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Rich Horton’s Virtual Best of the Year — 2007

By Rich Horton

Copyright © 2008 by New Epoch Press. All rights Reserved.

STATS

I read various issues of 51 print magazines, 33 electronic sources, 40 original anthologies, 12 story collections with original pieces, 19 single story chapbooks, and a few other miscellaneous spots. These places included (that I read) a total of 2343 stories: 73 novellas, 366 novelettes, and 1904 short stories (338 of those short-shorts). That’s a personal record, and so is the total wordcount: somewhat over 12.7 million words.

Interestingly (to me anyway), the total wordcount of novellas was half that of novelettes, which was half that of short stories. (Near as dammit, anyway.) Novellas averaged just about 25,000 words, novelettes just about 10,000 words, and short stories about 3800 words.

I may have misidentified a very few authors, but I counted 840.5 stories by women, or 35.9%.

And I counted 961 science fiction stories, the rest being fantasy (or horror or slipstream or mainstream or, in perhaps one case, a barely or not at all fictionalized memoir). That’s 41%, which I will say is a bit smaller proportion than I might have guessed.

BEST OF THE YEAR

Here I will simply list the contents of the three books I had planned to publish this year: the Science Fiction: The Best of the Year 2008 Edition, and Fantasy: The Best of the Year 2008 Edition, and also a prospective Space Opera 2008 Table of Contents. Alas, the Space Opera volume has been canceled, but the other two books will appear. And I will follow with lists of other stories that nearly made the cut — some were stories I couldn’t use for contractual reasons, some I didn’t choose for reasons of balance — they were too long, perhaps, or I already had too many stories from the same source, or I was already using a story by the same author. And some are stories that I agonized over, and decided I couldn’t fit. All of these stories are worthy of reprinting in Best of the Year volumes, in my opinion. They form something akin to Gardner Dozois’s Recommended Reading lists that appear in the back of his Year’s Best volumes.

All the book Tables of Contents are in currently planned TOC order.

SCIENCE FICTION:

  • Greg Egan, “Dark Integers” (Asimov’s, October-November)
  • Bruce Sterling, “A Plain Tale From Our Hills” (Subterranean, Spring)
  • Charles Coleman Finlay, “An Eye for an Eye” (F&SF, June)
  • Karen Joy Fowler, “Always” (Asimov’s, April-May)
  • John Barnes, “An Ocean is a Snowflake, Four Billion Miles Away” (Baen’s Universe, August)
  • Ekaterina Sedia, “Virus Changes Skin” (Analog, October)
  • Paul Di Filippo, “Wikiworld” (Fast Forward 1)
  • Tim Pratt, “Artifice and Intelligence” (Strange Horizons)
  • Ken MacLeod, “Jesus Christ, Reanimator” (Fast Forward 1)
  • Robert Reed, “Night Calls” (Asimov’s, October–November)
  • Jack Skillingstead, “Everyone Bleeds Through” (Realms of Fantasy, October)
  • Nancy Kress, “Art of War” (The New Space Opera)
  • Holly Phillips, “Three Days of Rain” (Asimov’s, June)
  • Alexander Jablokov, “Brain Raid” (F&SF, February)
  • Mary Robinette Kowal, “For Solo Cello, Op. 12” (Cosmos, February–March)
  • Will McIntosh, “Perfect Violet” (On Spec, Summer)
  • Geoffrey Landis, “Vectoring” (Analog, June)
  • Michael Swanwick, “The Skysailor’s Tale” (The Dog Said Bow-Wow)

FANTASY:

  • Daryl Gregory, “Unpossible” (F&SF, October/November)
  • Kelly Link, “Light” (Tin House, Fall)
  • Zoran Zivkovic, “The Teashop” (12 Collections and the Teashop)
  • Noreen Doyle, “The Rope” (Realms of Fantasy, April)
  • William Alexander, “Buttons” (Zahir, Summer)
  • Holly Phillips, “Brother of the Moon” (Fantasy)
  • Andy Duncan, “A Diorama of the Infernal Regions” (Wizards)
  • Rachel Swirsky, “Heartstrung” (Interzone, June)
  • Daniel Abraham, “The Cambist and Lord Iron” (Logorrhea)
  • Carrie Laben, “Something in the Mermaid Way” (Clarkesworld, March)
  • Matthew Johnson, “Public Safety” (Asimov’s, March)
  • Benjamin Rosenbaum and David Ackert, “Stray” (F&SF, December)
  • Marly Youmans, “The Comb” (Fantasy Magazine Online)
  • Garth Nix, “Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz Go to War Again” (Baen’s Universe, 4/07)
  • Karen Joy Fowler, “The Last Worders” (Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, 6/07)
  • Theodora Goss, “Singing of Mount Abora” (Logorrhea)
  • David Barr Kirtley, “Save Me Plz” (Realms of Fantasy, October)
  • Erik Amundsen, “Bufo Rex” (Weird Tales)
  • Ian R. MacLeod, “The Master Miller’s Tale” (F&SF, May)

