Top 7 fantasy and science fiction anthologies
Anthologies are a collection of novellas or short stories, each usually written by a different author. They are a perfect way to experience new genres and discover new authors. The list below also features collections of short stories written by the same author and published in a single volume.
The Time Traveler's Almanac by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
This is the perfect gift for fantasy fans. They don’t need to be particularly interested in time travel, but this is precisely the sort of sumptuous book which you buy to either treat yourself or somebody else. This tome demands a giant armchair, a roaring log fire, several hours’ peace and quiet and a glass of mulled wine to hand.
The Time Traveler’s Almanac is the largest, most definitive collection of time travel stories ever assembled. Gathered into one volume by intrepid chrononauts and world-renowned anthologists Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, here is over a century's worth of literary travels into past and the future. The anthology covers millions of years of Earth's history - from the age of the dinosaurs to strange and fascinating futures, through to the end of Time itself. The Time Traveler’s Almanac will reacquaint readers with beloved classics and introduce them to thrilling contemporary examples of the time travel genre.
Harrowing the Dragon by Patricia McKillip
Long-time fans of World Fantasy Award-winning author McKillip will be delighted to find these previously hard-to-obtain stories. Harrowing the Dragon is a collection done right: all the author’s current short fiction in one place.
Spanning a quarter of a century, this anthology of previously uncollected short fiction explores a world of magic in such works as "The Harrowing of the Dragon of Hoarsbreath," "A Matter of Music," "The Fellowship of the Dragon," "The Lion and the Lark," "Toad," "Ash, Wood, Fire," "The Stranger," and more.
Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse by John Joseph Adams
Famine, death, war, pestilence. These are said to be the harbingers of the biblical apocalypse-Armageddon. The End of the World. Whether by nuclear warfare, a biological disaster or an ecological/geological disaster it is in the wake of this great cataclysm that the survivors have to adapt and survive.
"There is not a poor story in this anthology and they are all so different in the way they are written and the themes they cover that everyone will find something to like. Of the five stories I mentioned above it is only George R. R. Martin that I had previously read so I will shortly be going on to read novel-length publications by Dale Bailey, Catherine Wells, Nancy Kress and Neal Barrett. And that is exactly what I hoped to get from this collection. So if you're a fan of the post apocalyptic/dystopia genre then you must add this anthology to your collection as it is simply brilliant and if it still available for £2.99 then it is also an absolute bargain. I loved reading Wastelands and hope that many others do too. Very highly recommended." Floresiensis, Fantasy Book Review
The Treasury of the Fantastic by David Sandner and Jacob Weisman
The fantastic, the supernatural, the poetic, and the macabre entwine in this incomparable culmination of storytelling. Imaginative stories of wit and intelligence weave through vivid landscapes that are alternately wondrous and terrifying. Bringing together major literary figures from the 19th and 20th centuries - from Alfred Lord Tennyson and Edith Wharton to Edgar Allan Poe and Oscar Wilde - these masters of English and American literature created unforgettable tales where goblins and imps comingle with humans from all walks of life.
"The Treasury of the Fantastic is an amazing collection of 44 poems, short stories and novellas, all fantasy related, all published before 1923. The anthology editors, David Sandner and Jacob Weisman, should be congratulated for managing to collect the rights to so many amazing stories. At the start of the book they openly provide the criteria they used for putting together this anthology. Unfortunately their criteria mean we miss out on a few great authors who were producing their best work right around the cut-off data, authors like Lovecraft and Howard, but that barely takes away from the excellent 44 stories that made the cut and are celebrated in this anthology." Ryan Lawler, Fantasy Book Review
Dangerous Women by George RR Martin
Filled with the fantasy genres biggest names (and, I believe, big names from other genres), this anthology manages to compile together some of the best short stories around.
