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The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens    edited by Jane Yolen & Patrick Nielsen Hayden order for
Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens
by Jane Yolen
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Jane Yolen ably introduces these eleven stories (all published in 2004) as tales that will 'make you laugh, cry, whoop for joy, and gasp in astonishment, and will tickle your seventh sense - that sense of wonder.' Her individual introductions include recommendations of similar stories for readers to try. Many of the eleven are by renowned authors and, as was common to early SF, many have twisty endings that leave a lot to the imagination.

I loved the premise in Kelly Link's The Faery Handbag, in which an entire world of faery has been magicked into Grandmother Zofia's handbag - when she dies suddenly, her granddaughter is left with the big problem of a missing boyfriend. The world of S. M. Stirling's Blood Wolf will be familiar to fans of his historical fantasy series that began with Island in the Sea of Time - this tale features a young savage seeking his fortune amongst the wizard folk. I enjoyed Lynette Aspey's Sleeping Dragons, a Vietnamese Aussie fantasy which hatches a baby boy from a dragon's egg. Garth Nix's Endings is an elegant, very short vampire story. David Gerrold's Dancer in the Dark shows a world divided between those existing in dim, fading enclaves, and others willing to embrace a potentially perilous brightness, change, and the unknown. And Adam Stemple's A Piece of Flesh is a changeling tale with a rich vein of horror.

I especially enjoyed Delia Sherman's urban fantasy, Catnyp, set in an otherworld New York Public Library, where romance develops between two bi-cultural human/fairy changelings, and the narrator, Neef, faces a tough choice. Along the way, she discovers the enchantment of books - 'I felt them curling up in my brain and making me feel stuff I'd never felt before.' Kipling's clever They, a ghost story involving a man, a blind woman and mysterious children, is billed as a Golden Oldie. Theodora Goss's The Wings of Meister Wilhelm tells of a passion for the violin, prejudice and a yearning for escape in the post-Civil War South - young Rose's mentor advises, 'I like to think, liebling, that in this sad world of ours, those who create do not destroy so often.' Leah Bobet's Displaced Persons does a nice job of taking on the fate of the Wicked Witch of Oz's winged monkeys, offering hope to a new generation. Finally, Bradley Denton's Sergeant Chip looks hard at the use of augmented animals in wartime - from the canine perspective.

As in all short story collections, you will find some you love here and some you find ho-hum, but all the tales in The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens are worth reading, thinking about, and discussing with your friends.

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