I look forward to this collection every year and so it was a treat to see it pop up in the bookstore recently. The selections are always varied and interesting, and John Joseph Adams should get special kudos for all the preparatory work he does before he chooses the best 80 stories and hands them over to the guest editor to choose 20 for publication. In contrast to the 70s SF/F anthologies I’ve been slogging my way through this year in the hopes that there will be one or two stories I like, this anthology is full of interesting and thought-provoking selections, and just great writing. As someone without an active subscription to any genre publications (something I should change!) Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy gives a great overview of some highlights of the field for the year. I also like the Nebula awards collection as a supplement.
It’s hard to narrow down to my favorite few stories, because they’re all very strong, but I especially liked “Delete Your Memories for Free,” “The Red Mother,” “The Algorithm Will See You Now,” and “Colors of the Immortal Palette.” The themes of the year seemed to be climate change, living through pandemics, fears and possibilities around technology, and a welcome wide variety of viewpoints. Again, after fighting through several 70s anthologies this year, reading this was such a breath of fresh air and made me feel really hopeful about the future of the field. It was great to read work that challenged me and broadened my horizons, as well as work that made me feel seen and acknowledged. There was a strong tone of defiance and struggle throughout that I appreciated. I think that Caroline M. Yoachim summed this up the best when she writes here:
“My mere existence requires an explanation…If the story of my life focuses on the art it will be rejected as implausible, but if I pause to explain the truths of my existence the story is no longer universal.”
Definitely recommended for the SF/F fan and for anyone interested in reading some good short stories.