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The Year's Top Hard Science Fiction Stories

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An unabridged audio collection spotlighting the “best of the best” hard science fiction stories published in 2016 by current and emerging masters of the genre, edited by Allan Kaster. In “Vortex,” by Gregory Benford, astronauts find a once thriving microbial lifeform that carpets the caves of Mars dying off. A code monkey tracks down the vain creator of a pernicious softwa An unabridged audio collection spotlighting the “best of the best” hard science fiction stories published in 2016 by current and emerging masters of the genre, edited by Allan Kaster. In “Vortex,” by Gregory Benford, astronauts find a once thriving microbial lifeform that carpets the caves of Mars dying off. A code monkey tracks down the vain creator of a pernicious software virus that people jack cerebrally in “RedKing,” by Craig DeLancey. In “Number Nine Moon,” by Alex Irvine, illicit scavengers on Mars are on a rescue mission to save themselves after one of their team members dies. A young girl’s thirst for vengeance becomes a struggle for survival when she is swallowed by a gigantic sea creature on an alien planet in “Of the Beast in the Belly,” by C.W. Johnson. In “The Seventh Gamer,” by Gwyneth Jones, a writer immerses herself into a MMORPG community to search for characters being played by real aliens from other worlds. A woman armed with a rifle stalks a herd of cloned wooly mammoths in British Columbia in “Chasing Ivory,” by Ted Kosmatka. In “Fieldwork,” by Shariann Lewitt, a volcanologist struggles with her research on Europa where both her mother and grandmother suffered dire consequences. A daughter pays homage to her mother with mega-engineering projects to deal with climate change over eons in “Seven Birthdays,” by Ken Liu. In “The Visitor from Taured,” by Ian R. MacLeod, a cosmologist in the near future is obsessed with proving his theory of multiverses. The citizens of a small town on a “Jackaroo” planet object to a corporation placing a radio telescope near local alien artifacts in “Something Happened Here, But We’re Not Quite Sure What It Was,” by Paul McAuley. And finally, in “Sixteen Questions for Kamala Chatterjee,” by Alastair Reynolds, a graduate student defends her dissertation on a solar anomaly that threatens humanity.


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An unabridged audio collection spotlighting the “best of the best” hard science fiction stories published in 2016 by current and emerging masters of the genre, edited by Allan Kaster. In “Vortex,” by Gregory Benford, astronauts find a once thriving microbial lifeform that carpets the caves of Mars dying off. A code monkey tracks down the vain creator of a pernicious softwa An unabridged audio collection spotlighting the “best of the best” hard science fiction stories published in 2016 by current and emerging masters of the genre, edited by Allan Kaster. In “Vortex,” by Gregory Benford, astronauts find a once thriving microbial lifeform that carpets the caves of Mars dying off. A code monkey tracks down the vain creator of a pernicious software virus that people jack cerebrally in “RedKing,” by Craig DeLancey. In “Number Nine Moon,” by Alex Irvine, illicit scavengers on Mars are on a rescue mission to save themselves after one of their team members dies. A young girl’s thirst for vengeance becomes a struggle for survival when she is swallowed by a gigantic sea creature on an alien planet in “Of the Beast in the Belly,” by C.W. Johnson. In “The Seventh Gamer,” by Gwyneth Jones, a writer immerses herself into a MMORPG community to search for characters being played by real aliens from other worlds. A woman armed with a rifle stalks a herd of cloned wooly mammoths in British Columbia in “Chasing Ivory,” by Ted Kosmatka. In “Fieldwork,” by Shariann Lewitt, a volcanologist struggles with her research on Europa where both her mother and grandmother suffered dire consequences. A daughter pays homage to her mother with mega-engineering projects to deal with climate change over eons in “Seven Birthdays,” by Ken Liu. In “The Visitor from Taured,” by Ian R. MacLeod, a cosmologist in the near future is obsessed with proving his theory of multiverses. The citizens of a small town on a “Jackaroo” planet object to a corporation placing a radio telescope near local alien artifacts in “Something Happened Here, But We’re Not Quite Sure What It Was,” by Paul McAuley. And finally, in “Sixteen Questions for Kamala Chatterjee,” by Alastair Reynolds, a graduate student defends her dissertation on a solar anomaly that threatens humanity.

