The Best Fantasy and Science Fiction Collections of 2012


Among the many hats I wear besides novelist and faithful Omni correspondent is as founder of Cheeky Frawg, an indie press devoted to international fiction. This fall we’ve released Swedish writer Karin Tidbeck’s Jagannath: Stories. This unique fantasy collection’s been very well received, including a rave review by NPR’s “All Things Considered”; the author even attended the World Fantasy Convention in Toronto recently.

As the book’s publisher, one task I always undertake is checking out the competition. And therefore I’m intensely aware that this is a really great year for fantasy and SF story collections. It would be easy to name as many as 15 or 20 collections in compiling a year’s best list. However, I’m instead going to make it hard and restrict myself to 12 that I find the most interesting and unique, besides Jagannath, and then count on you, the readers, to tell me if I’m wrong and what I missed.

So, here goes, in alphabetical order by author…

Shoggoths in Bloom by Elizabeth Bear (Prime Books) – This new collection from Bear includes the Hugo-winning title novelette and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award-winning “Tideline.” A World Fantasy, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick nominee, Bear is one of speculative fiction's most acclaimed, respected, and prolific authors.

Beneath the Liquid Skin by Berit Ellingsen (firthFORTH Books) – Short, sharp shocks of the surreal and the strange, anchored by Ellingsen’s clear eye for detail and for the most psychologically interesting aspects of narrative. This Danish-Korean author is just starting what promises to be a major career, but already giving readers a unique and fascinating perspective.

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Comments (10)

OOooo... so many of these look good! Thank you for new suggestions for what I can review on my blog. And so many award winners!

Posted by: Julie Chicklitasaurus | Tuesday December 18, 2012 at 2:59 PM

Thank you so much for adding Beneath the Liquid Skin to your list of best collections in 2012, Jeff!

What an honor to be mentioned here, and alongside such fantastic writers!

Posted by: Berit Ellingsen | Wednesday December 19, 2012 at 5:20 AM

Andy Duncan, The Pottawatomie Giant and Other Stories

Posted by: John Kessel | Wednesday December 19, 2012 at 5:45 AM

John--An excellent one. Alas, I never received a review copy. But I should have remembered it. Thanks for reminding me.

Posted by: Jeff VanderMeer | Wednesday December 19, 2012 at 5:46 AM

Ditto on the Duncan suggestion. I picked up Sarah Monette's Somewhere Beneath Those Waves at WFC and have been enjoying it as well.

Posted by: Cat Rambo | Wednesday December 19, 2012 at 7:37 AM

Hi, Cat. That's a 2011 collection--a very good one.

Posted by: Jeff VanderMeer | Wednesday December 19, 2012 at 7:49 AM

I would have added Tim Horvath's Understories. They reminded me of Calvino (there's a clear relationship between the "Urban Planning" series and Calvino's Invisible Cities) and Borges -- definitely what I'd call weird fiction. Great fun to read.

Posted by: Terry Weyna | Wednesday December 19, 2012 at 11:08 AM

Fountain of Age, by Nancy Kress. The Nebula-winning title story is just the beginning for this collection of nine recent stories. It also includes the Hugo-winning "The Erdmann Nexus".

Posted by: Dan in Seattle | Thursday December 20, 2012 at 10:21 AM

Caitlin R. Kiernan, Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart

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