L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Vol. 39: The Best New SF & Fantasy of the Year

Galaxy Pr. May 2023. 544p. ed. by Dean Wesley Smith & Jody Lynn Nye. ISBN 9781619867680. pap. $22.95. SF
The 12 winners of the 39th Annual Writers of the Future Award are presented in this anthology of outstanding new voices, telling stories that cover the range of speculative fiction, from space piracy (“Piracy for Beginners” by J.R. Johnson) to time travel (“A Trickle in History” by Elaine Midcoh and “Timelines and Bloodlines” by L.H. Davis) to dragons (“Moonlight and Funk” by Marianne Xenos). The wide net cast by this contest brings together the gallows humor of David Hankins’s “Death and the Taxman,” where the Grim Reaper is bested by an IRS agent, and the bureaucratic red tape of David K. Henrickson’s “White Elephant,” in which Venus is sold to refugee aliens, and puts them into the same volume as an exploration of whether dating an AI is real enough for love (“Under My Cypresses” by Jason Palmatier). There’s something for every genre reader among this year’s winners, as well as stories from established writers Kevin J. Anderson and S.M. Stirling and two how-to essays for hopeful SF writers and illustrators.
VERDICT This collection of winners will satisfy readers of SF, epic and urban fantasy, and the squishy places in between, where speculative fiction is mashed into brave new worlds and mixed-up old ones.
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