Side Quest: from Underbridge to Goodnight Moons

2011bThe Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume Six

OK, I didn’t have good luck with the first nine stories in this collection, or the next ten, but here are the last twelve anyway:

Underbridge by Peter Beagle.  A troll statue eats small animals and, eventually, people.

Relic by Jeffrey Ford.  A story about a religious relic passing through the hands of some people.  I didn’t really pick up on the point of the story.

The Invasion of Venus by Stephen Baxter.  I read this story earlier in my questing.

Woman Leaves Room by Robert Reed.  A dull story about the feelings of a VR program.

Restoration by Robert Shearman.  Two people are assigned to work in an art gallery, restoring old paintings.  Each painting is a year of Earth’s history.  The restorers are told to start painting demons on all the paintings.  Demons come to burn all the paintings, but the restorers save 1574 and throw the painting on the Earth and live there for a while.  Apparently, they’d been in Hell before this.

The Onset of a Paranormal Romance by Bruce Sterling.   A long, dull intro, but no actual story.

Catastrophic Disruption of the Head by Margo Lanagan.  This could have been an interesting story about a villager going off to join the army, but it turns into some fairy tale stuff with rape and murder that added nothing.

The Last Ride of the Glory Girls.  A steampunk-style story with a time-manipulation device.

The Book of Phoenix (excerpted from The Great Book) by Nnedi Okorafor.  This appears to be the beginning of the author’s novel The Book of Phoenix.  The Great Book is something also referenced in that novel’s blurb, so this short story’s excerpt label is confusing.

In the short story, a mutant escapes from a prison/experimental lab.  The author focuses more on being artsy than on the plot or sci-fi aspects.  For instance, one of the mutants has the special ability to eat broken glass, concrete rubble, rust, etc., but if he eats bread or an apple, it will kill him.

Digging by Ian McDonald.  I read this story earlier in my questing.

The Man Who Bridged the Mist by Kij Johnson.  This was the only story to make it into all three of my side quest collections.  I have no idea why.

Goodnight Moons by Ellen Klages.  One of the astronauts on the first manned mission to Mars doesn’t realize she’s pregnant until after launch, and gives birth on the Red Planet.  She and the baby have to stay, because the baby wouldn’t be able to handle Earth’s gravity.

My average rating (5 star system) of the above stories:  2.00

Suggested use for this collection:  convincing the Planetary Defense Commander to pull out and nuke the site from orbit.


  1. Man, this book seems full of total suckage!

    1. I’ve apparently been using an incorrect definition of the word “best”.

      1. That has to be the explanation, because nothing else could possibly make sense!

        I think I must have sensed this years ago though, as these Best of…. books never got my attention. It feels like you’ve been super cheated by spending time on each story.

        1. I’ll write some more about this when I review the third collection, but I’m extremely “best”-averse now. These three anthologies burned me out more than the 50+ magazines I’ve read.

          1. I must have read one or two in highschool, because while I have no memory of ever actually reading one, I certainly have a very negative reaction to them.
            Maybe I blocked it out because it was so bad?

  2. […] recently (see the star ratings I gave to the stories in 49 magazines, my first side quest, and my second side quest).  I’m being extremely unscientific by choosing these doubles, as I’ve changed two […]

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