A collection of the “best of the best” science fiction stories published in 2009 by current and emerging masters of the genre. In “Erosion,” by Ian Creasey, a man tests the limits of his exo-suit prior to leaving a dying Earth. In “As Women Fight,” by Sara Genge, a hunter, in a society of body-switchers, has no time to train for a fight to inhabit his wife’s body. In “A Story, with Beans,” by Steven Gould, the role of religion in a dystopian future plagued with metal-eating bugs is considered. In “Events Preceding the Helvetican Renaissance,” by John Kessel, a monk, in the far future, steals the only copy of a set of plays from a repressive regime and uses this loot to free his people. In “On the Human Plan,” by Jay Lake, a mysterious alien visits a far-future, dying Earth in search of the death of Death. In “Crimes and Glory,” by Paul McAuley, set in the author’s Jackaroo sequence, a detective chases a thief to recover alien technology that both aliens and humanity are desperate to recover. In “Mongoose,” by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear, set in the authors’ Lovecraftian “Boojum” universe, a vermin hunter and his tentacled assistant come on board a space station to hunt toves and raths. In “Before My Last Breath,” by Robert Reed, a geologist uncovers a strange fossil in a coal mine that leads to the discovery of a peculiar graveyard. In “The Island,” by Peter Watts, a woman on a spaceship must decide whether to place a stargate near an alien society that will ultimately destroy it. Finally, “This Peaceable Land; or, The Unbearable Vision of Harriet Beecher Stowe,” by Robert Charles Wilson, is an alternate American Civil War history in which the war was never fought, slavery gradually disappeared, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin was never published.