One of the best ways to get a quick surveying look into a genre is by reading an anthology geared toward a topic of interest. So many works are produced in any genre every year that it can be difficult to discover interesting new single volumes of writing on your own, and anthologies exist for the very purpose of showcasing work.
Science fiction in particular is an ever expanding genre, with tons of worthwhile reads coming out annually. There are many science fiction anthologies to choose from, and the Best of the Rest anthology series is one such excellent source of speculative fiction shorts.
The third installment Best of the Rest 3 was edited by Brian Youmans and published in 2002. As implied by the title, this anthology seeks to present a collection of great science fiction work that might have otherwise gone unnoticed — what is exemplary out of “the rest.”The shorts come from zines, web sites, and small independent anthologies that not every reader would stumble upon. Youmans found much of the material from small press magazines that were in limited print.
The anthology begins with a tone-setting short story titled “Lamed Vov” by D.G.K. Goldberg and continues to provide eccentric tales with fresh twists and witty and insightful theme exploration throughout the rest of the collection. There is an unsettling Christma story called “Pretending” by Ray Vukcevich and interstellar romance in James Van Pelt’s “Saturn Ring Blues.”The story “Green” by Jay Lake unravels a harrowing narrative of a young girl spirited away to a different land, but then you also have the alternate dimension Western “A Good Hair Day in Anarchy” by Ken Scholes and the early colonial American “Bright Waters” by John Brown.
As on offbeat collection of hidden noteworthy science fiction work, there is quite a wide variety of stories, something to appeal to almost anyone. Science fiction enthusiasts can rest assured that not just big names with a lot of hype are finding their way into print, but smaller and less well-known stories, published in places where you may not think to look, receive the recognition they deserve in the Best of the Rest 3 anthology. Kudos to Youmans for doing the hard work in finding such hidden gems.