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The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018 (2018)

por John Joseph Adams (Series editor), N. K. Jemisin (Editor)

Outros autores: Charlie Jane Anders (Contribuidor), Tobias Buckell (Contribuidor), Gwendolyn Clare (Contribuidor), Samuel R. Delany (Contribuidor), Julie Dillon (Artista da capa)15 mais, Jaymee Goh (Contribuidor), Maria Dahvana Headley (Contribuidor), Micah Dean Hicks (Contribuidor), Rachael K. Jones (Contribuidor), Kathleen Kayembe (Contribuidor), Carmen Maria Machado (Contribuidor), Kate Alice Marshall (Contribuidor), Maureen McHugh (Contribuidor), Charles Payseur (Contribuidor), Lettie Prell (Contribuidor), A. Merc Rustad (Contribuidor), Cadwell Turnbull (Contribuidor), Peter Watts (Contribuidor), Caroline M. Yoachim (Contribuidor), E. Lily Yu (Contribuidor)

Séries: The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy (2018), Best American

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Boundary-pushing and experimental, this diverse selection of science fiction and fantasy stories illuminates what it means to be human and explores the ever-expanding and changing world of SFF today.
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Mostrando 1-5 de 6 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Didn't read every story, but enjoyed what I read. This collection skews toward horror, not always my cup of tea, but my two favorite stories were about cannibalism so I'm not sure I have grounds to complain.

Favorites were: "The Greatest One-Star Restaurant in the Whole Quadrant," a story of cyborg chefs run amok. This story is absolutely gross, yet bleakly hilarious. Then there's "Cannibal Acts," which was oddly not gross at all, but the kind of understated human drama that only Maureen McHugh can deliver. It's a short one, but the characters and dystopian setting are completely realized, and the story ends with a private, heartbreaking moment that stayed with me for some time.

Another wonderful story was "Don't Press Charges and I Won't Sue" by Charlie Jane Anders, whose podcast I follow but whose writing I had not read before. This story reminded me of Margaret Atwood, not only in subject matter but in voice; it had the same lively, satirical quality.

I also surprised myself by enjoying Samuel R. Delany's "The Hermit of Houston," which was a bit surrealistic for me, but possibly objectively the best story in the collection, an unflinching exploration of finding love and security and identity as an outsider (and probably some other things, I am not convinced I am bright enough to understand Delany).

The audacious storytelling award probably goes to Maria Dahvana Headley for "Black Powder," which is your typical queer Weird West school shooting fairy tale. That's a genre, right? The mood was pleasingly reminiscent of classic Neil Gaiman, if more lyrical and literary.

Oh oh oh, and I can't leave out "Justice Systems in Quantum Parallel Probabilities," which was science fiction doing what science fiction does best, and on point since I've been listening to the latest season of Serial. In her biographical statement, the author talks about leaving a prestigious career in the criminal justice system, a decision informed in part (as I recall) by the self-reflective practice of writing fiction.

Finally, N.K. Jemisin gets a thumbs-up for, in her introduction, delivering a one-sentence close reading of the Harry Potter series that kind of blew my mind.

This best of anthology is a decent thumbnail portrait of 2017. The stories are upsetting but not nihilistic. Most aren't exactly hopeful—except in the sense that looking, recording, naming is an intrinsically hopeful act. Well done to both editors. ( )
  raschneid | Dec 19, 2023 |
Always worth looking into any of the Best American series. ( )
  mykl-s | Jun 8, 2023 |

"Rivers Run Free": Rivers can walk around in human bodies and are trying to escape before people can wipe them out by harnessing their power. Some cool cinematic moments and an interesting premise, but the sex scene seemed like a weird inclusion and put me off.

"Destroy the City with Me Tonight": Superheroism as a disease that gives you powers but makes you just a symbol without a life. Overall, this take on the superhero genre didn't really grab me. Kind of reminded me of Dreadnought but if I didn't care about the main character.

"You Will Always Have Family: A Triptych": Wow! Gradually revealing more and more levels of the same story. Great mix of horror, folklore, and family psychological drama. If it's not a dog, what does Uncle really keep trapped in his room all day and night? Why does he have to protect Izzy with a charm whenever she sleeps over?

"Justice Systems in Quantum Parallel Probabilities": More like a legal thought exercise-- alternate universe versions of the justice system-- but a well-written one with a gripping human element.

