Thursday, June 9, 2011

Review Year's Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy Vol 4

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had read all three of the previous volumes of The Year's Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy. Like the previous volumes, volume 4 is an uneven collection with some good stories and some just so so. Unlike the previous volumes this volume did not have one particular story that stood out and shouted, aren't I great.

The best story for me was Richard Harland's horror tale Special Perceptions. It is about a delusional man's decent into madness. It really gave me the creeps and had me checking my own delusions.

As in volume two, Greg Egan had a story, Glory, set in the universe he created in the novel Incandescence. Glory asked the question, will knowledge eventually destroy the universe?

I also enjoyed Rjurik Davidson's science fiction story Domine, more for its style than its substance. The story made me work as I tried to figure out the relationships of the main characters to each other.

Rick Kennett's The Dark and What it Said also succeeded as a scary horror story that kept me guessing.

Most of the fantasy stories left me thinking, so what? Fantasy, especially epic fantasy, struggles in the shorter form. I enjoy fantasy novels, but fantasy short stories tend to be instantly forgotten. They fail to engage me with their simple themes of good versus evil and loyalty.

The best fantasy story in the collection was An Account of An Experiment by Adam Browne, which did explore a few themes like learned traits, and had some originality about it.

So overall, I liked many of the stories, but many of them lacked that something special, like a new idea or a major insight into humanity, that makes a story memorable.

Graham Clements.


Anthony J Langford said...

I like Richard Harland too. Sounds like an average read. What is great? Or the Years Best? One or two peoples view. It's just opinion isnt it...

Graham Clements said...

I do wonder if they could not get the rights to better stories.