The Best of British Fantasy

An interesting book for interesting times

I’m delighted to announce the table of contents for The Best of British Fantasy 2018.

The anthology is released in May, from NewCon Publishing, in all normal formats, plus a sexy hardcover limited edition. It is available for pre-order now, directly from the publisher.

Without further ado:

  • "There's a Witch in the Word Machine" by Jenni Fagan (There's a Witch in the Word Machine)

  • "We Are Now Beginning Our Descent" by Malcolm Devlin (LossLit)

  • "The Dance of a Thousand Cuts" by Liam Hogan (Terra! Tara! Terror!)

  • "A Son of the Sea" by Priya Sharma (All the Fabulous Beasts)

  • "To Look Upon His Works" by RJ Barker (Art of War)

  • "12 Answers Only You Can Question" by James Warner (EPOCH)

  • "The Woman Who Turned Into Soap" by Harkiran Dhindsa (The Good Journal)

  • "Mushroom Speed Boosts" by Ben Reynolds (LossLit)

  • "The Guile" by Ian McDonald (Tor.com)

  • "We can make something grow between the mushrooms and the snow" by Kirsty Logan (The Puritan)

  • "The Moss Child" by Lisa Fransson (The Forgotten and the Fantastical 4)

  • "Boys" by Lizzie Hudson (Litro)

  • "The Farm at the World's End" by Helen McClory (Occulum)

  • "The Prevaricator" by Matthew Hughes (Fantasy & Science Fiction)

  • "The Small Island" by Heather Parry (F(r)iction Magazine)

  • "A Gift of Tongues" by Paul McQuade (Cōnfingō)

  • "Velocity" by Steph Swainston (Turning Point)

  • "Counting the Pennies" by Rhys Hughes (The Early Bird Catches the Worm but the Wise Worm Stays in Bed)

  • "The Councillor's Visit" by Beth Goddard (Finesse)

  • "Yard Dog" by Tade Thompson (Fiyah)

  • "Dark Shells" by Aliya Whiteley (This Dreaming Isle)

  • "Coruvorn" by Reggie Oliver (The Silent Garden)

  • "The Godziliad" by Adam Roberts (Self-published)

  • "Underground" by Archie Black (Pornokitsch) [Limited edition only]

The book’s 20-odd entries are selected from hundreds of stories that I received (or found, or was recommended) from anthologies, websites, literary and genre magazines, little presses, big presses, and the occasional chapbook. As well as the final table of contents, there’s also a supplementary ‘recommended reading list’, with some of the other highlights from my reading journey.

You can read more about the process here and the ‘brief’ here.

The authors come from the full width and breadth of the United Kingdom, including both immigrants and expats. And their stories contain lethal mermaids, sorcerous rogues, magic swords (a mandatory), city-stomping monsters, ghostly lovers, unreachable islands, several apocalypses, one particularly irritating local councillor, and bees.

We live in Interesting Times, and pulling together a book about mermaids and bees against the backdrop of (waves hands) all that, can like the ultimate act of fiddling.

It is also fair to say that, as well as swords and monsters, The Best of British Fantasy also contains Brexit, identity, politics and politics and politics, class, dysfunctional and functional families, capitalism, immigration, feminism, despair and hope, grief and coping mechanisms, and a few thoughts on the housing market.

Elif Shafak, in The Happiness of Blond People, explains the importance of fiction - particularly in what she describes as ‘angst-’ridden times:

Novels helped me to discover other lives, other possibilities. They gave me a sense of continuity, centre and coherence in my life - the three big C’s that I otherwise lacked.

That’s a tall order for the stories in The Best of British Fantasy - or for any work of art, for that matter. But there’s no better media for it than fantasy, and no better messenger than the simple magic of words. As something to strive for, providing ‘continuity, centre, and coherence’ is a fitting objective for what fantasy can do. Especially, not despite, when living in interesting times.


There’s a lot to discuss about British fantasy, and I’d like your help doing it.

The book has a companion website: The Best of British Fantasy. I’m already sitting, Smaug-like, on a pile of features from great writers that will begin appearing in April. And I’m looking for more short articles on ‘British fantasy’.

What’s your favourite ‘British fantasy’? Is it e a book, a game, a film, or some other work of art? This is a chance for you to write about a childhood favourite or a lost masterpiece or simply something you really, really like. The primary restriction is that it needs to be at least 5 years old, so we can avoid recency bias.

This is a (very lightly) paid gig, and you do not need to be a published author or critic to participate: the broader the view, the better.

If you’re interested, drop me a line at bestofbritishfantasy@gmail.com, and I’ll send you the brief. (Of course there’s a brief.)


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