If these annual best-of anthologies indicate where speculative fiction is heading, readers should be excited for the future of the genre. The 20 stories collected here aren’t necessarily the most popular of the year. Indeed, they are selected from a wider variety of publications than the typical mainstream sf magazines. These tales are the year’s most innovative and interesting, prime examples of artists seeking to push the boundaries of their art ... Some work better than others, but all are interesting, vibrant, and worthy.
An almost unheard-of diversity of tales absolutely sing in this superlative anthology of short speculative stories. Encompassing a wide range of styles and perspectives, the book swings gracefully from thoughtful superhero SF...to nuanced horror based on Congolese mythology...to musings on the justice and the multiverse...without a single sour note.
As Jemisin notes in the introduction, primary among the themes is revolution. Most of these authors express that theme as the battle for bodily and spiritual autonomy ... Sometimes the story’s theme is intermingled with another favorite Jemisin motif, food, as in a painfully grotesque tale by Rachael K. Jones, in which rebellious cyborgs masquerading as a spacefaring restaurant must cannibalize themselves for entrees. These are stories of accepting one’s true self and rejecting what others would make of you. Sometimes one must transform to escape, but the essence remains ... The stories in this collection will leave the reader mournful, angry, and inspired.