- Series: The Best American Series ®
- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Mariner Books; 2015 ed. edition (October 6, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0544449770
- ISBN-13: 978-0544449770
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 55 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #709,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015 (The Best American Series ®) Paperback – October 6, 2015
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From the Back Cover
Science fiction and fantasy enjoy a long literary tradition, stretching from Mary Shelley, H. G. Wells, and Jules Verne to Ray Bradbury, Ursula K. Le Guin, and William Gibson. In The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy award-winning editor John Joseph Adams delivers a diverse and vibrant collection of stories published in the previous year. Featuring writers with deep science fiction and fantasy backgrounds, along with those who are infusing traditional fiction with speculative elements, these stories uphold a longstanding tradition in both genreslooking at the world and asking, What if . . . ?
The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015 includes
Kelly Link, Neil Gaiman, Karen Russell
T. C. Boyle, Sofia Samatar, Jo Walton, Cat Rambo
Daniel H. Wilson, Seanan McGuire, Jess Row, and others
JOHN JOSEPH ADAMS, series editor, is the best-selling editor of more than two dozen anthologies, including Brave New Worlds, Wastelands, and The Living Dead. He is also the editor and publisher of the digital magazines Lightspeed and Nightmare and is a producer of Wireds podcast The Geeks Guide to the Galaxy.
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I was very excited to read this anthology as I am a huge fan of John Joseph Adams’ theme anthologies such as The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination, Federations, and Help Fund My Robot Army!!! Unfortunately, I did not find this collection as enjoyable as his other work. While I found several of the selections to be outstanding I was disappointed in many others. Overall the twenty stories in the anthology averaged a bit over 3.5 on my personal five point scale.
By no means do I in this or any other review feel that I am passing judgment on the worthiness of a text. I can only offer my personal evaluation of whether I enjoyed the work. This collection was in places not SF enough for me, I can be forgiven I think for my personal preference leaning more towards the work of the Golden Age of SF than some of the new literary fiction showcased in this volume. Again, I do not judge the intrinsic value of these stories but express only my own preferences. Now to the stories!
How to Get Back to the Forest by Sofia Samatar
This story was originally published in Lightspeed Magazine and is well written and atmospheric and, well. . . not especially enjoyable. This is one of the stories where I am just not certain that the story is SF to me (obviously, series editor Adams and volume editor Joe Hill disagree with me). 2/5
Help Me Follow My Sister into the Land of the Dead by Carmen Maria Machado
I had read this short before in Help Fund My Robot Army!!! and enjoyed it then as well. The story is structured around the updates common to crowd funding campaigns on sites like GoFundMe or Kickstarter along with a couple of e-mail messages. The story follows the efforts of Ursula who needs to retrieve her sister Olive from the “land of the dead.” Machado does an excellent job of capturing the tone of such a personal fund raising campaign and paces things perfectly. The twist at the end is especially well done. 4/5
Tortoiseshell Cats Are Not Refundable by Cat Rambo
This story was originally published in Clarkesworld Magazine and a sensitive look at cloning and the grief one feels after losing a loved one. Widower, Antony, briefly comes out of mourning to order a cloning kit from the television to clone his mother’s recently deceased cat. What follows, while perhaps easily guessed, is handled so deftly by Rambo that you eagerly follow the story to the end. 5/5
The Bad Graft by Karen Russell
In “The Bad Graft”, originally published in the New Yorker, two impulsive lovers hit the road to escape their lives with no intention of ever putting down roots again. Andy and Angie are both restless sorts and heaven to them seems to be the freedom to move from place to place with no permanent attachments. Subsequent events complicate their plans. 4/5
A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai'i by Alaya Dawn Johnson
This story is set in a post vampire takeover Hawaii where small numbers of humans are retained to serve as a food source for the vampire rulers. The tale centers around the relationship of one human, Key, and the vampire, Tetsuo, who she met on the day they invaded her home. 4/5
Each to Each by Seanan McGuire
“Each to Each” explores the introduction of all female submarine crews into the navy.Not only are the crews all female but they are modified over time through various surgeries and treartments to become literal mermaids. McGuire explores the psychological impacts of these treatments. 3/5
Ogres of East Africa by Sofia Samatar
This story is written in the form of a zoological or anthropological investigative log. The data is obtained from the testimony of a woman named Mary. She describes the different ogres that she knows about. Are they real? Is she crazy? I am not certain but there is little to no story in this story. 1/5
