The Best of Uncanny

The Best of Uncanny

Illustration By Tran Nguyen

Dust jacket illustration by Tran Nguyen.

Edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas.

Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas have co-edited and co-published Uncanny Magazine since its launch in 2014. They brought readers stunning cover art, passionate science fiction and fantasy fiction and poetry, gorgeous prose, and provocative nonfiction by writers from every conceivable background, including some of science fiction and fantasy’s most fabulous award-winning and bestselling authors. In its first four years, Uncanny Magazine won the Best Semiprozine Hugo Award three times (2016, 2017, 2018), Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas won the 2018 Best Editor—Short Form Hugo Award for their work on the magazine, and numerous stories from Uncanny Magazine have been finalists or winners of Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards-- including the novelette “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang (translated by Ken Liu) which won the 2016 Best Novelette Hugo Award and the novelette “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay” by  Alyssa Wong which won the 2017 Best Novelette Locus Award.

This Best of Uncanny anthology collects those two novelettes and many of the other best stories and poems from the first 22 issues of Uncanny Magazine. Naomi Novik plunges you into a delicious fractured fairy tale retelling in “Blessings.” Delilah S. Dawson explores superpowers, harassment, and revenge in"Catcall." Neil Gaimantakes you along to keep pace with his gorgeous and powerful poem “The Long Run.” Charlie Jane Anders shakes up a haunting cocktail of comedy clubs and love with "Ghost Champagne." Mary Robinette Kowal weaves a heartbreaking tale of marriage, duty, and magical curses in "Midnight Hour." N.K. Jemisin ruminates on dangerous fans, awards, and legacy in “Henosis.” Maria Dahvana Headleyslinks into a Classic Hollywood of animal actors and sleazy secrets with “If You Were a Tiger, I’d Have to Wear White.” Catherynne M. Valente travels to a colony world infested with strange psychic cats in “Planet Lion.” Carmen Maria Machado wrestles with predators, identity, and death in“My Body, Herself.” And Seanan McGuire sings a tragic song of misunderstandings and unfortunate consequences with “Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands.” 

Those pieces are only the beginning. The Best of Uncanny features some of the uncanniest stories and poetry in SF/F today, by its current leading voices. Sit down and immerse yourself in 44 original science fiction and fantasy stories and poems that can make you feel.

Limited: 250 numbered leatherbound copies, signed by all authors (with one exception noted below)

Trade: Fully cloth bound hardcover edition

From Publishers Weekly (Starred Review):

“Hugo-winning editors Thomas and Thomas have assembled some of the most well known, internationally respected, and utterly evocative pieces from Uncanny’s five-year history into this substantial and impressive collection… This is an enlivening, enlightening treasure for the magazine’s readers and any fans of the genre.”

From Booklist (Starred Review):

“Authors published by Uncanny are a roster of the greatest sf writers of the present era: Neil Gaiman, N. K. Jemisin, Charlie Jane Anders, Seanan McGuire, Naomi Novik, and many, many more. The works in this anthology are the best of the best in the genre, from science fiction to fantasy to weird tales to poetry, representing a stunning diversity of styles and perspectives…”

From Kirkus (Starred Review):

“This shelf-bending collection of 44 stories and poems from Uncanny Magazine's first five years showcases not only the publication's consistent quality, but also the impressive diversity of voices and thematic profundity it showcases… Featuring standout stories by N.K. Jemisin, Seanan McGuire, and Catherynne M. Valente, among others, there are no weak links in this transcendent anthology. A deliciously diverse sampler of speculative-fiction bonbons, created by some of the most talented literary confectioners on the planet.”

From Library Journal (Starred Review):

“[T]he diverse range of voices, works, and prose show the wealth of creativity, humanity, and talent in today’s science fiction and fantasy writers… This delightful volume of imaginative writing will be devoured by genre fans and newcomers alike.”


“The best stories of its first 22 issues are gathered in The Best of Uncanny, edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas (Subterranean Press). As stated in its introduction, one of the goals of the magazine is to feature stories that are experimental and/or connect with readers.”


