There are constant new additions to the literary bulk of science fiction, new scientific advancements and inspired imaginations expanding the genre continuously. A future of endless possibilities and the history of alternate dimensions provide quite a lot of workable material.
When there are so many innovative sci-fi short stories coming out every year, it can be difficult to give the smaller, more independent stories attention, especially with media favorites constantly topping the reading lists.
Cue the Best of the Rest anthology series: in these periodic anthological installments, editor Brian Youmans has collected rare and unique works of science fiction that slipped through the cracks and missed media attention. The shorts in these collections are often found in zines, web sites, and small press magazines with limited print, places that do not attract particularly wide audiences. Youmans’ anthologies seek to expand the reading audience for these interesting short works.
Best Of The Rest 4 – Release Date
Best of the Rest 4 was published in 2006, with the accurate subtitle “The Best Unknown Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2005.” The stories in this anthology were found in a plethora of lesser known places, such as in small press anthologies like Lone Star Stories, which publishes speculative fiction and poetry, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, a biannual zine published by Small Beer Press, and the Tales of the Unanticipated, a semi-pro zine. Some of the featured authors are somewhat well-known, such as award-winning Gene Wolfe, author of the Solar Cycle novels, but the anthology also includes a long list of lesser known writers who receive their moment in the spotlight.
This installment of the anthology series provides a number of tales with the usual science fiction themes but interesting new twists and developments. In Gene Wolfe’s story “Comber,” a city built atop a floating rock drifting across the ocean is at risk of collision with another floating city riding a wave right toward them. The story “Mourning Sickness” by Robert Weston is about what the title addresses literally: our mourning plaguing us, actually following us around in the shape of elephants, addressing the ideas of grief and loss in a light-hearted way.
Apart from sci – fi cinema, there are a number of science fiction works written by women as well, always an excellent plus for any literary collection. The short “Coming Home” by Deborah Fitchett narrates the story of a family that arrives at a multicultural space station and stuns someone who is used to living as the only one of their species on the interstellar home base. In Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s story “Treats,” she tells a funny tale of a girl’s crush growing a little strange when chocolate becomes involved. In darker tones, Holly Phillips’ “By the Light of Tomorrow’s Sun” includes bleak family secrets and a cultural conflict among seafaring men, and murders and conspiracies abound in Constance Cooper’s detective story “Trouble Leaves a Scent Trail.”
This different sort of collection of difficult-to-find science fiction work provides a variety of stories with uniform quality. Youmans reprints these stories in order to give readers a greater chance of getting their hands on these interesting additions to the genre. The amount of time and reading this must have taken can be imagined, as he must have sifted through a great number of small anthologies and online sites to truly find the best of what he calls “the rest” — certainly encountering a number of non-noteworthy stories along the way.
But from amidst those lesser quality stories, Youmans has compiled the best for us. Before each story is a thoughtful blurb that gives context and information about the authors’ work and previous publications. The work involved in creating this anthology is truly inspiring when you think about it, granting insight into quality speculative fiction that otherwise might have gone unnoticed. Certainly take the time to pick up this anthology the first chance you get.