The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Volume 1 is a huge anthology of science fiction short (and not-s-short stories) that was refreshing in its breadth and speaks to a bright future for science fiction. With twenty-eight stories, it’s about twice the size of most anthologies. That is a mixed blessing in that I sometimes felt it was taking me too long to read. There’s Mount TBR piled so high and I am spending days and days on one book. However, I can’t think of a story that I wish I had not read.
There are a few stories that will haunt me, though. “Song of the Birds” by Saleem Haddad had me sobbing as I began to realize what the song revealed. It was one of the more heartbreaking stories I have read in years, in part because it projects a future where we don’t even try to solve our hard problems. Of course, it’s not the only story that predicts an entirely predictable grim future where today’s metropolises are underwater and scarcity is everywhere.
There are stories that seem like they are just the day after tomorrow. “Thoughts and Prayer” by Ken Liu was heartbreaking, but seemed very much of today, a family tragedy made worse by social media trolls and deep fakes. Others are farther afield, a couple going to the moon for their honeymoon and a woman leading an investigation of what went wrong at a failed interplanetary colony. One of the most affecting was the story of sentient machines taking measurements deep at sea and suddenly realizing they have been cut off…and one of them’s desperate and bold effort to find her way home. “Painter of Trees” by Suzanne Palmer is a simple story, but probably will stick with me the longest, about how colonization can lead to extinction even when you wish it would not.
I loved most of the stories in The Year’s Best Science Fiction and didn’t dislike any of them. It really is an outstanding collection of short stories and from a widely diverse group of authors. The only thing I disliked was the Introduction which seemed more like a State of the Union of Science Fiction address, with far too much detail on the ins and outs of publishing, books published, speeches given, writers passed, and awards given than an introduction to an anthology. I would much rather just get to the excellent stories.
I received an e-galley of The Year’s Best Science Fiction from the publisher through NetGalley
- The Year’s Best Science Fiction at Gallery | Saga Books
- Jonathan Strahan