New Treasures: The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Seven edited by Neil Clarke

New Treasures: The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Seven edited by Neil Clarke

The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Seven (Night Shade,
September 5, 2023). Cover by Thomas Chamberlain-Keen

It’s been distressing to watch the havoc the pandemic played with many Year’s Best Science Fiction volumes. The 13th volume of Rich Horton’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, published by Prime Books, was delayed a year and produced in a digital only edition last year, and now that series seems to be dead. Jonathan Strahan’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction (Saga Press) published its final volume in 2021.

And Neil Clarke’s The Best Science Fiction of the Year, Volume 7 (Night Shade Books), covering fiction from 2021, was delayed a year, and finally arrived last month. Volume 8 is still (supposedly) scheduled for release next month, but there’s no word on it from either the publisher or the editor, and I’m very concerned this series may be dead as well.

What does that leave us? The ninth volume of John Joseph Adams’ Best American Science Fiction And Fantasy (Mariner Books, co-edited with R. F Kuang) arrives next month, and seems to be going strong. Allan Kaster produced The Year’s Top Hard Science Fiction Stories Volume 7 (Infinivox) in June. And Paula Guran edited two: The Year’s Best Fantasy: Volume Two (Pyr, August 15), and The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: Volume 4 (Pyr, coming October 24). So the situation isn’t totally dire. But to lose so many top-notch anthologies in rapid succession is a blow.

[Click the images for the Best versions.]

The Year’s Top Hard Science Fiction Stories Volume 7
, edited by Allan Kaster
(Infinivox, June 6, 2023), The Year’s Best Fantasy: Volume Two, edited by Paul Guran
(Pyr, August 15, 2023), and The Best American Science Fiction And Fantasy 2023,
edited by R. F Kuang and John Joseph Adams (Mariner Books, October 17, 2023)

Still, it’s our job to celebrate the books we have, and that’s exactly what I intend to do.

I have Neil’s The Best Science Fiction of the Year, Volume 7 in hand, and it’s a generously-sized (628-page) volume with a whopping 31 stories, including Suzanne Palmer’s Hugo winning novelette “Bots of the Lost Ark,” and José Pablo Iriarte’s Hugo and Nebula nominee “Proof by Induction,” plus stories by Ray Nayler, Robert Reed, Alice Towey, Karl Schroeder, Meg Elison, Hannu Rajaniemi, S. Qiouyi Lu, Vandana Singh, Indrapramit Das, Hao Jingfang, Ken Liu, Octavia Cade, Tade Thompson, Rich Larson, Aliette de Bodard, and many more.

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

Introduction: A State of the Short SF Field in 2021 by Neil Clarke
“Muallim,” Ray Nayler
“Dark Waters Still Flow,” Alice Towey
“Proof by Induction,” José Pablo Iriarte — Hugo and Nebula nominee
“Integral Nothings,” Robert Reed
“The Price of Attention,” Karl Schroeder
“Paley’s Watch,” Anil Menon
“Among the Marithei,” Mary Anne Mohanraj
“A Different Sea,” Vandana Singh
“The Pizza Boy,” Meg Elison
“Ice Fishing on Europa,” Erin Barbeau
“Vaccine Season,” Hannu Rajaniemi
“Where There Are Cities, These Dissolve Too,” S. Qiouyi Lu
“Without Lungs or Limbs to Stay,” Shauna O’Meara
“I’m Waiting for You,” Kim Bo-young
“Philia, Eros, Storage, Agápe, Pragma,” R.S.A. Garcia
“Hānai,” Gregory Norman Bossert
“The Equations of the Dead,” An Owomoyela
“A Necessary Being,” Indrapramit Das
“Qiankun and Alex,” Hao Jingfang
“The Trolly Solution,” Shiv Ramdas
“Aptitude,” Cooper Shrivastava
“The Tide of Moon City,” Regina Kanyu Wang
“A Rocket for Dimitrios,” Ray Nayler
“Jaunt,” Ken Liu
“The Streams are Paved with Fish Traps,” Octavia Cade
“The Water Beneath our Feet,” Alice Towey
“Elegba’s Valley,” Tade Thompson
“He Leaps for the Stars, He Leaps for the Stars,” Grace Chan
“Complete Exhaustion of the Organism,” Rich Larson
“Mulberry and Owl,” Aliette de Bodard
“Bots of the Lost Ark,” Suzanne Palmer — Hugo Award winner
2021 Recommended Reading List
About the Editor

The Best Science Fiction of the Year, Volume 7 was published by Night Shade Books on September 5, 2023. It is 628 pages, priced at $34.99 in hardcover and $19.99 in trade paperback. The cover is by Thomas Chamberlain-Keen. This has been a splendid series, and if this indeed the last volume, I’ll miss it very much.

See all our recent New Treasures here.

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Thomas Parker

This trend puzzles me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve leaned more towards short stories, and I would think that with all of people’s complaints about shortage of time and being overwhelmed by all the media we’re surrounded with, everybody else would be finding short fiction more congenial, simply because it takes less time to (I almost said “consume” – I hate that word) read. I guess it isn’t so, though.

pete johnsen

Well this trend is certainly a revolting development. I love these collections by Strahan, Clarke and Adams. Nothing better than a well curated selection of short fiction to welcome in the longer, darker days of Fall. Hopefully this is just a temporary lull and we get all three back in the fray next year at the very latest! Maybe if I put in a pre order for Clarke’s Vol 8 that will help at least a little.

David Hook

John, thanks for the update.

I share your concerns about the general state of the “Best of” SF or SFF volumes that are US centric.

I had not looked hard enough for the Clarke TOC. Although there are more than a few stories I’ve read, there are many I have not, and that’s great. I’m also pleased that Eight will be coming.

It’s worth noting that there are several other “Best of” series out there that appear to be doing okay, but that are not US centric. I do think part of the issue with our disappearing “Best of” series has to do with an interest in less-US centric volumes and more world and international SF, in addition to a different feeling about short fiction.

“Best of British Science Fiction 2022”, Donna Scott editor, NewCon Press, was released 8/31/2023. I quite liked the 2021 edition, and I’ll be reading this one.

Lavie Tidhar’s “Best of World SF: Vol 3” will be released on October 12. A yearly schedule is currently on track. Given my love for world and international SF, I’ll be reading this one two, as I’ve loved the first two.

Patricia Anne Bryan

Delivery of my copy from Amazon keeps being put back.Didn’t read the contents…don’t want to know what I’m missing.Sad about the Strahan.I look forward to the anthologies every year much as I used to look forward to comic annuals when I was little.

Patricia Anne Bryan

PS…The Best of British 2022 was excellent but Amazon couldn’t deliver a copy to the library copy..and I have both Best World Science Fiction.Also the five books in The Apex Book of World Science Fiction.Doing my bit,chaps!

[…] Long: As has been discussed by a number of people (John O’Neill at Black Gate, and others I’ve seen but did not bookmark), the state of “Year’s Best” […]

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