Some of the Best from Tor.com
A collection of some of the best original science fiction and fantasy short fiction published on Tor.com in 2019.Includes stories by:Elizabeth BearSiobhan CarrollJohn ChuGreg EganKathleen Ann GoonanS. L. HuangCarole JohnstoneKJ KabzaErinn L. KemperMary Robinette KowalRich LarsonM. Evan MacGriogirSeanan McGuireLis MitchellMimi MondalAnnalee NewitzSilvia ParkLaurie PennyBrenda PeynadoChristopher RoweRivers SolomonKarin TidbeckJY YangE. Lily YuAt the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Some of the Best from Tor.com Details

TitleSome of the Best from Tor.com
Author
ReleaseJan 29th, 2020
PublisherTor Books
ISBN-139781250776785
Rating
GenreFantasy, Short Stories, Science Fiction, Anthologies

Some of the Best from Tor.com Review

  • Gavin
    January 1, 1970
    Very formulaic, two or three formulae. 1) the tragic child; 2) bullied outcast responding with excess force; 3) Gaiman-Whedon fairytales winking too hard. Portentous in all but five cases, mostly clumsily so. Glorifying bad decisions just because they are autonomous. Sprinkling of non-English languages, otherwise less knowledge than I look for. Good amount of very bad poetry too.I'd have stopped reading this about a quarter through, but I was looking for new writers. I figured that if Tor Very formulaic, two or three formulae. 1) the tragic child; 2) bullied outcast responding with excess force; 3) Gaiman-Whedon fairytales winking too hard. Portentous in all but five cases, mostly clumsily so. Glorifying bad decisions just because they are autonomous. Sprinkling of non-English languages, otherwise less knowledge than I look for. Good amount of very bad poetry too.I'd have stopped reading this about a quarter through, but I was looking for new writers. I figured that if Tor snagged Egan, Abercrombie, Miéville, Reynolds, Stross, surely some of the other 22 authors, chosen from presumed thousands, would be good. 3 are (Larson, Tidbeck and Kemper), but this knowledge cost me more than I thought.Great1. “Zeitgeber” by Greg Egan2. “Painless” by Rich LarsonOk:3. “The Last Voyage of Skidbladnir” by Karin Tidbeck4. “The Song” by Erinn L. Kemper5. “Blue Morphos in the Garden” by Lis Mitchell6. "The Touches", Brenda Peynado7. “Water: A History” by KJ Kabza8. “Skinner Box” by Carole Johnstone9. “Old Media” by Annalee Newitz10. “More Real Than Him” by Silvia Park11. “For He Can Creep” by Siobhan Carroll12. “Knowledgeable Creatures” by Christopher RoweMeh13. “One/Zero” by Kathleen Ann Goonan14. “Seonag and the Seawolves” by M. Evan MacGriogair15. “Beyond the El” by John Chu16. “As the Last I May Know” by S. L. Huang17. “His Footsteps, Through Darkness and Light” by Mimi Mondal18. “Any Way the Wind Blows” by Seanan McGuire19. “The Hundredth House Had No Walls” by Laurie Penny20. “The Time Invariance of Snow” by E. Lily Yu21. “Circus Girl, The Hunter, and Mirror Boy” by JY YangBad22. “Blood Is Another Word for Hunger” by Rivers Solomon23. “Deriving Life” by Elizabeth Bear24. “Articulated Restraint” by Mary Robinette Kowal----------------------------------------------------------------------Painless by Rich Larson. Really nice. Dozens of original details. I liked the recycling replicator, feeding a stray your fingers, the Arabic-Hausa neologisms, procedural cartoons, dying face unlock. I flinched for the CIPA characters even though it means nothing to them.The Song, Erinn Kemper. Plenty of tension and ambiguity, unlike the other stories. Say you work on a machine that kills the creatures you love, because that's how you get to study them alive. Characters with more than one value, making terrible decisions, not solving problems, not quipping, not punching up. The setup relies on you thinking there's a difference in kind between killing a whale and killing a cow, which I don't. There's even a dig at monomaniacal Greens: "the carbon footprint resulting from eating whale meat is substantially lower than that of beef(...)" Works.“Blue Morphos in the Garden” by Lis Mitchell. Playful sort of death, natural afterlife. I am glad the protagonist pushes back against the ancestor-worship and collective subsumption. "Don't you think it’s selfish not to leave something that Lily can see, that she can tell her children about?”“Don’t you think it’s a bit much to expect me to define my entire life by my motherhood and the expectation that my daughter will want me around forever?" “Water: A History” by KJ Kabza. romance vs economics. Still touched by the blind contrarian spirit of this volume, but at least it's well done.“Skinner Box” by Carole Johnstone. Trapped in a tiny spaceship with your lover and your rapist. Angsty astronauts, too horny and sadistic to live. You can't send people this fucked up into space. But we will. Narrator is called a genius but shows no signs of it. Johnstone manages to make deep learning nasty, just by associating it with these mean narrow bastards. Nice mention of Graphcore, my local overweening tech giant. "I don’t like the unpredictability of people. Of neocortexes. But I hate the predictability of nanites. The incorruptibility.""Bots are just automated programs. They mostly replicate what we can already do, so we don’t have to do it. Conventional bots are ones and zeros. Nanites are built from DNA.” - but substrate is irrelevant to program. Cruel, vague, but has a few ideas at least."One/Zero". Warzone children scene manipulative, saccharine. At least she's thinking big, Santa Superintelligence / Surveill. Boy and god. AI unbixes itself and everything goes swell. Attempt at lyrical Uplift mandala but ends up clumsy and soppy-stern.could their imagined trajectories be any worse than our increasing totalitarianism? Or any worse than one of the main hallmarks of what it means to be human, which is to kill our fellows, or even send our own kin to torture or death if a certain “belief”—whatever a belief might be, neurochemically speaking—has taken up residence in our unfathomable brains?Bring it on, I say. The change might be for the better.