May is short story month, and what better way to celebrate it than to gather up a big pile of fabulous new and recent anthologies?
Worlds Seen In Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction, edited by Irene Gallo
Since going online in 2008, Tor.com has become one of the prime venues for bold speculative short fiction. This anthology, edited by Tor.com art director and publisher Irene Gallo, brings together stories from Tor.com’s first decade, and the result is a veritable treasure chest of smart speculative fiction. The official blurb describes Worlds Seen In Passing as “an anthology of award-winning, eye-opening, genre-defining science fiction, fantasy, and horror” and in this case, that is definitely not mere hype. Some of my personal favorites in this anthology include “A Cup of Salt Tears” by Isabel Yap, “Breaking Water” by Indrapramit Das, “The Devil In America” by Kai Ashante Wilson (one of the most powerful short stories I’ve read in recent years), and “Your Orisons May Be Recorded” by Laurie Penny. If you’d like to sample them, all are available to read for free on Tor.com.
A People’s Future of the United States, edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams
According to the editors, the purpose of this anthology is to share stories that “explore new forms of freedom, love, and justice” and “give us new futures to believe in.” The editors also wanted the stories be “badass”, and I’m glad to say that A People’s Future of the United States delivers on all counts. Its contributing authors include the likes of Seanan McGuire, Catherynne M. Valente, Tobias S. Buckell, Maria Dahvana Hedley, and Charlie Jane Anders, among other stellar names in the world of speculative fiction. It’s an anthology that wears its politics like a badge of honor, delivering stories that are sometimes hopeful, occasionally cautionary, and often flat-out terrifying. (Read our review.)
New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color, edited by Nisi Shawl
In his foreword (which doubles as a love letter to speculative fiction), LeVar Burton praises New Suns, describing it as a collection of “vibrant, authentic voices bursting to weigh in on the human condition and our journey of human evolution.” It’s a fitting description of an audacious and compelling anthology that includes every shade of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. New Suns gives you new stories by Silvia Moreno Garcia, Hiromi Goto, Darcie Little Badger, Jaymee Goh, and many others. The title is taken from Octavia E. Butler’s unfinished novel Parable of the Trickster: “There’s nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns.” It’s a line that perfectly describes an anthology that allows readers to explore new and different worlds, futures, wonders, and horrors. (Read our review.)
Skies of Wonder, Skies of Danger, edited by John Appel, Mary Alexandra Agner, and Jo Miles
If you like stories of adventure fantasy that effortlessly transport you to other worlds; if you have a penchant for a bit of steampunk; if you like airships, swaggering sky-pirates, and deeds of derring-do among the clouds, then this excellent anthology is just what the doctor ordered. You’ll meet a Tea-witch, tangle with the fabulous Captain Jack Valiant, and become acquainted with airborne book piracy. I love the often playful and thrilling spirit of the stories in this thoroughly entertaining book, which features contributions from Wren Wallis, C.C.S. Ryan, Fred Yost, and others.
The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, 2018 Edition, edited by Paula Guran
Paula Guran always picks exceptional stories, and an exceptional range of stories, for her annual “best of” anthologies, and this year’s edition is no exception. Each and every story in the table of contents is, in my opinion, worth the price of admission by itself. Some of my personal favorites include Kai Ashante Wilson’s visceral and phantasmagoric “The Lamentation of Their Women”, Rebecca Roanhorse’s Hugo and Nebula award-winner “Welcome To Your Authentic Indian Experience™”, and Eden Royce’s fabulous “Graverobbing Negress Seeks Employment”.
The Best of the Best Horror of the Year: 10 Years of Essential Short Horror Fiction, edited by Ellen Datlow
More horror on offer: in her career as an editor and anthologist, Ellen Datlow has won multiple Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy awards, and her Best Horror of the Year anthologies are must-reads for fans of the terrifying, the dark, and the strange. No wonder then that this “best of the best” anthology, featuring her top picks from the last ten years of anthologies, was met with widespread acclaim (including a spot on this blog’s Best of 2018 list). The lineup of authors on the table of contents is unparalleled—names like Neil Gaiman, Stephen Graham Jones, Mira Grant, and Tanith Lee are just the beginning. It’s an essential snapshot of a decade’s worth of dark fiction.
Suspended in Dusk II, edited by Simon Dewar
Suspended in Dusk II features speculative fiction stories lingering at the edges between light and dark, where “things either come good, or go badly, badly wrong.” The lineup of authors includes both veteran and lesser known but powerful voices—Bracken MacLeod, Gwendolyn Kiste, Alan Baxter, Paul Tremblay, Damien Angelica Walters, Letitia Trent, Sarah Read, and many others. In the words of Angela Slatter (who wrote the introduction), this is a dark fiction anthology that will make you “shiver and shudder, quake and quail.” It includes Alan Baxter’s “Crying Demon”, a finalist for an Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Short Story.
Making Monsters: A Speculative and Classical Anthology, edited by Djibril al-Ayad and Emma Bridges
Making Monsters features monsters (and authors) from all over the world. To quote the official blurb, the anthology “brings together fiction and accessible academic writing in conversation about monsters and their roles in our lives—and ours in theirs.” Inspired by mythology, folklore, games, movies, and fairy-tales, these short stories, essays, and poems reexamine, reimagine, and reshape monsters and monster tales, illuminating old myths in new ways. Participating authors include Megan Arkenberg, L. Chan, Margrét Helgdóttir, Rachel Bender, and Valeria Vitale.
