The New Space Opera 1/18
Gwyneth Jones story is a perfect example for the confusion between setting and plot when it comes to space opera. The setting might have the right scale, but the plot itself doesn’t. That said, I actually enjoyed the story immensely. A small scale political intrigue as part of bigger political machinations that in many ways reflect contemporary global Realpolitik and yet told a SF story in its own right. If the rest of the anthology offers the same quality, I probably won’t mind if most of the stories aren’t even space opera.
One thing that actually annoyed me: like in his Year’s Best Of Gardner Dozois always has a small encapsulation of what the story is going to be about after introducing the author. These always read clever and insightful, until you actually read the story and realize how stupid they are. And he does this all the time, which makes me wonder whether he pitches these lines half-asleep, because he can’t be bothered. A better line in this case would have been: Don’t try to ascribe human characteristics to aliens, it will always bite you when you least expect it.