SPACE OPERA:

  • David Moles, “Finisterra” (F&SF, December)
  • John Scalzi, “Pluto Tells All” (Subterranean, Spring)
  • Richard A. Lovett, “The Sands of Titan” (Analog, June)
  • Ken MacLeod, “Who’s Afraid of Wolf 359?” (The New Space Opera)
  • Charles Stross, “Trunk and Disorderly” (Asimov’s, January)
  • Gareth L. Powell, “Six Lights Off Green Scar” (Infinity Plus)
  • Jayme Lynn Blaschke, “The Final Voyage of La Riaza” (Interzone, June)
  • C. W. Johnson, “Icarus Beach” (Analog, December)
  • Robert Reed, “The Caldera of Good Fortune” (Asimov’s, Oct/Nov)
  • Jay Lake, “The Fly and Die Ticket” (Subterranean, Fall)
  • Dan Simmons, “Muse of Fire” (The New Space Opera)

RECOMMENDED READING

The other stories that were on my final lists, this time organized by size category and then alphabetical by author:

Novellas:

  • Judith Berman, “Awakening” (Black Gate #10, Spring)
  • Elizabeth Hand, Illyria, (PS Publishing)
  • Daniel Hatch, “An Angelheaded Hipster Escapes” (Analog, October)
  • Lucius Shepard, “Dead Money” (Asimov’s, April-May)
  • Lucius Shepard, “Stars Seen Through Stone” (F&SF, April-May)
  • Robert Silverberg, “The Emperor and the Maula” (The New Space Opera)
  • Walter John Williams, “The Womb of Every World” (Alien Crimes)
  • Gene Wolfe, “Memorare” (F&SF, April)

Counting the novellas in my books (real and virtual) I make that 11 novellas, of 73 total (15%). By comparison, my recommended list last year had about 23% of the novellas I read — reflecting again my feeling that this year was a bit weak in that category.

Novelettes:

  • Peter S. Beagle, “We Never Talk About My Brother” (Intergalactic Medicine Show)
  • Peter S. Beagle, “The Last and Only; or, Mr. Moscowitz Becomes French” (Eclipse One)
  • Elizabeth Bear, “Cryptic Coloration” (Baen’s Universe, June)
  • Amy Bechtel, “A Time for Lawsuits” (Analog, July-August)
  • Fred Chappell, “Dance of Shadows” (F&SF, March)
  • Fred Chappell, “The Diamond Shadow” (F&SF, October-November)
  • Ted Chiang, “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” (F&SF, September)
  • Neil Gaiman, “The Witch’s Headstone” (Wizards)
  • Kij Johnson, “The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs Of North Park After
  • the Change” (The Coyote Road)
  • Ted Kosmatka, “The Prophet of Flores” (Asimov’s, September)
  • Nancy Kress, “Safeguard” (Asimov’s, January)
  • Kelly Link, “The Constable of Abal” (The Coyote Road)
  • Ann Leckie, “The Snake’s Wife” (Helix, October)
  • Steven Millhauser, “The Wizard of West Orange” (Harper’s, April)
  • Iain Rowan, “Welcome to the Underworld” (Black Gate, Spring)
  • Brian Stableford, “The Trial” (Asimov’s, July)
  • Harvey Welles and Philip Raines, “Abigail and Chang” (Challenging Destiny, August)
  • Martha Wells, “Holy Places” (Black Gate, Summer)
  • Chris Willrich, “A Wizard of the Old School” (F&SF, August)

Thirty-nine novelettes total, or just shy of 11% of the novelettes I saw, not much different from last year’s totals.

Short Stories:

