Editor: Gardner Dozois

Year: 2017

For my 34th birthday last year, a friend gave me the new Annual Collection book, with stories gathered by Gardner Dozois, which happened to be in its 34th addition, cool coincidence.  Dozois brings together the best short sci-fi of the year into one large volume, this time with thirty-nine different tales.  Dozois is a fine author himself (When the Great Days Come) and knows his sci-fi front & back, even editing the Asimov Science Fiction magazine for twenty years.  I almost wish I had read more of his novellas instead of those he gleaned over the course of the year, because what he selected was rather inconsistent.

Thirty-nine different stories from almost as many authors, with names like Stephen Baxter and Alastair Reynolds leading the group.  The tales range in plot, world, and time, but all come from a love of science fiction and a passion for writing with pure imagination.  The ocean levels have risen, leading to floating cities all over the world.  Humans live on distant planets, homesteading in space like their ancestors did so long ago on Earth.  Sentient squids under miles of ice create their own society, and dream of what the sky might look like.  These and many others will ignite your curiosity and take you far away.

I always enjoy reading sci-fi shorts, it’s a fascinating way to be introduced to an idea or a technology in a small amount of time, to get a taste of what another world might look like, before launching into a new adventure.  Sometimes these stories don’t really have a ton of character and plot behind them, so a small sample is all we need to really be entertained.  The problem is that some of these authors aren’t the best, won’t compare to Asimov or Heinlein or Clarke or Le Guin, and so might put avid sci-fi readers off with their lack of pure talent.  It seemed that every other tale was lackluster, that the entire volume was hit or miss, with no consistency in quality.  But I guess that’s something you sign up for when reading an anthology; not every chapter will be your favorite.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