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Contents 9 • Introduction: Summation: 1984 • essay by Gardner Dozois 27 • Salvador • (1984) • shortstory by Lucius Shepard 45 • Promises to Keep • (1984) • novelette by Jack McDevitt 63 • Bloodchild • (1984) • novelette by Octavia E. Butler 82 • Blued Moon • (1984) • novelette by Connie Willis 113 • A Message to the King of Brobdingnag • (1984) • novelette by Richard Cowper 135 Contents 9 • Introduction: Summation: 1984 • essay by Gardner Dozois 27 • Salvador • (1984) • shortstory by Lucius Shepard 45 • Promises to Keep • (1984) • novelette by Jack McDevitt 63 • Bloodchild • (1984) • novelette by Octavia E. Butler 82 • Blued Moon • (1984) • novelette by Connie Willis 113 • A Message to the King of Brobdingnag • (1984) • novelette by Richard Cowper 135 • The Affair • (1984) • shortstory by Robert Silverberg 153 • Press Enter [] • (1984) • novella by John Varley 207 • New Rose Hotel • (1984) • shortstory by William Gibson 219 • The Map • [Solar Cycle] • (1984) • shortstory by Gene Wolfe 232 • Interlocking Pieces • (1984) • shortstory by Molly Gloss 239 • Trojan Horse • (1984) • novelette by Michael Swanwick 269 • Bad Medicine • (1984) • novelette by Jack Dann 291 • At the Embassy Club • (1984) • shortstory by Elizabeth A. Lynn 301 • Pursuit of Excellence • (1984) • novelette by Rena Yount 319 • The Kindly Isle • (1984) • shortstory by Frederik Pohl 341 • Rock On • (1984) • shortstory by Pat Cadigan 350 • Sunken Gardens • [Shaper/Mechanist] • (1984) • shortstory by Bruce Sterling 365 • Trinity • (1984) • novella by Nancy Kress 409 • The Trouble With the Cotton People • (1984) • shortstory by Ursula K. Le Guin 420 • Twilight Time • (1984) • novelette by Lewis Shiner 440 • Black Coral • (1984) • novelette by Lucius Shepard 466 • Friend • (1984) • novelette by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel 484 • Foreign Skins • (1984) • novelette by Tanith Lee 511 • Company in the Wings • (1983) • shortstory by R. A. Lafferty 524 • A Cabin on the Coast • (1984) • shortstory by Gene Wolfe 536 • The Lucky Strike • (1984) • novelette by Kim Stanley Robinson 569 • Honorable Mentions: 1984 • essay by Gardner Dozois


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Contents 9 • Introduction: Summation: 1984 • essay by Gardner Dozois 27 • Salvador • (1984) • shortstory by Lucius Shepard 45 • Promises to Keep • (1984) • novelette by Jack McDevitt 63 • Bloodchild • (1984) • novelette by Octavia E. Butler 82 • Blued Moon • (1984) • novelette by Connie Willis 113 • A Message to the King of Brobdingnag • (1984) • novelette by Richard Cowper 135 Contents 9 • Introduction: Summation: 1984 • essay by Gardner Dozois 27 • Salvador • (1984) • shortstory by Lucius Shepard 45 • Promises to Keep • (1984) • novelette by Jack McDevitt 63 • Bloodchild • (1984) • novelette by Octavia E. Butler 82 • Blued Moon • (1984) • novelette by Connie Willis 113 • A Message to the King of Brobdingnag • (1984) • novelette by Richard Cowper 135 • The Affair • (1984) • shortstory by Robert Silverberg 153 • Press Enter [] • (1984) • novella by John Varley 207 • New Rose Hotel • (1984) • shortstory by William Gibson 219 • The Map • [Solar Cycle] • (1984) • shortstory by Gene Wolfe 232 • Interlocking Pieces • (1984) • shortstory by Molly Gloss 239 • Trojan Horse • (1984) • novelette by Michael Swanwick 269 • Bad Medicine • (1984) • novelette by Jack Dann 291 • At the Embassy Club • (1984) • shortstory by Elizabeth A. Lynn 301 • Pursuit of Excellence • (1984) • novelette by Rena Yount 319 • The Kindly Isle • (1984) • shortstory by Frederik Pohl 341 • Rock On • (1984) • shortstory by Pat Cadigan 350 • Sunken Gardens • [Shaper/Mechanist] • (1984) • shortstory by Bruce Sterling 365 • Trinity • (1984) • novella by Nancy Kress 409 • The Trouble With the Cotton People • (1984) • shortstory by Ursula K. Le Guin 420 • Twilight Time • (1984) • novelette by Lewis Shiner 440 • Black Coral • (1984) • novelette by Lucius Shepard 466 • Friend • (1984) • novelette by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel 484 • Foreign Skins • (1984) • novelette by Tanith Lee 511 • Company in the Wings • (1983) • shortstory by R. A. Lafferty 524 • A Cabin on the Coast • (1984) • shortstory by Gene Wolfe 536 • The Lucky Strike • (1984) • novelette by Kim Stanley Robinson 569 • Honorable Mentions: 1984 • essay by Gardner Dozois

