In the sad absence of a Dozois’ annual anthology, I’ve been and gone and bought the dead-tree version of Strahan’s F&SF anthology (I did buy an Amazon Kindle, but haven’t got the hang of it).
In the introduction Strahan announces that this is the last volume in this series, which would be disappointing news, but it is more than compensated for by his telling us that he will have a new Year’s Best SF anthology series starting next year, which is good for me as I won’t miss the &F.
So what about the SF&F in this volume? Or to be clear, what about the SF in this volume, as I will skate over the &Fantasy and the &Horror and the &Speculative fiction…
S. Qiouyi Lu. Mother Tongues.
First published in Asimovs, January/February 2018.
You can have this story poured into your ear by Escape Pod and indeed read it online there. It’s a shorter story, and it’s on a theme that has been done before : giving up a skill, or knowledge, in return for payment. Here, as the title suggests, an immigrant feels she has no choice but sell her mother tongue in order to pay for her daughter’s college (she’s a single mother and the father isn’t on the scene in terms of financial support). The technology that will take her lingual expertise is one that is destructive, so selling her command of that language means losing it. We find out what her mother thinks, but her telling the daughter is left to after the story finishes. Nice enough, and the different languages are treated cleverly in the story, but TBH a better story would do away with the SF and explore the three generations of the family on their different journeys in terms of language, integration etc. But that would be a horse of an entirely different colour.
Alyssa Wong. Olivia’s Table.
First published in ‘A Thousand Beginning and Endings’, pub Greenwillow Books 2018.
A ghost story, from an anthology of stories based on Asian folktales and myths. I liked the overall vibe and setting in the first couple of pages but once it became clear it was a ghost story I made like Scooby Doo and Shaggy and made my escape. Yoiks!
P. Djèlí Clark. The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington.
Originally Published in : Fireside Fiction, February 2019 and still online there.
In addition to reading this story online, you can read some thoughts by the author on using speculative fiction to recover black history. An intriguing approach and a good read.
more to come…