The Apex Book of World SF: Volume 5, edited Lavie Tidhar and Cristina Jurado
Like all the anthologies in this series from Apex, Volume 5 features gripping, evocative, and mind-bending speculative fiction from authors around the world. Read it to get a taste of cyberpunk from Spain, Singapore, and Japan; mythology from Venezuela, Korea, and First Nations; tales of the dead from Zimbabwe and Egypt; and science fiction wonders from India, Germany, and Bolivia. The reach of this anthology series is deep and wide, and this volume includes fiction by Vandana Singh, Taiyo Fujii, Chi Hui, Darcie Little Badger, Vina Jie-Min Prasad, Sara Saab, and R.S.A. Garcia.
Nebula Awards Showcase 2018, edited by Jane Yolen
The Nebula Awards Showcase anthology reprints the winning and nominated stories for each year’s Nebula Awards, and it’s a great way to get a feel for just how deep and wide and rich the field of talent is right now in the realms of speculative fiction. 2018’s Showcase packs a whole lot of must-read stories into one volume, including the jaw-dropping “Things With Beards” by Sam J. Miller, Brooke Bolander’s magnificent “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies”, Amal El-Mohtar’s fabulous “Seasons of Glass and Iron”, and William Ledbetter’s award-winning novelette “The Long Fall Up”.
Galileo’s Theme Park, edited by Juliana Rew
This anthology features an entertaining and eclectic mix of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and humor, all inspired in some way by Galileo, the science that followed in the footsteps of his discoveries, and by “the lands beyond Earth opened to us by Galileo’s telescope.” The stories span styles and genres as the authors explore space, science, religion, and cosmology. Some that stood out for me were Alex Zalben’s haunting “And Yet They Move,” about a very lonely astronaut who makes an astonishing discovery; and Erica Ruppert’s fascinating “Signals,” about the mysterious music of the spheres.
Sunspot Jungle: The Ever Expanding Universe of Fantasy and Science Fiction, edited by Bill Campbell
If you’re looking for a mind-bogglingly massive speculative fiction anthology, Sunspot Jungle fits the bill. This is volume one (of two), and it is brimful of stories by a wide range of spectacular authors. It includes horror, fantasy, and science fiction, and to quote the official blurb: “Sunspot Jungle has no boundaries and celebrates the wide varieties and possibilities that this genre represents…” Featured writers include Angela Slatter, Charlie Jane Anders, Nadia Bulkin, Rose Lemberg, Chesya Burke, and Saladin Ahmed.
American Monsters, Part 1, edited by Margret Helgadottir
This anthology is the latest installment in The Fox Spirit Books of Monsters series, featuring dark fiction and art about monsters from around the world. In American Monsters, Part 1, you’ll meet monsters based on local folklore, myths and legends from southern and central America and American territories. The stories offer new, and often subversive perspectives on the weird, the dark, and the scary, introducing creatures that are formidable, terrifying, and often dangerously capricious. With stories by Sabrina Vourvoulias, Liliana Colanzi, Fabio Fernandes, Santiago Santos, and others, it is a must-read for fans of dark fantasy, horror, and monsters.
If This Goes On: The Science Fiction Future of Today’s Politics, edited by Cat Rambo
In this anthology, which editor Cat Rambo describes as “born of rage and sorrow and hope,” 30 writers of speculative fiction look at what today’s politics and policies might do to shape our world a generation from now. Outstanding writers like Sarah Pinsker, Scott Edelman, Lily Yu, Nick Mamatas, and Zandra Renwick envision futures shaped by the divisive politics of isolationism and nationalism, and a growing divide between rich and poor. In her stirring introduction, editor Cat Rambo calls the anthology, “an attempt to rally, to inspire, and to awaken. Some stories will despair, but others will have the light we seek, lamps to light the path and show the pitfalls as we continue upwards.”
The Outcast Hours, edited by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin
The Outcast Hours is described as an anthology about “the stories of people who live at night: under neon and starlight, and never the light of the sun. These are the stories of poets and police, tourists and traders; the hidden and the forbidden; the lonely and the lovers.” With a lineup of authors that includes China Miéville, Sami Shah, Omar Robert Hamilton, Lavie Tidhar, Genevieve Valentine, Kuzhali Manickavel, Will Hill, Indrapramit Das, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and Jeffrey Alan Love, it goes without saying that it delivers on that promise, offering the discerning reader some outstanding and audaciously odd fiction, best read late at night.
Robots vs. Fairies, edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe
Everybody loves a great match-up, right? Alien versus Predator. Wolverine versus Hulk. Wby not robots versus fairies? In this anthology, we get the answer (or answers) to the question: what happens if you pit fantasy and fairies against robots and science fiction? What kind of mayhem and mischief might ensue when these two forces meet? With stories by Catherynne M. Valente, Ken Liu, Max Gladstone, Alyssa Wong, Jonathan Maberry, and others (including John Scalzi, whose contribution Three Robots was turned into an animated segment in the Netflix series Love, Death, and Robots), this anthology offers a perfect mix of wonder and humor and technology and magic. It will appeal equally to fans of both fantasy and sci-fi.
The Very Best of the Best: 35 Years of The Year’s Best Science Fiction, edited by Gardner Dozois
This career-capping book from the late Gardner Dozois includes stories published 2002 and 2017 and collection in previous editions of the editor’s Year’s Best Science Fiction series of anthologies. It includes a wide variety of science fiction from some of the genre’s best and brightest, including Pat Cadigan, Kage Baker, Charles Stross, Aliette de Bodard, Sam J. Miller, and Indrapramit Das. The Very Best of the Best includes 38 stories, an eclectic assortment of moods, styles, settings, and voices. Any fan of sci-fi should be able to find several favorites in this book. (Our full review.)
What essential SFF anthologies are on your bookshelf?