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The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  538 ratings  ·  108 reviews
“This volume showcases the nuanced, playful, ever-expanding definitions of the genre and celebrates its current renaissance.” —Washington Post

Science fiction and fantasy can encompass so much, from far-future deep-space sagas to quiet contemporary tales to unreal kingdoms and beasts. But what the best of these stories do is the same across the genres—they illuminate the w
Paperback, 354 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by Mariner Books
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Peter Tillman
I had this collection out twice, read the stories below, and set it aside. I don't think my taste matches editor Yu's very well. Guesstimated rating based on the better stories I read, mostly the SF. With a bonus for the wonderful introduction. And you may like more of the stories than I did.

The selection process: the series editor, John Joseph Adams, picks the 80 SF/F stories he thinks are the best published in 2016. The guest editor, Charles Yu, the
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Charles Yu is one of my favorite authors, so I had to check out his taste in short stories. They are strong on story-telling rather than being impressionistic, and tend to be longer rather than shorter. It's nice to see an SFF collection with such author diversity too. I read about 3/4 of the stories, which is better than my usual rate with anthologies. My absolute#1 favorite was the last story, The Venus Effect by Joseph Allen Hill. Others that charmed and stuck with me are Head Scales, Tongue, ...more
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The best installment of BASFF so far - and not just because last year was some kind of banner year for SFF (although I guess maybe it was), but because Charles Yu brought a truly different glance to the editing. No disrespect to Joe Hill or Karen Joy Fowler, authors I love and admire, but it was nice to have a non-white author, to have an author who writes deep within the genres in question, and the results show: I recognized maybe five or six of the authors on this year's list and nearly every ...more
Joe Crowe
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Anthologies are tough to sit through, sometimes, especially those that proclaim stories as "best." Such terminology sounds an alarm for pretty much anyone, challenging readers to say, "I'll be the judge of that."

In this case, editors Charles Yu and John Joseph Adams pretty much nail it.

Stories here are by Dale Bailey, Peter S. Beagle, N.K. Jemisin, Helena Bell, Genevieve Valentine, Alice Sola Kim, and over a dozen more. All are different shades of science fiction, and worth your eyeballs.

My f
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I picked this up for "market research," really. What sorts of stories are considered to be "the best" for audiences over the past couple of years?

This is a really excellent collection from some of the best writers that modern short SF/F has to offer. Well worth your time & energy if you love short fiction!

A few notes about the individual stories:

Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail by Leigh Bardugo - Beautiful in its whimsy. Also, I know it was inspired by Penticton because the author's note says so, and
I feel like I just don't get on with Charles Yu's taste in SFF. I should have known from the overwrought introduction, written in the form of a dialogue between Yu himself and two time travelers who help him finalize the collection and suss out the true purpose of the SFF genres. It was not the kind of meta, self-aware fiction I enjoy, meaning that it went out of its way to make a rather unoriginal point that could have been better expressed with much less effort and fewer words.

The use of meta-
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is by far the best of the three collections of Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. I've read each one cover to cover, and taught each one in my classes...but this is the most enjoyable from a reader's perspective (with the most diversity), and also the most rewarding as a teacher for all the big ideas and clever wordplay in the stories. It ranges from stories of teenage aliens and werewolves to satirical suburban dystopias, to timeless Chinese fairy tales. There were only a few stori ...more
Grey Thornberry
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
I'm leaving a slightly unfair review because in truth I didn't finish this collection. Maybe I missed the best stories, but the ones I did read just felt 'soft'. There were no grand concepts, no leaps of imagination, no unforgettable characters - in short, nothing that draws me to Science Fiction/Fantasy in the first place.
I was left with the impression that the editor intentionally selected stories that were as tepid as possible, for whatever reason. I hope that's true, and it wasn't just becau
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: scifi, fantasy
I have a bit of a snobbery problem when it comes to books, and I've tended to turn my nose up at genre fiction. This year in particular, I've been trying to have more of an open mind about it and have read a fair bit of science fiction on my own alongside fantasy for the family read-aloud. I'm a sucker for "Best American" anthologies (I picked up two others when I bought this one recently) and this seemed like a good one to expose myself to a broader range of the genre without a huge investment ...more
Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
The choice of the 'best' for these collections is always a very subjective project and they typically contain stories I had considered good to average with a few I recalled (or just discovered) as favorites. The 2017 entry in the relatively new Best American SF and Fantasy series is no different, but as I go through 2017 anthologies I do appreciate how this doesn't feature some of the really good works that got placed in multiple other anthologies. That may sound an odd statement, but in reality ...more
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
The stories in this collection, by and large, display much better writing than other science fiction or fantasy anthologies I’ve read in the last year. A bunch of the stories are metaphors or fables, with alien identity standing in for racial otherness in explorations of social dynamics. At least half are laced with some form of humor, which is also a nice change from some other anthologies. Not all of the stories work, but even those that fall short are smart and interesting experiments. Favori ...more

