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Science Fiction, The Best of 2002
edited by Robert Silverberg and Karen Haber
ibooks, 400 pages

Science Fiction, The Best of 2002
Robert Silverberg and Karen Haber
Robert Silverberg was born in New York City in 1935. In 1949 he started a science fiction fanzine called Spaceship and made his first professional sale to Science Fiction Adventures, a non-fiction piece called "Fanmag," in the December 1953 issue. His first professional fiction publication was "Gorgon Planet," in the February 1954 issue of the British magazine Nebula Science Fiction. His first novel, Revolt on Alpha C, was published in 1955.

In 1956 he graduated from Columbia University, with a major in Comparative Literature, and married Barbara Brown. After many sales, he earned a Hugo Award for his promise (the youngest person ever to do so). In the summer of 1955, he had moved into an apartment in New York where Randall Garrett, an established science fiction writer, lived next door; Harlan Ellison, another promising young novice, also lived in the building. Garrett introduced Silverberg to many of the prominent editors of the day, and the two collaborated on many projects, often using the name Robert Randall. He divorced his first wife in 1986 and married writer Karen Haber the following year. He now lives in the San Francisco area.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Longest Way Home
SF Site Review: Nebula Awards Showcase 2001
SF Site Review: The Book Of Skulls
SF Site Review: Lord Prestimion
SF Site Review: Sorcerers of Majipoor
SF Site Review: The Fantasy Hall of Fame
SF Site Review: The Alien Years
SF Site Review: Legends: Stories by the Masters of Modern Fantasy
SF Site Review: The Avram Davidson Treasury
SF Site Review: Sorcerers of Majipoor
Robert Silverberg Tribute Site
Interview with Robert Silverberg

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

One of the questions which must be asked when reading a new best of year anthology is whether it adds anything to the genre beyond what is provided by the already existent Gardner Dozois and David Hartwell series. Part of the answer must be yes, because different editors have (sometimes radically) different views of what science fiction is and what constitutes the "best." It can further be argued that the more anthologies of this type which can exist, the better the state of the genre. In 2001, Robert Silverberg and Karen Haber began to publish their own selections, backed by their many years of expertise in the field. Science Fiction: The Best of 2002 is their second outing in the company of Mssrs. Dozois & Hartwell.

They have managed to select twelve stories for inclusion in this year's anthology. These stories represent everything from the hard science fiction of Geoffrey A. Landis's "The Long Chase" to the more psychological exploration of beauty offered by Ted Chiang's "Liking What You See: A Documentary." The editors have search far and wide for their selections as well, twice going to the internet for stories (Orson Scott Card's "Angles" and Christopher Priest's "The Discharge"), while also looking in the more traditional markets of Asimov's and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Although Silverberg & Haber do not provide introductions to either the stories or the authors; to do so would have shown a similarly wide swath of experience. Many of the authors have major awards (or nominations for same) on their shelves while others (notably Benjamin Rosenbaum and Yoon Ha Lee) are still at the beginning stages of a career which may receive a jolt from their inclusion in such an anthology.

Naturally, any collection which purports to be the "best" is merely representative of the editors' choices and nobody will agree with each selection. Some of the stories included in the current volume may be found as bewildering in their alienness (Rosenbaum's "Droplet") or obscurity (Charles Stross's "Tourists") while readers may find other stories just can't capture their interest. However, even if not all of the stories appeal to an individual reader, each one has its strengths and the case of their inclusion is generally pretty obvious. In no case do the editors seem to have made a completely misguided selection.

Not only does Science Fiction: Best of 2002 succeed in portraying a selection of the best of the year, but it also succeeds in presenting the wide range of stories which can be included under the rubric of "science fiction," and therefore serves as an excellent introduction to the state of the field for those whose understanding of science fiction is based on films or forty-year-old novels (who will find some of the stories filled with familiar tropes and therefore an easy introduction to the field).

Their second foray into Best of Year publications within the science fiction field demonstrates that Silverberg and Haber know the field and read a variety of sources in their search to present the gamut that the genre can run. While it can't be argued that there was an over-riding need for another Best of series, the editors are providing an inexpensive alternative to Dozois's volume that offers a very different perspective from Hartwell's annual.

Copyright © 2003 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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