30 review for The Year's Best Science Fiction: Second Annual Collection

  1. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

    By completing this, the second annual collection, I am happily continuing my goal of reading all 35 volumes of the late, great Gardner Dozois’ award-winning Year’s Best anthology. There were a few more clunkers in this year’s collection than the first year’s, but I won’t mention those; instead, I’ll talk about the several outstanding stories: “Salvador” by Lucius Shepard, a harrowing, hallucinatory tale of a soldier losing himself in war; “Bloodchild,” Octavia E. Butler’s classic, Hugo- and Nebl By completing this, the second annual collection, I am happily continuing my goal of reading all 35 volumes of the late, great Gardner Dozois’ award-winning Year’s Best anthology. There were a few more clunkers in this year’s collection than the first year’s, but I won’t mention those; instead, I’ll talk about the several outstanding stories: “Salvador” by Lucius Shepard, a harrowing, hallucinatory tale of a soldier losing himself in war; “Bloodchild,” Octavia E. Butler’s classic, Hugo- and Neblua-winning novelette about the lengths we will go to survive impossibly complicated circumstances; “Blued Moon,” Connie Willis’s perfectly pitched, deeply sweet screwball comedy; John Varley’s Hugo- and Nebula-winning novella “Press Enter,” a surprisingly subtle, unusually character-driven AI thriller; the inventive, funny, and moving time travel caper “Twilight Time” by Lewis Shiner; and the most affecting story, the tense, impeccably envisioned, beautifully humane WWII alternate-history tale “The Lucky Strike” by Kim Stanley Robinson. _______ Read “Friend” by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel; “Foreign Skins” by Tanith Lee; “Company in the Wings” by R.A. Lafferty, and “A Cabin on the Coast” by Gene Wolfe on 9/13/2018 and “The Lucky Strike” by Kim Stanley Robinson on 9/14/2018

