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Brave New Worlds, ed. John Joseph Adams

Second paragraph of third story ("Ten with a Flag", by Joseph Paul Haines):
It only took him a couple of seconds to connect to the traffic web. Johnnie didn't like being out of control, it was one of the things I'd found endearing in him; quaint even. This time though, he didn't even double check the connection. The steering wheel folded and collapsed into the dash, and he turned to face me. "What does that mean, exactly?" he asked.
This was circulated by John Joseph Adams in 2012 as part of that year's Hugo voter packet in support of his case for the Best Professional Editor, Short Form category. There are some stories missing from this version which were in the print version - "Billennium" by J.G. Ballard, "The Pedestrian" by Ray Bradbury, "The Minority Report" by Philip K. Dick, "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut - though everything else seems to be there, including "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" by Ursula K. Le Guin, "The Funeral" by Kate Wilhelm and "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said The Ticktockman" by Harlan Ellison. There are also three original stories, one of which came second in that year's Hugos (though to be honest I ranked it in last place).

I was struck by just how many of the stories focussed on future dystopian interference with reproductive or sexual rights. Of course, it's not absent from the classic dystopian novels - state regulation of sex is a key element of Zamyatin's We, Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and Huxley's Brave New World - but for them it is one of several elements combining to create oppression. By contrast, my rough tally is that more than half of the stories in Brave New Worlds take it as a central theme.

They are all pretty good and some of them are very good stories. There is a short comic by Neil Gaiman and Bryan Talbot, "From Homogenous To Honey", about the infamous anti-LGBT Clause 28 introduced by the Conservative government in 1988. Geoff Ryman's "Oh Happy Day!" looks at a particularly grim dystopia where the gender boot is on the other foot. "Civilisation" by Vylar Kaftan takes the choose-your-own-adventure format and applies it to dystopias. Generally a good collection.

As for my own vote in 2011, I'm afraid I left the Best Professional Editor, Short Form category blank; I didn't feel I had enough information to make a considered judgement. But, well, I got around to reading this in the end.

This was my top unread book acquired in 2012. Next on that list is The Story of General Dann and Mara's Daughter, Griot and the Snow Dog, by Doris Lessing.

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