Expanded Collated Contents of the Year’s Bests (2017 Stories, Links)

By request, this is an expanded edition of “Collated Contents of the Big Year’s Bests (2017 Stories, with Links!).” That post collates and links to the stories selected by Clarke, Dozois, Horton, and Strahan. This adds Afsharirad, Datlow, Guran, Jemisin (BASFF), and Shearman/Kelly. (As in the other list, I’ve also noted whether I’ve read them and, if so, whether they got an honorable mention, a recommendation, or were recommendations which made my Web’s Best Science Fiction or Web’s Best Fantasy.)

After more than eight months, this post is finally, fundamentally done, though it will continue to be updated if I find links to more stories or if wonderful people tell me about them. (See the end of the post for the full ChangeLog/Credits.)

Latest change: 2018-08-21: Added Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018, Jemisin, ed. (Thanks to johnjosephadams.com.) Also removed all references to “unread” stories, making everything consistently “unread unless otherwise noted.”

Four Annuals: Afsharirad, Clarke, Horton, Strahan

Four Annuals: Clarke, Dozois, Horton, Strahan

Four Annuals: Clarke, Dozois, Jemisin, Strahan

Three Annuals: Clarke, Dozois, Strahan

Three Annuals: Clarke, Horton, Jemisin

  • ZeroS”, Peter Watts (Infinity Wars) [recommended]

Three Annuals: Dozois, Horton,  Strahan

  • Sidewalks”, Maureen McHugh (Omni) [read late]

Three Annuals: Horton, Jemisin, Strahan

Two Annuals: Clarke, Dozois

Two Annuals: Clarke, Horton

  • “The Tale of the Alcubierre Horse”, Kathleen Ann Goonan (Extrasolar)
  • Extracurricular Activities”, Yoon Ha Lee (Tor.com) [read]

Two Annuals: Dozois, Horton

  • “Winter Timeshare”, Ray Nayler (Asimov’s Science Fiction) [read]
  • “Starlight Express”, Michael Swanwick (F&SF) [recommended]

Two Annuals: Dozois, Strahan

  • “My English Name”, R. S. Benedict (F&SF)
  • “The Moon is Not a Battlefield”, Indrapramit Das (Infinity Wars) [read]

Two Annuals: Guran, Horton

Two Annuals: Guran, Shearman/Kelly

Two Annuals: Guran, Strahan

Two Annuals: Horton, Strahan

Two Annuals: Jemisin, Shearman/Kelly

Two Annuals: Jemisin, Strahan

  • Carnival Nine”, Caroline M. Yoachim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies) [read]

One Annual: The Year’s Best Military & Adventure SF, Volume 4, Afsharirad, ed.

  • “Hope Springs”, Lindsay Buroker (Beyond the Stars)
  • “Lovers”, Tony Daniel (Forged in Blood)
  • “Family Over Blood”, Kacey Ezell (Forged in Blood)
  • “A Man They Didn’t Know”, David Hardy (Rocket’s Red Glare)
  • SWARM“, Sean Patrick Hazlett (Terraform) [read]
  • The Ghost Ship Anastasia”, Rich Larson (Clarkesworld) [recommended]
  • The Snatchers”, Edward McDermott (Analog)
  • “You Can Always Change The Past”, George Nikolopoulos (Galaxy’s Edge)
  • “By The Red Giant’s Light”, Larry Niven (F&SF)
  • “Imperium Imposter”, Jody Lynn Nye (Infinite Stars)
  • “A Hamal In Hollywood”, Martin L. Shoemaker (Rocket’s Red Glare)
  • “Orphans Of Aries”, Brad R. Torgersen (Rocket’s Red Glare)
  • “A Thousand Deaths Through Flesh And Stone”, Brian Trent (F&SF)
  • “Our Sacred Honor”, David Weber (Infinite Stars)

One Annual: The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume 3, Clarke, ed.

  • “Shadows of Eternity”, Gregory Benford (Extrasolar)
  • “In Everlasting Wisdom”, Aliette de Bodard (Infinity Wars) [recommended]
  • “Belly Up”, Maggie Clark (Analog)
  • “Every Hour of Light and Dark”, Nancy Kress (Omni)
  • The Last Novelist, or a Dead Lizard in the Yard”, Matthew Kressel (Tor.com) [recommended]
  • “Meridian”, Karin Lowachee (Where the Stars Rise)
  • Regarding the Robot Raccoons Attached to the Hull of My Ship”, Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali (Diabolical Plots) [read]
  • Wind Will Rove”, Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s Science Fiction) [read late]
  • The Speed of Belief”, Robert Reed (Asimov’s Science Fiction) [recommended]
  • “Holdfast”, Alastair Reynolds (Extrasolar)
  • Focus”, Gord Sellar (Analog)
  • Shikasta”, Vandana Singh (Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities) [read late]
  • “A Catalogue of Sunlight at the End of the World”, A.C. Wise (Sunvault)

One Annual: The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Ten, Datlow, ed.

