jueves, 22 de mayo de 2014

The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year Volume 8, edited by Jonathan Strahan

(Disclaimer: English is my second language, so I want to apologize in advance for there may be mistakes in the text below. If you find any, please let me know so that I can correct it. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.) 

Review Soundtrack: I suggest reading this review while listening to The Best, by Tina Turner (Spotify, Youtube).

Nowadays, with so many short stories published every year in anthologies and online and print magazines, the "best of" compilations are more necessary than ever. With eight volumes published so far, the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year series edited by Jonathan Strahan is already a classic and one of the must-reads for those looking for quality short fiction. 

As expected, there are many good stories included in this volume. However, I must say that, having read quite a number of stories from 2013 myself, I found Strahan's taste to be somewhat orthogonal to mine. Some of the stories that were selected didn't really do it for me and I missed some of my favorites of the year (more on this later). 

Anyway, I would rate at least two of the stories as excellent: "Water", by Ramez Naam, and "The Sun and I", by K.J. Parker. They are quite different in style and tone, and both really belong in the best of the year. I highly recommend reading them if you haven't yet. 

I also enjoyed "Some Desperado" by Joe Abercrombie, "Zero for Conduct" by Greg Egan, "The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling" by Ted Chiang, "The Master Conjurer" by Charlie Jane Anders"The Book Seller" by Lavie Tidhar, "Fade to Gold" by Benjanun Sriduangkaew and "The Queen of Night's Area" by Ian McDonald, among others. But I couldn't help the feeling that, despite being good stories, they are not up to par to some of these authors' best writing. For instance, I would have included "The Bees Her Heart, the Hive Her Belly" by Benjanun Sriduangkaew, "The Revolution Will Not Be Refrigerated" by Ian McDonald and "The Time Travel Club" by Charlie Jane Anders, instead.

And then there are those stories that, even though have been widely praised, I have failed to appreciate: "Sing" by Karin Tidbeck, "Selkies Stories are for Losers" by Sofia Samatar, "The Ink Readers of Dol Saket" by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, "The Irish Astronaut" by Val Nolan, to name but a few. It might very well be my fault, tough, since I have had similar issues with the work of some of these authors in the past.

All in all, I can't help thinking that this anthology doesn't really live up to the name of the "best of the year", although it includes a number of really remarkable stories. Your mileage may vary, anyway, and this book may be a good place to start if you want to give contemporary genre short fiction a try. 

(You can also read this review in Spanish at El Fantascopio/También puedes leer esta reseña en español en El Fantascopio) 

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