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An alien world with an argon atmosphere serves as the stage for the ultimate self-examination; an African-American scientist dissects as Lovecraftian slave race while fascism rears its head on the other side of the world; an elderly Jewish artist attracts a celestial muse; a doomed village of scavengers discovers the scattered pieces of a metal man; a stalwart reporter gam An alien world with an argon atmosphere serves as the stage for the ultimate self-examination; an African-American scientist dissects as Lovecraftian slave race while fascism rears its head on the other side of the world; an elderly Jewish artist attracts a celestial muse; a doomed village of scavengers discovers the scattered pieces of a metal man; a stalwart reporter gambles on an interview with the power to alter the world; a steel monkey defends a young girl from a rival family's assassins; a nineteenth-century country gentleman's curious daughter meets the enigmatic Dr. Victor Frankenstein; a rivalry between brothers complicates the interpretation of a message from the stars; two girls discover that the cruel social rituals of adolescence apply differently in fact than fiction... The depth and breadth of what science fiction and fantasy fiction is changes with every passing year. The stories chosen for this book by award-winning anthologist Jonathan Strahan carefully maps this evolution, giving readers a captivating and always-entertaining look at the very best the genre has to offer. Jonathan Strahan has edited more than twenty anthologies and collections, including The Locus Awards, The New Space Opera, The Jack Vance Treasury, and a number of year's best annuals. He has won the Ditmar, William J. Atheling Jr., and Peter McNamara Awards for his work as an anthologist, and is the reviews editor for Locus. --back cover Exhalation / Ted Chiang -- Shoggoths in bloom / Elizabeth Bear -- Uncle Chaim and Aunt Rifke and the angel / Peter S. Beagle -- Fixing Hanover / Jeff VanderMeer -- The gambler / Paolo Bacigalupi -- The dust assassin / Ian McDonald -- Virgin / Holly Black -- Pride and Prometheus / John Kessel -- The thought war / Paul McAuley -- Beyond the sea gates of the Scholar Pirates of Sarsköe / Garth Nix -- The small door / Holly Phillips -- Turing's apples / Stephen Baxter -- The New York Times at special bargain rates / Stephen King -- Five thrillers / Robert Reed -- The magician's house / Meghan McCarron -- Goblin music / Joan Aiken -- Machine maid / Margo Lanagan -- The art of alchemy / Ted Kosmatka -- 26 Monkeys, also The abyss / Kij Johnson -- Marry the sun / Rachel Swirsky -- Crystal nights / Greg Egan -- His master's voice / Hannu Rajaniemi -- Special economics / Maureen F. McHugh -- Evidence of love in a case of abandonment / M. Rickert -- From Babel's fall'n glory we fled / Michael Swanwich -- If angels fight / Richard Bowes -- The doom of love in small spaces / Ken Scholes -- Pretty monsters / Kelly Link.


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An alien world with an argon atmosphere serves as the stage for the ultimate self-examination; an African-American scientist dissects as Lovecraftian slave race while fascism rears its head on the other side of the world; an elderly Jewish artist attracts a celestial muse; a doomed village of scavengers discovers the scattered pieces of a metal man; a stalwart reporter gam An alien world with an argon atmosphere serves as the stage for the ultimate self-examination; an African-American scientist dissects as Lovecraftian slave race while fascism rears its head on the other side of the world; an elderly Jewish artist attracts a celestial muse; a doomed village of scavengers discovers the scattered pieces of a metal man; a stalwart reporter gambles on an interview with the power to alter the world; a steel monkey defends a young girl from a rival family's assassins; a nineteenth-century country gentleman's curious daughter meets the enigmatic Dr. Victor Frankenstein; a rivalry between brothers complicates the interpretation of a message from the stars; two girls discover that the cruel social rituals of adolescence apply differently in fact than fiction... The depth and breadth of what science fiction and fantasy fiction is changes with every passing year. The stories chosen for this book by award-winning anthologist Jonathan Strahan carefully maps this evolution, giving readers a captivating and always-entertaining look at the very best the genre has to offer. Jonathan Strahan has edited more than twenty anthologies and collections, including The Locus Awards, The New Space Opera, The Jack Vance Treasury, and a number of year's best annuals. He has won the Ditmar, William J. Atheling Jr., and Peter McNamara Awards for his work as an anthologist, and is the reviews editor for Locus. --back cover Exhalation / Ted Chiang -- Shoggoths in bloom / Elizabeth Bear -- Uncle Chaim and Aunt Rifke and the angel / Peter S. Beagle -- Fixing Hanover / Jeff VanderMeer -- The gambler / Paolo Bacigalupi -- The dust assassin / Ian McDonald -- Virgin / Holly Black -- Pride and Prometheus / John Kessel -- The thought war / Paul McAuley -- Beyond the sea gates of the Scholar Pirates of Sarsköe / Garth Nix -- The small door / Holly Phillips -- Turing's apples / Stephen Baxter -- The New York Times at special bargain rates / Stephen King -- Five thrillers / Robert Reed -- The magician's house / Meghan McCarron -- Goblin music / Joan Aiken -- Machine maid / Margo Lanagan -- The art of alchemy / Ted Kosmatka -- 26 Monkeys, also The abyss / Kij Johnson -- Marry the sun / Rachel Swirsky -- Crystal nights / Greg Egan -- His master's voice / Hannu Rajaniemi -- Special economics / Maureen F. McHugh -- Evidence of love in a case of abandonment / M. Rickert -- From Babel's fall'n glory we fled / Michael Swanwich -- If angels fight / Richard Bowes -- The doom of love in small spaces / Ken Scholes -- Pretty monsters / Kelly Link.

