The Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy 2021 is an anthology that collects 20 of the best short stories of the year. John Joseph Adams, the series editor, was particularly impressed with Ted Kosmatka’s story “The Beast Adjoins” which presents a fresh take on the idea of an AI uprising. In a podcast interview on the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy, Adams described the story as pushing all the sense-of-wonder buttons and having cool character elements. He further mentioned that the story feels enormous and has a lot going on, making him love it.
“The Beast Adjoins” is based on the Von Neumann-Wigner interpretation of quantum mechanics and presents a future in which advanced AIs are unable to function without humans present. Guest editor, Veronica Roth, author of Divergent, found the story extremely creepy, particularly drawn to the part where the machines were using people attached to the front of themselves to keep time moving. Despite finding it revolting, Roth loves the story and mentioned that it has haunted her since she read it.
Yohanca Delgado, a fantasy author, also found “The Beast Adjoins” unsettling, mentioning that it is a beautifully realized and chilling premise. She particularly noted the reversal of what we imagine AI can do for humans and the horrifying imagery of humans as mere eye and flesh blobs stored in jars. While the story currently exists as a stand-alone, Delgado expressed a keen interest in seeing the premise expanded into other narratives.
The podcast also covered Yohanca Delgado’s experience at the Clarion workshop, where she talked about the challenges of finding the confidence to write, as well as her own story “Our Language” derived from her research on Latin American and Caribbean monsters. John Joseph Adams shared his thoughts on the resilience of publishers during the pandemic, expressing surprise at how most were able to adapt and continue producing content despite the challenges.
David Barr Kirtley also discussed “The Pill” by Meg Elison, illustrating how the story’s ability to introduce new twists and explore the wider societal impacts of technological changes embodies the essence of a well-crafted science fiction story.
The podcast interview provides an in-depth look at the stories and insights from the anthology, offering an engaging conversation for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts.
The Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy 2021 encompasses a diverse and rich collection of stories that offer a unique perspective on the future and the impact of technology on society. With thought-provoking narratives and compelling characters, the anthology showcases the best examples of the genre and highlights the creative storytelling prowess of the authors.
Overall, the anthology is a testament to the enduring appeal and relevance of science fiction and fantasy, offering readers a captivating journey through captivating worlds and imaginative scenarios. Whether you’re a fan of the genre or simply interested in thought-provoking literature, The Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy 2021 is a must-read that promises to captivate and inspire.