A fourth annual anthology from this editor, and not to be confused with its rival, The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, edited by Jonathan Strahan, which appeared in April 2012.
Of the 29 mostly top-quality offerings, no less than six of what are arguably among the best stories here—perhaps inevitably—also appeared in the rival volume: Karen Joy Fowler’s “Younger Women,” Kij Johnson’s “The Man Who Bridged the Mist,” Paul McAuley’s “The Choice,” K.J. Parker’s “A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong,” Robert Reed’s “Woman Leaves Room” and E. Lily Yu’s “The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees.” That disappointment aside, there’s plenty of great writing and dazzling ideas among the rest: “The Silver Wind” by Nina Allan, a wonderful yarn of a strange genius in an alternate-world London; a Martian odyssey from John Barnes; a stunning take on the essential tragedy of the vampire condition, “Late Bloomer” by Suzy McKee Charnas; the riveting and surpassingly strange “Walking Stick Fires” by Alan DeNiro; a tale of World War II, Indian magic and a blacklisted writer, Bradley Denton’s “The Adakian Eagle”; historical time travel from Theodora Goss; “Ghostweight” (Yoon Ha Lee), an ugly war on a distant planet; a weird life-after-death yarn from Rachel Swirsky; a typically elliptical and engrossing tale of fairyland from Catherynne M. Valente; a woman under an evil enchantment, forced to bear children for her enemies (C.S.E. Cooney’s excellent “The Last Sophia”); urban fantasy from Kelly Link and other eclectic offerings from Jonathan Carroll, Alexandra Duncan, Neil Gaiman, Gavin J. Grant, Kat Howard, Vylar Kaftan, Margo Lanagan, Chris Lawson, Marissa Lingen, George Saunders, Lavie Tidhar and Genevieve Valentine. The duplicates are worth re-reading too, of course.
Make no mistake, this is a fine collection, but it’s an unfortunate fact: If you bought and enjoyed the Strahan and your budget is limited, you’ll probably think twice about this one.