"Loneliness is in Your Blood": The long life of a blood-drinking woman who peels her skin off to become invisible. Strong opening but dropped off a bit... didn't seem like there was a good reason for it to be written in second person, except to make the first three paragraphs a little punchier.

"The Hermit of Houston": I probably need to re-read this when I can concentrate on it more, because as is I just could not follow it. So much unfamiliar jargon packed into a small space that it was totally bogged down, and I couldn't pick out a single strand of plot, character, or worldbuilding. I literally just went back to try to reread part of it and could not make it work for me. What is going on here? It won the Locus and Delany seems to be a sci fi powerhouse... maybe eventually I'll retry with more patience.

"The Last Cheng Beng Gift": A mother enjoys and evaluates the gifts her children send to her in the afterlife. Great story, very funny and touching. I'm with Mrs. Lim though-- fish spas freak me out.

"Brightened Star, Ascending Dawn": A spaceship AI must decide what rules to follow. Definite Ann Leckie vibes, and also reminiscent of Aliette de Bodard's "The Waiting Stars"-- a.k.a., I really liked it. AI-perspective stories rule.

Okay I hope you enjoyed those last two positive stories, because things are going to get tough for most of the rest of the collection.

"The Resident": A novelist attends a rural artist residency and has a terrible, feverish time. I'll admit that I skipped this one because I had read it in Her Body and Other Parties and knew that it had distressed me. Obviously Carmen Maria Machado is a genius writer, but I just couldn't do it again. Recommend if you're okay with being distressed.

"The Greatest One-Star Restaurant in the Whole Quadrant": Speaking of distressing, this story is pretty profoundly gross. But also hilarious and what an amazing premise and I really loved it. The meat.... oh, the meat...

"Tasting Notes on the Varietals of the Southern Coast": Fantasy? In my Sci-Fi/Fantasy collection? It's more likely than you think. I thought this story, a vintner evaluating the wines in a country destroyed by a magical plague, was quite good, and the perfect length (aka, short) for what it had to say. You might appreciate even more if you know anything about wine, but I wouldn't know since I don't know anything about wine.

"Don't Press Charges and I Won't Sue": Haven't read any Charlie Jane Anders before, but this explains why everyone loves her stuff-- love may be the wrong word. More speculative/horror in tone than sci-fi, surprisingly with an strain of YA/coming-of-age. Really gut-wrenchingly scary, and the chase scene is the stuff of nightmares. Content warning for extreme dysphoria and nonconsensual surgery.

"Church of Birds": Aarne-Thompson Folktale Type 451 (Brothers Turned Into Birds) is a rich vein, and hasn't been depleted yet. Really liked this one. We're still definitely keeping up the trend of sad/distressing though.

"ZeroS": Another one that feels like it could be a whole novel. I actually checked to see if it's a side story in a larger series, the worldbuilding felt too well-developed for just a short story (it's hard to explain the premise though-- better to just read). As far as I can tell, it's a standalone, but I definitely want to check out Watts' other stuff now. Reminded me of Altered Carbon, but unlike Altered Carbon didn't make me want to stop reading after three pages because of noir-imported sexism, so that's nice. Why do I keep comparing these to other books though? This was very good. Loved how the story was divided into titled sections, it helped to break it up and the titles didn't just just help you to follow along but also really added something.

"Carnival Nine": To be honest, I thought this was going to be bad when I first started it, but it totally won me over. Really really helped that it didn't try to be overly cute about its premise (clockwork people living in a model train town) and in fact I think it was much more effective than what I can easily imagine being an alternate version of same story about family separation and disability told in a dystopian sci-fi world instead, which seems more overdone.

"The Wretched and the Beautiful": Okay. I see what you're doing here... I mean, we've all seen District 9. This story is only seven pages but already sort of overstays its welcome. Like, I know you're trying to tell an important message, but we get it. We get it.

"The Orange Tree": Poet creates a golem out of a complex cabinet made from a whole orange tree-- fantastic start. I found the historical note at the end of the story super interesting, and while I liked the story, I almost wish I could've just gotten more information on the known facts of historical Solomon ibn Gabirol and Qasmuna bat Isma'il, and the stories of the hinged golem.

