Kim Stanley Robinson, editor,
Nebula Awards Showcase 2002:
The Year's Best SF & Fantasy

(Roc, 2002)

Selected by members of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America and edited by Kim Stanley Robinson, this anthology presents the finest award-winning fiction of the year and insightful commentary about the current state of science fiction. This essential volume features stories and commentary that represent the hear of science fiction literature in the 21st century.

I found the story "Goddesses" by Linda Nagata to be the most powerful and most moving of the collection because it demonstrated the possible strengths of a crucial but much underrepresented form that we could call the near-future topia. The power that Nigata takes on one of the most intense problems of our time -- of how the rich North (parallel to the West) can help the impoverished South (the East) and end the cycle of exploitation that the North established long ago -- is a pleasure to read. Her story is framed by important questions that we should strive to answer to the best of our ability and then tests strategies through her plot for action that could be pursued in the world right now. Nigata also does exceedingly well in placing the Internet in its correct role as a telephone line, a tool for communication but not the solution for all of the world's problems.

Another amazing story in this anthology is "Stellar Harvest" by Eleanor Arnason. This is a plantetary romance and in the midst of all the intensely engaged near future stories in this volume, this is the one story that still encourages with its cheery suggestion that humans will survive well enough to spread throughout the galaxy. This story also serves extremely well as spaces for thought experiments about our current preoccupations. Arnason exploits that possibility to the full here, confounding with sly wit some of our usual assumptions about gender, celebrity and the biochemical bases of consciousness.

For anyone serious about science fiction, this anthology provides an invaluable look at how the professionals view their field and is an essential index of one year in science fiction and fantasy.

- Rambles
written by Melissa Kowalewski
published 26 October 2002

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