Year's Best SF 2

edited by David G. Hartwell
Reviewed date: 2004 Oct 19
441 pages
cover art

The best science fiction stories of 1996. The inside teaser page of this book states in bold letters: "SuperScience and CyberSex." Yeah, that about describes this collection. There are some wonderful stories, plenty of hard science, and lots of futuristic sex. I recommend this collection to science fiction fans on the strength of After a Lean Winter and of Nonstop to Portales.

  • After a Lean Winter, by Dave Wolverton - My favorite story in this collection. A retelling of H. G. Wells's War of the Worlds written in the style of Jack London.
  • In the Upper Room, by Terry Bisson - Bugs in the cybersex simulation.
  • Thinkertoy, by John Brunner - A man buys intelligent machine toys for his son, who has been depressed since his mother died.
  • Zoomers, by Gregory Benford - An interesting virtual reality view of a futuristic stock market. Actually I didn't like this story.
  • Out of the Mouths, by Sheila Finch - The only way to learn the aliens' language is to raise a human and an alien baby together and hope they learn each other's language.
  • Breakaway, Backdown, by James Patrick Kelly - If you go into space you can never come back.
  • Tobacco Words, by Yves Meynard - Crippled Caspar and his sister save the world.
  • Invasion, by Joanna Russ - Is rigidity of form a disease?
  • The House of Mourning, by Brian Stableford - Genetic engineering creates people who are irresistable.
  • Life Edit, by Damon Knight - Having unpleasant memories erased from your memory changes the universe so those things never actually happened at all.
  • First Tuesday, by Robert Reed - Technology allows candidates to pay a personal visit to every family in the nation.
  • The Spear of the Sun, by David Langford - Father Brown solves a murder mystery in space.
  • Counting Cats in Zanzibar, by Gene Wolfe - Something about androids and artificial people. Pretty good if confusing story.
  • Bicycle Repairman, by Bruce Sterling - Good story. Lyle repairs bicyles in a slum, so why is he the target of government meddling?
  • Red Sonja and Lessingham in Dreamland, by Gwyneth Jones - Virtual fantasy world.
  • Doblin's Lecture, by Allen Steele - I liked this story. Can't say more without giving away plot points.
  • The Bride of Elvis, by Kathleen Ann Goonan - Elvis is really an alien. Dumb story.
  • Forget Luck, by Kate Wilhelm - What is luck? Why are some people lucky?
  • Nonstop to Portales, by Connie Willis - Fun little story for science fiction fans. Take a tour of Jack Williamson's home town.
  • Columbiad, by Stephen Baxter - Shot by cannon to Mars à la Jules Verne.

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