‘Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy,’ ‘A Taste of Honey’ and ‘The Weaver’
The second edition to the Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy , edited by Karen Joy Fowler (Mariner), is just as strong as the first, if not stronger. The stories here are wistful and witty and leave behind the heavy-handed moralizing that often plagues the best science fiction plots. Ted Chiang’s “The Great Silence” looks at humanity’s fascination with the possibility of extraterrestrial life through the eyes of very intelligent parrots. Dexter Palmer’s “The Daydreamer by Proxy” explores a solution to long office workdays where the mind slips into unfocused thinking. In Charlie Jane Anders’s “Rat Catcher’s Yellows,” a woman gives her ailing wife The Divine Right of Cats, an augmented reality game that is supposed to help keep some level of higher thinking. With heavy-hitting authors such as Salman Rushdie, Anders and Sofia Samatar, this volume showcases the nuanced, playful, ever-expanding definitions of the genre and celebrates its current renaissance.
Lust, political intrigue and familial obligations drive Kai Ashante Wilson’s A Taste of Honey (Tor). Set in the same fantastical universe as Wilson’s Crawford Award-winning novella“The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps,”“Honey” tells a story that is as much about loss and memory as it is about the reclamation of one’s identity. Aqib, who can communicate with and tame any beast, is distantly related to the royal family, but because his father married below him, and his brother’s marriage didn’t quite raise the family’s social standing, it is up to Aqib to make a better match. That plan is threatened, however, when he falls for a visiting soldier. Told in alternating timelines — one plot follows Aqib’s romantic rendezvous with the soldier and the other Aqib’s subsequent marriage to a woman with extraordinary mathematical and psychic abilities — the novel is a beautiful look at love in its many forms.