John Chu. An AI researcher is struggling with her thesis project. Her new office-mate isn’t helping. Or is he? 4 stars. The stories: ● “When We Were Starless” by Simone Heller, http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/helle... 2019 Hugo nominee for best novelette. To my surprise, I bounced hard off this one, twice. ● “Intervention” by Kelly Robson (Infinity’s End, Strahan). Prev. read there. A creche-manager on an asteroid habitat. Good story, 3 stars ● “All the Time We’ve Left to Spend” by Alyssa Wong (Robots vs. Fairies). Prev. bounce: distasteful story of a robotic recreation of a dead pop star in a Tokyo love hotel. DNF, not for me. ● “Domestic Violence” by Madeline Ashby, https://slate.com/technology/2018/03/... In a near-future Toronto, smart-home tech is being weaponized by abusers. Chilling, sexy story. 3.9 stars ● “Ten Landscapes of Nili Fossae” by Ian McDonald (2001: An Odyssey in Words). An artist accompanies the first human mission to Mars. Downer ending. Weak 3 stars ● “Prophet of the Roads” by Naomi Kritzer (Infinity’s End, Strahan. Prev. read there). The Engineer AI visits a habitat orbiting Neptune. Cool story, 3+ stars ● “Traces of Us” by Vanessa Fogg. https://giganotosaurus.org/2018/03/01... SF romance between two biochemists. Well-researched hard-SF. This one really worked, for me. An easy 5 stars. Best in the collection so far. Don’t miss! ● “Theories of Flight” by Linda Nagata (Asimov’s). Kid makes a fire-ballon, SIlver story, eh. DNF. ● “Lab B-15” by Nick Wolven, https://www.analogsf.com/assets/6/6/L... Uploading a person’s brain to a computer turns out to be really, really hard. 3 stars. ● “Requiem” by Vandana Singh, novella. A software engineer visits a future Utqiagvik (Barrow), Alaska, where her favorite aunt was lost in a winter storm. The story has a nice, lived-in feel. Prev. read, 3.3 stars ● “Sour Milk Girls” by Erin Roberts. http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/rober... Well-written but unpleasant story of inmates in a future foster-care agency. 2.5 stars. ● “Mother Tongues” by S. Qiouyi Lu, http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/lu_02... A Chinese mother sells her Mandarin to a language broker, to pay for her daughter’s tuition to Stanford. Poignant story, 3.5 stars. ● “Singles’ Day” by Samantha Murray (Interzone, September/October 2018). 9100 words. The fourth Greatship is preparing to leave an overcrowded future Earth. The story is about 4 young women picked to be passengers — but too many characters, and too many short episodes, to hold my interest. DNF. ● “Nine Last Days on Planet Earth” by Daryl Gregory , https://www.tor.com/2018/09/19/nine-l... Hugo & Nebula nominee, best novelette. Previously read, 3.9 stars ● “The Buried Giant” by Lavie Tidhar (Robots vs. Fairies) Tried to read there & bounced. DNF. ● “The Anchorite Wakes” by R.S.A. Garcia, http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/garci... Religious science-fantasy. Not read yet ● “Entropy War” by Yoon Ha Lee (2001: An Odyssey in Words). Sketch of a dice war game based on a space opera. Huh, 2.7 stars. ● “An Equation of State” by Robert Reed (F&SF magazine). A confusing story about warfare. An alien diplomat unites humanity against an invasion by the aliens? Why? 2.5 stars ● “Quantifying Trust” by John Chu (Mother of Invention). An AI researcher is struggling with her thesis project. Her new office-mate isn’t helping Or is he? 4 stars. ● “Hard Mary” by Sofia Samatar (Lightspeed, not online). Teenage girls in a Mennonite community find a broken android and charge her battery. Read previously, 3 stars. ● “Freezing Rain, a Chance of Falling” by L.X. Beckett (novella, F&SF). In a near-future Toronto, a musician/writer has suffered a devastating loss of social-credit points. A wealthy old woman offers “help”. Fast-moving story, strong characters, good stuff. 4 stars. ● “Okay, Glory” by Elizabeth Bear (Twelve Tomorrows). A billionaire’s smart house gets taken over by a ransomware hack. Recommended, 4+ stars. ● “Heavy Lifting” by A.T. Greenblatt , https://uncannymagazine.com/article/h... Gina’s getting tired of her robot-recovery gig. Good thing she’s the “girl behind the code”! Clever & fun, 3.6 stars. ● “Lions and Gazelles” by Hannu Rajaniemi. https://slate.com/technology/2018/09/... A biotech-enhanced ultramarathon, a cursorial hunt to exhaustion. Recommended: 3.8 stars ● “Different Seas” by Alastair Reynolds (Twelve Tomorrows). An astronaut helps out in a clipper-ship emergency, by proxy, after a big solar storm. Well-crafted story, up to Reynold’s high standards. 4.4 stars/ ● “Among the Water Buffaloes, a Tiger’s Steps” by Aliette de Bodard (Mechanical Animals). I have a blind spot for many of de Bodard’s stories, and this was another one I just didn’t get. DNF. ● “Byzantine Empathy” by Ken Liu. A young Chinese programmer designs a block-chain cryptocurrency to help refugees. Powerful and thoughtful near-future novelette. Previously read, 3.9 stars ● “Meat and Salt and Sparks” by Rich Larson. https://www.tor.com/2018/06/06/meat-a... (Previously read) Good but very dark SF murder-mystery.A story I admired more than liked. 3.4 stars ● “Umbernight” by Carolyn Ives Gilman, http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/gilma.... The hardscrabble Dust colony sends out an expedition during Umbernight to bring in a shipment from Earth. It doesn’t go well. 3.7 stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Diane Hernandez

