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The Best American Science Fiction and…

The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015

by Joe Hill

Other authors: John Joseph Adams (Series Editor), Nathan Ballingrud (Contributor), T.C. Boyle (Contributor), Adam-Troy Castro (Contributor), Neil Gaiman (Contributor)15 more, Theodora Goss (Contributor), Alaya Dawn Johnson (Contributor), Kelly Link (Contributor), Carmen Maria Machado (Contributor), Seanan McGuire (Contributor), Sam J. Miller (Contributor), Susan Palwick (Contributor), Cat Rambo (Contributor), Jess Row (Contributor), Karen Russell (Contributor), A Rustad, Merc (Contributor), Sofia Samatar (Contributor), Kelly Sandoval (Contributor), Jo Walton (Contributor), Daniel H. Wilson (Contributor)

Series: The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy (2015)

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Ahhhh I had heard this was one of the best collections of SF & F ever, and that is deeply true. I had read several of the stories before, including Sofia Samatar's stunning Ogres of East Africa, but Jess Row's painful, haunting The Empties was new to me, and Alaya Dawn Johnson's agonizing A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai'i (such a callback to Octavia Butler's short stories, but its own wonderful and poignant story) seemed to set the entire volume ablaze with reflected glory (and it has plenty of glories in the other stories as well). ( )
  SuziSteffen | Feb 20, 2018 |
This is the first science fiction and fantasy installment in the yearly Best American series, and as such it contains a nice foreword from series editor John Joseph Adams about the history of science fiction and fantasy and his own relationship to them, and a really fantastic introduction from this volume's editor, Joe Hill, about the power and the wonder of these genres.

Which starts things off well, and the stories themselves happily continue this trend. It's a sad truth that almost every anthology features its clunkers, and with "best of" anthologies, I usually find myself looking at a story or two and wondering how anybody could regard this as the best of anything. But, gratifyingly, that's not the case here at all. Some of these stories are more exactly to my taste than others, but I found all of them well worth reading, at the very least, and collectively they made for a really fantastic (in both sense of the word) reading experience.

Not that I imagine these will be to everyone's taste. It's all very 21st-century genre writing, with strong literary sensibilities and no good old-fashioned sword & sorcery, space opera, or technophilic hard SF to be found. Many, or perhaps most of the stories are quite dark, and often they're quite surreal. Some of them feature social commentary of the sort that makes you feel pretty depressed about the world. All of them are well-written, albeit sometimes in slightly odd or unconventional ways. I imagine individual readers know quite well whether they like that sort of thing, but for those who do like that sort of thing, I recommend it highly. Also, I recommend not skipping over the "contributors' notes" at the end, which features some really interesting comments from the writers about the stories and how they came to be.

My one disappointment about this volume was when I realized I'd already read several of the stories included elsewhere. But even that didn't last, as every one of them turned out to be worth re-reading.

I am definitely going to have to seek out the 2016 edition. ( )
  bragan | Dec 28, 2017 |
I am on what appears to be a never-ending search for an annual “best of science fiction” that actually collects a broad spectrum of extraordinary stories of the year. I’m sure it is partly the fault of memory glossing over the rough spots, but I have never found anything as effective and successful at this as Donald A. Wollheim’s collections that came out from the mid-60s into the late 80s.

The closest I have come is the annual Nebula awards collection. But that has its own restrictions, and I continue to search.

That is the reason I quickly got a copy of the first science fiction and fantasy collection put together by the “Best of…” editors. I went in with trepidation. Other than “The Best Nonrequired Reading” collection (which year after year proves to be an incredible collection of stories, essays, graphics, etc. that has become one of my “must reads” every year), I am generally disappointed by what is contained in this franchise’s collections. And when it comes to fiction, I find the collections to be particularly dreadful.

But, for the sake of finding a new collection of the year’s best – possibly exploring areas uncharted by other collections – I went for it.

I should have gone with my gut instinct. There is very little to recommend this book.

The stories felt they trod previously well-trodden areas with nothing new to offer, were one-trick ponies that did not do their tricks all that well, or tried to subsist on how important they told you they were. Yes, it was science fiction; yes, it was fantasy; but, no, it was not worth the time. And there were more than a couple that actually made me mad with their mediocrity.