3.5 stars

I've become a fan of this anthology series over the past few years. Sci-fi/fantasy isn't an area I spend a lot f reading time in, but I like to touch base once a year. Each installment has a new guest editor, which makes for a different definition of "best" every year.

I'm only familiar with this year's editor, Charles Yu, by name. I haven't read any of his work. But judging by his taste in stories, I might have to check out his books. He's got a good eye.

Themes I saw coming up often in
Stephen Dorneman
Jul 19, 2020 rated it liked it
This edition of this new anthology series didn't live up to the promise of the first few volumes. Too many similar stories, too many direct commentaries on current events with a gloss of SF or fantasy, too many lit fic stories with rule-less magic realism masquerading as genre fiction. Although there are a few winners here, there are too many whiners. Not recommended. ...more
Caitlyn Fong
Oct 09, 2020 rated it liked it
As with most anthologies, some stories were more enjoyable than others. Many of the stories shared suburban settings or had elements of childhood and youth.

Ones I liked:

Not by Wardrobe, Tornado, or Looking Glass (Tolbert)
The City Born Great (Jemisin)
Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail (Bardugo)
Successor, Usurper, Replacement (Kim)
The Venus Effect (Hill)
Jun 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf
I felt much the same about this book as about the 2015 collection, so am repeating my review:

"This book was a bit of a disappointment to me, as a "best" collection. Everything was well-written, but many of the stories were too, shall I say literary?, for my taste. Meaning, a bit vague, disconnected emotionally, cerebral in a self-referential way, and without a clear resolution."
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read a lot of Phillip K Dick and so typically am biased towards that type of SciFi. Some stories were pretty good, others I didn’t enjoy so much. I appreciate the differing perspectives though.
Dec 07, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I found Charles Yu’s metafiction introduction to this anthology self-indulgent and digressive, so I went into the selection with lower expectations than the ones for the previous two years. But I left thinking he'd probably chosen the strongest set of stories of the three anthologies available so far.

First let me get the ones I don’t give a damn about out of the way: “Smear,” is about a guy plugged into a spaceship who wakes from long-spaceflight stasis, sees a random smear he can’t clean away,
Raima Larter
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
I read last year's edition of this anthology and was disappointed, but thought I'd give it another chance by looking at the 2017 issue. There were a couple of good stories in this but, for the most part, I was puzzled about why the editors selected the stories they included.

As usual, there's very little in the way of true scifi in this, and I was disappointed that some of the more scifi-like pieces actually seemed to be mocking the genre, such as the final story, "The Venus Effect" and the two
I don't typically read short story anthologies, but the colourful cover of this intrigued me and I had a hankering to try out some new authors. I noticed this collection had a few authors I've read and enjoyed before (Catherynne M. Valente, Leigh Bardugo, N.K. Jemisin, etc.) as well, so I figured there were enough stories I was very likely to enjoy alongside the new-to-me authors.

First off, I want to applaud this collection for its diversity. Not only are there a number of women, people of colou
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Very 2.5.

It would be easy to say "I saw where they were going, but the execution just didn't work", or "The agenda was too painfully obvious to have any impact" and "I can either do suspension of disbelief for the sake of an idea, or take the matter seriously to its inevitable conclusion, but not both at the same time".

