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Sentient Starships, Cyborgs, and Eerie Horror: The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018 edited by N.K. Jemisin and John Joseph Adams

Monday, November 12th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018-small The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018-back-small

The Year’s Best season came to a close last month. It was a pretty spectacular year, with no less than 10 volumes from editors Rich Horton, Gardner Dozois, Neil Clarke, Jonathan Strahan, Paula Guran, Jane Yolen, Michael Kelly, David Afsharirad, and others. We’ve covered them all, and we close out 2018 with The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018. This is the fourth volume; the series is edited by John Joseph Adams with a different co-editor every year. His partner this year is N.K. Jemisin, who may be the most honored SF writer in the field at the moment, with three back-to-back-to-back Hugo wins under her belt.

This year’s volume received a rave review from Publishers Weekly. Here’s an excerpt.

An almost unheard-of diversity of tales absolutely sing in this superlative anthology of short speculative stories. Encompassing a wide range of styles and perspectives, the book swings gracefully from thoughtful superhero SF (“Destroy the City with Me Tonight” by Kate Alice Marshall) to nuanced horror based on Congolese mythology (“You will Always Have Family: A Triptych” by Kathleen Kayembe) to musings on the justice and the multiverse (“Justice Systems in Quantum Parallel Probabilities” by Lettie Prell) without a single sour note. A. Merc Rustad contributes “Brightened Star, Ascending Dawn,” a heartfelt piece about sentient spacecraft and found family, and Caroline M. Yoachim delves further into ideas of family and obligation with the windup characters of “Carnival Nine.” From the Chinese afterlife (“The Last Cheng Beng Gift” by Jaymee Goh) to a future of cyborgs run amok (“The Greatest One-Star Restaurant” by Rachael K. Jones), this anthology delivers.

As always, this volume contains 10 fantasy and 10 SF tales. This year’s contributors include Samuel R. Delany, Charlie Jane Anders, Carmen Maria Machado, Maureen F. McHugh, Caroline M. Yoachim, Peter Watts, Tobias S. Buckell, and two stories from Maria Dahvana Headley. Here’s the complete TOC.

FANTASY

“Loneliness is in Your Blood” by Cadwell Turnbull (Nightmare)
“The Resident” by Carmen Maria Machado (Her Body and Other Parties)
“Carnival Nine” by Caroline M. Yoachim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
“Rivers Run Free” by Charles Payseur (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
“Tasting Notes on the Varietals of the Southern Coast” by Gwendolyn Clare (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
“The Last Cheng Beng Gift” by Jaymee Goh (Lightspeed)
“You Will Always Have Family: A Triptych” by Kathleen Kayembe (Nightmare)
“Black Powder” by Maria Dahvana Headley (The Djinn Falls in Love)
“The Orange Tree” by Maria Dahvana Headley (The Weight of Words)
“Church of Birds” by Micah Dean Hicks (Kenyon Review)

SCIENCE FICTION

“Brightened Star, Ascending Dawn” by A. Merc Rustad (Humans Wanted)
“Don’t Press Charges and I Won’t Sue” by Charlie Jane Anders (Boston Review: Global Dystopias)
“The Wretched and the Beautiful” by E. Lily Yu (Terraform)
“Destroy the City with Me Tonight” by Kate Alice Marshall (Behind the Mask)
“Justice Systems in Quantum Parallel Probabilities” by Lettie Prell (Clarkesworld)
“Cannibal Acts” by Maureen F. McHugh (Boston Review: Global Dystopias)
“ZeroS” by Peter Watts (Infinity Wars)
“The Greatest One-Star Restaurant in the Whole Quadrant” by Rachael K. Jones (Lightspeed)
“The Hermit of Houston” by Samuel R. Delany (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
“Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance” by Tobias S. Buckell (Cosmic Powers)

About this year’s anthology John Keogh at Booklist writes:

This collection brings to mind Harlan Ellison’s Dangerous Visions anthologies, starting in 1967, in the way it showcases cutting-edge work, ranging from hard-science fiction to fantasy, to dystopia. There’s also a stronger emphasis on the eerie horror than most best-of collections. According to Jemisin (The Stone Sky, 2017), guest editor for this installment, these are stories of revolution — some literally, while some revolt against the style and tropes of the genre, while others offer revolutionary reimaginings of the world and society. These are stories to take your breath away, to make you laugh, to bring you to despair, to give you hope, to creep you out, and even to break your heart.

Our previous coverage of the series includes:

The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015, edited by John Joseph Adams and Joe Hill
The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016, edited by Karen Joy Fowler and John Joseph Adams
The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017, edited by Charles Yu and John Joseph Adams

Here’s the Tables of Contents for the other major Best of the Year 2018 volumes from Neil Clarke, Jonathan Strahan, Rich Horton, Gardner Dozois, Paula Guran, Jane Yolen, Michael Kelly, David Afsharirad, and others.

The Best Science Fiction of the Year, Volume Three edited by Neil Clarke (Night Shade Books, April 3, 2018))
The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume Twelve, edited by Jonathan Strahan (Solaris, April 17, 2018))
The Year’s Best Military and Adventure SF, Volume 4, edited by David Afsharirad (Baen, June 5, 2018)
The Best Horror of the Year Volume Ten, edited by Ellen Datlow (Night Shade, June 12, 2018)
The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Fifth Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois (St. Martin’s Griffin;, July 3, 2018)
The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2018, edited by Rich Horton (Prime, August 7, 2018)
Nebula Awards Showcase 2018, edited by Jane Yolen (Pyr, August 7, 208)
The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018, edited by N.K. Jemisin and John Joseph Adams (Mariner Books, October 2, 2018)
The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2018, edited by Paula Guran (Prime, October 16, 2018)
The Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Volume Five, edited by Robert Shearman and Michael Kelly (Undertow, October 16, 2018)

The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018 was published by Mariner Books on October 2, 2018. It is 357 pages, priced at $15.99 in trade paperback, and $9.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Julie Dillon. See all the details at JJA’s website.

See all our recent New Treasures here.

2 Comments »

  1. Typo in the headline here, boss: “Kemisin”

    Comment by bomolub - November 13, 2018 6:26 pm

  2. Whoops! Thanks for pointing that out. Fixed.

    Comment by John ONeill - November 14, 2018 12:21 am


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