  2. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    The second of 35 Year's Best anthologies that Gardner Dozois published, before his untimely death. Time travel with me back to 1984, when these stories were published, 36 years ago.... I'd certainly read all the well-known stories. But I just read the Lafferty, a very good Multiverse tale, with that unique Lafferty flavor, and it rang no bells. Neither did the Tanith Lee, an Indian colonial-era fantasy, of warrior Princes and Nagas. Nor did the Gene Wolfe, "A Cabin on the Coast," a sweet story o The second of 35 Year's Best anthologies that Gardner Dozois published, before his untimely death. Time travel with me back to 1984, when these stories were published, 36 years ago.... I'd certainly read all the well-known stories. But I just read the Lafferty, a very good Multiverse tale, with that unique Lafferty flavor, and it rang no bells. Neither did the Tanith Lee, an Indian colonial-era fantasy, of warrior Princes and Nagas. Nor did the Gene Wolfe, "A Cabin on the Coast," a sweet story of young love interrupted by a King of Faerie, with a mean twist ending. So: either I never saw #2, or I saw it & didn't read these particular stories.... But I would have read the Lafferty! One of his better ones. Well, who knows. Shorts often don't stick, on first reading. Lot of water under the bridge since then. Half a lifetime! One thing that's already striking: later Dozois Year's Best books were stricter about his only-SF rule. And indeed, (almost) all the "name" stories were true SF. But of the first three I read, two were fantasies, and the Lafferty, near as dammit. Fine by me: all were first-rate. None are online. OK: after reading another memorable story, I'm pretty sure I missed reading this one when it was new. So, better late than never! As in all anthologies, I liked some stories more than others, and didn't re-read some that I remember well. And some I skipped. Comments on many: • "A Message to the King of Brobdingnag" • novelette by Richard Cowper. A compact agricultural horror-story of an experiment in selective breeding gone horribly wrong. It couldn't happen here. Could it? 3.7 stars. • "Blued Moon" • novelette by Connie Willis, Hugo nominee. Romantic slapstick, from when we were all 30 years younger. Still drew chuckles. Story's not online, but this is. No real spoilers: https://www.wordnik.com/lists/words-a... • "The Affair" by Robert Silverberg. A telepath discovers that telepathic sex is better than the real thing. 3.8 stars. • "New Rose Hotel" by William Gibson. First reread in many years, and a reminder of why Gibson had such an impact on SF back then. 4+ stars. • "Interlocking Pieces" • short story by Molly Gloss. An organ donor meets his recipient. 3.5 stars. • "Trojan Horse" by Michael Swanwick. A major early hard-SF look at biological wetware. Sex! Jesuits! (OK, just one). I'd forgotten how good this one is. Nebula nominee. 4.7 stars. Online: https://www.baen.com/Chapters/1596061... • "At the Embassy Club" • short story by Elizabeth A. Lynn. Storybook interstellar romance. First rate, 4+ stars. Online copy: http://www.williamflew.com/omni69b.html • "Pursuit of Excellence" • novelette by Rena Yount. An exploration of what happens after gengineering of children becomes practical. Non-spoiler alert: it's complicated. This was Yount's first published SF, & her only per isfdb. It's a first-rate one: 4 stars. Hasn't dated a bit. • "The Kindly Isle" • short story by Frederik Pohl. A marvelously optimistic story by the Old Master, writing at the height of his powers. 5 stars! No award? Online at https://www.baen.com/Chapters/9781625... Don't miss! • "A Cabin on the Coast" • short story by Gene Wolfe. Nominee for both the Nebula and Locus awards. 4+ stars. ---- Here's a useful set of synopses, including the TOC, award wins & nominations: https://web.archive.org/web/200411280... A fine memory-aid.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dawn C

    I’m glad it ended with such a strong story as Lucky Strike or I might have been inclined to give it only 3 stars. (I say only, obviously 3 stars is a nice score and means I liked it.) There are maybe a bit too many mediocre stories for my taste but such is it when you collect various authors. The ones that stood out strong luckily made up for it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    I'm making my way through all thirty five of these excellent volumes. I think I read number two - I have a bunch around in different places and I'm behind posting them. Great stories though a little shy this time on space themed sci fi - still, as with the others, hours of great reading - though i would not rate this volume as one of the best. Interesting to see early works of authors such as Orson Scott Card (some of his pre Ender stuff was not bad) and Kim Stanley Robinson. I'm making my way through all thirty five of these excellent volumes. I think I read number two - I have a bunch around in different places and I'm behind posting them. Great stories though a little shy this time on space themed sci fi - still, as with the others, hours of great reading - though i would not rate this volume as one of the best. Interesting to see early works of authors such as Orson Scott Card (some of his pre Ender stuff was not bad) and Kim Stanley Robinson.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kieran McAndrew