  • “Liquid Air”, Inna Effress (Nightscript III)
  • “The Starry Crown”, Marc E. Fitch (Horror Library: Volume 6)
  • “Fail-Safe”, Philip Fracassi (Behold the Void)
  • “Shepherd’s Business”, Stephen Gallagher (New Fears)
  • “You Can Stay All Day”, Mira Grant (Nights of the Living Dead)
  • “The Granfalloon”, Orrin Grey (Darker Companions)
  • “West of Matamoros, North of Hell”, Brian Hodge (Dark Screams: Volume Seven)
  • “Better You Believe”, Carole Johnstone (Horror Library: Volume 6)
  • “Lost in the Dark”, John Langan (Haunted Nights)
  • Dark Warm Heart“, Rich Larson (Tor.com) [read]
  • “Where’s the Harm?”, Rebecca Lloyd (Seven Strange Stories)
  • “There and Back Again”, Carmen Maria Machado (Mixed Up)
  • “Eqalussuaq”, Tim Major (Not One of Us)
  • “Alligator Point”, S. P. Miskowski (Looming Low: Volume I)
  • “Holiday Romance”, Mark Morris (Black Static)
  • “Whatever Comes After Calcutta”, David Erik Nelson (F&SF)
  • “Endoskeletal”, Sarah Read (Black Static)
  • A Human Stain“, Kelly Robson (Tor.com) [honorable mention]
  • “Furtherest”, Kaaron Warren (Dark Screams: Volume Seven)
  • Harvest Song, Gathering Song“, A. C. Wise (The Dark)
  • The Stories We Tell about Ghosts“, A. C. Wise (Looming Low: Volume I)

One Annual: The Year’s Best Science Fiction: ThirtyFifth Annual Collection, Dozois, ed.

  • “Mines”, Eleanor Arnason (Infinity Wars) [read]
  • Pan-Humanism: Hope and Pragmatics“, Jessica Barber and Sara Saab (Clarkesworld) [read]
  • “The Dragon That Flew Out of the Sun”, Aliette de Bodard (Cosmic Powers)
  • The Hunger After You’re Fed“, James S.A. Corey (Wired) [read late]
  • The Martian Job, Jaine Fenn
  • Nexus“, Michael F. Flynn (Analog)
  • “The History of the Invasion Told in Five Dogs”, Kelly Jennings (F&SF)
  • “Whending My Way Back Home”, Bill Johnson (Analog) [honorable mention]
  • “Canoe”, Nancy Kress (Extrasolar)
  • “Dear Sarah”, Nancy Kress (Infinity Wars) [read]
  • Waiting Out the End of the World in Patty’s Place Cafe“, Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld) [read]
  • “There Used to Be Olive Trees”, Rich Larson (F&SF)
  • “Triceratops”, Ian McHugh (Asimov’s Science Fiction)
  • “The Influence Machine”, Sean McMullen (Interzone)
  • Prime Meridian, Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • “The Proving Ground”, Alec Nevala-Lee (Analog) [read]
  • Number Thirty-Nine Skink“, Suzanne Palmer (Asimov’s Science Fiction)
  • “The Residue of Fire”, Robert Reed (Extrasolar)
  • “Night Passage”, Alastair Reynolds (Infinite Stars)
  • Vanguard 2.0“, Carter Scholz (Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities) [read late]
  • Assassins“, Jack Skillingstead and Burt Courtier (Clarkesworld) [read]
  • “Elephant on Table”, Bruce Sterling (Chasing Shadows)
  • “The Road to the Sea”, Lavie Tidhar (Sunvault)
  • “Zigeuner”, Harry Turtledove (Asimov’s Science Fiction)

One Annual: Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2018, Guran, ed.

  • “Sunflower Junction”, Simon Avery (Black Static) [recommended]
  • “Swift to Chase”, Laird Barron (Adam’s Ladder: An Anthology of Dark Science Fiction)
  • Fallow“, Ashley Blooms (Shimmer) [honorable mention]
  • Children of Thorns, Children of Water“, Aliette de Bodard (exclusive for The House of Binding Thorns preorders/Uncanny)
  • “On Highway 18”, Rebecca Campbell (F&SF) [read]
  • “Witch Hazel”, Jeffrey Ford (Haunted Nights)
  • “The Bride in Sea-Green Velvet”, Robin Furth (F&SF)
  • Little Digs“, Lisa L. Hannett (The Dark)
  • The Thule Stowaway“, Maria Dahvana Headley (Uncanny) [honorable mention]
  • “The Eyes Are White and Quiet”, Carole Johnstone (New Fears)
  • Mapping the Interior, Stephen Graham Jones (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Don’t Turn on the Lights“, Cassandra Khaw (Nightmare)
  • “The Dinosaur Tourist”, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Sirenia Digest)
  • “Survival Strategies”, Helen Marshall (Black Static)
  • “Everything Beautiful Is Terrifying”, M. Rickert (Shadows and Tall Trees, Vol. 7)
  • Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™“, Rebecca Roanhorse (Apex) [read]
  • “Graverobbing Negress Seeks Employment”, Eden Royce (Fiyah)
  • “Moon Blood-Red, Tide Turning”, Mark Samuels (Terror Tales of Cornwall)
  • The Crow Palace“, Priya Sharma (Black Feathers)
  • “The Swimming Pool Party”, Robert Shearman (Shadows and Tall Trees, Vol. 7)
  • “The Little Mermaid, in Passing”, Angela Slatter (Review of Australian Fiction)
  • Secret Keeper“, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (Nightmare)
  • “The Long Fade into Evening”, Steve Rasnic Tem (Darker Companions)
  • “Moon and Memory and Muchness”, Katherine Vaz (Mad Hatters and March Hares)
  • “Exceeding Bitter”, Kaaron Warren (Evil Is a Matter of Perspective)
  • “Succulents”, Conrad Williams (New Fears)

One Annual: The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2018 Edition, Horton, ed.

One Annual: Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018, Jemisin, ed.

One Annual: Year’s Best Weird Fiction: Volume Five, Shearman/Kelly, eds.

  • “Live Through This”, Nadia Bulkin (Looming Low: Volume I)
  • “Flotsam”, Daniel Carpenter (The Shadow Booth)
  • The Narrow Escape of Zipper-Girl“, Adam-Troy Castro (Nightmare) )
  • “The Unwish”, Claire Dean (The Unwish)
  • “Worship Only What She Bleeds”, Kristi DeMeester (Everything That’s Underneath)
  • “The Second Door”, Brian Evenson (Looming Low: Volume I)
  • When Words Change the Molecular Composition of Water“, Jenni Fagan (Somesuch Stories)
  • “The Convexity of Our Youth”, Kurt Fawver (Looming Low: Volume I)
  • Corzo“, Brenna Gomez (Prairie Schooner)
  • “The Mouse Queen”, Camilla Grudova (The Doll’s Alphabet)
  • The Anteater“, Joshua King (The Matador Review)
  • “Curb Day”, Rebecca Kuder (Shadows And Tall Trees 7)
  • “The Entertainment Arrives”, Alison Littlewood (Darker Companions)
  • The Rock Eater“, Ben Loory (Taste)
  • Eight Bites“, Carmen Maria Machado (Gulf Coast)
  • “The Way She Is with Strangers”, Helen Marshall (Dark Cities)
  • “The Possession”, Michael Mirolla (The Photographer in Search of Death)
  • “House of Abjection”, David Peak (Nightscript III)
  • “Disappearer”, K. L. Pereira (A Dream Between Two Rivers)
  • Red Hood“, Eric Schaller (Nightmare) [read]
  • “Something About Birds”, Paul Tremblay (Black Feathers)
  • “Take the Way Home That Leads Back to Sullivan Street”, Chavisa Woods (Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country and Other Stories)

One Annual: The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Volume 12, Strahan, ed.

  • “The Mocking Tower”, Daniel Abraham (The Book of Swords)
  • Probably Still the Chosen One”, Kelly Barnhill (Lightspeed) [honorable mention]
  • The Discrete Charm of the Turing Machine”, Greg Egan (Asimov’s Science Fiction) [recommended late]
  • Crispin’s Model”, Max Gladstone (Tor.com) [honorable mention]
  • Come See the Living Dryad”, Theodora Goss (Tor.com) [recommended]
  • “Bring Your Own Spoon”, Saad Z. Hossain (The Djinn Falls in Love)
  • “Babylon”, Dave Hutchison, 2084
  • The Faerie Tree”, Kathleen Kayembe (Lightspeed) [honorable mention]
  • “Fairy Tale of Wood Street”, Caitlin R Kiernan (Sirenia Digest)
  • The Worshipful Society of Glovers”, Mary Robinette Kowal (Uncanny) [read]
  • “The Chameleon’s Gloves”, Yoon Ha Lee (Cosmic Powers)
  • “The Smoke of Gold is Glory”, Scott Lynch (The Book of Swords)
  • Concessions”, Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali (Strange Horizons) [read]
  • “Belladonna Nights”, Alastair Reynolds (The Weight of Words)
  • “Eminence”, Karl Schroeder (Chasing Shadows)
  • Confessions of a Con Girl”, Nick Wolven (Asimov’s Science Fiction) [read late]

Changelog/Credits:

  • 2017-12-15: Jonathan Strahan announced the contents of The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Volume 12. (Thanks to dolphintornsea at the F&SF forums.)
  • 2017-12-16: found and added links to the stories from Boston Review and Omni.
  • 2017-12-24 (updated the 26th): Gardner Dozois announced the contents of The Year’s Best Science Fiction: ThirtyFifth Annual Collection. Thanks to Roger Silverstein for the tip and Lavie Tidhar for posting it for the Facebook-challenged and showing up in the search engine.
  • 2018-01-23: Neil Clarke announced the contents of The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume 3.
  • 2018-02-01: added link to Buckell’s “Zen” reprint.
  • 2018-02-07: moved this stuff to the bottom in a Changelog because it was pushing the stories down too far. 😉
  • 2018-02-07: added links to four Asimov’s stories (“Grimes,” “Wind,” “Turing,” “Confessions”). Thanks to RSR.
  • 2018-02-09: added contents of Rich Horton’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2018 Edition. Thanks to dolphintornsea at the F&SF forums for alerting me and to Horton for posting the full contents.
  • 2018-02-10: added neglected link to Fowler’s Asimov’s story. (Thanks to Laura.)
  • 2018-02-14: added link to Watts’ “ZeroS.” (Thanks to Laura, and a belated thanks to Roger Silverstein, whose tip I missed.)
  • 2018-02-16: added link to Samatar’s “Account.” (Thanks to Laura.)
  • 2018-02-22: Added Datlow’s table of contents for The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Ten. Thanks to C. C. Finlay at the F&SF forum for linking to Datlow’s announcement (all titles unique).
  • 2018-02-23: Added links to “Soulmates.com,” “Number Thirty-Nine Skink,” and “The Speed of Belief” from the Asimov’s Reader’s Awards finalists, Thanks to File 770.
  • 2018-03-02: Added links to “Focus,” “Nexus,” and “Time Travel Is Only for the Poor” from the Analog Reader’s Award finalists. Thanks to Laura.
  • 2018-05-20: Added Year’s Best Weird Fiction: Volume Five, Shearman/Kelly, eds. Thanks to File 770 for the titles (all unique).
  • 2018-05-22: Added source for the Pereira story. Thanks to Roger Silverstein.
  • 2018-05-27: Added The Year’s Best Military & Adventure SF, Volume 4, Afsharirad, ed. Thanks to Black Gate for the titles (all unique except for “Bots”).
  • 2018-07-11: Added Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2018, Guran, ed. Thanks to paulaguran.com.
  • 2018-08-17: Added link to “The Stories We Tell About Ghosts.” Thanks to Roger Silverstein.
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Clarke, Dozois, Horton, and Strahan’s Annuals, etc.

The contents of the “big four” general SF/F anthologies have now been announced. I’ve updated my “Collated Contents of the Big Year’s Bests (2017 Stories, with Links!)” and thought I’d let folks know that. I also thought I’d see what happened in relation to the stories I thought were among the Web’s Best Science Fiction and the Web’s Best Fantasy.

For the SF:

All four annuals:

  • The Martian Obelisk * Linda Nagata * Tor.com, July 19, 2017 [Clarke, Dozois, Horton, Strahan]

Three annuals:

  • A Series of Steaks * Vina Jie-Min Prasad * Clarkesworld #124, January 2017 [Clarke, Dozois, Strahan]

Two annuals:

  • Uncanny Valley * Greg Egan * Tor.com, August 9, 2017 [Clarke, Dozois]

One annual:

  • This Is for You * Bruce McAllister * Lightspeed #84, May 2017 [Horton]

Just me:

  • Penelope Waits * Dennis Danvers * Apex #101, October 2017
  • Fool’s Cap * Andy Dudak * Clarkesworld #129, June 2017
  • Rising Star * Stephen Graham Jones * Uncanny #15, March/April 2017
  • Tav * Dustin Kennedy * Compelling #5, February/March 2017
  • Seven Permutations of My Daughter * Lina Rather * Lightspeed #83, April 2017
  • Little /^^^\&- * Eric Schwitzgebel * Clarkesworld #132, September 2017
  • Sweetlings * Lucy Taylor * Tor.com, May 3, 2017
  • Legale * Vernor Vinge * Nature, August 9, 2017
  • Cease and Desist * Tyler Young * Nature, January 18, 2017

Every editor has a sizable selection of stories unique to that editor and that’s good because variety is the spice (and having fewer duplicates makes for a better reading value).

For fantasy, it’s rather different as it’s only covered by the fantasy portions of Horton and Strahan and, there, I thought one of the best fantasy stories on the web in 2017 was:

Though She Be But Little * C. S. E. Cooney * Uncanny #18, September/October 2017

Horton and Strahan thought so, too, but that was it. My other twelve selections are… pleasingly distinctive. 🙂

Anyway, please go check out the collated list of selections brought to you by the pros and go ahead and give my “Web’s Bests” a look if you’re so inclined. Congrats to all the editors on their selections and the authors on their stories!

Collated Contents of the Big Year’s Bests (2017 Stories, with Links!)

Note: This post is no longer being updated. Please see “Expanded Collated Contents of the Year’s Bests (2017 Stories, Links)” for updates, additional annuals, and additional links.

Last year, I collated and linked to the webzine stories picked by Clarke, Dozois, Horton, and Strahan for their annuals. This year, I’ve collated all the selections. (I’ve also noted whether I’ve read them and, if so, whether they got an honorable mention, a recommendation, or were recommendations which made my Web’s Best Science Fiction or Web’s Best Fantasy.)

Latest change: 2018-03-02: Added links to “Focus,” “Nexus,” and “Time Travel Is Only for the Poor” from the Analog Reader’s Award finalists. Thanks to Laura. (See the end of the post for the full ChangeLog/Credits.)

Four Annuals

Three Annuals: Clarke, Dozois, Strahan

Three Annuals: Clarke, Horton, Strahan

Three Annuals: Dozois, Horton,  Strahan

  • Sidewalks”, Maureen McHugh (Omni) [read late]

Two Annuals: Clarke, Dozois

Two Annuals: Clarke, Horton

  • “The Tale of the Alcubierre Horse” by Kathleen Ann Goonan (Extrasolar) [unread]
  • Extracurricular Activities” by Yoon Ha Lee (Tor.com) [read]
  • ZeroS” by Peter Watts (Infinity Wars) [recommended]

Two Annuals: Dozois, Horton

  • “Winter Timeshare”, Ray Nayler (Asimov’s Science Fiction) [read]
  • “Starlight Express”, Michael Swanwick (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction) [recommended]

Two Annuals: Dozois, Strahan

  • “My English Name”, R. S. Benedict (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction) [unread]
  • “The Moon is Not a Battlefield”, Indrapramit Das (Infinity Wars) [read]

Two Annuals: Horton, Strahan

One Annual: Clarke

  • “Shadows of Eternity” by Gregory Benford (Extrasolar) [unread]
  • “In Everlasting Wisdom” by Aliette de Bodard (Infinity Wars) [recommended]
  • “Belly Up” by Maggie Clark (Analog) [unread]
  • “Every Hour of Light and Dark” by Nancy Kress (Omni) [unread]
  • The Last Novelist, or a Dead Lizard in the Yard” by Matthew Kressel (Tor.com) [recommended]
  • “Meridian” by Karin Lowachee (Where the Stars Rise) [unread]
  • Regarding the Robot Raccoons Attached to the Hull of My Ship” by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali (Diabolical Plots) [read]
  • Wind Will Rove” by Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s Science Fiction) [read late]
  • The Speed of Belief” by Robert Reed (Asimov’s Science Fiction) [recommended]
  • “Holdfast” by Alastair Reynolds (Extrasolar) [unread]
  • Focus” by Gord Sellar (Analog) [unread]
  • Shikasta” by Vandana Singh (Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities) [read late]
  • “A Catalogue of Sunlight at the End of the World” by A.C. Wise (Sunvault) [unread]

