2016 Best American SF/F Table of Contents


Series editor John Joseph Adams and guest editor Karen Joy Fowler have released their selections for the 2016 Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016.

Adams screened thousands of notable works published in 2015 by magazines, journals, and websites, and chose 80 stories to submit to special guest editor Karen Joy Fowler. Fowler picked the best pieces to publish in a blind reading, so that the prestige of the venues or bylines were not a factor.

Here is the Table of Contents, with the 20 stories Fowler thought the best.


  • Meet Me in Iram by Sofia Samatar, from Meet Me in Iram/Those Are the Pearls
  • Interesting Facts by Adam Johnson, from Harper’s Magazine
  • The Apartment Dweller’s Bestiary by Kij Johnson, from Clarkesworld Magazine
  • The Mushroom Queen by Liz Ziemska, from Tin House
  • Tea Time by Rachel Swirsky, from Lightspeed Magazine
  • The Duniaza?t by Salman Rushdie, from The New Yorker
  • The Thirteen Mercies by Maria Dahvana Headley, from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
  • Things You Can Buy for a Penny by Will Kaufman, from Lightspeed Magazine
  • The Heat of Us: Notes Toward an Oral History by Sam J. Miller, from Uncanny Magazine
  • Ambiguity Machines: An Examination by Vandana Singh, from Tor.com

Science Fiction

  • The Game of Smash and Recovery by Kelly Link from Strange Horizons
  • Planet Lion by Catherynne M. Valente from Uncanny Magazine
  • By Degrees and Dilatory Time by S.L. Huang from Strange Horizons
  • The Daydreamer by Proxy by Dexter Palmer from The Bestiary
  • Headshot by Julian Mortimer Smith from Terraform
  • No Placeholder for You, My Love by Nick Wolven from Asimov’s Science Fiction
  • Lightning Jack’s Last Ride by Dale Bailey from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
  • Rat Catcher’s Yellows by Charlie Jane Anders from Press Start to Play
  • Three Bodies at Mitanni by Seth Dickinson from Analog Science Fiction & Fact
  • The Great Silence by Ted Chiang from e-flux journal

John Joseph Adams’ other 60 selections are part of the full list of the 2016 Notable Stories.

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6 thoughts on “2016 Best American SF/F Table of Contents

  1. So this was another blind submission process like last year’s, that resulted in a 50-50 male to female split. How about that.

    How many are POC?

  2. I see 6 authors that I recognize as POC. That would be 30% of the authors. The current US demographics are that 38% of the population are POC, so that’s a pretty good “expected diversity” among the authors.

  3. Intriguing TOC.

    Of those I’ve read, most weren’t my favorite. But they were all memorable and unusual.

    And there are many, many here I haven’t yet read, or even heard mentioned. This could be a very interesting anthology. I’ll be very interested to see what Fowler put together.

    (Will Kaufman’s Things You Can Buy For A Penny was a big favorite of mine. And Chiang’s The Great Silence is a short and unusual gem. To appreciate it, it might help to know it was originally written as text for a video art installation – IIRC, pictures from the Arecibo telescope on one screen; pictures of African parrots on another, and on the third screen, Chiang’s text. I found myself re-reading this over and over when F&SF reprinted it.)

  4. I like Charlie Jane, but hated “Rat Catcher’s Yellows”. Maybe just me.

    Surprised and pleased to see “Lightning Jack’s Last Ride” there. It was on my long-long list. As was “Apartment-Dweller’s Bestiary”, which is superficially just cute/funny but very melancholy underneath.

  5. So, so overjoyed to see Sir Salman Rushdie on the list. Midnight’s Children is a masterpiece, and The Satanic Versus so satisfactory delight to read, knowing how many people tried to get in banned for arbitrary reasons. “The Duniazát” is an incredible story and I’m very happy to see it there.

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