    The 1984 anthology contains some excellent stories, with a fine mix from across the spectrum from body shock to the excesses of machine horror. Dozois' skill is evident in the selection, but in retrospect, the value comes in his 'state of science fiction' introduction. The 1984 anthology contains some excellent stories, with a fine mix from across the spectrum from body shock to the excesses of machine horror. Dozois' skill is evident in the selection, but in retrospect, the value comes in his 'state of science fiction' introduction.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Glen Engel-Cox

    Continuing my effort to read (and, for these early volumes, re-read) all of Dozois’ Year’s Best anthologies. As established in the first volume, these anthologies by Dozois were incredibly comprehensive—large behemoths compared to previous best of the year or award showcases, about to collect something between 15-20 stories per volume, including novellas as well as shorter work. The summations alone were worth the price. Dozois understood the field, and its place in the overall cultural experien Continuing my effort to read (and, for these early volumes, re-read) all of Dozois’ Year’s Best anthologies. As established in the first volume, these anthologies by Dozois were incredibly comprehensive—large behemoths compared to previous best of the year or award showcases, about to collect something between 15-20 stories per volume, including novellas as well as shorter work. The summations alone were worth the price. Dozois understood the field, and its place in the overall cultural experience, as well as anyone, but his ability to summarize it was second to none. As for the stories: **** “Salvador,” Lucius Shepard ** “Promises to Keep,” Jack McDevitt ***** “Bloodchild,” Octavia E. Butler **** “Blued Moon,” Connie Willis *** “A Message to the King of Brobdingnag,” Richard Cowper **** “The Affair,” Robert Silverberg **** “PRESS ENTER [],” John Varley *** “New Rose Hotel,” William Gibson *** “The Map,” Gene Wolfe **** “Interlocking Pieces,” Molly Glass ***** “Trojan Horse,” Michael Swanwick ** “Bad Medicine,” Jack Dann **** “At the Embassy Club,” Elizabeth A. Lynn ***** “Pursuit of Excellence,” Rena Yount **** “The Kindly Isle,” Frederik Pohl ***** “Rock On,” Pat Cadigan **** “Sunken Gardens,” Bruce Sterling *** “Trinity,” Nancy Kress ** “The Trouble with the Cotton People,” Ursula K. Le Guin *** “Twilight Time,” Lewis Shiner * “Black Coral,” Lucius Shepard **** “Friend,” James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel *** “Foreign Skins,” Tanith Lee ** “Company in the Wings,” R. A. Lafferty **** “A Cabin on the Coast,” Gene Wolfe ***** “The Lucky Strike,” Kim Stanley Robinson “Salvador,” Lucius Shepard — A strong start to the collection, this piece of future war by Shepard hasn’t aged much. Reading it now, I see some similarities to war fiction I read later, like The Things They Carried or Robert McCammon’s “Nightcrawlers.” Shepard’s story is science fiction, though, focused on designer drugs that the military use to amp up their reflexes and perception. All too believable. “Promises to Keep,” Jack McDevitt — Nothing about this story is bad, per se, but I can’t remember anything about it, even when I relook at the text. It’s not often that a story in one of these collections is that forgettable. “Bloodchild,” Octavia E. Butler — I’ve written about this story before, one of my absolute favorites. On re-reading, it has lost none of its power or relevant meaning. It remains riveting, cringe-inducing, and oh-so-beautiful in its construction. This is the epitome of science fiction: showing how humans and aliens might interact. I hope one day to write something this strong. “Blued Moon,” Connie Willis — One of her screwball stories, which I like quite a bit and are better in the shorter form than when she attempts them in a novel, because it’s just so hard to sustain. “A Message to the King of Brobdingnag,” Richard Cowper — An apocalyptic story of science gone wrong. Enjoyable, but the whole thing is fairly telegraphed even thought the parts are well done. “The Affair,” Robert Silverberg — Extremely well-done story about rare telepaths trying to find each other, and what that might mean to connect in physical as well as mental states. I’m not sure I understood this quite so well when I read it in my 20s, for I found it much more effective now than I did then. “PRESS ENTER [],” John Varley — I liked this a lot when I first read it, and while I liked it upon the re-read, this time I found the ending less satisfying. It’s a tale of computers run amok, and possibly has suffered in recent years because of all the imitators. Varley captured the computers of the time, doing much better than predecessors had on tech gone bad. Still worthwhile. “New Rose Hotel,” William Gibson — Another that I liked less on re-reading, but that’s also likely because I’ve become less fond of Gibson’s work over the years. While some of it retains power, too much of it is just style now, where the plot and the logic doesn’t quite hold up. “The Map,” Gene Wolfe — Set in the same world of the Book of the New Sun. This is good, but not as outstanding as that longer work—I tend to like Wolfe better in a longer format, where I have more time to figure out all the things he’s doing. “Interlocking Pieces,” Molly Glass — Positing a world where brain transplants, of at least some part of the brain, becomes possible, a character seeks to understand what it might mean. I actually liked the structure of this, which worked to explore the world and the idea without being maudlin or simplistic, and also kept it brief enough for the reader to contemplate more possibilities about such a future. “Trojan Horse,” Michael Swanwick — A cyberpunk future where skull jacks and wetware are common, in a moon colony where an accident has happened and a woman has to have her personality replaced. The setting, the ideas, the characters—all very nearly perfect, and Swanwick takes this story to an extreme that I had not anticipated. One of my favorite stories in this collection, and, frankly, outdoes the Gibson story in pure inventiveness. “Bad Medicine,” Jack Dann — I disliked this, and I’m not sure why. It’s done well, the characters are clearly drawn and interesting, and the cultural research is likely accurate, as far as I can tell. But the drama here just seems so mundane for a fantasy story, and when something happens to one of the characters that supposedly shows a growth or realization in the main character, it came across to me as telegraphed and unconvincing. “At the Embassy Club,” Elizabeth A. Lynn — More known to me for her fantasies, I found this SF tale of another culture to be the kind of thing I’ve contemplated writing in the past. What if a Terran fell in love with a unapproachable member of an alien family. Lynn captures the exoticism of the alien culture by overlaying it with a kind of caste system. While it doesn’t seem as far afield from something that might happen on Earth (say, between a British diplomat and a Indian or Arabic royal family), everything works towards the “surprising” end satisfactorily. “Pursuit of Excellence,” Rena Yount — Even with writing comments on some stories, often a week later I can’t remember much about the story. That’s not the case with this one, which has lingered with me in the last week since I read it. The pursuit of the title is for parents who want their child to have all the advantages, which means in the future to buy genetic modifications to increase intelligence, looks, etc. The story focuses on the mother, who’s already had a “normal” child, but sees daily in her second job at a restaurant how the genetically enhanced live, and is determined that her daughter has the ability to enter into that world. And, yes, this story gained new resonance with the recent college admissions scandal. Highly recommended. “The Kindly Isle,” Frederik Pohl — An extremely well done story that in other hands just would have been a trick, but Pohl finds a character concept that makes it rise above the simple reveal. As a frequent traveller, who’s come into constant contact with the complaining visitor, I enjoyed Pohl’s examination of the tourist, and his interesting idea of how things could be better. “Rock On,” Pat Cadigan — This is where Cadigan hit her stride. Everything about this story works. The basic concept is simple—in the future, physical synthesizers in music are replaced by people who have the special ability through network interfaces to enhance other’s performance. What Cadigan adds to it here is the ugliness of what could happen in that situation through an entirely reasonable set of assumptions about what that might mean for the “sinner” herself and the likely issues in an industry with a reputation of being cutthroat. Highly recommended still. “Sunken