Science Fiction & Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Sep. 2015 (Issue 64)

We have original science fiction by Caroline M. Yoachim (“Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World”) and Megan Arkenberg (“All in a Hot and Copper Sky”), along with SF reprints by Daniel H. Wilson (“God Mode”) and Carrie Vaughn (“Harry and Marlowe Meet the Founder of the Aetherian Revolution”). Plus, we have original fantasy by Sean McMullen (“The Ninth Seduction”) and Heather Lindsley (“Werewolf Loves Mermaid”), and reprints by Maurice Broaddus (“The Iron Hut”) and Theodora Goss (“Estella Saves the Village”). All that, and of course we also have our usual assortment of author spotlights, a feature interview with award-winning writer and translator Ken Liu, and the latest installment of our book review column. Plus, because our cover artist this month couldn’t participate in our regular artist showcase feature, we substituted a movie review column, and thus are pleased to present an insightful look at MAD MAX: FURY ROAD from the always-delightful Carrie Vaughn. For our ebook readers, we also have the novella “Milo and Sylvie,” by Eliot Fintushel, and a pair of novel excerpts, including a taste of Rae Carson’s WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER and THE TRAITOR BARU CORMORANT by Seth Dickinson.

In This Issue: Sep. 2015 (Issue 64)

Editorial

Editorial, September 2015

Be sure to read the Editorial for all our news and updates, as well as a run-down of this month’s content.

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.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Caroline M. Yoachim

When I wrote this story I was playing around with a technique where I take several flash stories and combine them into one longer piece. I thought it’d be fun to write a flash story for each of the seven wonders of the world, with future wonders instead of ancient wonders. To link all the stories together, my initial plan was to have one character visit all seven wonders, and I came up with Mei.

Fantasy

The Iron Hut

When they unearthed the mysterious shard, a sense of excitement rippled through the archaeological camp. They were onto something staggering. Professor Leopold Watson arrived first and examined the shard with reverent care. Kilwa Kivinje had disappeared into antiquity with no clues as to its whereabouts. Despite his colleagues’ skepticism, he was certain that the forgotten city was here—not far from the Olduvai Gorge.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Maurice Broaddus

My oldest son was assigned Edith Hamilton’s MYTHOLOGY to read over the summer. I remember when I first discovered that book back in fifth grade and it was transformative for me. It helped stoke my love of stories. In fact, I so couldn’t get enough of the myths, I often got in trouble from my teachers because I would end up reading them rather than pay attention in class.

Science Fiction

God Mode

Memories. Nauseous snatches of infinity trickling in, thumbing into my forehead, pinning me to this flower-smelling bed. My fractured thoughts are bursting away with the cannon-shot split of glaciers, broken towers that knife into a sea of amnesia. In all of the forgetting, there is this one constant thing. Her name is Sarah. I will always remember that.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Daniel H. Wilson

This story was from an idea that I had as a teenager, and tried (and failed) to write as a teenager. I have always wondered if this world is someone’s dream. And if so, who? And what happens to the rest of us when that person gets hurt or dies? Now I’m an adult, and I have realized that my memory isn’t perfect. A lot of the fear of forgetting my life also went into this story.

Fantasy

The Ninth Seduction

The sun had descended behind Lakefell as seven times seven goblin artisans gathered before the throne of Castellerine Lynder in the Serpentine Garden, their choicest and most enchanting creations for the year past held high. Chancellor Arrender walked slowly along the lines of scarlet cushions that glowed softly around the delights placed upon them, inspecting what the castellerine would soon consider.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Sean McMullen

The SCA fed my creative processes to the point of medical danger, but not in the way you might think. It actually filled in a huge number of small gaps in my background knowledge: what it was like to be a medieval leader, how hard it is to get into armour without help, the relationship between romance and fighting, how easy it is to ignore injuries during a tournament, toleration for wildlife in the food, and the use of grass as toilet paper.

Nonfiction

Movie Review: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

As a special treat this month, Carrie Vaughn reviews MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. She warns our readers: “Let me just get this out of the way up front: I love this movie. First off, I think it’s a REALLY GOOD movie. But also because I love this genre: the Post-Apocalyptic Roadtrip Movie.”

Science Fiction

All in a Hot and Copper Sky

I have written a thousand letters to her in my head. Part of me is always writing to her, while I sit in front of the dusty yellow windows in the coffee shops on Market Street, or roll sticky cinnamon dough on my cold granite counter, or stand in the smooth gray sand at the very edge of the sea. I never wrote to her while she was alive, not even at the end, when letters might have comforted us both.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Megan Arkenberg

I want three things out of a story, whether I’m writing it or reading it: an interesting character, an unusual situation, and a strong, distinctive voice. I’m tempted to add “atmosphere” to that list, although it’s a pretty nebulous concept. Basically, I want to either experience something I’ve never experienced before, or to look at a familiar experience in a new way. The best thing about speculative fiction is that it lets you do both at once.

Fantasy

Estella Saves the Village

I have lived in the village all my life. Miss Havisham has told me the story over and over again: how, as an infant, I was found in a basket on the front steps of the church, and how Reverend Rivers asked the villagers gathered for service on Sunday morning which of them would be willing to raise a foundling. And how Miss Havisham immediately said, “I will.”

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Theodora Goss

I’d often wondered whether, with a little common sense and willingness to break out of social roles, nineteenth-century characters like Tess of the D’Urbervilles could have had happy endings. And I sympathized with the villainized, like Bertha Rochester. I thought even Sherlock Holmes deserved human happiness. So I created a professor who had imaged her own reality, given her favorite characters happier lives.

Nonfiction

Book Reviews, September 2015

This month, Amal El-Mohtar reviews works by Naomi Novik, Max Gladstone, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, and Chuck Wendig.

Science Fiction

Harry and Marlowe Meet the Founder of the Aetherian Revolution

“We could have taken George’s courier ship and arrived in a quarter of the time.” “No, we couldn’t,” Harry said, scowling at Marlowe, who knew very well they shouldn’t be here at all, much less aboard her brother’s ship. But he seemed to enjoy mentioning her brother George and reminding Harry of the impropriety of it all. It was a long-running joke, and she let him have his fun. Marlowe just smiled.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Carrie Vaughn

These stories were definitely inspired by straight-up steampunk. I had been costuming in a steampunk style for years, but it took really sticking my feet in the steampunk community before I was inspired to write stories myself. Sourcing the technology from aliens rather than extrapolating from existing steam technology is the spin I put on my world to make it different and more intriguing.

Fantasy

Werewolf Loves Mermaid

How They Met: They met at a wedding. He was in the wedding party. She was serving canapés at the reception. On some level, reclining in a fountain while holding a tray of canapés is more efficient than circulating through a crowd with them. On most levels, it isn’t. “Canapé?” the mermaid asked the werewolf when he wandered near the fountain. “Isn’t this just garnish?” said the werewolf, picking up a wilted stem of parsley.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Heather Lindsley

I don’t remember how the notion of a werewolf in love with a mermaid — or maybe it was a mermaid in love with a werewolf — came up one night during the 2006 Worldcon in L.A., but I remember that Daryl Gregory and I thought it was hilarious, and should be a web comic. Unfortunately, neither of us can draw.

Nonfiction

Interview: Ken Liu

Ken Liu, one of science fiction’s most popular short story writers, has translated many works of Chinese science fiction into English, including the best-selling novel THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM by Liu Cixin. Ken’s first novel, THE GRACE OF KINGS, is an epic fantasy inspired by Chinese history.