"Cannibal Acts": Really liked this one. A simply told and effective story about a lesbian biologist in a post-pandemic Alaskan community. Unfortunately, feels the most real of all the stories in this collection. This one actually made my cry

"Black powder": Not for me, maybe because it kept reminding me of The Dark Tower (guess I'm still comparing). Congrats to Maria Dahvana Headley though, two stories in one "Best American" anth.

"Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance": Post-human, some humans still holding on. Spaceships so wide they contain suns. I'd read a book of this one too. ( )
  misslevel | Sep 22, 2021 |
I was so impressed with what the editor wrote about how the stories were curated (next paragraph) that I really looked forward to reading this and let it cut in line, ahead of all my TBRs. I thought the editors did the "heavy lifting" and I'd sit back and read some really great fiction. I am so disappointed, I ended up kinda hating this anthology. I guess what the masters of the craft read is far beyond where I'm at. I'll have to remember that going forward. I received for free from editor but will be purging from computer & kindle.

From the intro; JJA read everything pub that year that met the criteria. He created a list of 40 SF & 40 Fantasy stories he felt were the top eighty. Then the guest editor whittled it down to 10 & 10. NKJ read them not knowing who the authors were or where they were published. Those 20 are in this book. The other 60 are listed in the Notable stories section. JJA said "... I don't have an exact count of how many stories I reviewed or considered. But as in past years, I estimate that it was several thousand stories altogether, perhaps as many as five thousand."

Rivers Run Free by Charles Payseur (orig in Beneath Ceaseless Skies) 2.5*
In NKJs intro she said "...which replaces oppressed people with dammed/diverted/drained rivers who are anthropomorphically embodied - and piiiiiissed about what humans have done to them." Her saying that helped me get started with the story because phew, I struggled with this not perfectly clear story. I could feel it trying to get me to let go and think differently. In the end, I couldn't get there.

Destroy the City With Me Tonight by Kate Alice Marshall (orig in Behind the Mask) 3*

Wow. Very Fantasy. Very unique. I'm not sure my desc can do it justice. :/ Roads start appearing on people's skin and others stop seeing that person, including their families/bf/gf. They are considered infected with some virus but it seems more like a city is calling them. They use the maps on their skin to find out which city is claiming them and go there. The city takes care of them and they take care of crime and other problems in that city. They gain powers also.

You Will Always Have Family: A Triptych by Kathleen Kayembe 2.5* (orig in Nightmare magazine)
Wow that was a long short story (I guess a novellete) and it was a lot of work, I had to really focus on the telling. It was told in 3 different POV until they all met up. Opens in the recent present by the "cousin" but it doesn't really come together until the "twins" POVs join in to explain the past.

When it ends, I feel like I liked the story (or maybe I'm just happy it's over). I got an almost complete story but I am a little pissed about how it unfolded. Summary - Twins with a mother and a father living in a time of poverty and old myth & beliefs. The mother dies, the father accuses one of the twins of being a witch and causing her death. He always had his suspicion but this seals the deal for him. The father leaves for America (for some reason) and takes one of the 7 year old twins but leaves the "witch" one behind to fend for himself and die in the streets. That left behind twin has some huge resentment and uses his "witchiness" to get the chance to get back at his old piece of shit father. Doesn't quite end the way he hopes.

Justice Systems in Quantum Parallel Probabilities by Lettie Prell (orig Clarkesworld) 1*
wtf was that? oh, I know, a waste of time. A criminal, due to desperation, is in a cell and for some reason he has snippets of different prosecution scenarios run through his mind. Not a story.

The Resident by Carmen Maria Machado - damn it, got about 75% done. DNF
oo dreamy with sentences that make no sense. Things happened and aren't discussed or explained. And there is an event in her past that obviously is still effecting her and we aren't privy to that. I feel like it will never be revealed. I'm done.

Don't Press Charges and I Won't Sue by Charlie Jane Anders DNF
I'm not fond of being dropped into a situation and then sitting in confusion as it's slowly revealed. That can work of course but I was not engaged.

ZeroS by Peter Watts DNF meh. didn't get too far. Opens with at least 4 uncommon named beings in a fight. So I get dropped into the action. This sentence makes sense when you know they are fighting but not if you don't. "Asante goes out screaming. Hell is an echo chamber, full of shouts and seawater and clanking metal." My brain - so he is on a submarine and what, he's exiting through some chamber? And the submarine is called Hell? "The Sahilites rise from the moon pool like creatures from some bright lagoon, firing as they emerge; Rashida's middle explodes in dark mist and her top half topples onto the deck...." Me - wtf is a moon pool? I spent too much time deciphering this, I just want to read. Not in the right mind set to decipher and not a big fan of "action". tapping out.