One Annual: Dozois

  • “Mines”, Eleanor Arnason (Infinity Wars) [read]
  • Pan-Humanism: Hope and Pragmatics“, Jessica Barber and Sara Saab (Clarkesworld) [read]
  • “The Dragon That Flew Out of the Sun”, Aliette de Bodard (Cosmic Powers) [unread]
  • The Hunger After You’re Fed“, James S.A. Corey (Wired) [read late]
  • The Martian Job, Jaine Fenn [unread]
  • Nexus“, Michael F. Flynn (Analog) [unread]
  • “The History of the Invasion Told in Five Dogs”, Kelly Jennings (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction) [unread]
  • “Whending My Way Back Home”, Bill Johnson (Analog) [honorable mention]
  • “Canoe”, Nancy Kress (Extrasolar) [unread]
  • “Dear Sarah”, Nancy Kress (Infinity Wars) [read]
  • Waiting Out the End of the World in Patty’s Place Cafe“, Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld) [read]
  • “There Used to Be Olive Trees”, Rich Larson (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction) [unread]
  • “Triceratops”, Ian McHugh (Asimov’s Science Fiction) [unread]
  • “The Influence Machine”, Sean McMullen (Interzone) [unread]
  • Prime Meridian, Silvia Moreno-Garcia [unread]
  • “The Proving Ground”, Alec Nevala-Lee (Analog) [read]
  • Number Thirty-Nine Skink“, Suzanne Palmer (Asimov’s Science Fiction) [unread]
  • “The Residue of Fire”, Robert Reed (Extrasolar) [unread]
  • “Night Passage”, Alastair Reynolds (Infinite Stars) [unread]
  • Vanguard 2.0“, Carter Scholz (Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities) [read late]
  • Assassins“, Jack Skillingstead and Burt Courtier (Clarkesworld) [read]
  • “Elephant on Table”, Bruce Sterling (Chasing Shadows) [unread]
  • “The Road to the Sea”, Lavie Tidhar (Sunvault) [unread]
  • “Zigeuner”, Harry Turtledove (Asimov’s Science Fiction) [unread]

One Annual: Horton

One Annual: Strahan

  • “The Mocking Tower”, Daniel Abraham (The Book of Swords) [unread]
  • Probably Still the Chosen One”, Kelly Barnhill (Lightspeed) [honorable mention]
  • The Discrete Charm of the Turing Machine”, Greg Egan (Asimov’s Science Fiction) [recommended late]
  • Crispin’s Model”, Max Gladstone (Tor.com) [honorable mention]
  • Come See the Living Dryad”, Theodora Goss (Tor.com) [recommended]
  • “Bring Your Own Spoon”, Saad Z. Hossain (The Djinn Falls in Love) [unread]
  • “Babylon”, Dave Hutchison, 2084 [unread]
  • The Faerie Tree”, Kathleen Kayembe (Lightspeed) [honorable mention]
  • “Fairy Tale of Wood Street”, Caitlin R Kiernan (Sirenia Digest) [unread]
  • The Worshipful Society of Glovers”, Mary Robinette Kowal (Uncanny) [read]
  • “The Chameleon’s Gloves”, Yoon Ha Lee (Cosmic Powers) [unread]
  • “The Smoke of Gold is Glory”, Scott Lynch (The Book of Swords) [unread]
  • Concessions”, Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali (Strange Horizons) [read]
  • “Belladonna Nights”, Alastair Reynolds (The Weight of Words) [unread]
  • “Eminence”, Karl Schroeder (Chasing Shadows) [unread]
  • The Lamentation of their Women”, Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com) [read]
  • Confessions of a Con Girl”, Nick Wolven (Asimov’s Science Fiction) [read late]
  • Carnival Nine”, Caroline M. Yoachim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies) [read]

Changelog/Credits:

  • 2017-12-15: Jonathan Strahan announced the contents of The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Volume 12. (Thanks to dolphintornsea at the F&SF forums.)
  • 2017-12-16: found and added links to the stories from Boston Review and Omni.
  • 2017-12-24 (updated the 26th): Gardner Dozois announced the contents of The Year’s Best Science Fiction: ThirtyFifth Annual Collection. Thanks to Roger Silverstein for the tip and Lavie Tidhar for posting it for the Facebook-challenged and showing up in the search engine.
  • 2018-01-23: Neil Clarke announced the contents of The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume 3.
  • 2018-02-01: added link to Buckell’s “Zen” reprint.
  • 2018-02-07: moved this stuff to the bottom in a Changelog because it was pushing the stories down too far. 😉
  • 2018-02-07: added links to four Asimov’s stories (“Grimes,” “Wind,” “Turing,” “Confessions”). Thanks to RSR.
  • 2018-02-09: added contents of Rich Horton’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2018 Edition. Thanks to dolphintornsea at the F&SF forums for alerting me and to Horton for posting the full contents.
  • 2018-02-10: added neglected link to Fowler’s Asimov’s story. (Thanks to Laura.)
  • 2018-02-14: added link to Watts’ “ZeroS.” (Thanks to Laura, and a belated thanks to Roger Silverstein, whose tip I missed..)
  • 2018-02-16: added link to Samatar’s “Account.” (Thanks to Laura.)
  • 2018-02-23: Added links to “Soulmates.com,” “Number Thirty-Nine Skink,” and “The Speed of Belief” from the Asimov’s Reader’s Awards finalists, Thanks to File 770.

Web’s Best Fantasy #1 (2017 Stories)

Web’s Best Fantasy #1 (2017 Stories)

Introduction

As with Web’s Best Science Fiction, Web’s Best Fantasy is a 70,000 word “virtual anthology” selected from the fifteen webzines I’ve covered throughout the year, with the contents selected solely for their quality, allowing that some consideration is paid to having variety in the reading experience. The contents were sequenced as best I could with the same concern in mind.

