The Year's Best Science Fiction, 19th edition

edited by Gardner Dozois
Reviewed date: 2006 Jun 3
630 pages
cover art

If this is truly the best science fiction of 2001, then it was an off year. There was only one stand-out excellent story:

  • Glacial, by Alastair Reynolds - The entire population of a research colony on the unexplored planet Diadem is mysteriously wiped out; the only clues are the apparently harmless native ice worms in the glacier, and the letters IVF scratched in the ice by a dying scientist.

There were also four fairly good stories, nothing worth writing home about but fun to read.

  • Computer Virus, by Nancy Kress - An escaped military AI invades a house and holds the residents hostage as a negotiating tool to protect its own life.
  • When This World is All on Fire, by William Sanders - A Cherokee cop evicts a squatter family from tribe land, then later runs into the family's young daughter in Cherokee Town.
  • The Days Between, by Allen M. Steele - Leslie Gillis is accidentally revived three months into a two-hundred year space journey, and faces a lifetime alone on the spaceship.
  • May Be Some Time, by Brenda W. Clough - In 1912, Titus Oates--member of Scott's doomed expedition to the South Pole--walks out of his tent to die--and is snatched through time and space to 2045 New York City.

The rest of the stories are competently written. None of them are actively bad, and a few of them might even be considered good if you like cyberpunk (I hate it) or if you are a fan of time travel (I cannot stand it.)

  • New Light on the Drake Equation, by Ian R. MacLeod - An old man who spent his life working on SETI gets a visit from an old lover, who forces him to reconnect with the world.
  • More Adventures on Other Planets, by Michael Cassutt - A twice-divorced man begins a romance with a coworker whom he met while they both remotely-controled robots on Europa.
  • On K2 with Kanakaredes, by Dan Simmons - Three climbers ascend K2 accompanied by an alien mantispid named Kanakaredes.
  • Have Not Have, by Geoff Ryman - Mae lives in the "last village in the world to go on line" and works as a fashion expert, making dresses and pampering the village women.
  • Lobsters, by Charles Stross - Manfred Macx--renowned geek crusader for the Free Intellect Foundation, and proponent of the new post-capitalist economy of the post-singularity world--is approached by a semi-intelligent AI seeking safe passage out of Russia.
  • The Dog Said Bow-wow, by Michael Swanwick - Darger and Surplus (his canine business partner) try to run a scam with an ancient, unworking modem.
  • The Chief Designer, by Andy Duncan - The story of the man who ran the Soviet space program.
  • Neutrino Drag, by Paul Di Filippo - Drag race into the sun.
  • One-horse Town, by Howard Waldrop and Leigh Kennedy - Fantasy story about the Trojan horse, a little boy named Homer, and an archaeologist on a dig.
  • Moby Quilt, by Eleanor Arnason - With help from an intelligent squid-like being, scientists on the planet Newtucket study the sea-going creatures known as mats.
  • Raven Dream, by Robert Reed - Raven is a young boy in an isolated community of American Indians that has no contact with the outside "demon" world.
  • Undone, by James Patrick Kelly - Mada jumps twenty million years into the future to escape an identity mine, then discovers she cannot return downwhen because the mine has followed her and blocked her return path.
  • The Real Things, by Carolyn Ives Gilman - Sage Akwesasne beams herself several decades into the future, and is re-constructed by Metameme, an information brokerage company that wants to control her copyright.
  • Interview: On Any Given Day, by Maureen F. McHugh - Future (2018) Interview with a teenage girl who caught a rare sexually-transmitted protovirus formed in a bad batch of rejuvenation genes.
  • Isabel of the Fall, by Ian R. MacLeod - Isabel works as a minaret-keeper in the Dawn Church, and her job is to align the great mirrors that bring the sun's light to the planet. Because of her friendship with a girl named Genya, Isabel allows Mirror 28 to become misaligned, cutting the amount of sunlight to one particular valley.
  • Into Greenwood, by Jim Grimsley - A woman goes into the forest to visit her brother who has become a symbiont with one of the trees.
  • Know How, Can Do, by Michael Blumlein - Diary of a man-worm hybrid that was created in a laboratory. Sort of a Flowers for Algernon type story, but less sad and more tricks with words. He starts out only using words with As, then moves on to other vowels.
  • Russian Vine, by Simon Ings - "Let a language develop unimpeded, and it will give rise to societies that are complex enough to destroy both themselves and others." To protect mankind from itself, the alien Puscha rob men of literacy and keep humanity in a state of parochialism.
  • The Two Dicks, by Paul McAuley - Alternate history version of Philip K. Dick is browbeaten by his agent into not publishing any science fiction. The other Dick is, of course, Nixon.
  • Marcher, by Chris Beckett - Huw is an immigration officer--trying to prevent people from shifting in from parallel universes.
  • The Human Front, by Ken MacLeod - Alternate-world Britain, where the nations of the world are fighting numerous communist insurgencies. John Matheson stumbles upon the discovery that a top-secret government project is much more than it seems, and it seems to be aliens.

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