01/11/2008. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Constable Robinson. 778 page enlarged paperback. Price: £ 9.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84529-424-3.
check out website: www.constablerobinson.com
I've only been reviewing 'The Mammoth Book Of Best New SF' in the past seven years and most of the stories in 'The Best Of The Best' predates this. The thirty-nine stories fall between 1983-2003 with only two stories, Greg Bear's 'Blood Music' and Geoff Ryman's 'Have Not Have' becoming part of his novel 'Air', that I've read before and then largely because they'd been transformed into novels.
Best selections are always subjective to editorial choice and then to what the individual reader, in this case that's me, as to whether they match personal taste or preference. Saying that, averaging about two stories a day, the variety was enough to ensure that I didn't need to take a break through such a large volume which is always a good sign. The real hard part is picking out the diamonds. That is the brilliant from the brilliant.
In some respects my eyes didn't really light up until I reached Connie Willis' story 'Even The Queen' where the character interplay within several generations of women and their lives was brought to life in a restaurant that made it a delight to read. Brian Stableford's 'Mortimer Gray's History Of Death' has a long-lived human examining how death changes the world interspersed with his own life. Ted Chiang's 'Story of Your Life' is a first contact story with aliens whom communication and motivation is largely one way and incredibly deep with believable characters. 'The Wedding Album' by David Marusek tells of simulated hologram-like photographs catching moments in time and their fall as real life takes effect and they are ditched. Walter Jon Williams' 'Daddy's World' tells of a boy's personality being placed in computer cyberspace when he dies of cancer and his slow realisation of what he is which I found incredibly touching.
There is more than enough here for everyone to pick their favourites and even to treat as a taster as to pursuing authors off into their own books. I've already got David Marusek in my sights. You can't fail to find stories in this book that you cannot like which is always a good sign for an anthology. Having read some poor stories recently, this book reaffirmed that there is good material out there as long as you go out looking for it. If you haven't got all the volumes of this series, then this volume should make up for it.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA