I’ve been working reading more contemporary Sci Fi/Fantasy and “The Best American” series is a great resource. The 2015 edition was the first year they’ve compiled an anthology for these genres and it was good premiere. At the outset, they explain the complexities of having an anthology that encompasses both Science Fiction and Fantasy; each one has elements of the other. The editors provide a cursory explanation of each genre, however, without being too technical. It was entertaining to try and guess into which some of the pieces would’ve been categorized.
Throughout the collection there were several standouts which reminded me how powerful the Sci Fi/Fantasy genres are and why I enjoy them so much. Seanan McGuire’s “Each to Each” was an interesting look at the compromise members of the military go in becoming part of the larger group, Navy in this case, and the cost of losing their own individuality. Let’s just say there’s mermaids involved. But crazy awesome mermaids at that. Theodora Goss’s “Cimmeria: From the Journal of Imaginary Anthropology” looks at what happens when we culturally appropriate and romanticize ancient cultures resulting in a pretty powerful clapback. Neil Gaiman’s “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back” takes into the world that is part of his “Neverwhere” universe. The characters are whimsical without being campy and makes the reader want to spend more time seeing the character and world develop. Sam J. Miller’s “We Are The Cloud” looks at a future where internet companies pay people to use unused brain power to create “clouds” i.e. internet hubs in people in major urban centers. We see the effects this has on a society that has lost what it means to love in the face of moving from one hustle to the next. Daniel H. Wilson’s ” The Blue Afternoon That Lasted Forever” was a heartrending look at a single father who faces losing his daughter and the world, in a brush with a Black Hole. Jess Row’s “The Empties” was very similar to the world of “Station Eleven” and reminds us what happens when the power grid fails and we are left to our own devices (pun intended).