Twenty-eight tales from 1996, expertly selected by editor Dozois (his secret? ``He picks the stories he likes best,'' the blurb trumpets), plus the customary overview (not seen). Three contributors--Gregory Benford, Ian McDonald, and Mike Resnick- -write, independently, about Africa, while Tony Daniel appears twice, with one story about a future combat veteran and another about robots. The parade of famous names continues with Michael Swanwick (job security), Nancy Kress (aliens), James P. Blaylock (nostalgia and the supernatural), Robert Silverberg (a May/December romance), Bruce Sterling (bicycles), Gwyneth Jones (dreams), Charles Sheffield (a science thriller), Robert Reed (multigeneration starship), Gene Wolfe (a sea voyage), Cherry Wilder (a preWW I doctor), and Walter Jon Williams (China). Essential reading for short story fans: The tireless Dozois triumphs again.