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The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens
edited by Jane Yolen and Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Tor, 288 pages

The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens
Jane Yolen
Jane Yolen has been called the Hans Christian Andersen of America and the Aesop of the 20th century because of her many fairy tales and story books. She has written over 150 books for children, young adults and adults, along with hundreds of stories and poems. She's a past-president of SFWA and has been a member of the Board of Directors of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) since its inception.

Jane Yolen Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens
SF Site Review: The Sword of the Rightful King
SF Site Review: Sister Emily's Lightship
SF Site Review: The Wizard's Map
SF Site Review: Armageddon Summer
SF Site Review: Here There Be Dragons
SF Site Review: The Sea Man
SF Site Review: Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast
SF Site Review: The Transfigured Hart

Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Patrick Nielsen Hayden was born in 1959. He works as an editor at Tor Books. To date, he has received five Hugo nominations and a World Fantasy Award.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

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Ninety percent of everything, according to Theodore Sturgeon, is garbage. The golden age of science fiction, according to Peter Graham, is at thirteen. In a long overdue attempt to help those thirteen-year-olds separate the creamy ten percent, Jane Yolen and Patrick Nielsen Hayden have compiled the first volume of The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens. With the editors' tastes, this should prove to be the first of a long series of anthologies.

One problem Yolen notes in her introduction is that "there is very little being published in the field specifically for Young Adults." Because of this nearly all of the selected stories come from books and magazines targeted at a general (read adult) audience. This is a debatable point, as Harry Potter and its clones are today's fantasy answers to yesteryear's juvenile science fiction of Robert Heinlein and Andre Norton. However, in the cases of Heinlein, Norton, and Rowling, their works are predominantly at novel length, which does leave a dearth in short fiction for young adults.

Many of the stories collected in The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens (which should be enjoyable to adults as well), deal with issues of coming of age and learning to survive in a new world. S.M. Stirling's "Blood Wolf" places a young barbarian in a more civilized society while David Gerrold's "Dancer in the Dark" looks at an orphan on the brink of a strange world.

Despite the title, most of the stories in the anthology are fantasies, with only a few science fiction stories thrown in. Those fantasies run the gamut from Theodora Goss's eloquent historical fantasy, "The Wings of Meister Wilhelm" to Leah Bober's retelling of the aftermath of The Wizard of Oz in "Displaced Persons." This sort of range allows the reader to experience the vast richness of fantasy. To make the book even more helpful, in addition to a list of honorable mentions, each story includes an introduction which advises of other authors whose work might appeal to the reader who enjoys that particular story.

The most science fictional of the stories in The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens is Bradley Denton's "Sergeant Chip," the story of a war in some nebulous future. The sergeant of the title is a highly trained dog with an almost symbiotic relationship with his trainer. This is a story of loyalty and duty in the face of something almost incomprehensible and is an excellent way to conclude the anthology.

The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens isn't a book just for teens, but rather a book for anyone who is interested in speculative fiction. The stories, taken not just from the standard magazines, but also from on-line sources and anthologies, demonstrate the wide range of styles and subgenres which make up the fields of fantasy and science fiction. The golden age of science fiction may be the thirteen-year-old inside all of us, and Yolen and Nielsen Hayden have skimmed the creamy top ten percent to include in their book.

Copyright © 2005 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a four-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings (DAW Books, January, February and March, 2003). In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is heavily involved in convention running and publishes the fanzine Argentus.


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