“Seonag and the Seawolves” by M. Evan MacGriogair. Nice Celtic colour and rhythm, though actually it gets in the way of the images. The Gaelic is mostly not translated, and I didn't bother to google it. Portentous as usual, far too many one-sentence paragraphs, but it does islander prejudice and peaty magic well."Old Media" by Annalee Newitz. Central conceit - that we would have economically-profitable human slavery at the same time as human-level AI - is full-on nonsense, but I actually didn't mind much. Goofy picture of a future humanities degree, studying harem anime and anti-robotism with your ace robot gf. She [robot gf] looked so beautiful that John thought his heart would crack open like the space eggs in a kaiju movie, full of lava and lightning and life forms that had never walked the Earth. “More Real Than Him” by Silvia Park. Protagonist is a basic K-pop stan and a sexist haxxor snob. (Hard to imagine such being technically talented, but some surely are.) Fun.“The Hundredth House Had No Walls” by Laurie Penny. Extremely conventional subversion of fairy tales, the princess saves herself in this one eh. Flat and clear and fine."Beyond the El" by John Chu. Maudlin food magic. Few outright errors, as well as an apparently intentional hypernegation tic ("aren't not exactly rich", "the wind was not freezing"). Sister character is a boring 2D sociopath.“As the Last I May Know” by S. L. Huang. Nuclear Omelas. Contains a dreadful slander on Otto Hahn, naming the warmonger nuke-happy president after him. Dreadful haiku. I'd have liked some details on how exactly they kept their nuclear secrets for 200 years; we didn't manage two. The story hinges on a false dichotomy, that the superweapon will necessarily kill children. Unless it's a very dense population, or the enemy are using hostages, then she doesn't explain why there's no tactical use.“Deriving Life” by Elizabeth Bear. Incredibly glib, replacing the rightful defamiliarisation and mirror-darkly of SF with applause lights ("Can you imagine a planet full of assholes who used to just . . . cut down trees?") Premise is bizarre and cool and she doesn't pull it off.“Articulated Restraint” by Mary Robinette Kowal. Really irritating. Why do people glorify going to space when you're physically messed up? I guess this would be less pointless if you liked the character from elsewhere. I guess the actual Apollo equipment protocol details are nice.Would be one star without the Egan, Larson, Tidbeck, Kemper 3-stars.
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  • REBEKKA
    January 1, 1970
    Some of the Best from Tor.com: 2019 Edition is a good collection. Solid. There were only a few I could not get into, a handful of ones that I really enjoyed. Probably a three and a half star read overall. Only going to go into my favorites of this collection.Greg Egan's Zeitgeber was strong and one of my favorites of this collection but also kind of disappointing. I think I was hoping for another The Caress (a high bar, as I consider it one of my favorite stories ever) and while I did not get Some of the Best from Tor.com: 2019 Edition is a good collection. Solid. There were only a few I could not get into, a handful of ones that I really enjoyed. Probably a three and a half star read overall. Only going to go into my favorites of this collection.Greg Egan's Zeitgeber was strong and one of my favorites of this collection but also kind of disappointing. I think I was hoping for another The Caress (a high bar, as I consider it one of my favorite stories ever) and while I did not get it, I still got a very solid Egan story.Rich Larson's Painless was very good. Loved the whole concept of it. Short and sweet.Brenda Peynado's The Touches was great. I thought that this story combined a lot of different concepts together very well. I guess my one negative about it is that I thought the relationships the characters have to their flesh/"real" bodies and their the digital/"fake" bodies could have been explored further, beyond just describing how they were different. Christopher Rowe's Knowledgeable Creatures was a fun story. A detective noir with a talking dog protagonist is a great concept but the I am not exactly sure what happened to the story towards the end, with it sort of falling apart and ending very abruptly, without much of a conclusion to anything.River Solomon's Blood is Another Word for Hunger was great. Possibly my favorite story in the collection. I was already interested in her novel The Deep based on the strength of this story but reading that it is based on a song by one of my favorite hip hop groups, clipping. (who are excellent live), is making me feel like I need to read it right now.Last thought about this collection is just how beautiful all of the cover art for these stories are.
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent collection- it's been quite a while (too long) since I've read short stories, so it was a real treat. And a very high count of "stories I like" vs. "stories that didn't work for me", so it was win-win all around. I now have a lot more authors on my to-read list.
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  • Autumn
    January 1, 1970
    Things I love:- Tor short stories- Short story collections- This book, most likely
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