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Future Treasures: The Best Science Fiction of the Year, Volume 1, edited by Neil Clarke

Monday, May 16th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

The Best Science Fiction of the Year 1 Neil Clarke-small The Best Science Fiction of the Year 1 Neil Clarke-back-small

While I was at the Friday night mass autographing session at the Nebula Awards weekend, I discovered Neil Clarke had a small number of copies of his upcoming anthology The Best Science Fiction of the Year, Volume 1 at his table — a book I’ve been looking forward to for months — and I was delighted to be able to buy one. Since we were at an autographing session, after all, I asked if he’d sign it. I also asked, as I usually do when requesting autographs, if he’d add, “To my one true love, John.” Neil, who knew of my ongoing plan to save my marriage (it’s a long story), wrote the following:

To John,

Since everyone does it… to my one true love. See Alice, we really do this all the time.

It’s good to have friends who care if I stay married.

Clarkesworld 116-small[Click the images for bigger versions.]

The Best Science Fiction of the Year is the introductory volume in a brand new Year’s Best series, and it enters a crowded field. Last year I counted no less than 17 Year’s Best volumes, with at least two more added this year. But Neil is the editor of the acclaimed Clarkesworld magazine, which routinely places more short fiction at the top of awards ballots than its print competitors, and his taste is unquestioned. I expect this new entry to do very well.

Neil’s anthology features 31 science fiction short stories, novelettes, and novellas originally published in 2015. Here’s the complete Table of Contents:

  • “A Murmuration” by Alastair Reynolds (Interzone, March/April 2015)
  • “In Blue Lily’s Wake” by Aliette de Bodard (Meeting Infinity, edited by Jonathana Strahan)
  • “Outsider” by An Owomeyla (Meeting Infinity, edited by Jonathana Strahan)
  • “Another Word for World” by Ann Leckie (Future Visions, edited by Microsoft & Melcher Media)
  • “Iron Pegasus” by Brenda Cooper (Mission Tomorrow, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt)
  • “Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World” by Caroline M. Yoachim (Lightspeed, September 2015)
  • “Bannerless” by Carrie Vaughn (The End Has Come, edited by John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey)
  • “Gypsy” by Carter Scholz (PM Press)
  • “The Smog Society” by Chen Qiufan, translated by Ken Liu and Carmen Yiling Yan (Lightspeed, August 2015)
  • “The Tumbledowns of Cleopatra Abyss” by David Brin (Old Venus, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois)
  • “Damage” by David D. Levine (Tor.com, 1/21/2015)
  • “Capitalism in the 22nd Century” by Geoff Ryman (Stories for Chip, edited by Nisi Shawl and Bill Campbell)
  • “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang, translated by Ken Liu (Uncanny, January/February 2015)
  • “Botanica Veneris: Thirteen Papercuts by Ida Countess Rathangan” by Ian McDonald (Old Venus, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois)
  • “Hold-Time Violations” by John Chu (Tor.com, 10/17/2015)
  • “Two-Year Man” by Kelly Robson (Asimov’s, August 2015)
  • “The Gods Have Not Died in Vain” by Ken Liu (The End Has Come, edited by John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey)
  • “Today I Am Paul” by Martin L. Shoemaker (Clarkesworld, August 2015)
  • “Cocoons” by Nancy Kress (Meeting Infinity, edited by Jonathana Strahan)
  • “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2015)
  • “So Much Cooking” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, November 2015)
  • “No Placeholder for You, My Love” by Nick Wolven (Asimov’s, August 2015)
  • “Wild Honey” by Paul McAuley (Asimov’s, August 2015)
  • “Meshed” by Rich Larson (Clarkesworld, February 2015)
  • “Empty” by Robert Reed (Asimov’s, December 2015)
  • “Calved” by Sam J. Miller (Asimov’s, September 2015)
  • “The Audience” by Sean McMullen (Analog, June 2015)
  • “Hello, Hello” by Seanan McGuire (Future Visions, edited by Microsoft & Melcher Media)
  • “Three Bodies at Mitanni” by Seth Dickinson (Analog, June 2015)
  • “Violation of the TrueNet Security Act” by Taiyo Fujii, Translated by Jim Hubbert (Lightspeed, July 2015)
  • “The Cold Inequalities” by Yoon Ha Lee (Meeting Infinity, edited by Jonathana Strahan)

The Best Science Fiction of the Year, Volume 1 is one of the first of this year’s crop of Year’s Best volumes to arrive (the only one to beat it out of the gate was Jonathan Strahan’s The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Ten, which we covered last week).

