Just finished reading Hartwell/Cramer's Year's Best SF 10. If I were organized, I would wait 'til I'd gotten through the other Year's Bests before writing up thoughts, but I'm not, so I won't.
My favorite story in the book was Ray Vukcevich's "Glinky," from F&SF: silly, surreal, imaginative, entertaining, and has some nice depth to it too. I could try to describe it further, but I think I'll stick with Robert Burke Richardson's description from the F&SF discussion forum: "It moves from a Tarantino-esque opening to the perfect ending, with all sorts of madness and sandwich eating in between." Truly it is said: There's nothing else quite like a Ray Vukcevich story. "Glinky," btw, has qualified for next year's Nebula preliminary ballot.
There were a fair number of other stories I liked in the book as well. But rather than list those, I'm gonna discuss some generalities. Such as:
There were several stories that I found extremely predictable—from the first few paragraphs, I got a pretty clear sense of what the rest of the story was going to be, not just in general terms ("Something bad is going to happen to her") but fairly specifically, sometimes including the surprise twist ending. I suspect that many other people aren't as bothered by stories being predictable as I am. Of course, in stories where plot isn't the point, predictability isn't so much of an issue; and of course, there are lots of stories whose predictability is outweighed, for me, by various other factors, such as charm or humor or the route taken to get to the predicted ending. But in general, predictability is one of the things that bothers me most about stories in which it bothers me.
One factor that can outweigh predictability for me is good worldbuilding, and there's lots of that in this anthology. In fact, there are half a dozen stories here in which I like the worldbuilding more than I like the story as a whole. Good sense of place, good sense of rich history, good sense of strangeness.
Hartwell and Cramer continue to maintain strict genre separation; in their introduction, they say "every story in this book is clearly [science fiction] and not something else." Which I find fascinating, because on the one hand, I don't like the strict separation (I'd still like to see a Year's Best Speculative Fiction that pays no attention to genre boundaries within the very broad outlines of "speculative fiction"; perhaps to be edited by Rich Horton 'cause I've liked the imaginary tables of contents for such that I think I've seen from him), but on the other hand, I don't actually agree with them that every story in the book is clearly, or even primarily, science fiction. There are half a dozen stories here that I read as basically fantasy, usually with a thin veneer of science fictional justification, and a couple others that are somewhere in the interstitial/slipstream spectrum, not easily pinned to any particular genre. I'm not objecting to those stories; on the contrary, I tend to like them more than the ones that read more firmly as science fiction to me. But I find it interesting that the editors take a harder-line stance on genre boundaries than I would, and then turn out to have broader definitions than I do of where those boundaries lie.
(An aside: I also find it interesting that I tend to classify as fantasy almost any story in which God is demonstrated to exist. I can't decide whether that's my atheism/agnosticism showing, or whether it has to do with God usually stepping in and taking a direct hand in making things happen in such stories. There are two such stories in this book; both are arguably science fiction, but—like Clarke's classic story "The Nine Billion Names of God," which one of these stories pretty strongly echoes—the approach feels to me more like fantasy than like science fiction. I'm not sure I can justify that statement beyond pure gut feeling. Interestingly, Clarke's classic story "The Star" does read more like science fiction to me, perhaps because although there is evidence of God's hand in that story, God does not directly step in and cause things to happen to the protagonists on-camera.)
On a much more specific note, there are at least two stories in this book featuring autistic characters. It seems to me I've been seeing a lot of such stories in the past couple years, perhaps spurred partly by the success of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and partly by what I gather is an inexplicable rise in the incidence of autism in the real world in recent years. I think sf writers may have decided en masse that there've now been enough stories about Alzheimer's (some of which are heartbreaking, but to me there gets to be a certain sameness about them, and there've been a lot of them lately) and are now moving on to stories focusing on autism.
Perhaps I'll report on other Year's Bests as I finish 'em, perhaps not. In case I don't, I'll mention here that I'm currently about halfway through Hartwell/Cramer's Year's Best Fantasy 5; so far, my favorite story in that is Dale Bailey's painful and dark "The End of the World as We Know It," also first published in F&SF, which has also qualified for next year's preliminary Nebula ballot.