The second in an annual series of intellectually demanding genre anthologies.
“Best” is, of course, an incredibly subjective term. This is clearly a very elite, highly curated set of stories; an obvious taste is at work. To select the stories for this volume, series editor John Joseph Adams chose 80 stories from hundreds. He then passed those 80 to guest editor Fowler (We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, 2013, etc.), who picked 10 science fiction and 10 fantasy stories. She made her choices without knowing who the authors were, but it’s unsurprising that some very familiar names from the literary end of the genre spectrum (Kelly Link, Catherynne Valente, Ted Chiang, and even Salman Rushdie, among others) appear here. There are no rip-roaring space operas or epics of castles and dragons; instead, this fairly cerebral collection includes many stories in the style of fable or myth. The tales include a sentient mushroom collective who takes the place of an unhappy woman, a virtual world of forgotten and sentient dating profiles sadly caught within an endless party, a well-dwelling “wet gentleman” who grants wishes with a nasty twist, a secret history of the Stonewall riots, a man coming to terms with the artificial eyes that replaced his cancer-riddled ones, and a trio of space travelers charged with determining which post-Earth colonial societies should be allowed to exist.
A set of primal, classic-seeming tales from our past, present, and future.