30 review for The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume 3

  1. 5 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    Pretty good, but as always a mixed bag. The good or thought-provoking: Ted Chiang's "Exhalation," in which a world of wind-up robots realizes that their very acts of moving, thinking and talking is slowly ending their universe. Peter S. Beagle's "Uncle Chaim and Aunt Rifke and the Angel," is a fantastic character study and slice-of-life of mid-century Jewish New Yorkers. Paolo Bacigalupi's "The Gambler," about a Vietnamese immigrant's career as a journalist. He has one last chance to tell a sensati Pretty good, but as always a mixed bag. The good or thought-provoking: Ted Chiang's "Exhalation," in which a world of wind-up robots realizes that their very acts of moving, thinking and talking is slowly ending their universe. Peter S. Beagle's "Uncle Chaim and Aunt Rifke and the Angel," is a fantastic character study and slice-of-life of mid-century Jewish New Yorkers. Paolo Bacigalupi's "The Gambler," about a Vietnamese immigrant's career as a journalist. He has one last chance to tell a sensational story. Paul Mcauley's "The Thought War," about a zombie invasion that's really reality changing with observation. Meghan McCarron's "The Magician's House," about a teenaged girl learning magic. Very different view on magic and how it could be taught. Margo Lanagan's "Machine Maid," is about a new bride who finds that her wind-up maid is her key to escaping her husband. Greg Egan's "Crystal Nights" is a great story because the main character misses so much, even while other characters clearly understand what's going on. A dot-com gazillionaire tries to create AI through directed evolution within a computer. Hannu Rajaniemi's "His Master's Voice," is like Homeward Bound crossed with nannites. A cat and a dog strive to bring their master back to life. The ones that annoyed me, or were just plain bad: Jeff Vandermeer's "Fixing Hanover" is about an engineer who fled his empire when he found out what his inventions were being used for. Years later, he makes a living as an unrespected handyman. But then he repairs one too many things, and the empire comes back again...Could have been good, but the only characterization we have in regards to the main character is that the hottest chick in the village has sex with him all the time and everyone's really jealous. Seriously, that's all we're shown about this man, who's supposedly wracked with shame over the wars he helped win. Vandermeer has consistently disappointed me. John Kessel's "Pride and Prometheus" is a shameless attempt to write Frankenstein fanfic while pretending it has something to do with Austen. He seems to have randomly decided that Mary Bennet is an inquisitive naturalist, held back only by her foolish family's sexism. Cuz that totally jives with her actual source material! The story itself is not nearly good enough to warrant the use of Austen and Shelley's characters--it's basically just Mary, Frankenstein, and the monster talking to each other. Kij Johnson's "26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss." Too weird and senseless for me.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brice

