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The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016

by Karen Joy Fowler (Editor), John Joseph Adams (Series Editor)

Other authors: Charlie Jane Anders (Contributor), Dale Bailey (Contributor), Ted Chiang (Contributor), Seth Dickinson (Contributor), Maria Dahvana Headley (Contributor)15 more, S.L. Huang (Contributor), Adam Johnson (Contributor), Kij Johnson (Contributor), Will Kaufman (Contributor), Kelly Link (Contributor), Sam J. Miller (Contributor), Dexter Palmer (Contributor), Salman Rushdie (Contributor), Sofia Samatar (Contributor), Vandana Singh (Contributor), Julian Mortimer Smith (Contributor), Rachel Swirsky (Contributor), Catherynne M. Valente (Contributor), Nick Wolven (Contributor), Liz Ziemska (Contributor)

Series: The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy (2016), Best American (2016)

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1062190,508 (4.05)1
Presents a collection of the best science fiction and fantasy short stories written during 2015.

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I love "The Best American...." annual series of books. Whether it is the short story collection, the Science Fiction collection, the essays, travel stories or, most especially, The Best American Non-Required Reading" collection, each year's anthology is a joy to read.
As an anthology, of course there are stories I enjoyed more than others, but even the ones I disliked are of high quality, engaging and highly original.
Science-fiction is not my usual first (or second) choice of reading, but every once in a while, I binge on it and lately, that has been the case. This is a fine collection of stories, good enough to make me want to read sci-fi a lot more often ( )
  Paul-the-well-read | Apr 18, 2020 |
"Meet Me in Iram," by Sofia Samatar (2016): 8.5
- strange to read this avowedly "literary" piece after so many forthrightly "genre" stories. Strange in the sense that there is such an actual and massive gap between the intentions and affectations of the two, no matter the common contemporary claim that genre labels are increasingly meaningless, or made to be transgressed, or unable to capture anything actually tangible in their corresponding fields. Bull. Samatar's piece here is a nice refutation of that impulse--from her tweeness (the nice line about the "flight" of stairs) to the mock simplicity of the prose to the studied juxtaposition of "real" life (immigration, Somalian problems, domesticity) and "speculative" ideas (the gradual erosion of the barrier between parallel worlds), all of the hallmarks of a certain careful, meticulous literary science fictionality are here in droves. And, there's nothing wrong with that. It's pretty good, even if a little slight and with a central connective speculative thread that doesn't completely tie things together.

"The Game of Smash and Recovery," by Kelly Link (2016): 8
- In that sweet spot for these kind of genre stories -- those half-accepted beyond genre circles, and half with a foot still in those circles. They’re toying with both--know the roots and where their bread is buttered, but sense something in the aether, something promising breaking out of this genre ghetto. In that case, has a feel similar to the Machado stories, although, and just gleaning from my knowledge of her Bodies and Other Parties, much more firmly still in the genre mold, i.e. less likely to break on through. Interesting, actually, just basing my assumption off of hearing John Joseph Adams on that SF podcast--in which he comes across as a very well-meaning organizer, nearly completely devoid of any counter-intuitive or ironic bone in his body, and, worst of all, seemingly bereft of what I would consider ‘taste’ at all in his fictional curation, beyond the flashy and fun, which works in the smaller ways it should], I feel that, largely, it’s a shame that he’s the series editor for the Best American SFF, cause we’re gonna get his impression of what makes a ‘great’ genre story that palatable for non-genre audiences. To that end, they will have all the hallmarks of what he believes this is, without any of the corresponding qualities that can make these so good. And this story: two ‘siblings’ inhabit a tiny space station hovering above a planet infested with “vampires” and other elements, some valuable and some deadly, until we learn, at the end, that he is actually a cyborg of some type, who has been willfully tricking “her,” who is actually the Intelligence of the spaceship that brought them here, which he is trying to keep grounded before his makers can reach the planet and mine it for those elements. She learns the truth, however, reinhabits her spaceship ‘body’ and escapes, reconfiguring both him and her organic body in the process, allowing them to roam her ship, neutered and harmless -- has most of them: elliptical language, consciously blank spaces/gaps in the expository info, vague feints in the direction of broader thematic elements without ever directly spelling it out, etc. Nicely, however, it also just happens to have tons of those corresponding elements in droves, too, one of which is her nice concern, in a story seemingly devoid of ‘humans,’ to ground all of the characters in a shroud of human feeling [our grappling with the vampires, their sibling affections, and the ship’s magnanimity towards both at the end].

"Interesting Facts," by Adam Johnson (2015): 9.75
- Is it embarrassing that, in this momentous platform for the genre, highlighted by a series known to middlebrow readers everywhere as a marker of legitimacy, of quality, that this collection so meagerly reflects the "field" it represents? Few spaceships, fewer wizards--and none of that a bad thing. They outsource the prestige to those used to it, to those practiced in actively disavowing the genre or ignoring it altogether. And, what's worse, what's even worse than this betrayal, is the unavoidable fact that, yes, of course they did that, because this story is better, it does things they can't do (and, as bad, things they are actually now trying to do!). Those vast reservoirs of online SFF short fiction are also conspicuously lacking swords and robots, they're also mining human emotions and psychology and loss through soft speculative conceits! And they still can't, they just can't match this story of a woman, both dying and dead, reflecting on dying and death and family and life.
  Ebenmaessiger | Oct 9, 2019 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fowler, Karen JoyEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Adams, John JosephSeries Editormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Anders, Charlie JaneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bailey, DaleContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chiang, TedContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dickinson, SethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Headley, Maria DahvanaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Huang, S.L.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Johnson, AdamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Johnson, KijContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kaufman, WillContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Link, KellyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Miller, Sam J.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Palmer, DexterContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rushdie, SalmanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Samatar, SofiaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Singh, VandanaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Smith, Julian MortimerContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Swirsky, RachelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Valente, Catherynne M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wolven, NickContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ziemska, LizContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Presents a collection of the best science fiction and fantasy short stories written during 2015.

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