Gardens,” Bruce Sterling — Another Shaper/Mechanist story, this one about a terraforming competition on Mars. Although there’s a surprise, it almost gets lost in the fascination Bruce has with describing the fast ecological processes used in the competition, not quite a “I paid for my research and now it’s your turn,” but close. The ending, where the protagonist might have gotten what she wanted, is well done, because sometimes you might not want what you thought you wanted. “Trinity,” Nancy Kress — Loved the concept—researchers trying to prove the existence of God through scientific means—but the execution took so long that I found myself bored by it. Too much visits between this character and that character and then, when the ending finally came, I didn’t feel it matched up to all the verbiage it took to get there. Perhaps at a novel length, this would have been ok, but even for a long short story, I just didn’t feel it paid off. “The Trouble with the Cotton People,” Ursula K. Le Guin — I recognize that Le Guin is a great writer, but this is exactly the kind of story that I have very little interest in. It violates most of the basic principles—rather than use actual scenes with dialogue, the entire story is told to you. The basic principle of the story is hardly science fiction, but just a story about the conflict between two trading groups, and frankly, the wine people come across as haughty in their ability to be patient and understanding, even if they had been wronged by the cotton people. The setting is this pre-technology phase that resembles a post-apocalypse, even if Le Guin had not intended it as such, but that was my impression. Not recommended. “Twilight Time,” Lewis Shiner — One of the first, if not the first, of Shiner’s nostalgia stories, which he’s actually quite good at, but I didn’t feel this one paid off as well as, say, his novel Glimpses. I liked the characterization and focus on what the man is trying to regain by time traveling more than the alien subplot mixed in, which just didn’t seem as strong. “Black Coral,” Lucius Shepard — My least favorite story in this collection. If I thought the Kress story took forever, this one took infinity to get to its conclusion. I found myself skipping passages, then forcing myself to go back and read them. It’s not that Shepard’s milieu is not evocative, nor that the characters weren’t interesting, but by putting the viewpoint through an alcoholic drug-user, the dream/nightmare for the reader was to be able to actually follow what was going on. “Friend,” James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel — Like the earlier Lynn story, this tale of the far future with space travel highlights conflict between people in a way that I just prefer over the agrarian, back-to-nature kind of story like the Le Guin. This reads like something from the 60s with its casual sex and decadent classicism, but it works extremely well for this story. “Foreign Skins,” Tanith Lee — A good fantasy story that took some unexpected turns. Great use of setting and Indian mythos, and the social criticism isn’t overdone as to be heavy-handed. The growth of the main character through the intervention of the fantasy really makes this worthwhile. “Company in the Wings,” R. A. Lafferty — My second least favorite story in this collection. I want to like Lafferty and his tall tales, but when I read them I’m never sure I know enough to be in on the joke. They are pleasant, although this one in particular seemed to be too long for just being pleasant. Kind of metafictional, in the Italo Calvino or Eugene Ionesco sense, in that the text is commenting on the text, and all text for that matter. Too deep for me, I’m afraid. “A Cabin on the Coast,” Gene Wolfe — This is a folk tale retold and modernized. Not something I expected from Wolfe, but appreciated. Being grounded in our current world, this one actually had more power than his earlier story in this volume, surprisingly. A young couple escape to a seaside cabin, but something goes horribly wrong. “The Lucky Strike,” Kim Stanley Robinson — I remembered this story from before, and on re-reading it retained its power. An alternate history in which the Enola Gay’s crew is killed before their fateful bombing run; what happens when a different crew, with an older bombardier, is selected to drop that first bomb. Highly recommended.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Florin Constantinescu