    Exhalation - Ted Chiang: 5 stars, loved the dramatic narrative focused on the second law of thermodynamics. Shoggoths in Bloom - Elizabeth Bear: 3 stars. Race relations. Exobiology. Sentient extraterrestrial jellyfish. Uncle Chaim and Aunt Rifke and the Angel - Peter S. Beagle: 4 stars. Strongly Jewish characters deal with an angel who isn't quite normal. Fixing Hanover - Jeff VanderMeer: 2 stars for depressing. Apparently, there is no forgiveness nor escape from your old sins. The Gambler - Pao Exhalation - Ted Chiang: 5 stars, loved the dramatic narrative focused on the second law of thermodynamics. Shoggoths in Bloom - Elizabeth Bear: 3 stars. Race relations. Exobiology. Sentient extraterrestrial jellyfish. Uncle Chaim and Aunt Rifke and the Angel - Peter S. Beagle: 4 stars. Strongly Jewish characters deal with an angel who isn't quite normal. Fixing Hanover - Jeff VanderMeer: 2 stars for depressing. Apparently, there is no forgiveness nor escape from your old sins. The Gambler - Paolo Bacigalupi: 3 stars. About media manipulation, writing the truth, and Laotian politics. The Dust Assassin - Ian McDonald: 2 stars. Depressing future-earth where feuds in India continue. Virgin - Holly Black: 3 stars. Unicorns and the death of hope for the runaways on the margins of society. Pride and Prometheus - John Kessel: 3 stars. Mashup of Pride and Prejudice and Frankenstein. Mary falls for Dr. Frankenstein when he passes through her town. *Spoiler*: It doesn't work out. The Thought War - Paul McAuley: 2.75 stars - Zombies have taken over most of the world, altering its reality as they do so. Beyond the Sea Gates of the Scholar Pirates of Sarskoe - Garth Nix: 4 stars - Yet a new magical realm from Mr. Nix. Interesting as usual. Pirates and magic and animated puppets and enormous starfish, oh my. The Small Door - Holly Phillips: 3 stars. Largely sad story about the sacrifices made when family members are sick. Turing's Apples - Stephen Baxter: 4 stars. The fugacity of time, trying to remember past the heat death of the universe. Software trojans and self-assembling nanobots. The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates - Stephen King: 3 stars. A call from beyond the grave. Five Thrillers - Robert Reed: 2 stars. The writing was superb, very page-turning. It's just that the subject matter is about the extremes of the means justify the ends. Anti-hero as protagonist. The Magician's House - Megan McCarron: 0 stars. Magic + adultery. Goblin Music - Joan Aiken: 4 stars. Odd magic, small town, goblins and loud music during the night. Machine Maid - Margo Lanagan: 0 stars. Victorian times + windup sexbot disguised as a maid. The Art of Alchemy - Ted Kosmatka: 2 stars (violence and some sex). Big money, big corporations, and squashing new innovations and people to protect share prices. 26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss - Kij Johnson: 5 stars. Don't try to understand it all. Marry the Sun - Rachel Swirsky: 3 stars. Modern Greek tragedy when astrophysicist specializing in the sun falls in love with living sun-god. Crystal Nights - Greg Egan: 3 stars. Virtual worlds, massive computing power, the sentience of programs, and compulsive type-A personalities. His Master's Voice - Hannu Rajaniemi: 3 stars. Packed with new tech (and it's jargon). Bizarre, fractured, non-plot. Special Economics - Maureen McHugh: 3 stars. Girls living in a modern Asian corporate town eventually escape and use micro-credit to free their comrades. Evidence of Love in a Case of Abandonment - M Rickert: 1.5 stars. Public executions of women who have had abortions. Unpleasant. From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled... - Michael Swanwick. 3 stars. Far-future, otherworld, marxist economics, and aliens. Bit bleak. If Angels Fight - Rick Bowes: 2 stars. Possession, inspiration, power, politics. The Doom of Love in Small Spaces - Ken Scholes. 3 stars. Morality play set in the uber-bureaucracy of the future. Betrayal and a hopeful ending. Pretty Monsters - Kelly Link. 3 stars. Werewolves and nested, cross-referential stories. Requires lots of brainpower to untangle, wasn't quite worth it. Cleverly done though.