30 review for The Year's Top Hard Science Fiction Stories

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lena

    Seven Birthdays by Ken Liu ★★★★☆ I do love when Science Fiction reaches far into the future; it makes the impossible possible. It reminds us that we went from horse drawn carriages to the moon in a hundred years. There’s nothing we couldn’t do with will and time. Of the Beast in the Belly by C. W. Johnson ★★★★☆ A decade long quest for revenge hits a wall, I mean whale. Yes, whale. Technically an arcthant, an alien sea god with twelve stomaches. This took some time to get into. I prefer my vengeanc Seven Birthdays by Ken Liu ★★★★☆ I do love when Science Fiction reaches far into the future; it makes the impossible possible. It reminds us that we went from horse drawn carriages to the moon in a hundred years. There’s nothing we couldn’t do with will and time. Of the Beast in the Belly by C. W. Johnson ★★★★☆ A decade long quest for revenge hits a wall, I mean whale. Yes, whale. Technically an arcthant, an alien sea god with twelve stomaches. This took some time to get into. I prefer my vengeance tales to end bloody but Beast in the Belly caught me up in its catharsis, in its zen and generosity. “Those rulers believe to have life, you must take life. But that hunger i’never satisfied, and w’only devour itself, devour you. If you hunger, feed another. If you weep, comfort another. If you tire, give another your bed. If you bleed, stitch another’s wounds.” The Seventh Gamer by Gwyneth Jones ★★★★☆ “We’ll never build real AI sentience: It will be born. It will emerge from us; from what we are.” After a dubious beginning (I’m not a gamer) I was knocked down flat by this quiet AI story. (view spoiler)[AI stories tend toward high drama, violence and/or emotion. Think Terminator or Spielberg’s heart wrenching Artificial Intelligence. This quiet story of natural evolution felt real. The massive investment into realistic graphics and NPCs could someday be compared to China using gunpowder for fireworks. “Any sufficiently advanced technology destroys its environment.” Chills. (hide spoiler)] Sixteen Questions for Kamala Chatterjee by Alastair Reynolds ★★★½☆ There is some remarkably beautiful imagery written in this thousand year tale of solar exploration. But I read this twice and I’m still not sure what happened. (view spoiler)[Why did she change back to a human form? Did she go back in time? Are the questions by her future self to her past self to avoid meeting the anomaly? Is the anomaly going to snuff out the sun or change the branches of humans lives to avoid... well, whatever its motivation is. Is this anomaly Reynolds version of the early warning system monoliths of 3001: The Final Odyssey? (hide spoiler)] I’m left with more questions than answers. Chasing Ivory by Ted Kosmatka ★★★½☆ There were some beautiful ideas here and I know I would have cried along with the main character upon seeing the elephant. How many do you plan to bring back? As many as it takes. RedKing by Craig DeLancey ★★★☆☆ In a future of cybernetic implants computer viruses are a substantially greater threat. Mildly entertaining. Vortex by Gregory Benford ★★★☆☆ “It’s just life finding its way.” She could not understand why people feared new ideas. She was frightened by the old ones. International scientists study planimal life on Mars while balancing the wars back on Earth. There were some great quotes, and I do appreciate it when alien life is alien, but ultimately I found this story boring. The Visitor from Taured by Ian R. MacLeod ★★★☆☆ “But all that’s left is you and I, dear, faithful reader, and the Blue Men of the Minch calling to the waves.” Oh my that was a deep sad blanket. The Hebrides are beautiful... beautiful dementors. Fieldwork by Shariann Lewitt ★★★☆☆ Hard SciFi, Oprah style. The intergalactic exploration and science take a back seat to family: mother-daughter relations, grandparents as parents, family and PTSD, interracial children and identity, and and and... And I was bored. I expected some drama on the return to Europa, where few had made it back from the first mission. But it was slow and often epistolary. Have I mentioned I hate epistolary? Something Happened Here, But We’re Not Quite Sure What It Was by Paul McAuley ★★½☆☆ An alien race gives us fifteen habitable planets for nothing. Spoiler alert: we are still not happy. Corporations and billionaires fight for more while the people on the ground just fight to keep the little they have safe. Even upon seeing the violent remains of those who came before, people pick the bones for money and knowledge that could drive humanity to the same fate. Not quite happy with this story. Number Nine Moon by Alex Irvine ★★☆☆☆ In the tradition of The Martian three Martian colonists must use their skills to survive. But as they were looters with little backstory to recommend them I was not entertained. Average 3.22 Stars