    With 29 stories, 624 pages, and a recommended reading list, the Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 4 is definitely worth its $13.99 cost. This collection includes the gamut of subgenres within the field. Hard science, soft space opera, spacemen, aliens, and robots populate these pages. I’m positive that each reader will love, like, and hate each of the stories but no two readers’ rating will be identical. They will also find some new authors to read along the journey. Most of tales can be re With 29 stories, 624 pages, and a recommended reading list, the Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 4 is definitely worth its $13.99 cost. This collection includes the gamut of subgenres within the field. Hard science, soft space opera, spacemen, aliens, and robots populate these pages. I’m positive that each reader will love, like, and hate each of the stories but no two readers’ rating will be identical. They will also find some new authors to read along the journey. Most of tales can be read during a single fifteen minute break time. 4 stars! Thanks to Night Shade and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Acqua

    I'm not going to rate this - I wouldn't really know how to rate the many stories that didn't work for me because they're not my kind of sci-fi - but I can say that overall this is an interesting and diverse collection of stories. The ones that stood out to me are Among the Water Buffaloes, a Tiger’s Steps by Aliette de Bodard, which was a gorgeous f/f story about about fairytales in a sci-fi apocalypse and the weight the past can have, All the Time We've Left To Spend by Alyssa Wong, also f/f and I'm not going to rate this - I wouldn't really know how to rate the many stories that didn't work for me because they're not my kind of sci-fi - but I can say that overall this is an interesting and diverse collection of stories. The ones that stood out to me are Among the Water Buffaloes, a Tiger’s Steps by Aliette de Bodard, which was a gorgeous f/f story about about fairytales in a sci-fi apocalypse and the weight the past can have, All the Time We've Left To Spend by Alyssa Wong, also f/f and about a grieving ex-pop star and the memories of her dead girlfriend, Entropy War by Yoon Ha Lee, which is, as you can imagine, about entropy, but also about games and the inevitability of change, and Domestic Violence by Madeline Ashby, a story that was in equal part chilling and very satisfying, and which was about the ways the "smart home" technologies can be exploited by abusers.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas Kotar

    The short fiction world is alive and well. Some amazing stories here.

  5. 5 out of 5

    StarMan

    VERDICT: 3.42 stars average rating, if I exclude one story I couldn't get into at all. I'm rounding UP to 4 because the overall quality is higher than average for such collections. And you get your $ worth at 600+ pages. Breakdown (29 total stories) 4.6 to 5 stars = none 4 to 4.5 stars = 6 3 to 3.9 stars = 18 2 to 2.9 stars = 4 Below 2 stars = 1 VERDICT: 3.42 stars average rating, if I exclude one story I couldn't get into at all. I'm rounding UP to 4 because the overall quality is higher than average for such collections. And you get your $ worth at 600+ pages. Breakdown (29 total stories) 4.6 to 5 stars = none 4 to 4.5 stars = 6 3 to 3.9 stars = 18 2 to 2.9 stars = 4 Below 2 stars = 1

  6. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    This was a refreshing change from my recent reading. I enjoy science fiction, but don't read nearly as much as I did in high school and college. And short stories were just the sort of distraction I needed. I'm finding I'm having a hard time focusing on anything during this stay-at-home life we're living during the COVID-19 pandemic. Enter short stories. I'm writing this review four days after I finished the book, and I have to say that many of the stories aren't sticking with me. I did enjoy the This was a refreshing change from my recent reading. I enjoy science fiction, but don't read nearly as much as I did in high school and college. And short stories were just the sort of distraction I needed. I'm finding I'm having a hard time focusing on anything during this stay-at-home life we're living during the COVID-19 pandemic. Enter short stories. I'm writing this review four days after I finished the book, and I have to say that many of the stories aren't sticking with me. I did enjoy them, though. Except for one, which I got three pages into, had not idea what was going on, and skipped it. The first story, by Simone Heller, involves a surviving human AI being found by the creatures that eventually arise to intelligence after our time. It's quite beautiful. And the final story, Umbernight by Carolyn Ives Gilman is also quite good. It covers a group of settlers on a planet that has to deal with a radioactive star every few decades. The characters think the planet they've lived on is quite sterile, but boy are they wrong. I'm sad that I don't remember more of the stories off the top of my head. Clearly, I'm still working through this focus issue. But I need to remember to read more science fiction short stories.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dan Trefethen

