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The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018

(Sun Lords of the Principality #- Brightened Star,Ascending Dawn)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  588 ratings  ·  122 reviews
A collection of the best American science fiction and fantasy stories from 2017.

Today’s readers of science fiction and fantasy have an appetite for stories that address a wide variety of voices, perspectives, and styles. There is an openness to experiment and pushing boundaries, combined with the classic desire to read about space ships and dragons, future technology and a
Paperback, 357 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by Mariner Books
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Nov 07, 2018 rated it liked it
River Run Free by Charles Payseur ★★★★☆
“Beyond the mountains and beyond the forests and farther still, there’s the sea. So vast and so powerful that the waters of it know no fear. And we’ll tell the sea of what’s happening here, and it will feel the pain of its children and it will rise and flow across the land. Over the forests and the mountains and the Dust and it will tear down the dams and the dikes and the locks and the citadel. And the Dust will be green again, and the Luteans will drown.
Matthew Quann
While reading the short stories N.K. Jemisin curated for The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018, I was taken aback by how substantial an undertaking it must be to create an anthology. Reading through a pile of short stories and coming up with a handful that will represent not only what you think is best, but what will appeal to the diverse eyes of an audience has got to be a real challenge.

With that said, I think Jemisin and series editor, John Joseph Adams, have done a pretty good j
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: R/evolutionaries
Recommended to Alan by: Team spirit
You say you want a revolution
Well, you know...

—"Revolution," by The Beatles (1968)

After assessing the impact of our current Predicament-in-Chief and his ilk on fiction (and literacy in general), N.K. Jemisin goes on to call the contents of The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018 "the twenty most revolutionary short stories from the year 2017" (Introduction, p.xviii).

Now, that sounds like hyperbole to me. However powerfully written they are—and they are, mostly—these stories seem unlik
Monica **can't read fast enough**
I took my time and read this anthology slowly which worked out really well for me. The stories stayed separate in my mind and didn't all run together. I was able to enjoy them more individually than if I had pushed through the whole thing straight through. Like all collections I enjoyed some more than others but they all had interesting approaches and stories. All in all an enjoyable collection of stories. I now have some new to me authors to track down other writings from.

You can find me at:
Dec 10, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: greatest-regrets
This book seriously needs to be retitled "Tales of Virtue for Our Times (With a Smidge of Sci-Fi and Fantasy Thrown In to Make it Genre)"

This is not a book of fantasy and sci-fi short stories, as it is represented. This is actually a collection of sermons about inclusion.

That being said, there is a time when the choir bores of being preached to and this book marks the watershed event.

From here on out I will read only literary works that were created for literary purposes. Books that were written
Richard S
Jan 29, 2019 rated it did not like it
Pretty lame compilation. Some of it is mildly interesting, but sci-fi today - if this represents it - seems to have lost its creativity and edginess, and sadly, what made it interesting - the "science" part. The biggest disappointment is that they don't make or try to make any sense. "Rivers Run Free," the first story, is very pretty, but like the stories that follow "Destroy the City with Me," "You Will Always Have a Family," while creative and "neat", are far less interesting than science fict ...more
Dec 13, 2018 rated it liked it
this would be a four-star collection (great stories nearly top to bottom, rare in any anthology), but for the fact that Maria Dahvana Headley's first story (of two) in this aggravated me so deeply. it's the story "The Orange Tree," which takes as its premise "what if 11th century CE Jewish poet/philosopher Solomon ibn Gabirol used kabbalah to make a sex robot."

It uses that to explore the ways in which women are silenced and their personhood overwritten by men, which, whatever, fine, that's #femi
Samantha (AK)
I received a free review copy from the editor.

Every year, John Joseph Adams compiles a list of eighty short stories that he considers to be the best American science-fiction & fantasy offerings in the previous calendar year. He then passes them--stripped of author information--to a guest editor, who weeds the list down to twenty: ten SF, ten fantasy. As this year’s guest editor (the wonderful N.K. Jemisin) mentions in her introduction: Le Guin noted, most readers presume that one of
Benyakir Horowitz
Aug 24, 2020 rated it liked it
I had this strange idea that I’d start to read some recently written science fiction to make sure that I don’t dislike all of it because I keep harping on how much I haven’t read anything written in the last ten years (okay, more than that, but let’s be generous) that I really like. Turns out this collection includes fantasy too, which doesn’t really bother me, since I’ve read some and not despised it. Turns out there’s only one real fantasy story in this collection, and it’s actually great.