  2. 5 out of 5

    Canavan

    ✭✭✭½

  3. 5 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    The standout story is the first, by Ken Liu. It's available online. Three more good to excellent stories. The rest range from OK to unreadable. I didn't read the Gwyneth Jones, a gamer story. TOC and story blurbs: http://www.audiotexttapes.net/TopHard... So: a decent SF anthology. If you read other Years Best anthologies, you don't really need this one? But it is all SF, no fantasy, of varying degrees of hardness. Seven Birthdays by Ken Liu. A million or so years in the life of Mia and her Mom. Ke The standout story is the first, by Ken Liu. It's available online. Three more good to excellent stories. The rest range from OK to unreadable. I didn't read the Gwyneth Jones, a gamer story. TOC and story blurbs: http://www.audiotexttapes.net/TopHard... So: a decent SF anthology. If you read other Years Best anthologies, you don't really need this one? But it is all SF, no fantasy, of varying degrees of hardness. Seven Birthdays by Ken Liu. A million or so years in the life of Mia and her Mom. Ken Liu dreams big in this meticulous hard-SF tale of the transition from organic to silicon-based life. 5+ stars, his best story yet by far. Look for it on the award ballots. https://www.tor.com/2016/11/15/reprin... More, possible SPOILERS: http://www.jonathanstrahan.com.au/wp/... Sixteen Questions for Kamala Chatterjee by Alastair Reynolds. I really couldn't make any sense of this one. Didn't work for me. Unrated. Number Nine Moon by Alex Irvine. Novelette, 7957 words. A fine, old-fashioned planetary adventure story. The Martian colony is being evacuated. Three colonists decide to do a little looting first. Complications ensue. 4.5 stars. More details (caution, SPOILERS): https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/blog/2016/... Chasing Ivory by Ted Kosmatka. Recreated mammoths in British Columbia. So-so as a story, 2.5 stars. Something Happened Here, But We’re Not Quite Sure What It Was by Paul McAuley. A fine Jackaroo story, previously read at Tor.com, https://www.tor.com/2016/07/20/someth... 3.5 stars. Of the Beast in the Belly by C.W. Johnson. Castaways in the multiple stomachs of a gigantic alien whale-analog. Gross setting, unlikeable characters. DNF and not for me! 1.5 stars? The Visitor from Taured, Ian R MacLeod. Novelette, 3 reprints in best of the year anthologies. Pastoral about a student who thinks he can prove the Many Worlds hypothesis. Elegaic and well-written SF, but not quite my sort of thing. 3.3 stars Fieldwork by Shariann Lewitt. Novelette, 9942 words. A volcanologist goes to Europa. Her grandmother and mother had both lived on Europa before, until disaster destroyed their research camp. The second expedition hopes to confirm Europan life, and Anna gets to know her mother better. 4 stars, maybe more. This ebook is available for no extra charge to Kindle Unlimited customers.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Scott Danielson

    I thoroughly enjoyed (and gleefully welcomed) this anthology of Hard SF stories from 2016. Looking for science fiction? You'll find it here. The contents of this anthology: Vortex by Gregory Benford RedKing by Craig DeLancey Number Nine Moon by Alex Irvine Of the Beast in the Belly by C.W. Johnson The Seventh Gamer by Gwyneth Jones Chasing Ivory by Ted Kosmatka Fieldwork by Shariann Lewitt Seven Birthdays by Ken Liu The Visitor from Taured by Ian R. MacLeod Something Happened Here, But We’re Not Quite Sur I thoroughly enjoyed (and gleefully welcomed) this anthology of Hard SF stories from 2016. Looking for science fiction? You'll find it here. The contents of this anthology: Vortex by Gregory Benford RedKing by Craig DeLancey Number Nine Moon by Alex Irvine Of the Beast in the Belly by C.W. Johnson The Seventh Gamer by Gwyneth Jones Chasing Ivory by Ted Kosmatka Fieldwork by Shariann Lewitt Seven Birthdays by Ken Liu The Visitor from Taured by Ian R. MacLeod Something Happened Here, But We’re Not Quite Sure What It Was by Paul McAuley Sixteen Questions for Kamala Chatterjee by Alastair Reynolds

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chris Aldridge

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Mindwebs audiobook 70. Collection contains "Chasing Ivory" by Ted Kosmatka a 2017 story of a woman ostensibly hunting woolly mammoths. A beautiful story about a speculative future in which mammoths have been recreated and reintroduced to British Columbia (North Western American continent). A highly privileged woman is dropped off by helicopter well within binocular viewing distance of the herd. She has been granted the opportunity to hunt as many of these magnificent beasts as she deemed necessa Mindwebs audiobook 70. Collection contains "Chasing Ivory" by Ted Kosmatka a 2017 story of a woman ostensibly hunting woolly mammoths. A beautiful story about a speculative future in which mammoths have been recreated and reintroduced to British Columbia (North Western American continent). A highly privileged woman is dropped off by helicopter well within binocular viewing distance of the herd. She has been granted the opportunity to hunt as many of these magnificent beasts as she deemed necessary. If you are at this point excitedly imagining what it would be like to actually bag a magnificent fully grown ancient mammoth with your high powered penis extension then I truly think you should just top yourself instead, (for the good of the species). As a conservationist I believe deviants who hunt for “sport” are either retarded or mentally ill, and should just hunt each other instead. For the rest of us, rest assured this beautifully read story is more about saving a species than shooting things. 5 stars.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Magen