It worries me that I could say all of these about most of the stories in this collection, and I can't disentangle the immediate judgement from feelings about the topics explored,
Margaret Sankey
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
This year's collection is a shining example of how science fiction can illustrate contemporary problems in a more startling way than non-fiction--the standouts are Joseph Allen Hill's "The Venus Effect" and N.K. Jemison's ode to the autonomous inner life of cities and the forces of evil who try to hinder them. ...more
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
I loved one of the short stories in this collection and found the rest to be experimental, depressing, or just angry. I get including some stories like those, but to have the majority of the anthology to run that way just seemed like overkill. If this is truly what is popular or considered good in scifi and fantasy, then I need a new genre to read and write.
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
A couple of good stories but overall just did not float my particular boat.
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spec-fic
I had a great time with this book and I think reading it slowly like this was really nice--20 stories, spread out nicely without ever getting too far away from me. I think the only way to give an accurate impression of the book is to talk about each story individually grouped by my favorites, the middle and my least favorites (although all of the stories are strong).

I'll start with my least favorite stories

"Caspar D. Luckinbill, What Will You Do?": nice premise and I think it was probably a sati
1. Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail by Leigh Bardugo - 5 stars - very different than her other writing (suburban lake gothic?) but still sexy and fun

2. Teenagers from Outer Space by Dale Bailey - 5 stars - pentecostal parents drive and a rapey bf drive a girl to Bug Town. Weird and creative.

3. I’ve Come to Marry the Princess by Helena Bell - 2 stars - Confusing and I super dislike abandonment unless it's resolved... and this isn't really resolved. You just hope it is? Maybe?

4. Everyone From Themis Se
Wise Cat
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Sci-fi/fantasy fans who want to try short stories
First I want to say I don't normally read short stories....because they are too short, LOL. I never felt they could have enough of a plot or character development.

This book proved me wrong! I discovered this by accident, as I read The Best American Mystery Stories for an informal book club at our recreation center. Then, I found out the "Best American" is a series, and one of them is a combination of two of my fave genres: Sci-fi and fantasy. I was skeptical about the word "best" and how they ch
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail - 4* - Great story about teenage romance. Falls off at the end.

Teenagers from Outer Space - 3* - Fine but nothing special. Well written but don’t totally understand the rapturous praise.

I’ve Come to Marry the Princess - 4* - Surreal and funny story about forgotten things. Little bit of a gut punch at the end.

Everyone From Themis Sends Letters Home - 5* - Brilliant. Brains in vats, epistolary format, prison industrial complex, corporate espionage, the works.

The Witch of
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017 by John Joseph Adams is an anthology of short stories that embraces all varieties of Sci-Fi and Fantasy. It is an interesting and diverse compilation.

It opens with Head, Scales, Tongue and Tail by Leigh Bardugo a story about a young girl who falls in love with a boy that is not really human. It was probably my favorite and set my expectations high for this anthology. Another favorite of mine was Everyone from Themis Sends Letters Home by Genevi
Douglas Gorney
Sep 29, 2017 rated it liked it
With Charles Yu as editor, given how much I loved "How To Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe," I expected more from this collection. I can only assume Yu did with the best with the cards he was dealt. Either that or he's not nearly as good at curating as he is at writing—which isn't likely, so you wonder whether young writers are just getting overwhelmed by social media and television, or if all the Big Ideas have been used up.

I found most of the stories here uninteresting. Rather thin
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John Joseph Adams is the series editor of BEST AMERICAN SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY. He is also the bestselling editor of many other anthologies, such as ROBOT UPRISINGS, DEAD MAN'S HAND, BRAVE NEW WORLDS,WASTELANDS, and THE LIVING DEAD. Recent and forthcoming books include WHAT THE #@&% IS THAT?, OPERATION ARCANA, PRESS START TO PLAY, LOOSED UPON THE WORLD, and THE APOCALYPSE TRIPTYCH (consisti ...more

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