I ha
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spec-fic
So I've finally finished my project book, reading one story a book for the first 20 books (more or less--I finished it several books ago but wasn't able to get a review out until now) of 2019! Like the 2017 installment of this series, it's a nice snapshot of the field. I like the overall organization--pairs of science-fiction and fantasy stories so that you get a solid impression of the overall effect. I didn't like this quite as much as the 2017 installment of the series (I was less impressed w ...more
Tad Callin
There are no "bad" stories here.

There are stories here that didn't appeal to me as much as the other stories did; there are stories here that left me scratching my head and wondering if I just didn't get it - which is always a possibility, even with stories I love. But there were no stories in this collection that made me think, "If I found this in the slush pile, I would decline it."

I fully expected to enjoy the majority of these, just based on the authors in the table of contents. Rachael K.
Erika Holt
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An innovative and thought provoking collection of speculative fiction stories with a literary bent. Particular favourites were: "Brightened Star, Ascending Dawn" by A. Merc Rustad, "Carnival Nine" by Caroline M. Yoachim, "The Orange Tree" by Maria Dahvana Headley, and "Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance" by Tobias S. Buckell. ...more
Michelle Terry
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer-sff
If reading a good novel is like savoring a big, delicious slice of cake, then reading a well-curated anthology of short fiction from different authors is like working your way through a box of chocolates. They're all good and delicious in their own unique ways. Each one is created to savor in just one bite.

The settings, subjects, and writing styles vary widely, from space opera to medieval, from horror to comedy. As a bonus, almost all of these stories center on protagonists who are women, peop
Chris Vanjonack
Jan 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-fiction, sci-fi
As always with the Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy series, I really appreciate the socially progressive themes throughout this collection (which are themed around revolution!), but I had a tough time engaging with many of these stories. There are definitely some gems throughout-- particularly "Don't Press Charges and I Won't Shoot" by Charlie Jane Anders, "Church of Birds" by Micah Dean Hicks, "The Resident" by Carmen Maria Machado, and "You Will Always Have Family: A Trptych" by Kathl ...more
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've read all three years of this series, and try to read as many of the magazines where many of the stories originally came from (Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, etc.); nevertheless, I'm always amazed by what the editors discover, since I've missed about 75% of these stories the first go-round, and many are amazing works of art. I've never been disappointed by any of the three extant anthologies, as the stories are chosen very carefully to capture numerous styles, authors, and points of ...more
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It is really remarkable how superb the Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy series is, with this volume particularly remarkable. Every story strong and effective elements, and a few are among the most exciting work I've encountered in years. This is a bit peculiar, as I have not been impressed with the copious editing and occasional introductions of John Joseph Adams, the series editor. But here he seems to be doing an excellent job hiring stellar writers to select the final stories. In thi ...more
Mar 27, 2021 rated it liked it
A lot of these stories didn't do it for me at all, which was a disappointment after the lackluster 2020 collection--BUT that's on yours truly, this humble, confused reader, who cannot somehow unlock the barrier that prevents me from understanding military / hard / very scientific-reading science fiction.

Rereading Carmen Maria Machado's "The Resident" was a wild ride and spurred me to revisit her collection to see if it hits like Kelly Link (amazing, baffling).

E. Lily Yu's "The Wretched and the
Feb 07, 2020 rated it liked it
An enjoyable collection! These books are really nice to see what’s happening in a genre, especially when you like the editor. A lot of the pieces in here relied heavily on world/adventure, which isn’t a surprise considering Jemisin put it together, but in reading it I realized these typically aren’t my favorite sci fi fantasy short stories. My favorite story was Justice Systems in Quantum Parallel Probabilities. Maria Dahvana Headley’s stories we’re also great, Black Powder in particular feeling ...more
Feb 11, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
excellent writing, but depressing

I used to enjoy these annual anthologies, but hadn’t read one in quite some time. this one has probably cured me of ever doing so again. the stories are all clever & well written, but all carry such a darkness that I’m not sure I want to bother. when part of a collection is dark, you start to look for even a single story of redemption & hope. it’s not here.
Elliot Williams
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read_2019
My personal favorites in this anthology:
- Marshall, “Destroy the city with me tonight”
- Rustad, “Brightened Star, ascending dawn”
- Clare, “Tasting notes on the varietals of the southern coast”
- Hicks, “Church of birds”
- Buckell, “Zen and the art of spaceship maintenance”
Fred Hughes
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
A disappointing collection of stories as 80% of the book is in the fantasy genre with scarcely 3 science fiction stories.