George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois have put together a towering anthology of specially-commissioned stories from the most stellar names in the genre, set in a number of readers' favourite fantasy worlds. George R.R. Martin is the bestselling author of A Song of Ice and Fire, the inspiration for HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones. The collection will also feature a new and unpublished 100pp novella by George R.R. Martin set in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire – now the award-winning HBO show, Game of Thrones. The novella, entitled 'The Princess and the Queen', will reveal the origins of the Targaryen Civil War, otherwise known as 'The Dance of the Dragons', a war that split a then-fledgling Westeros in two, pitting Targaryen against Targaryen and dragon against dragon. The Dangerous Women anthology also contains contributions from the following worldwide bestselling authors: “Some Desperado” by Joe Abercrombie – A Red Country story; “Nora’s Song” by Cecelia Holland; “Bombshells” by Jim Butcher – A Harry Dresden story; “Wrestling Jesus” by Joe R. Lansdale; “Neighbours” by Megan Lindholm (who also writes as Robin Hobb); “Shadows For Silence in the Forests of Hell” by Brandon Sanderson; “A Queen in Exile” by Sharon Kay Penman; “The Girl in the Mirror” by Lev Grossman – A Magicians story; “Virgins” by Diana Gabaldon – An Outlander story.
Epic: Legends of Fantasy by John Joseph Adams
From the creation myths and quest sagas of ancient times to the megapopular fantasy novels of today, this quintessential anthology of epic fantasy is adventurous storytelling at its best. With rich and vibrant world building, readers are transported to antiquated realms to witness noble sacrifices and astonishing wonders. Gathering a comprehensive survey of beloved stories from the genre, this compilation includes stories by such luminaries as George R. R. Martin, Robert Jordan, Terry Brooks, Ursula K. Le Guin, Robin Hobb, and Tad Williams. Inspiring and larger-than-life, these tales offer timeless values of courage and friendship in the face of ultimate evil and express mankind's greatest hopes and fears.
"Epic: Legends of Fantasy is an anthology that would fit nicely upon the shelf of any fantasy reader. John Joseph Adams should definitely be congratulated for managing to get the rights to all of these fantastic stories. If you haven't read some or any of these authors before, then this anthology (with the exception of Le Guin, Williams and Elliott) will definitely help you to decide whether or not you should pick up other works by these authors." Ryan Lawler, Fantasy Book Review
Rogues by George RR Martin
A collection of twenty-one original stories by a list of contributors including a new A Game of Thrones story by George R. R. Martin. Follow along with the likes of Gillian Flynn, Joe Abercrombie, Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss, Scott Lynch, Cherie Priest, Garth Nix, and Connie Willis, as well as other masters of literary sleight-of-hand, in this rogues gallery of stories that will plunder your heart and yet leave you all the richer for it. Featuring all-new stories by Joe Abercrombie, Daniel Abraham, David W. Ball, Paul Cornell, Bradley Denton, Phyllis Eisenstein, Gillian Flynn, Neil Gaiman, Matthew Hughes, Joe R. Lansdale, Scott Lynch, Garth Nix, Cherie Priest, Patrick Rothfuss, Steven Saylor, Michael Swanwick, Lisa Tuttle, Carrie Vaughn, Walter Jon Williams, Connie Willis.
"This is a great themed collection of short stories which are (in the main) of good quality. Some of the stories may not be everyone’s cup of tea."
Recommended reads by sub-genre
Select a sub-genre below to see which books we highly recommend.
High / Epic fantasy
Secondary world with epic characters, themes, and plot
Heroic / Sword and Sorcery
Fantasy with heroic adventures
Fantasy narrative with an urban setting
Historical fantasy / fiction
Historical fiction with fantasy elements
Bleak subject matter and a dystopian setting
Fantasy set in parallel worlds
Science / Speculative
Draws elements from both science fiction and fantasy
Fantasy for ages up to 12
Fantasy for ages 12+
Fantasy for ages 18+
Dystopian / Post-Apocalyptic
Fiction set in dark, nightmarish worlds
Monarchy / Empire
Fantasy books with empires at their core
Fiction with elements of fear, horror, death, gloom and romance
Fiction with vampiric characters
Fiction with werewolf characters
Fiction with steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology
Fiction with the legendary, scaled, fire-breathing creatures
Wizards / Magicians
Fantasy with wizards, witches, magicians, sorceresses...
Lore, Legend and Mythology
Inspired by ancient folklore and mythology
Fantasy books focusing on mailtary life
Roman historical fiction
Explore the ancient Roman Empire
Books exploring the galaxy of the ever-popular franchise
Animal fantasy books
Fantasy with sentient animals
The Thief / Assassin
Fantasy books starring the thief or the assassin
Fiction exploring beyond the laws of nature
Japanese comic books and graphic novels
Liked to be scared? These books will do that...
For the reader who loves to laugh
Inspired by Tolkien
Love Lord of the Rings? Now try these...
The best science fiction and fantasy anthlogies