Enjoy!

Contents

Remote Presence * Susan Palwick
Lightspeed #83, April 2017

Though She Be But Little * C. S. E. Cooney
Uncanny #18, September/October 2017

When We Go * Evan Dicken
Beneath Ceaseless Skies #223, April 13, 2017

The Black Clover Equation * Zach Shephard
Flash Fiction Online, April 2017

An Unexpected Boon * S. B. Divya
Apex #102, November 2017

Crossing the Threshold * Pat Murphy
Lightspeed #85, June 2017

The Dark Birds * Ursula Vernon
Apex #92, January 2017

The Garbage Doll * Jessica Amanda Salmonson
Nightmare #53, February 2017

The Dead Father Cookbook * Ashley Blooms
Strange Horizons, July 17, 2017

Marking the Witch * Lina Rather
Flash Fiction Online, February 2017

The Şiret Mask * Marie Brennan
Beneath Ceaseless Skies #238, November 9, 2017

The Library of Lost Things * Matthew Bright
Tor.com, August 23, 2017

The West Topeka Triangle * Jeremiah Tolbert
Lightspeed #80, January 2017

Web’s Best Science Fiction #1 (2017 Stories)

Web’s Best Science Fiction #1 (2017 Stories)

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Introduction

Web’s Best Science Fiction #1 is a “virtual anthology” of 70,000 words of the best science fiction the professional webzines published in 2017*. Web’s Best Fantasy will cover the fantasy stories. The stories for both “volumes” were chosen from fifteen markets: Apex Magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clarkesworld Magazine, Compelling Science Fiction, Diabolical Plots, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Flash Fiction Online, Grievous Angel, Lightspeed, Nature, Nightmare, Strange Horizons, Terraform, Tor.com, and Uncanny**.

When Gardner Dozois took over the editorship of Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year from Lester del Rey with the Sixth Annual Collection, he wrote an introduction to that volume which said “Best” volumes “should really be called ‘Gardner Dozois Picks the Stories He Liked Best This Year’ or ‘Terry Carr Really Enjoyed These Stories,’ or some such.” He went on to say that his principles include selecting “only those stories that honestly and forcibly struck me as being the best published during that year, with no consideration for log-rolling, friendship, fashion, politics, or any other kind of outside influence.” Similarly, these are the stories I liked best this year. I liked them for their science fictional qualities and tried to separate those as much as I could from any other consideration beyond that of attempting to create an actual reading experience with this virtual anthology. The main significance of that is that having variety also plays a small role in the selection process. For instance, I would not be likely to include two stories from the same author or too many stories with strikingly similar elements. In addition to the selection, the sequencing of the stories also aims to produce a good and varied reading experience if the reader chooses to read straight through.

While I would have liked to have found more great upbeat, science-focused, and/or space-based stories than I did, I think these stories (even at their darkest and loosest) show that the state of the art in the upper echelon of Sturgeon’s Law is good. I hope folks have enjoyed or will enjoy these as much as I did.

 Notes

* Most of the title of this “book” is a play on the title of Donald Wollheim and Terry Carr’s World’s Best Science Fiction series of annuals from 1965-71, along with Carr’s numbering practice from his own subsequent The Best Science Fiction of the Year series (though he didn’t number the first volume). The length is a homage to Isaac Asimov’s ideal length for a book, as explained in the introduction to his 70,000 word essay collection, Science, Numbers, and I. Akin to a “fiscal year,” this “fictional year” covers January 1st-December 10th. (The first ten days produced twenty-four stories and the remaining three weeks should produce fifteen at most. Those later stories will be considered for #2.)

** For clarity, while fifteen markets were covered, only eleven are represented in the Web’s Bests. Among the most significant happenings in the 2017 webzine market: Compelling Science Fiction became SFWA-qualified but dropped from bimonthly to semi-annual at the end of this year; Fantastic Stories of the Imagination died at the beginning of the year; Grievous Angel became SFWA-qualified; Terraform disappeared for awhile in the middle of the year but returned as an SFWA-qualified market; Tor.com has been faltering near the end of the year. The rest of the market was relatively stable.

Contents

Uncanny Valley * Greg Egan
Tor.com, August 9, 2017

Little /^^^\&- * Eric Schwitzgebel
Clarkesworld #132, September 2017

Rising Star * Stephen Graham Jones
Uncanny #15, March/April 2017

Tav * Dustin Kennedy
Compelling #5, February/March 2017

Seven Permutations of My Daughter * Lina Rather
Lightspeed #83, April 2017

Cease and Desist * Tyler Young
Nature, January 18, 2017

Sweetlings * Lucy Taylor
Tor.com, May 3, 2017

Legale * Vernor Vinge
Nature, August 9, 2017

Penelope Waits * Dennis Danvers
Apex #101, October 2017

Fool’s Cap * Andy Dudak
Clarkesworld #129, June 2017

This Is for You * Bruce McAllister
Lightspeed #84, May 2017

The Martian Obelisk * Linda Nagata
Tor.com, July 19, 2017

A Series of Steaks * Vina Jie-Min Prasad
Clarkesworld #124, January 2017

Reading the 2016 “Best” Stories (Part 3/Conclusion)

For previous installments, please see Part 1 and Part 2.

To the best of my figuring, Clarke, Dozois, Horton, and Strahan selected thirty-eight stories from the web for their year’s bests and those total 289,888 words by my software’s count. I’d previously read two and I’ve decided to pass on one but read the rest since late last month. Assuming the whole is equal to the web part, Dozois is still the king. But this post concludes the project with Horton and Strahan.