Carnival Nine by Caroline M. Yoachim World Fantasy Award short story nominee 2018 (Originally in Beneath Ceaseless Skies) - 3*
Not really what I enjoy reading. Replace the wind up dolls with humans and you have realistic fiction. The story is a reminder, in a very inventive way, that we only get so much time in a day and in a life time. These characters get a certain amount of "turns" (the key on their backs) before they are done for the day. They have to make wise choices or they'll run out before the day is done. They barter, they plan, they give their turns to those in need.

Cannibal Acts by Maureen McHugh DNF
apocalyptic. Science, "big" viruses, war. I tap out on those but not on the cannibalism :/

Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance by Tobias S. Buckell DNF
I'm not sure I'm a true SF fan. Fantasy yes. Horror yes. But this may be an example of me not really liking SF. "Back then, you were downloaded into hyperdense pin-sized starships that hung off the edge of the speed of light, assembling what was needed on arrival via self-replicating nanomachines that you spun your mind-states off into. I'm sure there are billions of copies of my essential self scattered throughout the galaxy by this point."


-- The Greatest One-Star Restaurant in the Whole Quadrant by Rachael K. Jones - 5*
I came across a great story by Rachael K. Jones (Makeisha in Time) so I started looking for other things by her to read. Now I see I made a mistake skipping this when I owned this anthology :/ Fortunately, there is a GREAT podcast available. Offered by it's original publication Lightspeed Dec 2017 narrated by Claire Benedek

It is SF, horror and humor. Things start off reasonably enough for the cyborg but the engineer finds a new passion that turns into quite the horror show. I'm sure there is some deeper meaning that is above my head ("I've seen reviews say the cyborgs can't stop their programming of serving humans" or "shows the gory end of desperation to please the audience at any cost". Idk it reminds me of Fargo where it starts off slowly and you think you can stop the momentum but before you know it you are really far down in fuckedville.

Skipped stories:
- Loneliness is in Your Blood by Cadwell Turnbull
- The Hermit of Houston by Samuel R. Delany
- The Last Cheng Beng Gift by Jaymee Goh
- Brightened Star, Ascending Dawn by A. Merc Rustad
- Tasting Notes on the Varietals of the Southern Coast by Gwendolyn Clare
- Church of Birds by Micah Dean Hicks
- The Wretched and the Beautiful by E. Lily Yu
- The Orange Tree by Maria Dahvana Headley
- Black Powder by Maria Dahvana Headley ( )
  Corinne2020 | Aug 21, 2021 |
This book seriously needs to be retitled "Tales of Virtue for Our Times (With a Smidge of Sci-Fi and Fantasy Thrown In to Make it Genre)"

This is not a book of fantasy and sci-fi short stories, as it is represented. This is actually a collection of sermons about inclusion.

That being said, there is a time when the choir bores of being preached to and this book marks the watershed event.

From here on out I will read only literary works that were created for literary purposes. Books that were written to tell a fascinating tale. So no more participating in group reads of crap that was published for purely commercial gain.

Thankfully I borrowed a copy from a friend and read it for free. If I had paid real money of this faux literature I would be pissed. ( )
  Equestrienne | Jan 5, 2021 |
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Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Adams, John JosephSeries editorautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Jemisin, N. K.Editorautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Anders, Charlie JaneContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Buckell, TobiasContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Clare, GwendolynContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Delany, Samuel R.Contribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Dillon, JulieArtista da capaautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Goh, JaymeeContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Headley, Maria DahvanaContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Hicks, Micah DeanContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Jones, Rachael K.Contribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Kayembe, KathleenContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Machado, Carmen MariaContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Marshall, Kate AliceContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
McHugh, MaureenContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Payseur, CharlesContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Prell, LettieContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Rustad, A. MercContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Turnbull, CadwellContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Watts, PeterContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Yoachim, Caroline M.Contribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Yu, E. LilyContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
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Boundary-pushing and experimental, this diverse selection of science fiction and fantasy stories illuminates what it means to be human and explores the ever-expanding and changing world of SFF today.

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