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

The Time Traveler\'s Almanac

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.

Read our full review of The Time Traveler's Almanac

Harrowing the Dragon by Patricia McKillip

Harrowing the Dragon

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.

Read our full review of Harrowing the Dragon

Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse by John Joseph Adams

Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse

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

Read our full review of Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse

The Treasury of the Fantastic by David Sandner and Jacob Weisman

The Treasury of the Fantastic

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

Read our full review of The Treasury of the Fantastic

Dangerous Women by George RR Martin

Dangerous Women

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.

Read our full review of Dangerous Women

Epic: Legends of Fantasy by John Joseph Adams

Epic: Legends of Fantasy

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

Read our full review of Epic: Legends of Fantasy

Rogues by George RR Martin

Rogues

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."

Read our full review of Rogues

Recommended reads by sub-genre

Select a sub-genre below to see which books we highly recommend.

High / Epic fantasy books
High / Epic fantasy

Secondary world with epic characters, themes, and plot
Heroic / Sword and Sorcery fantasy books
Heroic / Sword and Sorcery

Fantasy with heroic adventures
Contemporary / Urban fantasy books
Urban fantasy

Fantasy narrative with an urban setting
Historical fiction / Alternate history books
Historical fantasy / fiction

Historical fiction with fantasy elements
Grimdark fantasy fiction
Grimdark

Bleak subject matter and a dystopian setting
Parallel worlds.
Parallel universe

Fantasy set in parallel worlds
Science fantasy / Speculative fiction books
Science / Speculative

Draws elements from both science fiction and fantasy
Children's fantasy books
Children's Fantasy

Fantasy for ages up to 12
Young adult fantasy books
Young Adult

Fantasy for ages 12+
Adult fantasy books
Adult Fantasy

Fantasy for ages 18+
Dystopian fiction
Dystopian / Post-Apocalyptic

Fiction set in dark, nightmarish worlds
Image derived from Mark Lawrence's Emperor of Thorns book cover
Monarchy / Empire

Fantasy books with empires at their core
Gothic fiction books
Gothic Fiction

Fiction with elements of fear, horror, death, gloom and romance
Vampire fiction
Vampire Fiction

Fiction with vampiric characters
Werewolf fiction
Werewolf Fiction

Fiction with werewolf characters
Steampunk books
Steampunk

Fiction with steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology
Dragon fiction
Dragon Fiction

Fiction with the legendary, scaled, fire-breathing creatures
Fantasy books featuring dragons
Wizards / Magicians

Fantasy with wizards, witches, magicians, sorceresses...
Lore, Legend and Mythology
Lore, Legend and Mythology

Inspired by ancient folklore and mythology
Fantasy books featuring dragons
Military Fantasy

Fantasy books focusing on mailtary life
Praetorian cover image
Roman historical fiction

Explore the ancient Roman Empire
An image of Darth Bane, taken from the cover of a Star Wars book
Star Wars

Books exploring the galaxy of the ever-popular franchise
An image taken from the front cover of The Wind in the Willows
Animal fantasy books

Fantasy with sentient animals
An image taken from the front cover of Giant Thief.
The Thief / Assassin

Fantasy books starring the thief or the assassin
An image taken from the front of hush, hush.
Supernatural

Fiction exploring beyond the laws of nature
An image portraying manga art.
Manga

Japanese comic books and graphic novels
House of Small Shadows
Horror

Liked to be scared? These books will do that...
An image portraying comic fantasy.
Comic Fantasy

For the reader who loves to laugh
An image of J. R. R. Tolkien
Inspired by Tolkien

Love Lord of the Rings? Now try these...
The Time Traveller's Almanac
Anthologies

The best science fiction and fantasy anthlogies