Good science fiction is never merely an examination of the quirks and quarks of quantum physics, but ponders the question of what it means to be human and this "Year's Best SF 17," an anthology of short stories edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer, lives up to the philosophical challenges of this imaginative literary genre. (Harper Voyage, 490 pages)
Quite a few stories reflect a feminine perspective.
"Tethered," by Mercurio D. Rivera, describes a species in which marriage is fatal for the passive partner who quite literally absorbed by the dominant mate. Rivera has taken feminism to a whole new level.
Judith Moffett's "Middle of Somewhere" reminds us that even a recluse needs to be connected to another person - especially in a time of climate change.
Ken Liu's "Altogether Elsewhere, Vast Herds of Reindeer" describes a typical homework assignment - writing down one's family tree - but in an age where a girl might have eight genetic parents, things get very complicated indeed!
In her work, "The Ice Owl," Carolyn Ives Gilman pens a touching story of a mother and daughter trying to survive in a totalitarian Taliban like regime.
In the tradition of Karel Capek and Isaac Asimov, Elizabeth Bear's "Dolly" examines the conundrum of legal rights for a "domestic robotic servant" who is accused of murder. This naughty little sci-fi mystery has a clever little twist in its ending.
In a genre which does not limit itself to the conventions of prose, Paul Park's "Ragnarok" is written in the style of an Icelandic saga and tells the story of Eirik who vows to avenge the kidnapping of his beloved Johanna by the Cruel Jacobus.
With the official opening of the summer reading season, the "Year's Best SF 17" should be making its way to science fiction fans.