Not all is lost. There were some really good ones – ones that belong in a “best of” collection. For example, “A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai’i” is a fascinating take on vampire mythology that has the added benefit of ending far differently than expected. It is a neat trick to find a new way to tell a vampire story and surprise the reader with what finally happens. (This was a Nebula Award winner. Not surprising that it is this good.)

“Skullpocket” by Nathan Ballingrud is a weird fantasy about a land where ghouls have established an uneasy and deadly alliance with local citizens. This quick description does not do the story justice, but that is part of what makes it so good. It must be read to appreciate how good it is.

And Kelly Link’s “I Can See Right Through You”, which, it might be argued, may not belong in this collection, is, as so much of her work, a total and complete stand out. (Has she ever written a bad story? I’m sure she has, but I’m hard pressed at this moment to think of one.) The story has hints of fantasy, but some people may consider it a stretch to include it in this collection. There is the hint of ghosts and eerie events, and that’s about it. However, this story of two actors – their history together, their impact on each other, and the events that transformed them into what we see today – is worth reading because it is just so danged good. I have previously read it at least twice before, and I’m sure I will run into it again. And I will be more than happy to reread it then.

Some of the others are also okay. But that is all, just okay – not really coming close to “best of” status.

And let me throw in one other thing. I know there is an attempt for blind submissions and assurance that everything is on the up and up. But what are the odds that five of the twenty items would come from Lightspeed magazine – the same magazine for which series editor John Joseph Adams is editor and publisher. I don’t think this was a conscious choice. But it does seem to show that Adams likes a certain type of story (he wouldn’t publish them if he didn’t) and that prejudice (a meaner word than I actually mean) comes through in the selections that were brought to guest editor Joe Hill’s attention. I just don’t believe so much of the very best of the year comes from that source. And this misalignment of tastes may be a big part of why I cannot recommend this collection.

Whatever the case, aside from a couple of exceptionally good offerings, there are not that many that really stand out – except for all the wrong reasons. And those exceptional ones, I am guessing, can be found elsewhere. And that is where you should go to find them…elsewhere. ( )
  figre | May 15, 2017 |
As with most collections, I enjoyed a few stories and could have done without a few. There were a few that did not give me the sci-fi/fantasy feel, due to the wide consideration given by the editors. Without looking back over the titles, I would call "Skullpockets" my favorite. ( )
  sbluerock | Nov 5, 2016 |
I really like the way Adams compiled this: making a long list and then submitting those stories blind to Joe Hill to choose from. Lots of good stuff, and several new-to-me authors.

Library copy ( )
  Kaethe | Oct 17, 2016 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joe Hillprimary authorall editionscalculated
Adams, John JosephSeries Editorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ballingrud, NathanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boyle, T.C.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Castro, Adam-TroyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gaiman, NeilContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Goss, TheodoraContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Johnson, Alaya DawnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Link, KellyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Machado, Carmen MariaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McGuire, SeananContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Miller, Sam J.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Palwick, SusanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rambo, CatContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Row, JessContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Russell, KarenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rustad, A, MercContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Samatar, SofiaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sandoval, KellyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Walton, JoContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wilson, Daniel H.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0544449770, Paperback)

Science fiction and fantasy enjoy a long literary tradition, stretching from Mary Shelley, H. G. Wells, and Jules Verne to Ray Bradbury, Ursula K. Le Guin, and William Gibson. In The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy award-winning editor John Joseph Adams delivers a diverse and vibrant collection of stories published in the previous year. Featuring writers with deep science fiction and fantasy backgrounds, along with those who are infusing traditional fiction with speculative elements, these stories uphold a longstanding tradition in both genres—looking at the world and asking, What if . . . ?
The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015 includes
Kelly Link, Neil Gaiman, Karen Russell
T. C. Boyle, Sofia Samatar, Jo Walton, Cat Rambo
Daniel H. Wilson, Seanan McGuire, Jess Row, and others

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 30 Jul 2015 07:23:57 -0400)

"Science fiction and fantasy enjoy a long literary tradition, stretching from Mary Shelley, H. G. Wells, and Jules Verne to Ray Bradbury, Ursula K. Le Guin, and William Gibson. In The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy award-winning editor John Joseph Adams delivers a diverse and vibrant collection of stories published in the previous year. Featuring writers with deep science fiction and fantasy backgrounds, along with those who are infusing traditional fiction with speculative elements, these stories uphold a longstanding tradition in both genres - looking at the world and asking, What if . . . ?"--provided by publisher.… (more)

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