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Scott Pendergrast, Co-Publisher:

Think Like a Dinosaur by James Patrick Kelly: This is one of my favorites. In my prior life, I made videos and short films (and it's still in my blood) -- and I always thought this story would make a great short film. It has two main characters and only a few locations, so costs wouldn't be too high. To me, this is near perfect short science fiction. The author has set up a unique yet straightforward science fiction situation with a main character performing an "ordinary" task ... which quickly becomes extraordinary. Unlike some SF, Kelly's characters have real, sometimes conflicting, emotions. Decisions have consequences, and not everything is black and white. This story earned Kelly a Hugo Award.

To Serve Man by Damon Knight: If you are a Twilight Zone fan you cannot possibly pass up reading this short story, which was the basis of a famous episode from the original series. This story is different from the TV show version in many small but interesting ways. More than anything else, I enjoyed this piece so much I began reading all of Knight's work. He has a strong, classic style that is very welcome.

Bully! by Mike Resnick: This work introduced me to the wonderful world of "Alternate History" and, being a Teddy Roosevelt fan, I was hooked from the beginning. Stories like this make me want to ask the writer to provide a prologue telling us how much is true! In "Bully!," Teddy Roosevelt tries to bring democracy to the Congo. His spirit, leadership, and audaciousness (as I always imagined him) are captured in this entertaining story.

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Steve Pendergrast, Co-Publisher:

A Special Kind of Morning by Gardner Dozois: This story makes you realize what a great writer Gardner Dozois really is, and makes you wish he'd have more time to write. Although it is quite violent at points and perhaps not for everyone, the sheer grandness of the ideas and the intense visual imagery are amazing. His description of the disruption device (used to destroy a city during a bloody war) is full of impact. (You can read it in the excerpt, which I chose myself.) This is highly stylistic writing, told in rare second person format. The main character is an aging story teller who snags a young man in the morning and plies his trade (you, the reader, are the one he's snagged). But soon you are lost in his tale of his part in the Quaestor revolution. This story was nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula when it was published in 1971.

Fossil Games by Tom Purdom: Michael Swanwick commented in a chat session that he thought this was the best story nominated in the most recent Hugo cycle, but he went on to say he didn't think it had a chance of winning. I agree with him on the first count and unfortunately he was correct on the second count. Purdom gives us a richly textured universe in which a group of "under-enhanced" humans set off on a multi-decade journey to the stars (people live hundreds of years by this time so it's not considered a big deal to go off for fifty or a hundred years on a jaunt). This story is unusual because it explores political issues on a colony ship where voting is done entirely electronically via an internet-like communications system. He also gives us a glimpse of a self-replicating machine war fought by two of the inhabitants of the ship, and he even delves into philosophical issues such as "does the universe have a purpose?". The number and scope of ideas is wonderful. There is no grand, slam-bang ending here, and I think that probably hurt it in the voting. Still, this is enough to make a Purdom fan out of anyone who enjoys being shown a glimpse of an amazingly detailed and exciting future and the issues people may face there.

In the Distance, and Ahead in Time by George Zebrowski: This is set in Zebrowski's "macrolife" universe where people have taken to the stars in carved-out asteroids (called "mobiles"). I really enjoyed this story of a group of settlers clinging to life on a planet who are then visited by a mobile several generations later. The issues revolve around ecology and whether survival at any cost is worth it. The characters were also very compelling for me.

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Daniel Jorissen, Publishing Director:

Da Vinci Rising by Jack Dann: A rich blend of history and fiction, this story gives the reader a compelling insight into the world of the original Renaissance Man, and takes you back to 15th century Florence in great detail with all its grubbiness and zealous creativity. Dann expertly weaves in the royal pressures of politics with the financial realities of an artisan, all while keeping true to the Master's famous flying machine sketches. For the scientifically astute reader, Dann closely examines the experimentation process Da Vinci would have followed to correct the mistakes of each design along his sacred quest for flight ... all while he faces his own insecurities concerning the very real and immediate personal danger each test presents. The story also brings into focus the immense awe, even fear, that the public and the church had concerning the timeless question of man flying into the heavens, and the added twist of a wager on the outcome of the final test flight brings the story to an exciting and thoughtful conclusion.

In Space, No One Can Hear by Michael A. Burstein: This story pushes the edge of current technology just a little bit, envisioning a public shuttle service for travelers who wish to spend a leisurely vacation on the moon, and crews building orbiting space stations around Mars and Neptune. When a man's handicap becomes a crucial asset during an emergency in earth's orbit, the experience opens up possibilities that he could only envy of his brother, the pilot of the stricken space vessel. Burstein's characters are closely real, with all the doubts and inspirations that would accompany career disappointment, family struggles, and personal success during any period of human history ... real or imagined. Above all, this is a story of triumph in the face of adversity, and wins my personal award for the top Fictionwise Feel-Good Story.

The Peacock Throne by Charles Sheffield: Iran is a complex labyrinth of ancient customs and modern technology, and Sheffield guides the reader along a cultural learning curve from the perspective of an American re-visiting Teheran for the first time since the fall of the Shah. Drawing from the infamous 1989 press conference where scientists Pons and Fleischmann prematurely announced their discovery of cold fusion, this detective story follows the intimately personal affairs of an American agent in his attempt to discover if Iran has, against all odds, discovered the secret of an unlimited energy source. The personal and political balance of choices that are presented throughout the story serve to enlighten the reader to the differing national and international perspectives that a discovery of this magnitude would present. In the end, the reader is shown how inspiration can come from the unlikeliest of places ... and how important it is to show respect to the soul from which it came.

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