Science Fiction & Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Podcasts

Science Fiction

The Red Thread

Dear Fox, Hey. It’s Sahra. I’m tagging you from center M691, Black Hawk, South Dakota. It’s night and the lights are on in the center. It’s run by an old white guy with a hanging lip—he’s talking to my mom at the counter. Mom’s okay. We’ve barely mentioned you since we left the old group in the valley, just a few weeks after you disappeared. She said your name once, when I found one of your old slates covered with equations. “Well,” she said. “That was Fox.”

Science Fiction

Double Time

Skaters in black practice outfits swerved around Shelly. Her music was playing over the PA system. She had right of way. A scattering of figure skating fans sat in the rink’s hard, blue, plastic seats. Even to a practice session, some had brought their flags. Her mom sat near the boards and waved her US flag as though if only it had shook more fiercely last night, Shelly would have landed her triple Lutz-triple toe jump combination in the short program.

Science Fiction

Hiranyagarbha

Remember when I first see it while boating through the mangroves in Caroni Swamp. Was early morning—you coulda still see the flicker of a candlefly here and there. I was following a trail of dead tilapia floating belly-up in the water. Wasn’t the first time I see something like that—but not to this extent. Their lifeless bodies was washing up on the silt. Black halos of corbeaux circling overhead, like angels of death.

Science Fiction

Salto Mortal

Three days ago, Paul had thrown Mary onto the kitchen floor and kicked her everywhere except her face. For the first two days, the only time she left her bed was to go to the bathroom, drops of clotted blood from her insides deposited like coins in the toilet bowl. On the third day, high on oxycodone, Mary dreamed about the lucha libre. She hadn’t thought about wrestling since she’d left Mexico, but the hallucination was as bright and sharp as grief.

Science Fiction

A Good Home

I brought him home from the VA shelter and sat him in front of the window because the doctors said he liked that. The shelter had set him in safe mode for transport until I could voice activate him again, and recalibrate, but safe mode still allowed for base functions like walking, observation, and primary speech. He seemed to like the window because he blinked once. Their kind didn’t blink ordinarily, and they never wept, so I always wondered where the sadness went.

Fantasy

Wednesday’s Story

My story has a strange shape to it. It has a beginning and middle and, of course, I need not tell you that it has an end because it is the nature of all things to end, especially stories. But this story . . . well, it bunches up in places and twists upon itself in ways that no good story should. The sharpness of its arcs flare and wane in unexpected places because it is a story made of other stories.

Science Fiction

Deathlight

Els wondered again if she should start recording her final words. If she could start recording her final words. There was cold, and then there was cold, and the Tolstar was cold. Dun had shut off every heating system that wasn’t absolutely needed to keep systems running outside of the main control room, and even that he left cold enough to let ice crystals form.

Fantasy

The Jaws That Bite, The Claws That Catch

Mist flowed through the Tulgey Wood like treacle, slow and thick and unyielding. Squeaks and muffled chitters came from the underbrush as rabbits, foxes, and adolescent toves that hadn’t sensed the weather changing were caught and drowned in the gray-white mire. It would clear by noon, burnt off by the sun, and then the scavengers would come, making a feast of the small mist-struck creatures.

Science Fiction

Three Points Masculine

I was serving in Baxon just north of Hescher, guard-dogging a queue of first responders heading into the riot zones, and John caught my eye. Her beard caught my eye. Some troublemaker flaunting the rules, I thought, or a guy sneaking in under cover of audacity, thinking the Womens Volunteer Corps was a good place to get laid. If that was the case, he was looking to get roughed up, and it was my job to oblige.

Science Fiction

The Birth Will Take Place on a Mutually Acceptable Research Vessel

When they inform you the birth will take place on a mutually acceptable research vessel, you nod and smile as if it was your choice all along. Because smiling and nodding is what you’ve been doing since the beginning. Because this is bigger than you. Because at least this way it feels like you’re being honored and feted instead of herded and controlled. Mr. Kagawa, courteous and diplomatic by profession, does his best to make it all seem like a request.