26th Annual World’s Best SF
edited by Gardner Dozois
This is a thick book, and a good one. It almost goes without saying that enough science fiction is published each year that any year’s-best collection ought to be at least a solid read, Sturgeon’s Law be damned; Dozois has assembled a book that’s a lot better than solid. He’s also, as per his usual practice, included an extremely comprehensive and useful introdfuction, looking back on the sf/f field as a whole for the year previous, investigating trends and presenting all kinds of solid data — number of magazines, number of books published, you name it.
So, what is there that we can gather trend-wise from this collection of over 30 stories? Where’s the cutting edge of science fiction? In general, the prose is very strong, contrary to general prejudices, and covers a lot of different styles. Characters are front and centre. In terms of content, there seems to be a strong tendency toward multiculturalism, towards sf explorations of different cultures. Or, putting new cultures in new contexts. Space opera of one sort or another is surprisingly common, but not space opera per se — large-scale events, but viewed from other, more marginal perspectives. It’s a strong collection, and one of the best sf anthologies I’ve seen.