Science Fiction & Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Illustrated by Elizabeth Leggett

Science Fiction

Those Brighter Stars

The call came through as I paced outside the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, puffing on an e-cig and watching my breath turn to vapor in the chill. “Hello?” The bald, skeletal image of a stranger stared back at me on my phone. “Ava,” he whispered. “Oh, Ava.” It took me a few seconds to regain my composure. “Dad?” I said.

Science Fiction

Charlotte Incorporated

At night she pores over the corpus catalogues online: Incorporated Incorporated, Modern Anatomy, and Shoulders, Knees, & Toes. She weighs the merits of femur length and belly fat, redundant kidneys, attached earlobes, and pronated feet. Most people buy pre-configured corpi with symmetrical faces and standard organ kits, but she wants a custom build. Something completely unique.

Science Fiction

Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World

Mei dreamed of a new Earth. She took her telescope onto the balcony of her North Philadelphia apartment and pointed it east, at the sky above the Trenton Strait, hoping for a clear view of Mars. Tonight the light pollution from Jersey Island wasn’t as bad as usual, and she was able to make out the ice caps and dark shadow of Syrtis Major.

Science Fiction

The Smog Society

Lao Sun lived on the seventeenth floor facing the open street, nothing between him and the sky. If he woke in the morning to darkness, it was the smog’s doing for sure. Through the murky air outside the window, he had to squint to see the tall buildings silhouetted against the yellow-gray background like a sandy-colored relief print. The cars on the road all had their highbeams on and their horns blaring, crammed one against the other at the intersection into one big mess.

Science Fiction

Red Run

Hinahon didn’t belong in that hotel. On that Monday, she should have been at her apartment on East Bradford Street preparing to meet Natalie at a cozy restaurant downtown. It was their two year anniversary, and she was expected in a few hours.

Science Fiction

Black Holes

“What do you think it would feel like to die in a black hole?” Joey asked, then immediately added, “Not being morbid.” Kant laughed. He had a loud belly laugh that made the bare bedroom feel full and bright. The mattress they were lying on had no bed frame, and, at the moment, no sheets. The only set not being used as makeshift curtains were drying in the basement.

Science Fiction

Surfacing

Mishy had lived in the undersea city for twenty years. When she went down in the submersible, she was very young and very frightened, all bones and worries, but the years under the water did not feel like they had aged her on the inside. It was only when she had to look at the others that she could see that she was different after all.

Science Fiction

What Glistens Back

Come back. You hear the call as the lander breaks up around you. You’re aware of the entirely arbitrary concepts of up and down before you realize what’s happening, and then they’re a lot less arbitrary. Down is not so much a direction as a function of possibility, of what might happen to you, of what is happening now. You finally get down as an idea.

Science Fiction

Herd Immunity

A man was far ahead of her on the road. Walking and breathing. So far, so good. That he was a man, Nayima was certain. His silhouette against the horizon of the rising roadway showed his masculine height and the shadow of an unkempt beard.

Science Fiction

The New Provisions

Phil called the toll-free number he’d been given, and after the usual twenty-minute hold time, reached a human being who explained that the tow truck driver really did have the right to haul away his car. It didn’t matter that the car had been parked in his driveway or that it had been completely paid for, and it certainly didn’t matter that it was the only form of transportation he and his wife had for getting back and forth from work.