  3. 4 out of 5

    David Mario Mendiola

    This had a higher percentage of interesting stories than the previous two volumes. It might be related to the fact that, as the author admitted he couldn't find as many "best" fantasy stories that year, the collection had a 60-40 sci-fi to fantasy split, stacking the deck a bit in my favor. Highlights: Best: Exhalation by Ted Chiang This might be my favorite story in the known universe, so since Strahan neglected to select any fiction from alternate planes of existence, it is a clear winner in this This had a higher percentage of interesting stories than the previous two volumes. It might be related to the fact that, as the author admitted he couldn't find as many "best" fantasy stories that year, the collection had a 60-40 sci-fi to fantasy split, stacking the deck a bit in my favor. Highlights: Best: Exhalation by Ted Chiang This might be my favorite story in the known universe, so since Strahan neglected to select any fiction from alternate planes of existence, it is a clear winner in this anthology. It comes about as close to fully addressing the meaning of life that I can expect to get. I'm currently saving money and am ready to sell our condo (please don't tell my wife) to get the full text tattooed on my body. It would be infinitely comforting to know that no matter how lost, alone, and abandoned the future might render me, I could always peruse this story (as long as I still have my skin attached (or at least within reading-distance)). Fun: The Doom of Love in Small Places by Ken Scholes I will check out more from this guy. His style is funny weird. I normally don't care for weirdness for the sake of artsiness/modernity/intelligence, but when it makes you laugh, it's all good. Beyond the Seagates of the Scholar Pirates of Sarskoe by Garth Nix The main character's nonchalance about their peril is terrific. Five Thrillers of Sarskoe by Garth Nix A fun adventure with psychology/NLP aspects. I read the sharp conversations over and over, trying to learn how to manipulate humanoids from Earth and otherwise, should the occasion arise. Hard SciFi/Thought Provoking Crystal Nights by Greg Egan Dang, I wanted to write this story. But I hadn't thought of the concept: rather than develop AI by understanding neurology or whatever machine-learning algorithms are used, try to evolve it in simulations. Nice. Also it had deep parallels to how our gods might behave or be limited. From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled by Michael Swanwick Great development of culture abrasively placed against humanity's, and an "economic" system following the same basic principles but with trust rather than money. And the perfect preface to an explanatory section: "And just so you know what they knew that each other knew and knew was known, here is the tale of..." Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link Did not expect to enjoy a teenage-girl werewolf/vampire romance. Really, none of the words in that genre's title appeal to me. But the writing was great. I was constantly pausing to appreciate a well-carved sentence. Also pretty good: Fixing Hanover by Jeff VanderMeer The Gambler by Paolo Bacigalupi Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel The Thought War by Paul McAuley Turing's Apples by Stephen Baxter

  4. 4 out of 5

    Wanda

    Short story anthologies like these are a wonderful way to find new authors that interest you. I should probably limit my intake, since my “to read” list is already over 1600 titles, but being the book lover that I am, I can’t resist having a peek sometimes. As with all collections, some stories were fun, some were confusing, some were boring for me. But I can think of three in this book that made me think I wanted more from those authors. The Dust Assassin, by Ian McDonald. Mostly because it is se Short story anthologies like these are a wonderful way to find new authors that interest you. I should probably limit my intake, since my “to read” list is already over 1600 titles, but being the book lover that I am, I can’t resist having a peek sometimes. As with all collections, some stories were fun, some were confusing, some were boring for me. But I can think of three in this book that made me think I wanted more from those authors. The Dust Assassin, by Ian McDonald. Mostly because it is set in Asia and I think entirely too much science fiction & fantasy is set in North America. Plus this was a gripping story and I’d like to read more in this world. Pride and Prometheus, by John Kessel. I love a good mash-up. This story used both Shelley’s Frankenstein and Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to create a little side-adventure that really tickled me. I will definitely be looking for more of Kessel’s work. 26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss, by Kij Johnson. Okay, so I have a huge soft spot for animals, plus I love it when an author gets the biology right! Acknowledgement that chimpanzees and gibbons aren’t monkeys, but they’re still in the circus act. The story left me with questions, something that I also love. If you’re having difficulty choosing your next book, may I suggest an anthology in whatever genre you enjoy? Sure, there may be some duds, but at least one story in the collection will probably send you off on a whole new reading tangent!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carly Kirk

    Good value! Lots of great stories! Definitely can recommend this to anyone who likes short stories and wants to read authors they might not discover on their own.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Paperback. Not bad, skipped a bit and didn't read half of them. Stories that stayed with me were by Holly Jones, Stephen King, Kijj Johnson (read before this collection though), Elizabeth Bear, and Paolo Bacigalupi.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kieran McAndrew

    Science fiction helps readers explore the human condition, sometimes with zombies and delightful scenes where Elizabeth Bennett meets Henry Frankenstein. But science fiction is also clever writing. An excellent story within a story leaves us guessing who is the reader and whom is being read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Replogle

    On my way to reading them all.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bob Lazzarini

