Book Review: The Best American Science Fiction And Fantasy 2017
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The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017
The Best American Series
Paperback | Kindle
Edited By Charles Yu and John Joseph Adams
Publisher: Mariner Books
Release Date: October 3, 2017

If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times: I love anthologies for the sheer fact that I get to preview a plethora of authors, some new and some not so much. Where else but in a compilation like this will you find so much talent in one spot without literally hanging out in a bookstore all day (I’m looking at you old Waldenbooks customers, folks)? That is precisely what The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017 will give you. So anyway, I’m going to drop a few names, talk about a few stories, and make you want to run out and grab a copy of this. All in one little review. Are you ready? Okay, here we go!

More than 300 pages containing 20 astounding stories by some spectacular writers, that is what you get here. Long ago, I was primarily a sci-fi reader, with occasional forays into fantasy. Somewhere along the line, I flipped these around and found myself immersed into worlds where magic and monsters reigned supreme. As different as these two genres are, they share a common trait of imagination without boundaries. Regardless of which you prefer, or on occasion a mix of both, there are no limits imposed upon the author. This allows such variety and diversity that we are constantly exploring new worlds without end. How great is that?

As with all written works, however, the modern world does influence the scribe. Whether it is a social justice issue as in The Venus Effect or peaceful immigration gone wrong as presented in When They Came To Us, the message is crystal clear. Some things transcend all levels of our imagination and consciousness. Still others, like Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail explore the rationalization of predators; introspection is mandatory almost after reading that piece. I imagine this is the thought process that many of my vegetarian and vegan friends have been through. But the one that probably impacted me the most was I’ve Come To Marry The Princess. It’s a tale of the forgotten, the lost. It hit me on a personal level, reminding me of a lonely childhood. That said, Teenagers from Outer Space was by far the one that caused me concern; the first person account was almost painful, it was that well written. I Was A Teenage Werewolf really needs to become a full-length novel, by the way. Side note: both of these last two I mentioned are by the same author.

Each and every story has something to offer someone. I will not even try to say I loved every single one, but I will stand by the fact that I appreciated what each one brought to the metaphorical table. It even caused me to add a few names to my list of new authors. Mind you, that list is never-ending, but that is the part of the fun, you know. The most interesting part of this entire anthology is the author’s notes at the end of the book. Each one was given an opportunity to comment on what the story meant to them or how it came into being, that sort of thing. I probably enjoyed those as much as the stories themselves. So pick this up if you want a miscellaneous book of stories with almost no correlation with one another other than the fact they are all unfettered minds put to paper (or screen). Who knows, your next new favorite author could be under this cover!

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 whole gamut of the human experience, interrogating our hopes and our fears. With a diverse selection of stories chosen by series editor John Joseph Adams and guest editor Charles Yu, The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017 continues to explore the ever-expanding and changing world of SFF today, with Yu bringing his unique view””literary, meta, and adventurous””to the series’ third edition.

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