Meeting Infinity-smallThere will be plenty of analysis of the comparative merits of the various volumes as the year unfolds, but for now I’ll just observe that, of the 58 stories contained in Neil and Jonathan’s volumes (31 + 27), only five overlap:

“A Murmuration” by Alastair Reynolds
“Another Word for World” by Ann Leckie
“Botanica Veneris: Thirteen Papercuts by Ida Countess Rathangan” by Ian McDonald
“Calved” by Sam J. Miller
“Capitalism in the 22nd Century” by Geoff Ryman

Neil’s volume covers SF exclusively, while Jonathan also mixes in fantasy. Nonetheless, I have to admit the lack of overlap is a little surprising, considering Neil reprinted no less than four stories from Jonathan’s anthology Meeting Infinity (which sorta implies that they have similar taste, right?) But Jonathan included none of those four in his Best of the Year volume, so there you go.

In other words, you could happily buy both of these books (as I did) with essentially no concern about ending up with a lot of duplicates.

Only Strahan’s volume contained Alyssa Wong’s Nebula Award-winning short story “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” (from the October issue of Nightmare), and neither volume contains the winning novella (Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor), or novelette (“Our Lady of the Open Road,” by Sarah Pinsker). We’ll see if any of the other Best Of volumes have better luck predicting the Nebulas.

So far we’ve covered the following Best of the Year volumes for 2016:

Nebula Awards Showcase 2016, edited by Mercedes Lackey
The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novellas 2016, edited by Paula Guran
The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Ten, edited by Jonathan Strahan
The Best Science Fiction of the Year, Volume 1, edited by Neil Clarke
The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2016, edited by Rich Horton
The Year’s Best Military & Adventure SF 2015, edited by David Afsharirad
The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2016, edited by Paula Guran
The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016, edited by Karen Joy Fowler and John Joseph Adams

The Best Science Fiction of the Year, Volume 1 will be published by Night Shade Books on June 7, 2016. It is 604 pages, priced at $17.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition. The cover art is by Eddie del Rio.

See all our coverage of the best in upcoming fantasy here.

4 Comments »

  1. Long may this series continue!

    I rather enjoy the fact that there are overlaps between these books (and the Dozois, Horton, Guran and Best American books to come), since it focuses attention on certain stories and stimulates the discussion of which ones are truly the “best”. And we need that, because the Hugo Award final ballot doesn’t do this any more.

    Comment by dolphintornsea - May 17, 2016 12:08 pm

  2. Indeed! Well said. In a way, these books form a lively conversation about genre short fiction, and do a lot to bring attention to it.

    Comment by John ONeill - May 17, 2016 12:22 pm

  3. Fun facts to astonish friends with:

    Taking into account only the Dozois, Strahan, Horton, and Clarke annuals, plus Paula Guran’s novella volume, there are a whopping twenty-eight stories that appear in more than one book.

    Ian McDonald’s “Botanica Veneris: Thirteen Papercuts by Ida Countness Rathagan” and Geoff Ryman’s “Capitalism in the 22nd Century” appear in four Bests each.

    I haven’t checked Paula Guran’s Dark Fantasy annual yet, but there may well be one or two overlapping stories there as well.

    Comment by dolphintornsea - May 17, 2016 2:44 pm

  4. Fascinating stuff… I should hire you as my stats guru, like Brad Pitt in Moneyball!

    Comment by John ONeill - May 17, 2016 10:12 pm


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