    This book is hands down the weakest, most disappointing book I ever read. Of course, bearing the reviewers' prime directive in mind. (Check my profile for it.) "Adventure, off-Earth stories constitute the core of science fiction" claimed Garden Dozois in the preface of one of his many anthologies (can't remember which). Now either he came up with this motto later than 1984, or there simply were almost no stories of that type published in that year, because what we got here is as far from the said This book is hands down the weakest, most disappointing book I ever read. Of course, bearing the reviewers' prime directive in mind. (Check my profile for it.) "Adventure, off-Earth stories constitute the core of science fiction" claimed Garden Dozois in the preface of one of his many anthologies (can't remember which). Now either he came up with this motto later than 1984, or there simply were almost no stories of that type published in that year, because what we got here is as far from the said "core" as I've ever read. These stories wouldn't even qualify for something lighter, like Twilight Zone, let alone for a sci-fi anthology. There are exactly three (3!!!) stories in here that are not set on Earth, nowadays, or the very near future. And worse, out of the three, one is boring and two unreadable. Reading stories that pretend to be science fiction, but are not, is extremely annoying. If I wanted something traditional, I would've picked up a Hemingway collection. Story breakdown: • Salvador • short story by Lucius Shepard: 1* I didn't even bother to go through with this. I remember it from years back. Some soldiers debate PTSD. On Earth. Current day. Yuck. • Promises to Keep • novelette by Jack McDevitt: 2* Typical McDevitt story. A bunch of astronauts lose their way from Jupiter to Earth. Too much talking, nothing interesting happening. • Bloodchild • novelette by Octavia E. Butler: 1* One of many to come that are simply unreadable. Some kind of future Earth where humans are pets to some aliens. Could barely turn the pages. • Blued Moon • novelette by Connie Willis: 1* Connie Willis is one of the authors I usually try to avoid. Took a deep breath and gave it a go. My shopping list is more sci-fi than this. After five pages of people in offices I vowed to never try anything from this author. • A Message to the King of Brobdingnag • novelette by Richard Cowper: 2* This isn't even set IN the future. Some scientist comes up with a supposedly improved type of plant that obviously ends up covering the entire Earth. The end. Nothing special. • The Affair • short story by Robert Silverberg: 3* The "non sci-fi, on Earth" series continues with two telepaths enjoying a love story. Luckily, this is by Silverberg and it is very well written. The best story here. • Press Enter • novella by John Varley: 2* Murder investigation with computers. Nicely done, but again not sci-fi. And kinda pointless. • New Rose Hotel • short story by William Gibson: 1* Another mumbo-jumbo style story, by another author I generally avoid. I've never seen so many "you are in {insert city name}"s and "I am in insert city name"s in one single page. • The Map • short story by Gene Wolfe: 2* It's time to switch the non-sci-fi story for some regular fantasy. Set in the world of Wolfe's Sun cycles, this is a small okay-ish adventure. • Interlocking Pieces • short story by Molly Gloss: 1* A hospital, a few characters debating transplants. Boring. Next! • Trojan Horse • novelette by Michael Swanwick: 1* No idea what I'm reading here. The in medias res does little to help. Some kind of personality transplants, I think. • Bad Medicine • novelette by Jack Dann: 1* Some guy decides to try a Native American sweat lodge. We simply cannot get enough of this kind of stories. • At the Embassy Club • short story by Elizabeth A. Lynn: 1* Finally some kind of aliens. Unfortunately it's a short (and bad) love story. • Pursuit of Excellence • novelette by Rena Yount: 1* Seeing common-day words on the first page such as: homework, laundry, or casserole was enough to make me go to the next one immediately. • The Kindly Isle • short story by Frederik Pohl: 1* Boy oh boy. Not even the Pohl story isn't sci-fi. Some businessman buys an old hotel on an island and is about to refurbish it. • Rock On • short story by Pat Cadigan: 1* Woman wakes up drunk and tries to remember why. Stopped after one page. Must be a new record. • Sunken Gardens • short story by Bruce Sterling: 1* I tried reading the Machinist stories some years ago. Couldn't stand them. Not about to try again. • Trinity • novella by Nancy Kress: 1* Typical Kress novella: current-day scientists working on something in a lab. Supposedly to discover God this time. Stopped after five useless pages. • The Trouble with the Cotton People • short story by Ursula K. Le Guin: 1* Some kind of a river journey in a fantasy millieu that I was unable to follow past the second page. • Twilight Time • novelette by Lewis Shiner: 2* Guy keeps time traveling, but to no apparent useful purpose. Wow! I managed to finish this one. • Black Coral • novelette by Lucius Shepard: 1* Thanks, but no thanks, no Shepard for me. • Friend • novelette by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel: 2* Finally something else in space. Unfortunately it's just a bunch of people inside a starship talking. • Foreign Skins • novelette by Tanith Lee: 1* India, 1800s. Unreadable. • Company in the Wings • short story by R. A. Lafferty: 1* No idea. Again, I couldn't make it past the second page. • A Cabin on the Coast • short story by Gene Wolfe: 1* Another mundane story. The charming "castrating woman" construct appears three times in the first two pages. Need I bother with the rest? • The Lucky Strike • novelette by Kim Stanley Robinson: 1* Slightly alternate history story with the crew of the Enola Gay NOT dropping the A-bomb where it was supposed to. I won't even bother with computing the average...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin

