Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2021 ToC Released

Series editor John Joseph Adams and guest editor Veronica Roth have released their selections for the Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2021.

From the large number of stories that series editor John Joseph Adams screened for this year’s collection, he picked the 80 best pieces to submit to editor Veronica Roth for a blind reading, so that the prestige of the venues or author bylines were not a factor. (The ones Adams designated as notable are shown in a table at the link). Roth then selected 20 for publication (ten science fiction, ten fantasy, (highlighted in green on the table.)

The book will be published on October 12.

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


  • Glass Bottle Dancer by Celeste Rita Baker
    from Lightspeed
  • The Long Walk by Kate Elliott
    from The Book of Dragons
  • The Cleaners by Ken Liu
    from Faraway
  • Tiger’s Feast by KT Bryski
    from Nightmare
  • Crawfather by Mel Kassel
    from F&SF
  • Two Truths and a Lie by Sarah Pinsker
  • Let’s Play Dead by Senaa Ahmad
    from The Paris Review
  • And This is How to Stay Alive by Shingai Njeri Kagunda
    from Fantasy
  • Our Language by Yohanca Delgado
    from A Public Space
  • The Rat by Yohanca Delgado
    from One Story


  • One Time, a Reluctant Traveler by A. T. Greenblatt
    from Clarkesworld
  • Skipping Stones in the Dark by Amman Sabet
    from F&SF
  • Brother Rifle by Daryl Gregory
    from Made to Order: Robots and Revolution
  • Schrodinger’s Catastrophe by Gene Doucette
    from Lightspeed
  • The Plague Doctors by Karen Lord
    from Take Us to a Better Place: Stories
  • Survival Guide by Karin Lowachee
    from Burn the Ashes (The Dystopia Triptych, Vol. 2)
  • The Pill by Meg Elison
    from Big Girl
  • The Beast Adjoins by Ted Kosmatka
    from Asimov’s
  • How to Pay Reparations: a Documentary by Tochi Onyebuchi
    from Future Tense
  • Beyond the Dragon’s Gate by Yoon Ha Lee

Guest editor Veronica Roth is the best-selling author of the Divergent series (Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant, and Four: A Divergent Collection), the Carve the Mark duology (Carve the Mark, The Fates Divide), and Chosen Ones. She is a board member of YALLFest, the biggest YA book festival in the country, and YALLWEST, its sister festival. She lives in Chicago, Illinois.

[Via Paul Weimer.]

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12 thoughts on “Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2021 ToC Released

  1. I’m confused. It says, “Gabaldon then selected 20”, but the editor is Veronica Roth.

  2. I am glad that even with trolls, I am managing to communicate and disseminate things.

  3. In checking the short-list, I didn’t see anything from Grimdark Magazine. Nor did T.R. Napper’s 2020 Aurealis Award-winning “The Weight of the Air, The Weight of the World” from his Neon Leviathan anthology. There were other, shorter works in the anthology that might have found a home here.

    I mean, they included something from…checks notes…Drabblecast, so surely including GdM published works on the short-list might be possible as well.


  4. @Paul
    Sorry that you’re still having trouble with those trolls.

    There are a lot of magazines and sites, particularly smaller ones, which aren’t represented. I don’t see Luna Station Quarterly, Anathema and Omenana on the list nor Tales from the Magician’s Skull, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Whetstone or a dozen others.

  5. Pingback: Pixel Scroll 7/20/21 Sixteen Kzin And Whaddaya Get | File 770

  6. Dann665: In checking the short-list, I didn’t see anything from Grimdark Magazine. Nor did T.R. Napper’s 2020 Aurealis Award-winning “The Weight of the Air, The Weight of the World” from his Neon Leviathan anthology.

    I read the Napper novella – it was being given away for free – and it was… okay? Certainly not what I’d be agitating to have on the Hugo ballot or in a Year’s Best anthology. It wasn’t exactly innovative, there have been lots of stories involving social capital ratings; and parts of it, such as why moving the weekend to Monday-Tuesday was a “genius” strategy, didn’t really make sense. And it very much had the “man writing women characters” thing going on, it was really cringey in that respect.

    The reason the Year’s Best anthology editors include an “Honorable Mention” afterword/list is because those editors read probably well over a thousand stories each year, and there are far more excellent stories than can be contained in such a selection. The editors include the stories which are most close to their idea of “excellent”. And I’ve found that the Dozois, Strahan, Horton, Adams, and Clarke anthologies have actually contained stories in a wide range of styles and themes – which means, of course, that every year I inevitably think some of them are great, some are good, and some I could do without, and that they’ve missed some I would have expected to be shoo-ins for such an anthology.

  7. If the Napper was a novella, that took it right out. The Best American series is limited to short stories and novelettes, capped at 17,500 words.

    Adams picks 80 stories, and then his guest editor chooses 20 of those for the book. The other 60 are the Honorable Mentions. Writers and editors can send Adams stories if they’re published somewhere they think he might miss. I would think that for the most part Adams selects stories that he’d have been happy to publish in Lightspeed or Nightmare, so stories too far from that standard are unlikely to make the cut.

    Cora: Anathema had two stories on the Honorable Mention list last year.

  8. @Jeff Smith
    I was referring to this year, but I’m glad to see that Anathema is getting some recognition, because they do good work.

  9. @Jeff Smith

    Being an American Best Of would probably preclude TR Napper as I believe he is an Aussie. And it might well explain why stories from GdM wasn’t considered. In the modern global marketplace, remembering where various publications originate can trip one up.

    In this case, I appear to be the “one”.

    When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser – Someone ~2008

  10. Cora: I wasn’t trying to correct you, just tell you something you might be interested in.

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