Edited by Gardner Dozois

St. Martin's Press


594pp/$17.95/June 1997

The Year's Best Science Fiction
Cover by Michael Carroll


Edited by David G. Hartwell



441pp/$5.99/May 1996

The Year's Best SF 2
Cover by Bob Eggleton

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

Originally, I had planned to write a separate book review on each of these anthologies. In doing so, I continuously found myself comparing one to the other, partly because I figure most people will purchase either Dozois or Hartwell. Because I was constantly doing comparisons, I decided to combine the two reviews into a single document.

Science Fiction is a large field, encompassing more and varied works now than at any time in its history. Multiple Best of Year reviews, therefore are welcome because they allow more of the field to be illuminated. The two current Best of Year anthologies are by Gardner Dozois, whose current series has reached its fourteenth volume, and David Hartwell, whose second anthology has just been issued.

One of the traditional problems with Gardner Dozois's The Year's Best Science Fiction series is based on the fact that Dozois edits one of the major science fiction magazines. Many of the stories published in a given year cross his desk at Asimov's and Dozois, presumably, publishes those which he believes are the best of the year in the magazine. In past years, therefore, his collection could as easily have been called The Best of Asimov's, 199X. Of the 28 stories published in the 1997 collection, ten, or 36% appeared in Asimov's sometime in 1996.

Perhaps one of the main reasons to read Hartwell's anthology is that David Hartwell is not Gardner Dozois. Not that there is anything wrong with Dozois, just that Hartwell offers a different selection of stories and a different perspective than Dozois. (Only three stories overlap between the two anthologies.)

Two of Dozois's strengths are lacking, for the second year in a row, from the Hartwell book. Although both men include an introduction, Hartwell's three pages is invisible when compared to the thorough examination of the state of the field which Dozois provides at the beginning of his collection. This summation covers print and visual media as well as examining the business behind science fiction. Of course, if this is not of interest to the reader, they can skip straight to the stories, ignoring the introduction. It is nice, however, that Dozois includes this background and would be interesting to see how Hartwell's view of the field differs.

Another feature which Dozois offers which Hartwell does not is a lengthy list of recommended reading: short stories which wouldn't fit into the book. It is interesting to note that all except for three of Hartwell's choices appear in Dozois's list. Since Dozois is able to include more stories in his book due to its larger format, this type of recommended reading list would be even more welcome in Hartwell's anthology than it is in Dozois's.

Although I would strongly recommend purchasing both books, if you are only going to buy one I would lean toward the Dozois. Of course, if you're buying the Dozois, I would point out that buying the Hartwell would only add a couple of dollars to your purchase price, so go ahead and splurge. If money is an issue, it is nice to have the Hartwell for something less than the $18 Dozois now costs.

Dozois's Year's Best Science Fiction: Fourteenth Annual Collection

Gregory Benford Immersion
Michael Swanwick The Dead
Nancy Kress The Flowers of Aulit Prison
Tony Daniel A Dry, Quiet War
James P. Blaylock Thirteen Phantasms
Bud Sparhawk Primrose and Thorn
John Kessel The Miracle of Ivar Avenue
Paul Park The Last Homosexual
Ian McDonald Recording Angel
Robert Silverberg Death Do Us Part
Jim Cowan The Spade of Reason
Maureen F. McHugh The Cost to Be Wise
Bruce Sterling Bicycle Repairman
Gregory Feeley The Weighing of Ayre
Michael Cassutt The Longer Voyage
Mike Resnick The Land of Nod
Gwyneth Jones Red Sonja and Lessingham in Dreamland
Charles Sheffield The Lady Vanishes
Robert Reed Chrysalis
Steven Utley The Wind Over the World
William Barton Changes
Gene Wolfe Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Jonathan Lethem How We Got In Town and Out Again
Cherry Wilder Dr. Tilmann's Consultant: A Scientific Romance
Damien Broderick Schrödinger's Dog
Walter Jon Williams Foreign Devils
Stephen Baxter In the MSOB
Tony Daniel The Robot's Twilight Companion

Hartwell's Year's Best SF 2

Dave Wolverton After a Lean Winter
Terry Bisson In the Upper Room
John Brunner Thinkertoy
Gregory Benford Zoomers
Sheila Finch Out of the Mouths
James Patrick Kelly Breakaway, Breakdown
Yves Meynard Tobacco Words
Joanna Russ Invasion
Brian Stableford The House of Mourning
Damen Knight Life Edit
Robert Reed First Tuesday
David Langford The Spear of the Sun
Gene Wolfe Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Bruce Sterling Bicycle Repairman
Gwyneth Jones Red Sonja and Lessingham in Dreamland
Allen Steele Doblin's Lecture
Kathleen Ann Goonan The Bride of Elvis
Kate Wilhelm Forget Luck
Connie Willis Nonstop to Portales
Stephen Baxter Columbiad

Purchase Gardner Dozois's Year's Best Science Fiction: Fourteenth Annual Collection from Amazon Books.
Purchase David Hartwell's Year's Best SF 2 from Amazon Books

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