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THE GOOD NEW STUFF by Gardner Dozois


Adventure SF in the Grand Tradition

edited by Gardner Dozois

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-19890-6
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Companion volume to The Good Old Stuff (p. 1339), that being a selection of golden oldie adventure stories/space operas from the 1940s through the 1960s. Here, Dozois rounds up yarns in a similar mold from the 1970s on up. Some are already famous or familiar: Bruce Sterling’s splendid Shaper/Mechanist yarn, “Swarm”; Walter Jon Williams’s wrenching perversion of religion, “Prayers on the Wind”; and George R.R. Martin’s science fiction Inquisition, “The Way of Cross and Dragon.” Maureen F. McHugh’s “The Missionary’s Child” is set on same world as her recent novel, Mission Child (p. 1421). Most of the other yarns are top-notch too; it’s not quality that’s at issue here. One problem is a change of style in SF: virtually none of these tales would qualify as space opera or even adventure. Mostly they’re too complex to be easily categorized. Another quibble involves the volume’s breakdown by decade. Of the seventeen yarns here, two derive from the 1970s, four from the 1980s, with a disproportionate eleven from the 1990s, these latter no more “adventurous” than the others. Splendid yarns, but still, while Dozois’s desire to wrap things up in a neat package is understandable, his rather specious justifications grate nonetheless.