The Best of World SF, edited by Lavie Tidhar is an anthology of twenty-six science fiction and absurdist fantasy stories.
Science fiction and fantasy published in the US is dominated by North American writers. I got this anthology of writers from around the world to expand my reading experience.
I loved some of the stories, found others mildly amusing, and a few were definitely not my style.
- The collection begins with Immersion by French writer Aliette de Bodard. I struggled initially to follow the dual point of view, but once I understood the story world, I enjoyed the way the two narrative strands overlapped and collided. The poignant ending is a powerful indictment of the human desire to fit ourselves to outside norms.
- Fandom for Robots by Vina Jie-Min Prasad of Singapore follows a sentient robot exploring fanfiction for a fictitious Japanese anime series. It’s a delightful commentary on online identity.
- Chinelo Onwualu from Niger contributed What the Dead Man Said, a story about family secrets and forgiveness set in a far future where cities compete for the remaining humans.
- Xingzhou by Ng Yi-Sheng of Singapore is a comical fairy tale of four grandparents: a Chinese rickshaw coolie (grandfather), a demon from India (grandmother), a hive intelligence (grandzyther), and a white fungus (grandniether), and how they transformed Xingzhou, the continent of stars.
- Tade Thompson of the UK contributed Bootblack, the tale of an uneducated, epilectic Black shoeshine boy in the early 1900s who witnesses the arrival of a time-traveler from the future, as told through his statements to the police.
- The Green by Lauren Beukes of South Africa tells the story of a “harvest operator” on an alien planet hostile to humans, serving a military-industrial complex intent on exploiting the planet. The alien biology is equal parts fascinating and horrifying.
At $32, this isn’t a book I love enough to buy, but it is one I’m glad I read.