    Ken Liu's short stories read: "Ad Block" in 10 Years of SF! rated 3 stars "The Ten Suns" in Deep Magic - Spring 2018 rated 5 stars "Memories of My Mother" in Timeshift rated 4 stars "Seven Birthdays" in The Year's Top Ten Science Fiction Stories "The Literomancer" in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction - September/ October 2010 rated 5 stars "Running Shoes" in Star Quake 3 rated 3.5 stars "Maxwell's Demon" in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction - January/ February 2012 "Real Faces" in Th Ken Liu's short stories read: "Ad Block" in 10 Years of SF! rated 3 stars "The Ten Suns" in Deep Magic - Spring 2018 rated 5 stars "Memories of My Mother" in Timeshift rated 4 stars "Seven Birthdays" in The Year's Top Ten Science Fiction Stories "The Literomancer" in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction - September/ October 2010 rated 5 stars "Running Shoes" in Star Quake 3 rated 3.5 stars "Maxwell's Demon" in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction - January/ February 2012 "Real Faces" in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction - July/ August 2012 "A Brief History of the Trans-Pacific Tunnel" The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction - January/ February 2013

  7. 5 out of 5

    Keith

    While I had read half the stories already, the joy of rereading them and reading other hard SF stories was too attractive, so I purchased the collection. I was delighted, I found all of the stories excellent, engrossing, and entertaining. Weak stories? None that I thought that of. Strongest stories? Those by Craig DeLacey and Alastair Reynolds.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jeppe Larsen

    Not many good stories in this collection sadly. The best being the stories by Ken Liu, Ian R. MacLeod and Craig DeLancey. There are few interesting ideas and while most of them are indeed hard science fiction, only a few authors put it to any use.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Wdspa43gmail.Com

    Nostalgic premium scifi. Well written with just the right amount of diversified character and intriguing story line. Advanced technology subtle and does not dominate the story line, but adds to the story flow. Well done and cohesieve.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mike Carnell

    Terrible reading I had high hopes for this book being it was supposed to be a compilation of great stories from up and coming authors. Sadly, it was very disappointing. There is maybe one story in the whole book that was interesting and worth reading.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Corinne

    Available on KU Aug 2021 To Read: -- Sixteen Questions for Kamala Chatterjee by Alastair Reynolds Read: -- The Seventh Gamer (2016) by Gwyneth Jones - DNF I like the concept of the story (I read some spoilers/reviews) but I'm not enjoying the telling so I'm going to let it go. Read previously: -- Seven Birthdays by Ken Liu - 2* I'm not [yet] a strong SF reader. For me, the SF concepts offered were too big for a short story. With each birthday we get a glimpse of the progression (planet, humanity) and wi Available on KU Aug 2021 To Read: -- Sixteen Questions for Kamala Chatterjee by Alastair Reynolds Read: -- The Seventh Gamer (2016) by Gwyneth Jones - DNF I like the concept of the story (I read some spoilers/reviews) but I'm not enjoying the telling so I'm going to let it go. Read previously: -- Seven Birthdays by Ken Liu - 2* I'm not [yet] a strong SF reader. For me, the SF concepts offered were too big for a short story. With each birthday we get a glimpse of the progression (planet, humanity) and within that glimpse there was just so much the author had to fit in. For me it didn't work.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Clifford

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nolan Belk

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nikolay Theosom

  15. 5 out of 5

    Geoff

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sarita Levinthal

  17. 4 out of 5

    Hal Dixi

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rosemary Stotts

  19. 4 out of 5

    Book lover

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tim Andrews

  21. 5 out of 5

    Zhoongwayway Shkung

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lee

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jim Calderon

  24. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Petschauer

  25. 5 out of 5

    ken peters

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anthony S. Della Donna

  27. 4 out of 5

    Barry Walton

  28. 5 out of 5

    Wsantosf Santos

  29. 4 out of 5

    William Goodenberger

  30. 4 out of 5

    Samuel Z Beam

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