    I liked "Press Enter" and "A Message to the King of the Brobdingnag" and "The Kindly Isle" and "Friend" the most out of the collection. I didn't dislike any of them. I liked "Press Enter" and "A Message to the King of the Brobdingnag" and "The Kindly Isle" and "Friend" the most out of the collection. I didn't dislike any of them.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Paul Brown

    There were a few stories too abstract for my tiny pea brain, but it was balanced out by some really good ones.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    every single one of these collections is essential reading for true fans of science fiction short stories... each lengthy volume has a stellar array of all mini-genres and areas of powerfully influential science fiction: hard science, speculative, steampunk, alien invasions, apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic, space opera, fantasy, aliens, monsters, horror-ish, space travel, time travel, eco-science, evolutionary, pre-historic, parallel universes, extraterrestrials... in each successive volume in the every single one of these collections is essential reading for true fans of science fiction short stories... each lengthy volume has a stellar array of all mini-genres and areas of powerfully influential science fiction: hard science, speculative, steampunk, alien invasions, apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic, space opera, fantasy, aliens, monsters, horror-ish, space travel, time travel, eco-science, evolutionary, pre-historic, parallel universes, extraterrestrials... in each successive volume in the series the tales have advanced and grown in imagination and detail with our ability to envision greater concepts and possibilities... Rod Serling said, "...fantasy is the impossible made probable. science fiction is the improbable made possible..." and in the pages of these books is the absolute best the vastness of science fiction writing has to offer... sit back, relax, and dream...

  11. 4 out of 5

    John Devlin

    I've read something like 27 of the last 30 years of these Best Ofs(I'm only missing 5,and 6). They're always well done.One small point, I was struck by how contemporary the fiction felt though it's science fiction written in 1984. Further proof that Sci-fi is the best kind of literature because it better reflects our lives which seem to be more and more science fiction as science fact. I've read something like 27 of the last 30 years of these Best Ofs(I'm only missing 5,and 6). They're always well done.One small point, I was struck by how contemporary the fiction felt though it's science fiction written in 1984. Further proof that Sci-fi is the best kind of literature because it better reflects our lives which seem to be more and more science fiction as science fact.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Siddharth Singh

    A strictly average effort in my opinion. It's not easy coming up with 20-30 of the best short stories written annually but I'm sure 1984 could not have been such a dry year for science fiction!! Certainly worth a miss. A strictly average effort in my opinion. It's not easy coming up with 20-30 of the best short stories written annually but I'm sure 1984 could not have been such a dry year for science fiction!! Certainly worth a miss.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    A lot of antiquated triteness.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Beth

  15. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth Wilson

  19. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tim Newton

  21. 4 out of 5

    P

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michael Ross

  23. 5 out of 5

    Paul Sawler

  24. 4 out of 5

    Joel Benford

  25. 4 out of 5

    Leroy Erickson

  26. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Kaswell

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rob Liebscher

  28. 4 out of 5

    Carla Patterson

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anna Marie

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elihu

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