The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 2 (Saga Press, September 2021). Cover design by Richard Yoo
Year’s Best Science Fiction anthologies have been popular for seven decades — since Everett F. Bleiler and T. E. Dikty published The Best Science Fiction Stories: 1949 — but one thing hasn’t changed. You can still tell the hottest writers in the genre by whose names get plastered on the covers. So I was very curious to see who make the grade in Jonathan Strahan’s latest, a huge, nearly Dozois-sized volume crammed with top-notch writers like Alastair Reynolds, Rich Larson, Pat Cadigan, Maureen McHugh, Suzanne Palmer, and many others. For the record, here’s the official list:
Charlie Jane Anders
Yoon Ha Lee
Usman T. Malik
Jonathan’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 2 was released in trade paperback just a few weeks ago. Tor.com calls this installment “a must-read for anyone who enjoys the vast and exciting world of science fiction.” Here’s a snippet from Reading Llama‘s enthusiastic coverage.
I was particularly impressed by last year’s anthology edited by Jonathan Strahan. It follows the same format as last year, with the editor’s introduction including other recommended reading as well as general comments on the state of the publishing industry in 2020…
Yoon Ha Lee’s “The Mermaid Astronaut” is a gorgeously evocative retelling of The Little Mermaid. I’m still not sure how he fit so much emotion in to so few pages. I also adored the scifi romp of Gene Doucette’s “Schrödinger’s Catastrophe.” It had all the feels of some of my favorite TNG episodes, plus some hilarious absurdity mixed in with a tightly-paced action story. “Burn or The Episodic Life of Sam Wells as a Super” by A.T. Greenblatt is about Sam, who’s recently discovered he has the completely useless superpower of setting his head on fire. In a society where most Supers go live out their days in seclusion, Sam instead decides to join the local Super team and help people… only it’s not exactly what he thought it would be like. This is a lovely story about accepting yourself…
Of course, where would we be without a lot of whizzbang scifi goodness, from the titular weight loss treatment in Meg Elison’s horrifying “The Pill,” to the devices in “Don’t Mind Me” by Suzanne Palmer which make kids incapable of remembering certain things they hear, like swear words and that pesky climate change…
And then there’s the ones that truly made me think. I’d previously read Marian Denise Moore’s “A Mastery of German” and found its exploration of ethics and racial memory just as fascinating as the first time. But the winner of the most thought-provoking goes to “How to Pay Reparations: a Documentary” by Tochi Onyebuchi. I’m still chewing over that one.
Overall, another excellent collection, and after two stellar anthologies, I’ll definitely be putting future editions on my autobuy list.
Here’s the complete Table of Contents.
Introduction by Jonathan Strahan
“The Bahrain Underground Bazaar” by Nadia Afifi (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November/December 2020)
“If You Take My Meaning” by Charlie Jane Anders (Tor.com, 2/12/20)
“It Came From Cruden Farm” by Max Barry (Slate Future Tense, 2/29/20)
“The Final Performance of the Amazing Ralphie” by Pat Cadigan (Avatars Inc., edited by Ann VanderMeer, 2020)
“An Important Failure” by Rebecca Campbell (Clarkesworld Magazine, August 2020)
“Schrödinger’s Catastrophe” by Gene Doucette (Lightspeed Magazine, November 2020)
“Midstrathe Exploding” by Andy Dudak (Analog: Science Fiction and Fact, March/April 2020)
“The Pill” by Meg Elison (Big Girl Plus…, 2020)
“GO. NOW. FIX. “ by Timons Esaias (Asimov’s Science Fiction, January 2020)
“Drones to Ploughshares” by Sarah Gailey (Motherboard Vice, 4/02/20)
“The Transition of OSOOSI” by Ozzie M. Gartrell (Fiyah Lit Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction Issue #13, Winter 2020)
“Burn or The Episodic Life of Sam Wells as a Super” by A.T. Greenblatt (Uncanny Magazine, May/June 2020)
“How Quini the Squid Misplaced His Klobučar” by Rich Larson (Tor.com, 1/15/20)
“The Mermaid Astronaut” by Yoon Ha Lee (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 298, February 27, 2020)
“50 Things Every AI Working with Humans Should Know” by Ken Liu (Uncanny Magazine, November/December 2020)
“Beyond These Stars Other Tribulations of Love” by Usman T. Malik (Wired, 12/11/20)
“Yellow and the Perception of Reality” by Maureen McHugh (Tor.com, 7/22/20)
“A Mastery of German” by Marian Denise Moore (Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora, edited by Zelda Knight and Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald, 2020)
“Father” by Ray Nayler (Asimov’s Science Fiction, July/August 2020)
“How to Pay Reparations: a Documentary” by Tochi Onyebuchi (Slate Future Tense, 8/29/20)
“Don’t Mind Me” by Suzanne Palmer (Entanglements: Tomorrow’s Lovers, Families, and Friends, edited by Sheila Williams, 2020)
“A Guide for Working Breeds” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Made to Order: Robots and Revolution, edited by Jonathan Strahan, 2020)
“Polished Performance” by Alastair Reynolds (Made to Order: Robots and Revolution, edited by Jonathan Strahan, 2020)
“The Suicide of Our Troubles” by Karl Schroeder (Slate Future Tense, 11/28/20)
“Airbody” by Sameem Siddiqui (Clarkesworld Magazine, April 2020)
“Sparklybits” by Nick Wolven (Entanglements: Tomorrow’s Lovers, Families, and Friends, edited by Sheila Williams, 2020)
“The Search for [Flight X]” by Neon Yang (Avatars Inc., edited by Ann VanderMeer, 2020)
The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 2 was published by Saga Press on September 28, 2021. It is 587 pages, priced at $18.99 in trade paperback, and $7.99 in digital formats. The cover was designed by Richard Yoo.
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