About a month ago Gardner Dozois posted a list of his favorite stories of 2009 from ASIMOV'S. This is not the same as his Table of Contents for the Best of the Year, which of course draws from other sources besides ASIMOV'S, and which I don't think is yet available. I have been reading through the more truncated list. This project is only partial because half my issues of the magazine are in Seattle. But of the stories I have read, two stand out.
Both are novelettes. Mary Rosenblum's "Lion Walk" takes place in a future nature preserve, located at the foot of the Rockies, which is genetically engineering vanished animals from the Pleistocene. Someone is exploiting nature's savagery by dropping in young girls to create snuff films. The story is part crime mystery, part future tech, and part comment on the high cost of loving in a brutal world. It's a moving story, and I highly recommend it.
The other story, Tom Purdom's "Controlled Experiment," is not particularly moving. This tale, also about a future crime, depends not on emotion but on inventiveness. How do mischief-hackers operate in a world where everything is on-line (even the animals) and everyone seemingly knows everything about everyone else? The story is fast-paced, wildly inventive, amusing, and dead-accurate on the psychology of bright young men with too much tech on their hands and not enough social conscience.
As I read through my backlog of fiction, I'm struck -- for the second year in a row -- how many stories prominently feature genetically altered animals. Both the Rosenblum and the Purdom do, as well as several others. Last year it was dogs; this year it seems to be all sorts of animals. I wonder -- in rough economic times, do writers think more about the pets that either comfort us or share our distress? Does everyone?
At any rate, read these stories.