The latest volume of Rich Horton’s Year’s Best snuck up on me. I know, I’m supposed to be on top of these things. For some reason I was expecting it later in the year, but it popped up in my Amazon cart last week, in stock and everything.
Rich produces my favorite Year’s Best every year, but hasn’t always seemed totally comfortable with all the trappings of being an editor. He hasn’t shown the same enthusiasm for lengthy introductions or Yearly Summations that Gardner Dozois famously did, for example. But in the last few years Rich seems to have really found his voice, and these days I find I really enjoy his intros. He avoids Gardner’s critical edge, for example, focusing instead on the collegial nature of the science fiction community.
This year he gives an affectionate shout out to his nominal competitors for your Best of the Year dollars, including editors Jonathan Strahan, Ellen Datlow, Neil Clarke, and even Gardner, who passed away last year, shortly before his Thirty-Fifth Annual Collection was released, ending an era. Have a look.
There are a lot of Best of the Year volumes in our field, and frankly I recommend them all. One of the features of SF in 2018 is how much of it there is. There’s enough short fiction that the Hugo shortlist can very nearly ignore men, and still be mostly full of strong stories. (There are a couple of duds, but so it always was.) There’s enough that both the Hugo and Nebula shortlists can completely ignore the traditional print SF magazines (F&SF, Asimov’s, Analog, and Interzone, let’s say), and still be mostly full of strong stories. How then to resolve that issue? Read as many of the Best of the Year volumes as you can, I say! (And, hey, why not subscribe to one of the print magazines, if that’s possible? And try some original anthologies as well.)
The main distinction, of course, for each of these books is the editor’s individual tastes. (Or so Hannibal Lecter tells us)… if I think my book is the best — and I do! — it’s for the obvious reason that my personal taste aligns pretty closely with the editor’s! But that said, I am abashed year after year to realize that Jonathan or Ellen or Neil or one of the other editors, (or, sigh, Gardner!) has chosen a gem or two I really should have taken myself.
Here’s the complete Table of Contents for the 2019 volume of The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy.
“The Spires” by Alec Nevala-Lee (Analog, March/April 2018)
“The Unnecessary Parts of the Story” by Adam-Troy Castro (Analog, September/October 2018)
”A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies” by Alix E. Harrow (Apex, February 2018)
”Bubble and Squeak” by David Gerrold and Ctein (Asimov’s SF, May/June 2018)
“The Gift” by Julie Novakova (Asimov’s SF, November/December 2018)
“Beautiful” by Juliet Marillier (Aurum)
”The Starship and the Temple Cat” by Yoon Ha Lee (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, 2/1/18)
”Carouseling” by Rich Larson (Clarkesworld, April 2018)
”The Persistence of Blood” by Juliette Wade (Clarkesworld, March 2018)
“Sour Milk Girls” by Erin Roberts (Clarkesworld, January 2018)
”Umbernight” by Carolyn Ives Gilman (Clarkesworld, February 2018)
”The Donner Party” by Dale Bailey (F&SF, January/February 2018)
”How to Identify an Alien Shark” by Beth Goder (Fireside Quarterly, July 2018)
”The Tale of the Ive-Ojan-Akhar’s Death” by Alex Jeffers (Giganotosaurus, April 2018)
“Foxy and Tiggs” by Justina Robson (Infinity’s End)
“Intervention” by Kelly Robson (Infinity’s End)
”The Temporary Suicides of Goldfish” by Octavia Cade (Kaleidotrope, Winter/18)
”Dayenu” by James Sallis (LCRW, Spring/18)
”Lime and the One Human” by S. Woodson (LCRW, July 2018)
”The Court Magician” by Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed, January 2018)
“Jump” by Cadwell Turnbull (Lightspeed, October 2018)
”Firelight” by Ursula K. Le Guin (Paris Review, Summer 2018)
“The Buried Giant” by Lavie Tidhar (Robots vs Fairies)
”Today is Today” by Rick Wilber (Stonecoast Review, Summer 2018)
”The Heart of Owl Abbas” by Kathleen Jennings (Tor.com, 4/11/2018)
”Grace’s Family” by James Patrick Kelly (Tor.com, May 2018)
“The House by the Sea” by P. H. Lee (Uncanny, 9/10/2018)
There are more Year’s Best volumes in the pipeline this year, from John Joseph Adams, Paula Guran, and Ellen Datlow. The books published so far in 2019 include:
The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, Volume Thirteen, edited by Jonathan Strahan
A Final Gift from Gardner: The Very Best of the Best: 35 Years of The Year’s Best Science Fiction edited by Gardner Dozois
The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Four, edited by Neil Clarke
The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2019 was published by Prime Books on September 3, 2019. It is 576 pages, priced at $19.99 in trade paperback and $6.99 for the digital edition. The cover art is by Tithi Luadthong.
See all our recent New Treasures here.