  • Barth Anderson, “Clockmaker’s Requiem” (Clarkesworld, March)
  • Stephanie Burgis, “Locked Doors” (Strange Horizons)
  • Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum, “The Young Wife’s Tale” (Tin House, Fall)
  • Jeffrey Ford, “The Dreaming Wind” (The Coyote Road)
  • Chris Gauthier, “Raindogs and Dustpuppets” (Strange Horizons)
  • Theodora Goss, “Princess Lucinda and the Hound of the Moon” (Realms of Fantasy, June)
  • Theodora Goss, “Catherine and the Satyr” (Strange Horizons)
  • Daryl Gregory, “Dead Horse Point” (Asimov’s, August)
  • Jim Grimsley, “The Sanguine” (Asimov’s, March)
  • Samantha Henderson, “The Black Hole in Auntie Sutra’s Handbag” (Lone Star Stories, April)
  • Shelley Jackson, “Word Problem” (Tin House, Fall)
  • Steven Graham Jones, “do(this)” (Asimov’s, December)
  • Lucy Kemnitzer, “The Boulder” (Fantasy Magazine #6)
  • Stephen King, “Graduation Afternoon” (Postscripts, Spring)
  • Nancy Kress, “End Game” (Asimov’s, April-May)
  • Lisa Mantchev, “The Girl with the Blueberry Eyes” (Fantasy Magazine #6)
  • Will McIntosh, “One Paper Airplane Graffito Love Note” (Strange Horizons)
  • Patricia A. McKillip, “Naming Day” (Wizards)
  • Ruth Nestvold and Jay Lake, “Roger Lambelin” (Realms of Fantasy, October)
  • Jerry Oltion, “Salvation” (Analog, December)
  • Richard Parks, “The Man Who Carved Skulls” (Weird Tales)
  • M. Rickert, “Memoir of a Deer Woman” (F&SF, March)
  • Benjamin Rosenbaum, “Molly and the Red Hat” (Interzone, December)
  • Jack Skillingstead, “Strangers on a Bus” (Asimov’s, December)
  • Bruce Sterling, “The Lustration” (Eclipse One)
  • Lavie Tidhar, “Elsbeth Rose” (Fantasy Magazine Online)
  • Catherynne M. Valente, “A Dirge for Prester John” (Interfictions)
  • Donna Glee Williams, “Limits” (Strange Horizons)
  • Marly Youmans, “Prologomenon to the Adventures of Childe Phoenix” (Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, June)

And that’s 54 short stories, a bit under 3% of the total short stories I saw, again not too different from last year’s proportion.

(As for my own gender balance stats, of the 104 stories on my “recommendation list,” 36.5 are by women, or 35.1%, which tracks pretty closely with the actual percentage of stories by women this year.)

HUGO NOMINATION THOUGHTS, SHORT FICTION

My novella list looked like:

  • Elizabeth Hand, Illyria (PS Publishing)
  • Ian R. MacLeod, “The Master Miller’s Tale” (F&SF, May)
  • Dan Simmons, “Muse of Fire” (The New Space Opera)
  • Gene Wolfe, “Memorare” (F&SF, April)

That’s just four, mind you. The fifth could be one of the Shepard stories (probably “Dead Money”), or the Williams story (except that’s not really eligible, because it’s about 50,000 words), or “Awakening.”

The actual Hugo nomination list includes only the Wolfe story, plus Shepard’s “Stars Seen Through Stone,” Connie Willis’ “All Seated on the Ground,” Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s “Recovering Apollo 8,” and Nancy Kress’ “Fountain of Age.”

My novelette list, then:

  • Daniel Abraham, “The Cambist and Lord Iron: a Fairy Tale of Economics” (Logorrhea)
  • Ted Chiang, “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” (F&SF, September)
  • Greg Egan, “Dark Integers” (Asimov’s, October-November)
  • Charles Coleman Finlay, “An Eye for an Eye” (F&SF, June)
  • Kelly Link, “Light” (Tin House, Fall)
  • Kelly Link, “The Constable of Abal” (The Coyote Road)
  • David Moles, “Finisterra” (F&SF, December)
  • Michael Swanwick, “The Skysailor’s Tale” (The Dog Said Bow-Wow)

Obviously, that’s more than five. Which seems to happen more often in the novelette category than in other categories. I can’t recall which ended up on my personal final nomination list. The actual nominations included the Moles, Chiang, Abraham, and Egan stories above, plus another Egan story, “Glory.” Whcih makes it a pretty damn good ballot!

And finally, short stories. Here, two stand out, with five more currently under consideration for the next spots on my ballot. (And a few more are still perhaps in play, such as Mary Robinette Kowal’s “For Solo Cello, Op. 12.”)

  • Holly Phillips, “Three Days of Rain” (Asimov’s, June)
  • Ken MacLeod, “Jesus Christ, Reanimator” (Fast Forward 1)
  • Benjamin Rosenbaum and David Ackert, “Stray” (F&SF, December)
  • Ken MacLeod, “Who’s Afraid of Wolf 359?” (The New Space Opera)
  • Theodora Goss, “Singing of Mount Abora” (Logorrhea)
  • Daryl Gregory, “Unpossible” (F&SF, October/November)
  • Karen Joy Fowler, “Always” (Asimov’s, April-May)

Of these, a Hugo nod went only to Ken MacLeod’s “Who’s Afraid of Wolf 359?” The other Hugo nominees are “Last Contact” by Stephen Baxter, “Tideline” by Elizabeth Bear, “Distant Replay” by Mike Resnick, and “A Small Room in Koboldtown” by Michael Swanwick.


Rich Horton’s feature articles exploring the rich history of modern fantasy and science fiction appear in every issue of Black Gate. Also read his The Virtual Best of the Year: 2005 and 2006.
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