cover image The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Vol. 8

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Vol. 8

Edited by Jonathan Strahan. Rebellion/Solaris, $19.99 trade paper (608p) ISBN 978-1-78108-216-4

Strahan remains confident and competent following his series’ move to a new publisher. He makes a point of invoking the venerable tradition of “annual snapshot[s] of the SF field,” name checking editorial luminaries like Judith Merril, David G. Hartwell, and Gardner Dozois. While there are one or two false notes, such as Val Nolan’s interminable “The Irish Astronaut,” most of the 28 stories reward reading. Of particular note are Yoon Ha Lee’s “Effigy Nights,” in which an occupied people turn to books to protect themselves from an occupying force; Eleanor Arnason’s “Kormack the Lucky,” whose protagonist struggles to win freedom in a world founded on slavery; K.J. Parker’s cheerfully amoral “The Sun and I”; and Ian McDonald’s comic “The Queen of Night’s Aria.” Small-press anthologies and independent zines are well represented in the table of contents; the Big Three print magazines are notable mainly by their absence—an indication of the evolving face of speculative fiction. Strahan’s work doesn’t quite achieve Merril’s literary range, but it compares favorably with Hartwell’s steadfast traditionalism and Dozois’s weighty tomes. (May)