This anthology was the last of the years best Donald A. Wollheim did before his death. It collects 12 stories from 11 different authors published in 1989.

Sidenote - what is it with yearly anthologies and their names? This has 1990 in the title but covers stories from 1989. Other anthologies are just numbered, which doesn’t help at all with figuring out which year it covers. For example, there exists a The Best Science Fiction of the Year 6, a Year’s Best SF 6 and a The Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 6 covering stories from the years 1976, 2000 and 2020. There must be a more userfriendly way to name these collections.

With that little rant out of the way, the stories presented here are from highly regarded well established authors at the time - like Robert Silverberg and J. G. Ballard - and a few names that were relatively newcomers to the field - Lucius Shephard and Judith Moffett.

The fiction starts of with “Alpha” by Gregory Benford which was merely so-so in my opinion, but still a decent start with some hard sf. We continue with “The Magic Bullet” by Brian Stableford about a professor who discovers a way to achieve immortality in mice. Just only female mice. Robert Silverberg has two stories in this collection and the first is “Chiprunner” - a strange and very sad story about a young boy with an eating disorder. He is obsessed with computers and through therapist sessions (the story is told from the therapists point of view) he reveals that he wants to shrink himself to the atomic level so he can become one with the computer chips. Even though the story is more metaphorical than literal, it still has a clear science fiction feel to it. The second Silverberg story “A Sleep and a Forgetting” deals with the sort of time travel that only allows for communication to the past not travel. Here someone ends up talking to Ghengis Khan - and maybe end up changing history.

“Abe Lincoln in McDonald’s” by James Morrow is to be taken quite literally in what happens, but not without something deeper to say about slavery and racism. “In Translation” by Lisa Tuttle tells a story about a man who becomes so obsessed with visting aliens that he forgets all the human relationships around him. “Not Without Honor” by Judith Moffett also deals with visiting aliens and they are apparently mostly interested in the old TV show The Mickey Mouse Club.

Orson Scott Card delivers a classic cyberpunk tale in “Dogwalker” in a high tense plot involving clever ways to deduct peoples passwords. The anthology ends with “War Fever” by J. G. Ballard about a terrible war that never ends, but with a macabre reveal at the end. Without spoiling too much, it reminded me a good deal about a famous story by Scott Card.

In conclusion, mostly a decent collection of stories, but nothing really stellar or stories that I see myself coming back to. Could be either Wollheim’s selection or that 1989 wasn’t a particular amazing year. But looking at a list of stories from 1989 sorted by citations, there are several very popular stories that Wollheim have omitted.