The Best of Elizabeth Bear by Elizabeth Bear

“The 27 intimate, thought-provoking stories of this doorstopper collection span over a decade of Hugo Award–winner Bear’s illustrious career. Though many of these offer glimpses into vast, intricate worlds, all are grounded in deep human feeling and small, interpersonal dramas, as with “Two Dreams on Trains,” which is set in a complex, futuristic vision of New Orleans and focuses on the clash between a mother’s hopes for her son and the boy’s goals for himself. In the emotional standout “Tideline,” a sentient war machine named Chalcedony, who was not programmed to feel emotion, uses her last reserves of energy to scour a beach for sea glass to turn into mourning jewelry in honor of her fallen human platoon. Bear’s protagonists range from machines (the living spaceships of “Boojum”) to the human (the tired homicide cop in “Dolly”) to the monstrous (the discontented vampire of “Needles”), but she crafts them all with huge helpings of empathy and heart. This excellent collection offers readers the chance to immerse themselves in Bear’s singular imagination.” — Publishers Weekly