The Year’s Top Ten Tales Of Science Fiction 5 edited by Allan Kaster (CD review).

Once again we’ve got a selection from the year’s best in Science Fiction short stories, this time for 2012, edited by Allan Kaster and expertly narrated by Dana Rosenberg, Tom Dheere and Nancy Linari. Now in its fifth series, this collection of stories has now become a tradition to look forward to at this time of year. As mentioned before in reviews, I like these neat little packages of CDs which take you to faraway worlds and challenging situations all while relaxing in comfort in your armchair. Of the 10 tales, I would like to mention the following.


Andy Duncan’s ‘Close Encounters’ reminded me of Adamski’s stories about fantastical trips to Venus and other planets in the 1950s. An old man, Mr Nelson, appears to be in the same situation but the past has come back to haunt him when a reporter, a young woman, knocks on his door to ask questions. The question is, were the trips real or a figment of his imagination? Unknown to the man, he was about to begin another extraordinary adventure.

‘The Contrary Gardener’ by Christopher Rowe takes the argument about genetically modified crops to a new level. The society had a futurist setting, with robotic bus drivers and a controlled economy. It was evident that what she was doing with root crops had some significance for warfare and it began to dawn on the woman doing agricultural experiments that something wasn’t quite right!

Linda Nagata’s story, ‘Nahiku West’, took us to an orbital city and an incident of a micro-meteorite piercing the transportation vehicle. The occupant survived, which was quite unexpected, and an investigation took place into the events. This was a rigorously controlled society. Surprisingly the man surviving the incident was executed!

‘Invisible Men’ by Christopher Barzak had a title which explained what it was all about. In a setting not dissimilar to the original story by HG Wells, an invisible man was living in a village. Carrying out experiments, he was the subject of curiosity, even by HG himself. A rather intriguing story!

Jackaroo universe is the setting of Paul McAuley’s story, ‘The Man’. A naked man turns up at the house of a reclusive woman. It then became a quest to discover what this man had been up to, only he didn’t seem to know himself.

Five other stories in the collection included the authors Gwyneth Jones, Nick Mamatas, Hannu Rajaniemi, Robert Reed and Bud Sparhawk. This edition is indeed well-balanced with good stories from all realms of Science Fiction. While it can be read in Kindle format, listening to the narration is a worthwhile experience which brings a new dimension to the words. As with productions by this company it can be thoroughly recommended.

Rest your eyes and let your ears do the work! Why not?

Rod MacDonald

August 2013

(pub: Infinivox/Audiotexttapes. 8 CDs 10 hours. Price: $29.99 inc p&p (US). ISBN: 978-1-884612-19-0)

read by: Tom Dheere, Nancy Linari and Dara Rosenberg

check out websites: www.audiotexttapes.net and www.infinivoxSF.com

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