Recommend more science fiction oriented anthologies
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Out of 20 stories, I loved 6, liked 9, was neutral on 3, and didn't like 2. I want to focus on what worked, so starting with the positive reviews moving to the more negative ones. Once I split the stories into those 4 categories, they should just be listed in their order of publication in the book, not as a numerical rank. Also, I'm putting my little elevator pitch of what each story is about--I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll try not to, but I think it's helpful/fun in reviews to get a be ...more
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Rivers Run Free - 4* - A short, sad story about oppression and hope.

Destroy the City with Me Tonight - 5* - Incredible bizarre tale of super heroism as a disease. Turns all the concepts from the comics on their heads.

You Will Always Have Family: A Triptych - 4* - Great structure and a cool idea. Some genuine horror in the first section. Redemptive ending kind of undercuts it.

Justice Systems in Quantum Parallel Probabilities - 5* - I love these Invisibles Cities kinds of stories. Alternate univer
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was, quite easily, my favorite BASFF yet.

As a reader who regularly, critically, and eagerly consumes a lot of short fiction every year, Best Of collections can be tricky endeavors. Aside from bringing a new editor every year to select the stories, I think JJA, who is no stranger to putting together an anthology, has a good editor's eye. For my part as the reader, the best Best Of is one full of stories I've seen before ("Yes, I loved that story!") and ones I hadn't heard of ("This looks gre
Wise Cat
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Nobody, not even sci-fi/fantasy fans
I liked the 2017 edition of this way better. I was going to give this 3 stars, but I decided on 2. I'd do 2 1/2 stars if we could do 1/2 star ratings. (Yes, I know that won't happen as it seems it's been requested but GR said no can do)

Like the previous version, there's 20 stories in it. Some are short (like 4 or 5 pages), some are long (20 or more pages), some medium (maybe 10-15 or so). And out of those 20, I only liked 11.

2 of the stories in the book are from the same author. I don't recall t
Very good, wide-ranging anthology featuring a diverse mix of styles and voices, as well as authors both well-known and long published and others very new to the genre.

The book stumbles a bit at the beginning (I felt the first two stories, by Charles Payseur and Katie Alice Marshall, were by far the weakest in the volume and, to my mind, not worthy of inclusion in a "best" collection) but regains its footing with Kathleen Kayembe's "You Will Always Have a Family: a Triptych", gains speed and ass
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it

"Rivers Run Free": Rivers can walk around in human bodies and are trying to escape before people can wipe them out by harnessing their power. Some cool cinematic moments and an interesting premise, but the sex scene seemed like a weird inclusion and put me off.

"Destroy the City with Me Tonight": Superheroism as a disease that gives you powers but makes you just a symbol without a life. Overall, this take on the superhero genre didn't really grab me. Kind of reminded me of Dreadnough
Lettie Prell
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I won't comment on my own story in this volume of course, but I read all the others and found a stunning, diverse array of excellently executed stories. Just a few of my favorites:
* Rivers Run Free, by Charles Payseur. I loved those water beings and the issues brought forward in this fantasy.

* You Will Always Have Family: A Triptych, by Kathleen Kayembe. The Congolese culture in this dark tale made for fascinating reading, imbuing it with the required discomfort, while also providing the logic f
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a total disappointment. Per the intro, Jemisin tried to choose more "challenging" pieces. There were a few stories I enjoyed but overall not my jam. ...more
Nick Orvis
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The 2018 edition of The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy is a powerful and inspiring collection, carefully curated by John Joseph Adams and this year's guest editor, the luminous N. K. Jemisin (whom SFF fans will know from her Hugo-winning "Broken Earth" trilogy as well as other books). The stories contained within have been carefully selected to reflect a wonderfully diverse array of subject matters, writing styles, and worldviews, though Jemisin is clear in her introduction about what ...more
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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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Sun Lords of the Principality (9 books)
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  • Lightspeed Magazine, October 2017
  • Lightspeed Magazine, June 2018
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