Jonathan Strahan, ed.: “The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year” Volume Eleven (c) 2017.
Jonathan Strahan is an excellent editor, of this series and other anthologies.
The stories in Volume 11 of “The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year” are reprints of short stories originally published in 2016. Strahan includes an overview of SF & Fantasy in 2016 . The anthology features stories by 28 award-winning master writers. Each story is accompanied by a short summary of the writer’s major works and awards received.
The 28 featured writers are: Catherynne M. Valente; Paolo Bacigalupi; Naomi Novik; Joe Abercrombie; Rich Larson; Alyssa Wong; Aliette de Bodard; Daryl Gregory; Alex Irvine; Sam J. Miller; Alice Sola Kim; Seth Dickinson; Carolyn Ives Gilman; Delia Sherman; Genevieve Valentine; Geoff Ryman; Amal El-Mohtar; Nina Allan; Caitlin R. Kiernan; N. K. Jemisin; Theodora Goss; Lavie Tidhar; Yoon Ha Lee; Paul McAuley; E. Lily Yu; Ken Liu; Ian R. MacLeod; and Charles Yu.
I enjoyed reading the stories in this anthology because the diversity of the 28 writers created a wide range of stories across the broad spectrum of SF & Fantasy.
A summary of a small selection of the stories
Alyssa Wong: “You’ll Surely Drown Here if You Stay”
A story of witchcraft and desert powers, and of greed, set in a desert mining town. When the mine shaft collapses, many men are killed, including Marisol’s father. Ellis is a young man with witchcraft powers, who talks and wanders with the dead. A preacher comes into town, with the mining company men who want to re-open the mine….
*** Naomi Novik: “Spinning Silver”
A moneylender’s kindness drives his own family into impoverishment. His daughter takes over his work, very successfully. She exchanges the silver coins she collects for gold, and her business grows to nearby towns. Then a Staryk, forest creatures made of ice and glass, asks her to turn his fairy silver into gold. She must comply, or he will turn her into ice, into his queen…
*** Genevieve Valentine: “Everyone from Themis Sends Letters Home”
Benjamina March is a developer of the VR game “Themis” , a game about building the first human colony, Themis, on Proxima Centauri. The company Othrys Games, partners with a state penitentiary to test the beta-version. The game developers and players exchange email about the game’s features during the testing. It is an extremely immersive game. Medical, addiction and psychological issues arise. Othrys releases the game, which becomes very popular. Whistle-blower Benjamina is fired…
*** Carolyn Ives Gilman: “Touring with the Alien”
Dome-shaped structures appear all over the USA. Alien spaceships? Human beings step out from the structures, claiming to have been kidnapped as children, and trained as translators for the aliens. Avery transports specialty materials on a confidential basis. She is asked to drive Lionel, a translator, from Washington DC to St. Louis, in a converted tour bus…
*** Paul McAuley: “Elves of Antarctica”
An eco-fiction story set on the Antarctic Peninsula. Mike Torres is helicopter pilot, working on a project to prevent the collapse of the western ice sheet. In his free time, he hikes the rugged bare hills. His exploration turns introspective, about how life begins again in the face of ecological disasters, as he follows a route based on “elf stones”, rocks with strange runes written on them.
Aliette de Bodard: “A Salvaging of Ghosts”
Closure for a space-diver and the wreck of a Mindship: Thuy is a space-diver. Her daughter Kim Anh is killed aboard a Mindship and is still in the deep spaces of the wrecked ship. Thuy dives to retrieve Kim Anh’s body, and finds that the wrecked Mindship also seeks closure.
*** Ian R. MacLeod: The Visitor from Taured
A story of a long-term friendship, of the bibliophile Lita Ortiz, and the astrophysicist Rob Holm, who believes in the many worlds theory.
*** Yoon Ha Lee: “Foxfire, Foxfire”
Set in a city torn by civil war. Baekdo is a “nine-tail” fox, with the talent and desire to become a human. He acquires human skills with every kill he makes. When a cataphract, an autocannon, appears in the street, Baekdo decides to go for the pilot.
*** N. K. Jemisin: “Red Dirt Witch”
The story of Emmaline and her three children, in Alabama, a few years before the Freedom Marches. Emmaline dreams of spirits, warning her of a visit from a fey White Lady, and of protests and Freedom Marches to come.
Joe Abercrombie: “Two’s Company”
Warriors, Swords & Sorcery: a tale told with a fine humor and irony. Two women warriors, Shev and Javre, Lioness of Hoskopp, are being pursued by agents of the High Priestess of the Great Temple in Thond. In the middle of a rope bridge over a canyon, they encounter the warrior Whirrun, coming from the opposite direction, pursued by agents of King Bethod of the Northmen.