I write a lot of speculative fiction, and more to the point, I read a lot of speculative fiction. However, my favorite anthology of all time is absolutely, irrevocably, 100% The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction, and with a few notable exceptions, it has very little to do with speculative fiction.
This book was my introduction to current literature. For five years, during my late teens and early twenties, I kept it in my car. When I didn’t own a car, I carried the book in my bag so I could read it on the bus. It’s where I learned that Sherman Alexie, Michael Cunningham, and Annie Proulx existed. I read Tim O’Brien for the first time in this book, and Kate Braverman.
Later, I was assigned a lot of these authors in college. I had professors who worshiped various of them on an individual basis and used their novels for classes. I had to give presentations. I had to write essays. But Scribner is where I found them, and where I appreciated them most. I’ve always felt guilty that reading the stories on my own made me like them more. I never got that excited about them in class. Instead, I liked seeing the authors in short form, in the company of each other and on my own time, like getting tiny glimpses of them before seeing the whole thing.