Friday, March 2, 2018

The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016 edited with an introduction by Karen Joy Fowler; John Joseph Adams, editor (2016)

I didn’t like the first short story in this collection (and e-book I purchased), so I kept putting off reading it.  That was a mistake.  Almost every other story was enthralling.

“The Game of Smash and Recovery” by Kelly Link -  weird and puzzling, in all the best kinds of ways.

“Interesting Facts” by Adam Johnson - I sobbed; so moving and sad

“Planet Lion” by Catherine M. Valente - I just finished Valente’s Deathless (literally a few moments ago); I appreciate Valente’s writing so much.  It’s careful and exquisite and lovely and moving, even if I don’t always understand it.  Her writing always sucks me in.

“The Mushroom Queen” by Liz Ziemska - I think this was the best story in the whole lot; it was really weird and cool.  That ending - man alive - so good!

“No Placeholder for You, My Love” by Nick Wolven - a very old fashioned kind of science fiction short story that reminded me of Robert Silverberg - but in all the good ways.

“Things You Can Buy For a Penny” by Will Kaufman - this vies for my favorite; I loved this new folktale.

“Rat Catcher's Yellows” by Charlie Jane Anders - Anders near future forecasting is frighteniningly real and also often funny as hell.  This story definitely sits in the same universe as All the Birds in the Sky, even if nothing in that other book is ever mentioned or referenced.   Anders has a distinct literary voice, a voice I usually like.

“Three Bodies at Mitanni” by Seth Dickinson - another one that was puzzling and weird and sort of wonderful, and also sort of like a really good Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, only from the point of view of the advanced aliens.

It’s better to tout the good things in this book that talk about the few stories I didn’t care for, so I’m going to leave it at that.

The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016 by John Joseph Adams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The stories in this collection that I deeply dug far outweighed the stories I found ho-hum. This was a strong and good collection of the best of that particular year. If, for some reason, you are only going to choose and read three stories from this book (a mistake but...) then I highly recommend Liz Ziemska’s “The Mushroom Queen” (a wow of a story, really amazing); Will Kaufman’s “Things You Can Buy for a Penny” (a new folktale that’s wonderfully well written), and Seth Dickinson’s “Three Bodies at Mitanni” (it’s like a rad episode of Star Trek: the Next Generation, only told from the point of view of the strange advanced alien civilization). Honorable mention for me is Charlie Jane Anders’s “Rat Catcher’s Yellows” - this writer has frighteningly real forecasts of the near future but always with some wit and humor (and maybe hope); Anders has a point of view and literary voice that shines very bright.

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