cover image The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015

The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015

Edited by Joe Hill. Mariner, $14.95 ISBN 978-0-544-44977-0

This first SF and fantasy volume of the venerable Best American annuals collects work published in 2014 by authors residing in the U.S. and Canada. Series editor John Joseph Adams and his team selected 80 stories (18 of which came from publications Adams edited) and anonymized them for Hill, who picked 20 to reprint; the rest received honorable mentions. The overall quality of the work is very high, with standouts including Nathan Ballingrud’s creepy-cute “Skullpocket,” about the fair a ghoul holds annually for his town’s children; Neil Gaiman’s “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back,” a charming return to his Neverwhere universe; and Karen Russell’s “The Bad Graft,” in which a woman picks up the spirit of a Joshua tree as a hitchhiker. T.C. Boyle’s “The Relive Box” is the lowest point, as its depiction of a man ensnared by a machine that can let him relive his best moments forever is the presentation of a scenario rather than a story, but Boyle’s technical skill holds the piece together. A certain similarity in tone creeps in after a while, but it’s fortunately broken up often enough for the book to keep the reader’s interest. (Oct.)