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Science Fiction & Fantasy







Editor's Desk:
Warning, May Contain Marketing

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been editing The Best Science Fiction of the Year anthologies for five years now. Under normal conditions, volume five—covering 2019—would have been published by now, but 2020 has been anything but normal and I fear that it’s not quite done with us yet. But that’s a path I’d rather not look down right now . . .

Recently, my editor at Night Shade Books sent me the new cover for volume five. If the artist’s style looks familiar to you, it might be because Pascal Blanche’s work has graced a few of our covers. As you’d expect, I’m a fan of his work and very pleased that he could be a part of this year’s edition.


As you probably know, I don’t particularly enjoy writing editorials or introductions. It’s a slow and painful process for me. However, the introductions for the last two volumes of The Best Science Fiction of the Year have flowed much more naturally after I made a significant change to my approach. To me, Gardner Dozois’ introductions to his year’s best series were essential reading and included valuable history of the short fiction field. With his passing in 2018, I endeavoured to pick up the torch and merge some of those aspects with the analysis I had already been doing. I made it my own and by doing so, it became a very different experience for me. I’m sure I’ll continue to tweak the formula, but between this and the reader feedback, I’m much more comfortable with the direction it’s heading.

Of course, the real reason to read a “best of” anthology is the stories and 2019 provided some wonderful options from a variety of sources.

  • “The Painter of Trees” by Suzanne Palmer (Clarkesworld Magazine, June 2019)
  • “Emergency Skin” by N.K. Jemisin (Amazon Original Stories, September 17, 2019)
  • “In the Stillness Between the Stars” by Mercurio D. Rivera (Asimov’s Science Fiction, September/October 2019)
  • “Sympathizer” by Karin Lowachee (Do Not Go Quietly, edited by Jason Sizemore and Lesley Connor)
  • “Knit Three, Save Four” by Marie Vibbert (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, November/December 2019)
  • “Moonlight” by Cixin Liu (Broken Stars, edited by Ken Liu)
  • “By The Warmth of Their Calculus” by Tobias S. Buckell (Mission Critical, edited by Jonathan Strahan)
  • “Deriving Life” by Elizabeth Bear (, January 31, 2019)
  • “The Little Shepherdess” by Gwyneth Jones (Current Futures, edited by Ann VanderMeer)
  • “Such Thoughts Are Unproductive” by Rebecca Campbell (Clarkesworld Magazine, December 2019)
  • “The River of Blood and Wine” by Kali Wallace (Asimov’s Science Fiction, November/December 2019)
  • “One Thousand Beetles in a Jumpsuit” by Dominica Phetteplace (Lightspeed Magazine, August 2019)
  • “Permafrost” by Alastair Reynolds (Tor.comPublishing)
  • “The Work of Wolves” by Tegan Moore (Asimov’s Science Fiction, July/August 2019)
  • “Song Xiuyun” by A Que (Clarkesworld Magazine, October 2019)
  • “Mother Ocean” by Vandana Singh (Current Futures, edited by Ann VanderMeer)
  • “Cratered” by Karen Osborne (Future Science Fiction Digest, June 2019)
  • “The Justified” by Ann Leckie (The Mythic Dream, edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe)
  • “Old Media” by Annalee Newitz (, February 20, 2019)
  • “At the Fall” by Alec Nevala-Lee (Analog Science Fiction and Fact, May/June 2019)
  • “The Ocean Between the Leaves” by Ray Nayler (Asimov’s Science Fiction, July/August 2019)
  • “Rescue Party” by Aliette de Bodard (Mission Critical, edited by Jonathan Strahan)
  • “Close Enough for Jazz” by John Chu (The Mythic Dream, edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe)
  • “On the Shores of Ligeia” by Carolyn Ives Gilman (Lightspeed Magazine, March 2019)
  • “The Empty Gun” by Yoon Ha Lee (Mission Critical, edited by Jonathan Strahan)
  • “Kali_Na” by Indrapramit Das (The Mythic Dream, edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe)
  • “Painless” by Rich Larson (, April 10, 2019)
  • “Give the Family My Love” by A.T. Greenblatt (Clarkesworld Magazine, February 2019)

And of course, there are always the stories I couldn’t get or wouldn’t fit in an anthology like this. You’ll find the best of those listed in the recommended reading list at the end of the anthology . . . because you can never have too many good stories to read.

Anyhow, I couldn’t think of a better way to follow up last month’s editorial on the value of short fiction than with an anthology that I think makes the case. And yes, I have a vested interest in my own anthology, but I made sure you could easily track down the stories on your own if you decided to detour around it. Oh and the anthology, it’s available in hardcover, trade paperback, and ebook editions. So far as I can tell, it’s the only “year’s best” anthology available in hardcover this year. Ok, ok, I’m done now.

Go read some stories!

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ISSUE 168, September 2020


Best Science Fiction of the Year

Clarkesworld Kindle Subscription


Neil Clarke

Neil Clarke is the editor of Clarkesworld Magazine and Forever Magazine; owner of Wyrm Publishing; and a eight-time Hugo Award Nominee for Best Editor (short form). His anthologies include Upgraded, Galactic Empires, More Human Than Human, Touchable Unreality, The Final Frontier, Not One of Us, The Eagle has Landed, and the Best Science Fiction of the Years series. His most recent anthology, The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume 5, was published in October by Night Shade Books. He currently lives in NJ with his wife and two sons.


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