Foreword Reviews

Starred Review:

The Best of World SF

Volume 1

Although science fiction imagines diverse, imaginative, and frightening futures, genre anthologies rarely achieve the brilliant range and diversity of voices of The Best of World SF: Volume 1. Edited by Lavie Tidhar, this labor of love includes twenty-six stories that run the global gamut of contemporary science fiction’s best writers. From Ghana to India, from Mexico to France, from Israel to Cuba, the stories are ambitious in breadth and vision; they portend what’s still possible in the beloved genre.

With contributions from Gerardo Horacio Porcayo, Kuzhali Manickavel, and Zen Cho, this anthology includes every conceivable iteration of the fantastic future. Robots, spaceships, weird stories, speculative and near-future fiction, and time travel are all reimagined in terrifying, visceral ways. Each story is a gem that contains unforgettable images.

In these worlds, blood floats in jellyfish-shaped zero gravity globules, and courtesans perform snake dances with miniature albino sandworms. In Chen Qiufan’s “Debtless,” space miners are enslaved to pay off inescapable “debt that is encrypted and embedded in your genes.” In Aliette de Bodard’s “Immersion,” the future retains traces of a rich cultural past that is just out of reach, smelling of lemongrass and fish sauce. Separated from her roots, the narrator feels “like a field of sugar canes after the harvest—burnt out, all cutting edges with no sweetness left inside.”

By shifting the focus of “the future” from New York or London, global science fiction honors a vast diversity of visions and experience, backgrounds and culture. The anthology brings a fresh, revolutionary perspective in that its selections are intentionally curated to suggest that the horizon is both closer and brighter than Western readers might think.

Vital and exciting, The Best of World SF blows the blast panels off the dusty, well-worn tropes of popular science fiction and lets in a dazzling burst of lunar light.

Reviewed by Claire Foster

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the publisher for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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