“Emerging from this splendid collection, can we discern any commonality among these tales, a signature ‘Uncanny magazine’ trademark? The subgenres range widely, from magical realism to near-space-opera, from folktales to horror, from high fantasy to slipstream. One shared aspect is a plethora of unique voices: each author is a stylist, eschewing any kind of bland ‘transparent’ prose.”


Table of Contents

  • The Uncanny Valley—An Introduction — LYNNE M. THOMAS AND MICHAEL DAMIAN THOMAS
  • Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies — BROOKE BOLANDER
  • Blessings — NAOMI NOVIK
  • Folding Beijing — HAO JINGFANG, TRANSLATED BY KEN LIU (translator signing, not the author)
  • The New Ways — AMAL EL-MOHTAR (POEM )
  • Fandom for Robots — VINA JIE-MIN PRASAD
  • Catcall — DELILAH S. DAWSON
  • Wooden Feathers — URSULA VERNON
  • The Long Run — NEIL GAIMAN (POEM )
  • Heat of Us: Notes Toward an Oral History — SAM J. MILLER
  • Ghost Champagne — CHARLIE JANE ANDERS
  • Translatio Corporis — K AT HOWARD
  • Rose Child — BY THEODORA GOSS (POEM )
  • The Witch of the Orion Waste and the Boy Knight — E. LILY YU
  • Monster Girls Don’t Cry — A. MERC RUSTAD
  • Midnight Hour — MARY ROBINETTE KOWAL
  • Henosis — N.K . JEMISIN
  • The Persecution of Witches — ALI TROT TA (POEM )
  • Restore the Heart into Love — JOHN CHU
  • I Frequently Hear Music in the Very Heart of Noise — SARAH PINSKER
  • You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay — ALYSSA WONG
  • è骨趠(Meat Bone Tea) — S. QIOUYI LU (POEM )
  • She Still Loves the Dragon — ELIZABETH BEAR
  • If You Were a Tiger, I’d Have to Wear White — MARIA DAHVANA HEADLE Y
  • archival testimony fragments / minersong — ROSE LEMBERG (POEM )
  • Sun, Moon, Dust — URSULA VERNON
  • The Hydraulic Emperor — ARKADY MARTINE
  • Starskin, Sealskin — SHVETA THAKRAR & SARA CLETO (POEM )
  • Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time — K .M. SZPARA
  • god-date — BRANDON O’BRIEN (POEM )
  • 7 Auspicium Melioris Aevi — JY YANG
  • Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand — FRAN WILDE
  • An Ocean the Color of Bruises — ISABEL YAP
  • Dancing Princesses — ROSHANI CHOKSHI (POEM )
  • Though She Be But Little — C. S. E. COONE Y
  • Children of Thorns, Children of Water — ALIET TE DE BODARD
  • Protestations Against the Idea of Anglicization — CASSANDRA KHAW (POEM )
  • My Body, Herself — CARMEN MARIA MACHADO
  • Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands — SEANAN MCGUIRE
  • The Words on My Skin — CAROLINE M. YOACHIM
  • And Then There Were (N-One) — SARAH PINSKER
  • The Sea Never Says It Loves You — FRAN WILDE (POEM )
  • Pockets — AMAL EL-MOHTAR



The Uncanny Valley—

An Introduction

Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas

We opened our first Uncanny Magazine editorial with, “January 28, 2014 was the worst day of our lives: A parade of awful news culminating in our 11-year-old daughter Caitlin nearly dying during her spinal fusion surgery. Possibly due to some unusual quirk of her Aicardi syndrome, blood left her body faster than the doctors could replace it. In the end, she received 1 ½ times her own blood in transfusions and was resuscitated on the operating table.”

2014 was a rollercoaster for the Thomases. After a couple of years of Lynne serving as Editor-in-Chief of Apex Magazine with Michael as her Managing Editor (plus both working on anthologies and podcasts and Lynne receiving three Hugo Awards along the way), we stepped away from editing to take care of Caitlin and recuperate. (As of this writing Caitlin is well and thriving.) We managed to stay away from editing for an entire six months! (It is possible we are bad at breaks.)

