Having grown up with "Star Trek" and "Lost in Space," this reviewer enjoys the imaginative genre of science fiction. Editors David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer have selected twenty-one stellar science fiction short stories, "Year's Best SF 16." (Harper Voyager/HarperCollins, 500 pages)
The human equation outshines the element of "science" in good sci-fi writing and this collection is no exception.
Benjamin Crowell's "Peptopia" reminds us that pets, especially robotic pets designed with artificial intelligence, can truly enrich our lives.
Terry Bisson's "About It" is a clever little tale about an genetically engineered Sasquatch and how it loves to be lulled by televised sports, not unlike many human males.
"Sleeping Dogs," by Joe Haldeman, warns us that even in the future, Dwight Eisenhower's admonition concerning the might of the "military-industrial complex" may still ring prophetic.
As a political fable, "The Good Hand" of Robert Reed envisions a post-World War II dominated by the United States which had kept sole control over nuclear weapons. But the stability of the pax Americana comes at a great price to personal freedom, as human imagination is rigorously controlled to maintain the status quo.
"Jackie's-Boy," by Steven Popkes, writes of a post-Apocalyptic world reminiscent of William Golding's epic novel, "Lord of the Flies." In a world decimated by genetically engineered plagues and various laboratory "quick fixes" deleterious to the environment, packs of boys prey on the few survivors, as the veneer of civilization has been utterly obliterated.
A young orphan, Michael, must team up with an elephant, Jackie, that had been carefully taught the gift of speech. Elephants are social creatures and in a world cruelly abused by humans, the elephant and her helpmate, Michael, must work together as they try to forge the beginnings of civilization which is based on mutual respect and cooperation.
The "Year's Best SF 16" provides a summer time treat of provocative and entertaining reading.