    This annual “best of” collection reviews short fiction published during 2018. The editor runs Clarkesworld Magazine, and may be forgiven for including a few stories from that magazine in this compendium. This volume's stories trend toward the 'day-after-tomorrow' form of science fiction, set in today's society but with somewhat changed technology. This is shown by many of the stories having come from Slate or the anthology “Twelve Tomorrows”, both targeted toward a more general audience who migh This annual “best of” collection reviews short fiction published during 2018. The editor runs Clarkesworld Magazine, and may be forgiven for including a few stories from that magazine in this compendium. This volume's stories trend toward the 'day-after-tomorrow' form of science fiction, set in today's society but with somewhat changed technology. This is shown by many of the stories having come from Slate or the anthology “Twelve Tomorrows”, both targeted toward a more general audience who might find near-contemporary SF more palatable. That does not mean the stories are any less engrossing or well-written. The Elizabeth Bear story “OK Glory” about a man held for ransom in his own smarthouse rings a little closer to home in our world of smart devices and ransomware. A similar plot device is used in “Domestic Violence” by Madeline Ashby. Ken Liu's stoty “Byzantine Empathy” actually has a scholarly journal reference to the main topic. More far out SF are stories are the lead one, Simone Heller's “When We Were Starless” and the closing story, “Umberlight” by Carolyn Ives Gilman, both set on exotic worlds where the protagonist's society faces an existential threat. These two absorbing stories would not feel out of place in a 1950's science fiction magazine.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Cumming

    Amazing Short fiction is my weakness and Mr Clarke has provided a well curated selection of truly astounding works while at the same time paying homage to Gardner Elwood. I believe Me Clarke's is truly a worthy successor for the title of best pathologist in the land. RIP Gardner Dozois. Amazing Short fiction is my weakness and Mr Clarke has provided a well curated selection of truly astounding works while at the same time paying homage to Gardner Elwood. I believe Me Clarke's is truly a worthy successor for the title of best pathologist in the land. RIP Gardner Dozois.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sarina

    Best stories: Intervention, All the Time We've Left to Spend, Lab B-15, An Equation of State, Mother Tongues, Different Seas, Byzantine Empathy, Meat and Salt and Sparks Standouts: Traces of Us, Singles Day, The Buried Giant, Nine Last Days on Planet Earth Best stories: Intervention, All the Time We've Left to Spend, Lab B-15, An Equation of State, Mother Tongues, Different Seas, Byzantine Empathy, Meat and Salt and Sparks Standouts: Traces of Us, Singles Day, The Buried Giant, Nine Last Days on Planet Earth

  10. 4 out of 5

    Loren C

    most of these were winners, in my opinion.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Aurora

    Some of the stories were very good. Others, didn't interest me. A large book of short stories worth a variety of themes. Some of the stories were very good. Others, didn't interest me. A large book of short stories worth a variety of themes.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sara Crocoll Smith

    Standout story for me: Traces of Us by Vanessa Fogg

  13. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin

    An exceptional collection.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ron

    Most of the short stories are not my idea of science fiction. I decided to give up on them and read only full novels. It's not just this book but most of these collections that disappoint. Most of the short stories are not my idea of science fiction. I decided to give up on them and read only full novels. It's not just this book but most of these collections that disappoint.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sage

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A handful of garbage stories, imo, but mostly solid and a few GREAT ones.

  16. 4 out of 5

    J2Diewald

    In anthologies like this, there's usually a story or two that really grabs me and makes me think. These stories were good but not great. None of them grabbed me. In anthologies like this, there's usually a story or two that really grabs me and makes me think. These stories were good but not great. None of them grabbed me.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kurt

    Weak. A surprisingly weak collection this year. Over-weighted with fantasy and inexperienced authors. Disappointing would be one word for it. Too bad.

  18. 5 out of 5

    C.V. Vick

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sylvia Ford

  20. 4 out of 5

    Pilz

  21. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michelle O'Connor-Davis

  24. 5 out of 5

    DeShea

  25. 5 out of 5

    John-Alan

  26. 4 out of 5

    John

  27. 4 out of 5

    Todd Sondrup

  28. 4 out of 5

    Meyari McFarland

  29. 5 out of 5

    Steve Gutin

  30. 5 out of 5

    Liz

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