It didn’t take long for us to decide we wanted to open our own magazine. Though we learned a lot from our time at Apex and publishing anthologies through Mad Norwegian Press, we decided we wanted to control all of the aspects of a project. We also had our own vision for what we wanted in a magazine: An online Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine featuring passionate SF/F fiction and poetry, gorgeous prose, provocative nonfiction, and a deep investment in our diverse SF/F culture. We wanted each issue to contain intricate, experimental stories and poems with verve and imagination that elicit strong emotions and challenge beliefs, from writers of every conceivable background, because we believe there’s still plenty of room in the genre for tales that make you feel.

As fans of the Weird Tales magazinerun edited by Ann VanderMeer & Stephen H. Segal, we decided that we loved the idea of a magazine with pulp roots that had evolved into something fresh and contemporary, which pushed the boundaries now as much as it did during its glorious past. So, we decided to call the magazine Uncanny to evoke exactly that. We brought in our friend and Chicks Dig Time Lordsc over artist Katy Shuttleworth to create the pulpy Uncanny wordmark. During the process, she asked if we wanted a mascot. We responded, “SPACE UNICORN!” And wow did she ever deliver on that art!

The final pieces came together as we decided to use Kickstarter for our main funding model and put together our phenomenal core team of Managing Editor Michi Trota and Podcast Producers Erika Ensign and Steven Schapansky. (Dear friends who are still in these roles.) Videos were filmed, we further researched how to be publishers (with lots of assistance from John Joseph Adams and Christie Yant), and we solicited some of our favorite authors and artists. Not only did the Kickstarter succeed, we reached all of the stretch goals. By November 2014, the first issue of Uncanny Magazine debuted with more fanfare and success than we could possibly imagine.

At the time of writing this in late 2018, we are currently starting our fifth year. Uncanny Magazine has won the Best Semiprozine Hugo Award three times (2016, 2017, 2018). Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas won the 2018 Best Editor-Short Form Hugo Award for their work on this magazine. The novelette “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang (translated by Ken Liu) won the 2016 Best Novelette Hugo Award and was even adapted into a Chinese car commercial. Alyssa Wong’s “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay” won the 2017 Best Novelette Locus Award. Fran Wilde’s story “Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand” won the 2018 Eugie Foster Memorial Award for Short Fiction. Theodora Goss’s poem “Rose Child” won the 2017 Rhysling Award- Best Long Poem. The Uncanny Magazine Podcast won a 2016 Parsec Award. Tran Nguyen’s Uncanny cover, Traveling to a Distant Day (used for this Best of Uncanny), won a 2016 Chesley Award and a Spectrum 23 Award. Galen Dara’s Uncanny cover, Bubbles and Blast Off, won a 2017 Chesley Award. In total, Uncanny, the Thomases,or Uncannystories from the first three years of the magazine have been finalists for 14 Hugo Awards, 6 Nebula Awards, 11 Locus Awards, and 7 World Fantasy Awards. (All of these stories are included in this volume.)

We couldn’t have done this without our devoted readership (we call them the Space Unicorn Ranger Corps), our phenomenal writers and artists, and our tremendous staff which has included the aforementioned Michi, Erika, and Steven plus former Poetry/Reprint Editor Julia Rios (editor of the Aliette de Bodard story and 7 poems in this volume), former Poetry/Reprint Editor Mimi Mondal (editor of 1 poem in this volume), Assistant Editor Chimedum Ohaegbu, our regular podcast readers Amal El-Mohtar, C. S. E. Cooney, and Stephanie Malia Morris, and our interviewers Deborah Stanish, Shana DuBois, and Caroline M. Yoachim, and finally all of our many Submissions Editors through the years.

You hold in your hands the Best of Uncanny—selections of many of the magazine’s greatest stories and poems from the first 22 issues. Choosing these pieces was a delightful and agonizing process, as we love everything we’ve ever edited and published. As massive as this volume is, we believe it could easily be double this size. We are so proud of what Uncanny has become, and how much all of these gorgeous works have resonated with our readers. We hope you enjoy this, and maybe one day there will be a second volume of more Uncanny stories and poems which make you feel.

Shine on, Space Unicorns!


Tran Nguyen
Deluxe Limited
680 pages
United States
In Print