Science Fiction & Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Reprinted in Rich Horton’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy

Fantasy

Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream

In the middle of the maze, there’s always a monster. If there were no monster, people would happily set up house where it’s warm and windowless and comfortable. The monster is required. The monster is a real estate disclosure.

Fantasy

The Gravedigger of Konstan Spring

There was something more civilized about a town that could bury its dead, if they stayed dead, and so Folkvarder Gray put out the notice for a gravedigger.

Science Fiction

The Sighted Watchmaker

The Makers had been dead for billions of years, yet Umos discovered one caught in the starship’s net. A young one, naked, with still-fused dorsal fins.

Science Fiction

Woman Leaves Room

She wears a smile. I like her smile, nervous and maybe a little scared, sweet and somewhat lonely. She wears jeans and a sheer green blouse and comfortable sandals and rings on two fingers and a glass patch across one eye.

Woman Leaves Room by Robert REed

Science Fiction

Standard Loneliness Package

Root canal is one fifty, give or take, depending on who’s doing it to you. A migraine is two hundred. Not that I get the money. The company gets it. What I get is twelve dollars an hour, plus reimbursement for painkillers. Not that they work. I feel pain for money. Other people’s pain. Physical, emotional, you name it.

Science Fiction

Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain

The usual fallacy is that, in every universe, many futures splay outward from any given moment. But in some universes, determinism runs backwards: given a universe’s state s at some time t, there are multiple previous states that may have resulted in s. In some universes, all possible pasts funnel toward a single fixed ending, Ω. If you are of millenarian bent, you might call Ω Armageddon. If you are of grammatical bent, you might call it punctuation on a cosmological scale. If you are a philosopher in such a universe, you might call Ω inevitable.

Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain

Science Fiction

Arvies

STATEMENT OF INTENT: This is the story of a mother, and a daughter, and the right to life, and the dignity of all living things, and of some souls granted great destinies at the moment of their conception, and of others damned to remain society’s useful idiots.

Arvies by Adam-Troy Castro

Science Fiction

No Time Like the Present

A lot of new rich people have moved into the best houses in town—those big ones up on the hill that overlook the lake. What with the depression, some of those houses have been on the market for a long time. They’d gotten pretty run down, but the new people all seem to have plenty of money and fixed them up right away. Added docks and decks and tall fences. It was our fathers, mine included, who did all the work for them. I asked my dad what their houses were like and he said, “Just like ours only richer.”