10 Recent Anthologies That Show Us What SFF Can Do

The Long List Anthology, Volume 3 cover detail: “The Alchemist,” by Amanda Makepeace

Anthologies are an excellent addition to any literary diet. They’ll introduce you to a variety of authors, allow you to sample new flavors of speculative fiction, and add unexpected perspectives to your reading. Quite simply, they provide one of the best ways to explore new works by authors you are already familiar with, and to find great work by authors you’ve never encountered before. Here are 10 incredible short story anthologies published in 2017 and 2018.

Not So Stories, edited by David Thomas Moore
Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories is one of his most famous books, but like all Kipling’s work, it’s rooted in, and tainted by, British colonialism. The anthology Not So Stories offers a different take on the world, with stories written by a group of culturally diverse writers in reaction to, and in conversation with, Just So Stories. The result is a highly entertaining book, with tales that range from dark fantasy, to animal fables, to allegories, to sharply funny and sometimes cautionary fairy-tales. Cassandra Khaw tells a creepy-crawly but wonderful story about how the spider got her legs, Wayne Santos offers us a story about the hard work needed to keep ghosts at bay in Singapore, Jeannette Ng weaves together history and magic in her tale about the Wishing Tree in Hong Kong, and Tauriq Moosa reveals how the snake lost its spine. Whether you love or can’t stand Kipling, whether you’ve even read his work, this is a terrific book.

Mad Hatters and March Hares: All-New Stories from the World of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, edited by Ellen Datlow
Edited by Ellen Datlow (a stamp of quality for any anthology), Mad Hatters and March Hares features work by some of today’s best writers in speculative fiction, contributing stories “inspired by the strange events and characters that appear in Wonderland”. It’s a fantastical and fantastic read, filled with unusual perspectives on a classic (Delia Sherman’s “My Own Invention” finds the White Knight escorting a version of Alice struggling with identity; Richard Bowes’ “Some Kind of Wonderland” imagines behind-the-scenes love and loss on the set of a ’60s film adaptation of Alice’s adventures in New York) You just cannot go wrong here, with contributions from high-calibre authors like Angela Slatter, Priya Sharma, Stephen Graham Jones, C.S.E. Cooney, and Seanan McGuire. Reading tip: this anthology is best read either right before, or right after, you reread the Lewis Carroll original.

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume 12, edited by Jonathan Strahan
There are several “best of the year” anthologies in the speculative fiction field, and they are a terrific way to keep up with all the great stories being published each year. Even for someone like me, who makes a point of reading a whole heap of fresh short stories every month, it’s not possible to find all the good stuff. Anthologies like this one are a wonderful way to experience at least some of the very best short fiction published in 2017. This one includes both fantasy and science fiction stories, with outstanding work from Kai Ashante Wilson, Rich Larson, Tobias S. Buckell, Yoon Ha Lee, Caroline Yoachim, and many others.

Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation, edited by Phoebe Wagner and Brontё Wieland
Sometimes, science fiction can feel like it deals mostly in dystopias and other scary versions of the future. Into this darkness, solarpunk shines a ray of hope. The editors of this anthology describe solarpunk as a genre focused on “solutions to environmental disasters,” envisioning “a future of green, sustainable energy used by societies that value inclusiveness, cooperation, and personal freedom.” With stories by authors like Lavie Tidhar, Chloe N. Clark, Nisi Shawl, and Daniel José Older, and gorgeous artwork by Likhain, this anthology is a must-read for anyone feeling beaten down by stories of our grim future.

Sycorax’s Daughters, edited by Kinitra Brooks, PhD., Linda D. Addison, and Susana Morris, PhD
Featuring horror fiction and poetry written by African-American women, this anthology was a Bram Stoker Award finalist. The stories included are beautiful and lyrical, frightening and unsettling, and powerful at every turn. Contributors like Sheree Renée Thomas, Eden Royce, RaShell R. Smith-Spears, and Tanesha Nicole Tyler share stories about demons and shapeshifters, vampires, ghosts, and mermaids, and their tales often turn tropes and established ideas inside out and upside down.

Transcendent 2: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction, edited by Bogi Takács
A finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Best Transgender Fiction, this stellar anthology includes some of the best “genderqueer stories of the fantastical, strange, horrific, and weird” published in 2017. It includes outstanding stories by some of my favorite authors in speculative fiction, including Sonya Taaffe, Charlie Jane Anders, A. Merc Rustad, S. Qiouyi Lu, An Owomoyela, and Vajra Chandrasekera. To quote Publisher’s Weekly: “This anthology embraces the multifaceted nature of trans identities, imagining them into worlds that are both new and familiar.”

Behold!: Oddities, Curiosities & Undefinable Wonders, edited by Doug Murano
Described as “willfully bizarre, wide-ranging, and beautifully strange,” this horror anthology features stories and poems by awesome writers like Kristi DeMeester, Sarah Read, Neil Gaiman, Richard Thomas, Lisa Morton, Clive Barker, and others. It won the Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in an anthology, and for good reason. If you love stories that twist and turn the screws, that thrill, disturb and unsettle, if you like to walk on the darker and stranger side of the street, then this is anthology is just what the mad doctor ordered. Bonus points for the fantastic artwork by Luke Spooner.

The Long List Anthology Volume 3: More Stories From the Hugo Award Nomination List, edited by David Steffen
The Long List Anthology is one of my personal favourites when it comes to “best of the year” anthologies. It features stories that made the “long list” for the Hugo Awards, meaning they received a lot of votes, just not quite enough to be finalists. Considering the massive amount of spectacular speculative short fiction published every year, there are many worthy stories on the long list, and this anthology offers readers a way to get a feel for the breadth and depth of the work published by genre authors. In this volume, you’ll find fabulous stories by Ursula Vernon, Jason Sanford, Sam J. Miller, Sarah Pinsker and P. Djèlí Clark, and many others.

The New Voices of Fantasy, edited by Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman
The official blurb for this anthology states, “the enfants terribles of fantasy have arrived,” and yes, the focus here is on some of the new(er) kids on the block in the fantasy genre. All stories here were written after 2010, and the table of contents is a veritable treasure chest of authors rocking the genre world (and awards ballots) right now, including Alyssa Wong, Brooke Bolander, Sofia Samatar, Max Gladstone, Amal El-Mohtar, JY Yang, E. Lily Yu, and Usman T. Malik. If you’re wondering if anything new and interesting is happening in fantasy, well, first of all, the answer is an emphatic “yes”, and second of all, pick up this anthology and find ample evidence of said.

Star Wars: From A Certain Point of View
I was sold on this anthology as soon as I read that Nnedi Okorafor had written a story from the point of view of the tentacled monster Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie encounter in the trash compactor. The central notion of the book is that each story “reimagines a moment from the original film, but through the eyes of a supporting character.” It makes for a hugely entertaining read, offering unusual and unexpected perspectives on the Star Wars universe. Contributors include Wil Wheaton, Ken Liu, Delilah S. Dawson, and others.

What’s your favorite recent anthology?

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