    Some stories are good, some are excellent, and a few stink.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    This review is only for the included short story: Beyond the Sea Gate of the Scholar Pirates of Sarskoe by Garth Nix. What an interesting story! The previous sentence may turn out to be the understatement of the month from me, but there you have it. I was originally turned on to this story through a combination of factors involving a car that allows me to play CDs full of MP3 files, being subscribed to a lot of story telling podcasts, and the fact that it was the story featured on PodCastle #186 ( This review is only for the included short story: Beyond the Sea Gate of the Scholar Pirates of Sarskoe by Garth Nix. What an interesting story! The previous sentence may turn out to be the understatement of the month from me, but there you have it. I was originally turned on to this story through a combination of factors involving a car that allows me to play CDs full of MP3 files, being subscribed to a lot of story telling podcasts, and the fact that it was the story featured on PodCastle #186 (click that link to hear the story read aloud). Because I was driving and other drivers being what they are, I was unable to give the story the full amount of attention it deserved, so checked out The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume 3 from the library for the sole purpose of reading Garth Nix's short story. As with any great epic, it opens mid stream, not taking time to educate the reader as to the paradigm at hand. It is an adventure story set aboard two ships and an island; and stars a human man (Sir Hereward) and a sentient, animated marionette named Mr. Fitz (think Pinocchio) who has access to a magical needle that does things to reality. The point of this adventure is to manipulate some pirates into taking our daring duo to an island where there is a task that needs to be accomplished. Plunder of all sorts are promised to the pirates, and are available. In this way, it reminds me a lot of Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch, even down to the female pirate captain getting all sexy times with one of the protagonists. And this isn't even the awesome stuff! Wait until you see what the female pirate captain is and what nature of trouble(s) await everyone once they get to the island! Why three stars? Because "it was good", but it tossed me a bit too quickly into a world that was very complex. In my research, I keep being assured that there are some Lovecraftian ideas in this world, but having not been exposed to Lovecraft - except to know that Cthulu is a monster related to him - those ideas that may have been a comforting allusion to other readers, were an unexpected and not-entirely-pleasant oddity to me. It was also because I found the general theme of two-guys-get-pirate-ship-captained-by-woman-to-do-their-bidding-and-sex-as-well was better done in Red Seas Under Red Skies. NB: A prequel short story is "Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go To War Again" by Garth Nix.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Karen Cohn

    There were some very interesting stories in this collection; however, while reading several of them, I had difficulty determining how they fit in the category of science fiction / fantasy. They were still good, but some were sf/fantasy only by virtue of setting, and others only by virtue of a twist in the last little bit of the story.

  12. 5 out of 5

    kenneth h. robinson

    Wide Variety of Well-Written Stories There's no sure thing in these tales. Surprises always show up, no matter the beginning premises. Always an entertaining tale, no matter how pedestrian the beginning.

  13. 4 out of 5

    A~

    Exhalation: That one blew my mind. I spent days trying to think of ways to fix the robot dilemma. I actually finished all the stories in this collection and only found one or two that left me wondering WTF? That is a pretty good ratio for modern stories.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    Two of these were good stories. One, about a kid whose uncle paints an angel. The other about a soldier/assassin in a world of heavy gene modification. Those stories would get 4 stars. Absolutely none of the others were memorable. All these others would get 2 stars.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    "Exhalation": beautifully-crafted, sentient, and dense. Truly it's worth picking up the entire volume if but to read the first story. "Shoggoths in Bloom" and "The Dust Assassin" are worthwhile as well. "Pride and Prometheus" started well.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Vinny

    Piece of crap, don't waste your time. I'm guessing that the editor picked all of the stories. These were the best of the year? Dismal, depressing, uninspiring. And at the beginning of each story, a little ditty about where the author lives and what they wrote before. Who cares?

  17. 5 out of 5

    Betty

    Some of the stories were very good, others so-so. Everyone is bound to have different opinions.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    I reviewed many of these short stories separately; short stories should reviewed. But the book is great. Lots of variety and great stories.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mckinley

    Liked some but not majority.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    some of the best stories overlap with eclipse 2, and the second half of the book is more hit or miss. too many stories that 'end' with an indetermine situation.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chris Nestrud

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ben Nash

  23. 5 out of 5

    William J Walkauskas

  24. 4 out of 5

    alschriver

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kate Sterling

  26. 5 out of 5

    joanna

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Ellsworth

  28. 5 out of 5

    Haridas Kodukula

  29. 4 out of 5

    David Danko

  30. 5 out of 5

    Julie

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