I really like “Best of” books. I adore the short story and I enjoy being introduced to new authors, or cozying up with a familiar name. And I’ve realized how important an editor’s tastes are to a reader’s enjoyment. Editor Jonathan Strahan has pulled together a really marvelous collection of short fantasy and science fiction. As usual, in a collection of this sort, it’s very difficult to pick favorites, but as I look through the contents a few stick out in my mind.
The book starts with “Slipping” by Lauren Beukes and it’s a wonderful beginning and sets the bar high for the rest of the stories. The story is an all-too-possible story of future sports and what lengths people might go to in order to be successful in sports.
I enjoyed Holly Black’s “Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (The Successful Kind)” as well as Joe Abercrombie’s “Tough Times All Over.”
“The Fifth Dragon” by Ian McDonald has a stronger science element to it than most stories that catch my interest, but the science here leads to some very human decisions. “Collateral” by Peter Watts was a powerful story reminiscent of Ender’s Game.
I’ve always liked Eleanor Arnason’s work and “The Scrivener” was no exception. This story of a man who hopes his daughters grow up to be the successful author that he wasn’t has such an honest tone about it.
This leaves a lot of stories that I haven’t mentioned, meaning that they really didn’t stand out. However, this may be one of the few anthologies of this sort that don’t have any stories that struck me as not worthy of being included.
This volume includes:
Introduction – Jonathan Strahan
“Slipping” – Lauren Beukes
“Moriabe’s Children” – Paolo Bacigalupi
“The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family” – Usman T. Malik
“The Lady and the Fox” – Kelly Link
“Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (The SUccessful Kind)” – Holly Black
“THE LONG HAUL from the ANNALS OF TRANSPORTATION, The Pacific Monthly, May 2009” – Ken Liu
“Tough Times All Over” – Joe Abercrombie
“The Insects of Love” – Genevieve Valentine
“Cold Wind” – Nicola Griffith
“Interstate Love Song (Murder Ballet No.8)” – Caitlin R. Kiernan
“Shadow Flock” – Greg Eagen
“I Met a Man Who Wasn’t There” – K.J. Parker
“Grand Jeté (The Great Leap)” – Rachel Swirsky
“Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They are Terrifying” – Alice Sola Kim
“Shay Corsham Worsted” – Garth Nix
“Kheldyu” – Karl Schroeder
“Caligo Lane” – Ellen Klages
“The Devil in America” – Kai Ashante Wilson
“Tawny Petticoats” – Michael Swanwick
“The Fifth Dragon” – Ian McDonald
“The Truth About Owls” – Amal El-Mohtar
“Four Days of Christmas” – Tim Maughan
“Covenant” – Elizabeth Bear
“Cimmeria: From The Journal of Imaginary Anthropology” – Theodora Goss
“Collateral” – Peter Watts
“The Scrivener” – Eleanor Arnason
“Someday” – James Patrick Kelly
“Amicae Aeternum” – Ellen Klages
It’s a strong collection and a great addition to the series. A book like this suggests that there is a lot of great short fiction being published lately. I am not likely to read all, or even much, of the published short works each year, so I really value a collection such as this.
Looking for a good book? The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Vol. 9 is a strong collection of genre fiction and a great way to sample some of the best writers in the sci-fi/fantasy field.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume 9
editor: Jonathan Strahan
paperback, 624 pages