Horton’s eight solo selections are overwhelmingly fantasy and, even when they’re SF, they’re fantasy. Chaz Brenchley’s “In Skander, for a Boy” starts well with a salty seaman narrating his tale of his rough, virtuous home and the decadent big city to which he sails and paints a picture of what could almost be a neighbor of Lankhmar but then basically undoes it all in an abrupt and unsatisfying ending. Kameron Hurley’s “The Plague Givers” seems more interested in its four genders and invented pronouns than the story seems to require but narrates some action pretty well, if only I could care about the characters enacting it. “Plague” hunters fight plague givers while magical talismans and alligators abound in this swampy tale. There’s a dose of humor in Helena Bell’s “I’ve Come to Marry the Princess” and A.T. Greenblatt’s “A Non-Hero’s Guide to The Road of Monsters.” The Bell is a surreal bit about an abandoned boy, eternally at camp, and the play he and his girlfriend practice, and his dragon’s egg. A free-association of whimsy that has its quirky, funny moments. Greenblatt’s is about a modern, tweeting, unheroic adventurer showing us how to face a dragon in postmodern fashion. Again, not a very strong story in most ways but not without its humor. Perhaps the strongest of these fantasies is “Gorse Daughter, Sparrow Son” by Alena Indigo Anne Sullivan which may draw much of its strength from being a retelling of a fairy tale (precisely which one I can’t recall) involving the princess spinning incessantly to deal with her grief and causing her kingdom to be overgrown by impenetrable vegetation. The hero (who reminds me somehow of the elf who wanted to be a dentist in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in terms of his “leading nebbish” character) is interested in saving her in this utterly sexless tale.

Moving into things which might not strictly be fantasies, Jason Sanford’s “Blood Grains Speak Through Memories” (from BCS‘s “science fantasy” issue) is a posthuman “might as well be magic” coercive environmental sermon though it is uncomfortable with its coercion. Again, it ends in an unsatisfying way even if arguments can be made for its in-story logic. I’d previously reviewed “The Bridge of Dreams” by Gregory Feeley which is another “indistinguishable from magic” tale. Finally, while seemingly the most grounded, Paul McAuley’s “Something Happened Here, But We’re Not Quite Sure What It Was” is basically a space western in which the big bad railroad company sets up a telegraph station the townspeople take a disliking to and about the mayor’s and sheriff’s efforts to keep order. Of course, it’s a radio telescope to be used for SETI and does have an interesting argument for why this could be useful even after first contact has been made but it ultimately feels like an interstitial chapter in a fixup rather than a story in its own right.

Moving to Strahan’s eight solo choices, his are all fantasy (except one mainstream piece) and a pretty strong bunch they are, overall. The only two I really didn’t care for were his two selections from Uncanny. E. Lily Yu’s “The Witch of Orion Waste and the Boy Knight” makes me wonder why it’s hard SF that routinely gets criticized for poor characterization as these seem like fantasy cutouts placed before a sketchily rendered background in this tale of a good witch, a knight, a femme fatale, and a dragon or three. Alyssa Wong’s “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay” is a Weird Western that, by contrast, seems over-elaborate and somewhat confusing but seems to have some good aspects (creative phantasmagorical imagery and an interesting mood) which are completely buried in the mistake of second-person present tense narration. “You turn your head and spit a brown, dusty gob into the dirt. You hope she doesn’t notice the fur and tiny bone fragments caught in it. ‘Who do you take me for?'” Apparently she takes you for me, dude, but I’m not spitting any gobs anywhere.

Two more were okay. Charles Yu’s “Fable” is not fantasy but has a man talking to his psychiatrist with fantasy imagery. It’s emotionally effective at times and there’s nothing really wrong with it beyond it not being speculative and not really seeming like a “year’s best.” Swirsky’s famous/infamous “Dinosaur” was the same “emotional, mainstream, but with imagery” story, but better. Delia Sherman’s “The Great Detective” is a steampunk fantasy with AI robots and ghosts (in and out of dolls) as well as a bizarre origin story and isn’t my cup of tea but, as a stylistic exercise, it was pretty good.

In “honorable mention” territory, Joe Abercrombie’s “Two’s Company” is a funny and entertaining tale of a female Fafhrd and Grey Mouser making love and war against and with an apparently famous character from Abercrombie’s other works and the two groups of people who don’t want any of the three wandering freely. It just doesn’t feel especially significant, though. Theodora Goss’ “Red as Blood and White as Bone” is nine-tenths superb with slight flaws and one-tenth flawed. The initial tale of the orphaned servant girl and the “princess” she lets in from a storm is very effective and then the WWII-era stuff bolted on at the end is thematically apt but the wrong length (either too long for a coda or too short for a second part) and destroys the mood. The first part was really good, though. Yoon Ha Lee’s “Foxfire, Foxfire” has a really excellent style which is fairly elaborate but never trips over its own feet in an action tale about a shapeshifting fox and a mecha pilot. (This is another from BCS‘s “science fantasy” issue but true science fantasy is more fused while this is an SF and F mashup.) It would be an easy recommendation except it is also shaky on the dismount. The blatantly spelled-out non-ending basically makes the entire story feel like an excerpt or serial installment where, without really changing a thing, the ending could have been more implied and would have made a much better story to me. But this, too, for the bulk, was really not my kind of thing but was really good.

The Strahan story I was thoroughly delighted with, though, was Alice Sola Kim’s “Successor, Usurper, Replacement.” (Extra credit to Strahan for pulling this from outside the usual haunts as I’d never have seen it otherwise and I’m really glad I did.)

