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The 1987 Annual World's Best SF (1987)

por Donald A. Wollheim (Editor), Arthur W. Saha (Editor)

Outros autores: Pat Cadigan (Contribuidor), Doris Egan (Contribuidor), Suzette Haden Elgin (Contribuidor), Damon Knight (Contribuidor), Tanith Lee (Contribuidor)6 mais, Jerry Meredith (Contribuidor), Lucius Shepard (Contribuidor), Robert Silverberg (Contribuidor), D.E. Smirl (Contribuidor), Howard Waldrop (Contribuidor), Roger Zelazny (Contribuidor)

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Séries: World's Best SF (1987)

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Part of a fine annual series, this volume contains 10 stories and one novella.
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I've read several of these World's Best SF anthologies from the 80s in the last couple of years, and this is definitely the best of them so far. Just a really solid collection, featuring meaty. well-written stories with lots of good world building, all of which have aged remarkably well. Even the weakest stories are interesting, and the best of them are great.

Some brief comments on the individual stories:

"Permafrost" by Roger Zelazny: On a planet where winter lasts for fifty years, a man returns to the site of an expedition where things went very wrong for him a very long time ago. An interesting story set on an interestingly alien world, with a nicely creepy ending. But, while Zelazny is a very good prose stylist, it almost feels like he's trying a little too hard in places here.

"Timerider" by Doris Egan: The story of a woman whose job is to travel through time to observe, or to snatch away objects or people. I liked this one a lot, not least because it somehow manages to use a lot of very familiar elements without the story itself ever feeling the least bit tired or clichéd. My one complaint is that, even though it's a good-sized story, it ends before it feels quite finished, and left me thinking that it might work even better as a novel.

"Pretty Boy Crossover" by Pat Cadigan. A sharp, well-written little piece set in a world where hip, young, pretty boys have the chance to be hip, young, and pretty forever, possibly at the expense of their souls. The editor's note refers to it as "cyberpunk" (albeit with some snarky bemusement about what that term even means), and I suppose it is, but, unlike a lot of cyberpunk, it does not feel at all dated, shallowness and exploitation having sadly not yet gone out of style.

"R & R" by Lucius Shepard: A soldier fighting a near-future war in Guatemala takes some leave in a small, squalid town and contemplates desertion in this dark, oddly mystical, very literary-feeling novella about the insanity of war. Seems a bit long to be included in a collection like this, but I'm not complaining, because it's darned good.

"Lo, How an Oak E'er Blooming" by Suzette Haden Elgin: A woman commands an oak tree to burst into miraculous bloom in the middle of winter. It does. Scientists are baffled, and the Establishment is not pleased. It's a decent little satiric metaphor of a story, but some grumpy part of me wants to complain that it's fantasy, not science fiction. Although I think I'd care less about that if the sheer stupidity of the editor's note preceding it, embracing examples of utter bunkum that supposedly "confound conservative scientists," hadn't resulted in me feeling rather hostile when I started it.

"Dream in a Bottle" by Jerry Meredith and D. E. Smirl: A spaceship is run by disembodied brains who live in fantasy worlds, controlling the ship with the actions they take in their dreams. It's a potentially interesting (albeit logically pretty ridiculous) idea, but the execution is only OK. There's more of an old-fashioned SF feel to this one than in the previous stories, I think, with less carefully crafted prose and more exposition. It's also not quite as cleverly twisty as it seems to think it is.

"Into Gold" by Tanith Lee: A marvelously creative variation on a familiar fairy tale, set not long after the fall of Rome. As with the oak tree story, this one is clearly fantasy, rather than science fiction, but by this point I was back to my usual disinclination to quibble about genre definitions. Which is fortunate, because the important thing here is that it's really, really good.

"The Lions Are Asleep This Night" by Harold Waldrop: A glimpse into an alternate history where mammoths still roam an unpopulated North America and European colonialism in Africa never fully took. It's an odd little story, and one I'm not sure has any point beyond, "Hey, look, I made a world where white people didn't screw everybody else over!" Which is probably a worthwhile exercise, but it didn't work for me nearly as well as most of the other stories here, I'm afraid. Although it does have the advantage of featuring a bookish kid as a protagonist, which always holds some appeal for me.

"Against Babylon" by Robert Silverberg. Aliens land in California, accidentally set it on fire, and come between a slightly xenophobic firefighter and his hippie-chick wife. Not Silverberg's best, by any means, but the way it takes a very human angle on what otherwise feels like a B-movie scenario is interesting.

"Strangers on Paradise" by Damon Knight: A writer working on a biography comes to the planet Paradise, where everything is beautiful, there is no disease, and happy immortality is looking like a very real future possibility. Of course, you can't help but spend the entire story tensely waiting for the other shoe to drop... and I found it surprisingly effective when it did. ( )
1 vote bragan | Aug 19, 2014 |
Unsurprisingly, in 1987 science fiction (at least in the form of Lucius Shepard) expected continued Latin American/anticommunist wars. Doris Egan contributes the story of a possibly sociopathic and definitely interesting time traveler, reminiscent of what Kage Baker would later do and packed with tantalizing hints of a larger world. Suzette Hadin Elgin has a grating story about gender politics (I used to find her work really interesting, and then it just became essentialist and grating) and an indestructible miracle tree. Also represented: Roger Zelazny, Pat Cadigan, Tanith Lee, Howard Waldrop (inexplicable AU Africa), Robert Silverberg, Damon Knight, and Jerry Meredith & D.E. Smirl. ( )
  rivkat | Aug 12, 2013 |
  mcolpitts | Aug 17, 2009 |
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Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Wollheim, Donald A.Editorautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Saha, Arthur W.Editorautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Cadigan, PatContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Egan, DorisContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Elgin, Suzette HadenContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Knight, DamonContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Lee, TanithContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Meredith, JerryContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Shepard, LuciusContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Silverberg, RobertContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Smirl, D.E.Contribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Waldrop, HowardContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Zelazny, RogerContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Powers, RichardArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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Part of a fine annual series, this volume contains 10 stories and one novella.

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