2016 was another great year for anthologies. I haven’t read them all of course — not even close — but some of my favorites so far include Things From Outer Space, edited by Hank Davis, What the #@&% Is That? by John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen, Bridging Infinity, from Jonathan Strahan, Women of Futures Past, edited by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Drowned Worlds, also from the mighty Jonathan Strahan. Not to mention the various Best of the Year volumes, of course.
2016 is already looking pretty jammed packed with great anthologies as well. But the first must-read anthology of the year, no question, is Neil Clarke’s Galactic Empires, an ambitious (read: huge) collection of SF tales featuring far-flung confederations in the stars. The TOC is a who’s-who of virtually everyone doing important work at short length in science fiction, including Paul J. McAuley, Ann Leckie, Brandon Sanderson, Greg Egan, Aliette de Bodard, Neal Asher, Yoon Ha Lee, Tobias S. Buckell, Robert Silverberg, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Robert Reed, Melinda M. Snodgrass, Naomi Novik, Ian McDonald and many others.
Galactic Empires will be published in trade paperback and digital formats by Night Shade Books next month. Here’s the description.
From E. E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman, to George Lucas’ Star Wars, the politics and process of Empire have been a major subject of science fiction’s galaxy-spanning fictions. The idiom of the Galactic Empire allows science fiction writers to ask (and answer) questions that are shorn of contemporary political ideologies and allegiances. This simple narrative slight of hand allows readers and writers to see questions and answers from new and different perspectives.
The stories in this book do just that. What social, political, and economic issues do the organizing structure of “empire” address? Often the size, shape, and fates of empires are determined not only by individuals, but by geography, natural forces, and technology. As the speed of travel and rates of effective communication increase, so too does the size and reach of an Imperial bureaucracy.
Sic itur ad astra — “Thus one journeys to the stars.”
Note that Gardner Dozois edited a collection with the same title for the Science Fiction Book Club back in 2008 (we covered that one here). It’s a popular title; we don’t judge.
Here’s the complete table of contents for Neil’s volume.
“Winning Peace” by Paul J. McAuley (The New Space Opera, 2007)
“Night’s Slow Poison” by Ann Leckie (Electric Velocipede, Summer 2012)
“All the Painted Stars” by Gwendolyn Clare (Clarkesworld, January 2012)
“Firstborn” by Brandon Sanderson (Tor.com, December 17, 2008)
“Riding the Crocodile” by Greg Egan (One Million A.D, 2005)
“The Lost Princess Man” by John Barnes (The New Space Opera 2, 2009)
“The Waiting Stars” by Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky, 2013)
“Alien Archeology” by Neal Asher (Asimov’s SF, May 2007)
“The Muse of Empires Lost” by Paul Berger (Twenty Epics, 2006)
“Ghostweight” by Yoon Ha Lee (Clarkesworld, January 2011)
“A Cold Heart” by Tobias S. Buckell (Upgraded, 2014)
“The Colonel Returns to the Stars” by Robert Silverberg (Between Worlds, 2004)
“The Impossibles” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Analog, December 2011)
“Utriusque Cosmi” by Robert Charles Wilson (The New Space Opera 2, 2009)
“Section Seven” by John G. Hemry (Analog, September 2003)
“The Invisible Empire of Ascending Light” by Ken Scholes (Eclipse 2, 2008)
“The Man with the Golden Balloon” by Robert Reed (Galactic Empires, 2008)
“Looking Through Lace” by Ruth Nestvold (Asimov’s SF, September 2003)
“A Letter from the Emperor” by Steve Rasnic Tem (Asimov’s SF, January 2010)
“The Wayfarer’s Advice” by Melinda M. Snodgrass (Songs of Love and Death, 2010)
“Seven Years from Home” by Naomi Novik (Warriors, 2010)
“Verthandi’s Ring” by Ian McDonald (The New Space Opera, 2007)
Our previous coverage of Neil Clarke includes:
The Best Science Fiction of the Year, Volume 1, edited by Neil Clarke
See the Table of Contents for The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume One, edited by Neil Clarke
Clarkesworld: Year Six edited by Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace
Clarkesworld: Year Seven edited by Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace
Clarkesworld: Year Eight, edited by Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace
Neil Clarke on The Sad Truth About Short Fiction Reviews
If Neil Clarke Didn’t Have a Day Job, He’d Win All the Awards
Plus our regular monthly coverage of his magazine Clarkesworld, of course.
Galactic Empires will be published by Night Shade Books on January 3, 2017. It is 630 pages, priced at $17.99 in trade paperback and $11.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Toni Justamante Jacobs.
See all our recent coverage of the best upcoming fantasy and science fiction here.