Four friends in a writing group get together immediately prior to a storm. When a fifth person shows up, things get strange. While this is a story that works in basically every way, the style/tone/perspective is superb. I’m very likely to love any story that can describe the aftermath of the power going out and a moment of sitting in the dark like this:

Then everyone remembered that they had their phones and one by one they appeared in the dark as busts glowing delicately blue in a far-future museum, the unspecified museum they were trying to make it into with their writing, as stupid as that sounded and whether they admitted it to themselves or not, because it wasn’t as if their jobs or families or stations in life or beauty or kindness or cruelty would get them there.

Then a drinking game is initiated in which they all tell stories about themselves, all of which are quirky and interesting, even – perhaps especially – the story that doesn’t get told. This also serves as an excellent signaling of what lies ahead in terms of pacing before the final section where it gets weirder still. I love that it’s in third-person, past tense and that the narrator sounds like a sixth character who would fit right in. I love the fact that this is utterly mainstream except that (a) it’s not at all stuffy and (b) it’s completely a fantasy, with a couple of wonderfully casually handled elements, the second of which is the snuffleupagus in the room. I love the understated darkness to the whole thing. The “ha ha, only serious” aspects. Go! Read! Enjoy!

Reading the 2016 “Best” Stories (Part 2)

Following on from Part 1, I’ve now read the eleven stories that only Clarke or Dozois selected. Part 1 left off with a question about whether multiple quality Dozois selections and a slower start from Clarke would continue.

As far as Clarke’s selections, I didn’t care for Margaret Ronald’s talky alien infonet tale “And Then, One Day, the Air was Full of Voices” and I previously ambivalently reviewed Lettie Prell’s artsy post-human “The Three Lives of Sonata James.” I couldn’t go for a full-tilt recommendation of Karin Lowachee’s “A Good Home” (paraplegic vet adopts PTSD android) or Sarah Pinsker’s post-apocalyptic “Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea” but they’re certainly reasonable selections to me and you probably wouldn’t go wrong to give them a try.

The only solo Clarke selection that really impressed me was Rich Larson’s “Extraction Request and that in a very specific way. It is undeniably effective but if you don’t wish to read nihilistic military horror SF (The Dirty Dozen economized to an Evil Eight and then dropped in a blender with Aliens and The Blob) then you can safely give this a pass. I wouldn’t have wished in advance to read such a thing but, as I say, it does effectively draw the reader in and is quite creative, especially in certain sadistic details.

I would also recommend Dozois’ selection of Rich Larson’s “Jonas and the Fox more generally but with reservations. Jonas is the older brother of Damjan. They’re living through a revolution when a distant relative, the Fox, who had helped start the revolution prior to being deemed an enemy by it, arrives and hides out with them. Damjan later falls to his brain-death and the Fox has his mind sideloaded into Damjan’s body to hide more effectively. Our story picks up at this point as starry-eyed and contrary (and guilt-plagued) Jonas and his parents and the Fox deal with their situation and try to survive informant teachers and bloodhound soldiers and so on. The reservations come from this being a gripping story throughout yet not especially satisfying in the end. The ending is certainly apt enough and prepped for but somehow the story overall feels like a slight letdown. Also, I’m perfectly happy to swallow the personality/consciousness/soul backups and several other things but, even in that context, the plausibility of aspects of what can and can’t be detected (at least three things) bothers me. Still, quite good and just as gripping as “Extraction Request” with psychological horror but without the visceral horror and nihilism.

Dozois’ other selections were pretty solid. I was least impressed by Maggie Clark’s “A Tower for the Coming World” (interconnected sketches dealing with a variety of people connected to a space elevator) but it wasn’t bad. Eleanor Arnason’s “Checkerboard Planet” wasn’t great, but was a pleasant good ol’ planetary exploration tale starring her recurring Lydia Duluth character. Like Larson’s tale, only more so, Mercurio D. Rivera’s first contact tale, “Those Brighter Stars,” suffered from a somewhat unsatisfying ending (albeit by design) in a tale of abandonment on both small and large scales but was mostly brisk and vivid.

James Patrick Kelly’s “One Sister, Two Sisters, Three” – a tale of siblings, jealousy, mortality, religion, and the Fibonacci sequence – is an embarrassment for me since I have to confess I don’t get it. It seems really superb until the end where I think I understand what happened and why but then simply do not understand the lack of response to it in the denouement. I understand why there wouldn’t be much focus on a certain kind of response but an absence? So I don’t know what to say about it. If the whole thing does hang together and is as good as the bulk, it’d certainly be recommended.

Along with the Larson, the other tale I can clearly recommend is Ted Kosmatka’s “The One Who Isn’t which stays confusing and disorienting for almost too long but finally crystallizes into a remarkable story. As such, it’s one I hate to say anything about because even a simple characterization would spoil the journey. The setup “starts with light. Then heat.” It goes on with a woman “in a porcelain mask” testing a child on his perceptions of colors. Given his inability to distinguish blue and green, she informs him he’s “getting worse.” Then she tells him a bedtime story and I encourage you to go find out about it.

For awhile now, I haven’t been thrilled with Dozois’ annuals but, if the parts I’ve read are at all reflective of the whole, this seems like a very good anthology. One of my major complaints has been an excess of depression, death, destruction, and dystopia in the annuals of late. This certainly has some of all that but in more tolerable quantities and with a lighter or more nuanced touch. Of the nineteen stories from the volume I’ve read thus far, I especially liked eight of them and disliked or wasn’t interested in only a handful with the rest at least being okay. That’s a pretty strong batting average.

Next up, the Horton and Strahan solo selections to finish up this little project!

Edit (2017-01-29): And here’s that conclusion.