The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2020
Ed. by Diana Gabaldon; Series Editor John Joseph Adams
Anthologies necessarily take on the character of their editors, and live or die at their hands. This latest edition of The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy series, one of the best in recent years, is in the especially capable hands of Outlander author Diana Gabaldon, whose selections are complex, varied, and thoroughly accessible and enjoyable, even to non-genre fans.
They are also less overtly political than the previous two volumes in the series (especially 2018, but see my thoughts on the 2019 collection here). For Gabaldon it’s OK to have explicit political and social commentary – indeed, this is the bread and butter of most speculative fiction – but it should be “used as the springboard of the story, not the ultimate point. The stories are about real people, not animate megaphones.” This is advice that is followed in the best of the stories collected here, which although speculative still dramatically address issues, from race to crime to the writing of history, that are all in the news today.
3 thoughts on “The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2020”
While I agree that SFF can involve politics, the recent (ie, in the last 20 years) trend of getting down and dirty with the specific issues of the day and having it be the point of the story instead of the story being the point has turned me off most of these collections. Which is too bad, because short story collections can work super well for the format.
It seems to have really exploded just recently. I think the 2018 Best American SF and F was edited by N. K. Jemisin and she really goes in for that kind of thing in a big way. Where it gets to be a problem for me is when it takes over and you just feel like you’re getting a lecture.
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Jemisin has made no bones about her wokeness, so I simply avoid her. It’s when somebody who I don’t recognize does the same that it catches me. Hence simply avoiding ALL the collections. Nobody wins then 😦