The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Nine • 2015 • SF&F anthology by Jonathan Strahan


Summary: Strahan sets out for diversity, mixing different sub-genres. But he doesn’t exactly reach this target: Many of the SF stories are near future, many of the authors seem to have a kind of subscription for appearance in his annual anthology. He could have chosen different authors from all over the world stretching the known comfort zone a bit.

On a personal note, I didn’t like the inclusion of horror stories at all – I don’t like them or even hate them. It would be fair at least to mark the story’s genre such that I could simply skip them.

Having said that, there is something in it for everyone, and there are a couple of very good stories. Considering the overall quality of the selected stories, 2014 doesn’t seem to have been one of the best years for SF&F.

My favourite ★★★★★ stories were

  • Moriabe’s Children by Paolo Bacigalupi
  • Collateral by Peter Watts

☆ or ★ (mostly because they are horror stories) for me were

  • Interstate Love Song (Murder Ballad No.8) by Caitlín R. Kiernan
  • Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They are Terrifying by Alice Sola Kim
  • Shay Corsham Worsted by Garth Nix



  • ★★★★1/2 •  “Slipping” • near future SF short story by Lauren Beukes • prosthecis sports • review
  • ★★★★★ • “Moriabe’s Children” • weird short story by Paolo Bacigalupi • monsters in sea and shore • review
  • ★★★★ • “The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family” • weird SF short story by Usman T. Malik • clash of modernism, terrorism, and religion in Pakistan • review
  • ★★★ • “The Lady and the Fox” • magical realism short story by Kelly Link • review
  • ★★★ • “Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (The Successful Kind)” • SF space opery novelette by Holly Black • review
  • ★★★★ • “THE LONG HAUL from the Annals of Transportation, The Pacific Monthly, May 2009” • alternative history short story by Ken Liu • review
  • ★★★★ •  “Tough Times All Over” • fantasy novelette by Joe Abercrombie • hot-potatoed package • review
  • ★★★ • “The Insects of Love” • weird novelette by Genevieve Valentine • review 
  • ★★★★ •  “Cold Wind” • dark fantasy short story by Nicola Griffith • predator and prey in cold Seattle • review
  • ★ •  “Interstate Love Song (Murder Ballad No.8)” • horror story by Caitlín R. Kiernan • I can’t stand horror stories; if this is your genre, this might be a very good one, literary writing style, good tension arc. But completely misplaced in a “Best of SF and Fantasy”.
  • ★★★ •  “Shadow Flock” • near SF novelette by Greg Egan • heist thriller using drones • review
  • ★★★ •  “I Met a Man Who Wasn’t There” • fantasy short story by K. J. Parker • trickster learns magic • review
  • ★★★★ • “Grand Jeté (The Great Leap)” • Rachel Swirsky • future golem incorporating the ego of a daughter • review
  • ☆ •  “Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They are Terrifying” • horror story by Alice Sola Kim • again a horror story which I dislike. This one I couldn’t connect and I simply skipped pages. Not worth reading for people like me.
  • ☆ • “Shay Corsham Worsted” • horror story by Garth Nix  • horror story.
  • ★★★ •  “Kheldyu” • near SF novelette by Karl Schroeder • solar updraft tower in far Siberia • review
  • ★★ •  “Caligo Lane” • historical fantasy short story by Ellen Klages • magic origami mapfolder in San Francisco during WWII using fog to produce portals; didn’t work for me.
  • ★★ •  “The Devil in America” • magical realism novelette by Kai Ashante Wilson • Civil War African magic turns bad • review
  • ★★★★ • “Tawny Petticoats” • fantasy short story by Michael Swanwick  • Darger and Surplus in zombied New Orleans • review
  • ★★★1/2 • “The Fifth Dragon” • SF short story by Ian McDonald love story between moon workers • review
  • ★★1/2 • “The Truth About Owls” • fantasy short story by Amal El-Mohtar • Libanese immigrant relates to Scottish Owl Center • review
  • ★★ •  “Four Days of Christmas” • SF short story by Tim Maughan • four vignettes describing the lifecycle of a Christmas toy
  • ★★★1/2 • “Covenant” • Near SF short story by Elizabeth Bear • neurological serial killer turned to be prey • review
  • ★★★★ • “Cimmeria: From The Journal of Imaginary Anthropology” • fantasy short story by Theodora Goss • invented Cimmeria comes into existence • review
  • ★★★★★ • “Collateral” • near future SF by Peter Watts • cyborg near future SF • review
  • ★★ • “The Scrivener” • allegorial fairy tale by Eleanor Arnason • allegorial and a bit boring fairy tale about three daugthers Imagination, Ornamentation, and Plot who shall be authors. 
  • ★★★ • “Someday” • SF short story by James Patrick Kelly • human reproduction on a colonial planet • review
  • ★★★ • “Amicae Aeternum” • near future SF short story by Ellen Klages • review
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3 Responses to The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Nine • 2015 • SF&F anthology by Jonathan Strahan

  1. A very pertinent posting. I couldn’t agree more….
    Best, Leiah


  2. pdtillman says:

    Thanks for the detailed review, Andreas. I’m thinking about rereading this one soon, as I have a paper copy. I’m with you re Horror. Not for me!

    Liked by 1 person

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