cover image The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2021

The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2021

Edited by Veronica Roth. Mariner, $16.99 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-0-358-46996-4

Roth (Chosen Ones) balances Earth- and space-based futures in this superior anthology of 20 sci-fi shorts. Several of the most powerful tales use current societal preoccupations to sketch alarming possible consequences. In “The Pill,” Meg Elison imagines that Big Pharma has developed a medication that can eliminate obesity and thoughtfully examines the dystopian effects of a society where choosing to remain overweight becomes a liability—and what happens to those whose lives aren’t really changed by the drug. Karin Lowachee’s “Survival Guide” explores what happens to students taught by an A.I. neural network that seems to improve comprehension but may be turning them into docile sheep in the process. And a devastating disease tests medical ethics in Karen Lord’s timely “The Plague Doctors.” The high point of the extraterrestrial entries, meanwhile, is Gene Doucette’s “Schrödinger’s Catastrophe,” in which a spaceship wanders into a section of the universe governed by different laws of physics. With these phenomenal selections, Roth nimbly demonstrates the genre’s continued potential for rich ideas. (Oct.)