Cimmeria: From the Journal of Imaginary Anthropology by Theodora Goss
Can mere thought or ideas create reality? Can it create a physical reality that brings a new nation into being complete with a history, complicated sets of mores, and a living, breathing royal family? It appears that the answer is yes when a small group of American graduate students publish a series of articles in the Journal of Imaginary Anthropology. 4/5
Sleeper by Jo Walton
Biographer Essie has programmed a self-aware simulation of her deceased subject, Matthew Corley. Matthew was an influential BBC director with many secrets in his past. The simulation was built by inputting everything known about the subject into the system and allows for the biographer to interview the subject. There are strict rules about making these programs self-aware and Essie may have exceeded the limit in this case. 3/5
How the Marquis Got His Coat Back by Neil Gaiman
The Marquis de Carabas is on a quest. The quest is to recover his magnificent coat which was stolen from him while he was recently dead. The setting is a dark, magical, Victorian London underground full of strange and wonderful characters. 5/5
Windows by Susan Palwick
Windows tells the story of Vangie, a poor mother of two on her way to see her son in prison on his birthday. The story is quite short but powerful. Unfortunately, there is only one small SF’nal plot point in the story which could easily have been replaced with a mundane substitute and you would lose nothing from the tale. A good SF story should have SF elements that are essential to the story. 2/5
The Thing About Shapes to Come by Adam-Troy Castro
More absurdist fiction than SF, in this story babies have begun to be born in various geometric shapes. Why? No idea. The way that people react to these spherical, pyramidal, or cubic children is explored but to my mind this is neither fantasy or SF. 2/5
We Are the Cloud by Sam J. Miller
This story is about a couple of teen boys living in a shelter who sell a portion of their brains as cloud storage. This is an interesting concept though it is secondary to the emotional and sexual relationship between the boys. A little more time exploring the implications of the technology and a little less time at the porn studio would have improved this story. 2/5
The Blue Afternoon That Lasted Forever by Daniel H. Wilson
This story revolves around the relationship between a single, physicist father and his young daughter. His wife left due to his being too logical and mechanical – accusing him of not expressing his feelings. This is belied by the sweet bedtime ritual he has with his daughter and how desperately he tries to hold onto her in the face of a disaster. 3/5
Skullpocket by Nathan Ballingrud
“Skullpocket” is a well told story of a town that has come to accept an undead being into their midst. Jonathan Wormcake is a ghoul and after seventy years in the town he is dying. The story tells the tale of his life in the town. This is reminiscent of a Gaiman short story. 4/5
I Can See Right Through You by Kelly Link
An actor, the “demon lover”, seeks to reconnect with an old flame after years spent apart. They meet up and explore their past together with much of the story told in flashbacks from the demon lover’s perspective. The SF angle is tied up in the question of whether he is the demon lover due to his acting role as a vampire known by that name or if he is the entity who influenced a Ouija board in his lover’s childhood. 3/5
The Empties by Jess Row
“The Empties” is a moody, depressing vignette of a post-apocalyptic future. It is well imagined but feels more like a sketch of the setting for a good story than anything else. 2/5
The One They Took Before by Kelly Sandoval
A former abductee (abducted by aliens, demons, who knows) deals with being back home and the mixed emotions of being free yet knowing someone else was taken in her place and at the same time missing being there. The author sets the mood nicely but nothing ever happens. 2/5
The Relive Box by T. C. Boyle
The relive box is a device that allows the user to fully experience any of their previous memories. The story deals with the dangers of such an immersive technology and the risk that one might live completely in the past. The experiences of a single father and his daughter, both of which spend too much time in the box, is used to illustrate the risks. 4/5
How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps by A. Merc Rustad
Tesla has a dilemma. She is in love with a robot. Not a fully humanoid, android like robot but the espresso machine robot at the local coffee shop. How will she make it work? 4/5
Some of my favorite stories include:
"Help Me Follow My Sister Into The Land of the Dead": a funny story with a unique hook that finishes with an ending right out of the golden age of sci-fi.
"Windows": Classic sci-fi scenario made fresh with a down to earth setting and heartfelt emotion.
"Skullpocket": Creepy, gross, and supremely weird, this story alone is worth the purchase price of this anothology. As unsettling a piece of weird fiction as it is, its ability to find the humanity within a town full of monsters makes it a stand out.
The bottom line is, I enjoyed every story in this anthology (a rarity!) and it made me excited about the authors within.