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Summary: Abyss & Apex, 2012

Abyss & Apex is a long running e-zine, publishing a consistent mix of fantasy and SF and poetry (and some non-fiction) for 10 years now. Wendy S. Delmater is the Editor-in-Chief, and Carmelo Rafala is now Managing Editor.

They published a total of 24 stories this year. The total word count was about 105,000, somewhat less than last year, fairly consistent with their history. Three novelettes, the rest short stories, four of them being "short-shorts".

My favorite stories this year included impressive new (somewhat) writer Alter S. Reiss's "A Demon of Almansol", a somewhat different take on encountering a demon; Jay Caselberg's "She's Ultraviolet", a bittersweet (or perhaps mostly bitter) look at a "perfect lover"; and Emi Makanry's "In Dust and Feathers", about a mage charged with curing the Lady she serves. There was good work as well from Genevieve Valentine, Sheila Crosby, and Jennifer Mason-Black, as well as Simon Kewin, Arkady Martine, and Berrien Henderson.

The gender count came out 13 men, 11 women -- 46% women. Fairly typical for the site, I think.

SF/Fantasy split -- perhaps 14 of the 24 stories qualify as SF -- so 58%, about usual for the site, maybe a bit higher than usual -- or maybe reflective of a slightly increased movement towards SF here the last couple of years.

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Summary: Lightspeed, 2012

Lightspeed is a newish webzine (it began in 2010) focused on Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by John Joseph Adams. In 2012 it officially merged with its former companion, Fantasy Magazine. Also, late in 2012, a horror companion was added, Nightmare. Finally, I should mention that beginning in January 2013, I will be serving as reprint editor for the magazine.

Lightspeed publishes 2 SF and 2 fantasy original short stories each month (length extending to shorter novelettes), and also 2 reprint stories in each category, and other content such as artist spotlights, an editorial, and author interviews. The ebook edition includes bonus material in the form of a reprint novella each month, occasional excerpts from recent novels, and additional nonfiction. In 2012, I counted just about 230,000 words of original fiction this year. This was 48 stories, three of them short novelettes, the rest short stories (a couple of which were just under my 1500 word boundary that makes them "short-shorts" in my perhaps eccentric categorization).

They had another very good year. I am taking two stories for my Best of the Year anthology. These are "The Gravedigger of Konstan Spring", by Genevieve Valentine (February), about a town by a spring with curious properties; and "Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream", by Maria Dahvana Headley (July), a sharp romantic story of love affairs involving a wizard and a witch. Other first-rate stories included Caroline Yoachim and Tina Connolly's "Flash Bang Remember" (August), an engaging YA-ish story set on a generation ship and concerning a girl brought up with a common childhood to many predecessors; Adam-Troy Castro's "My Wife Hates Time Travel" (September), another love story, and also a clever look at the ramifications of the invention of time travel; and Linda Nagata's "Nightside on Callisto" (May), a strong SF adventure set about a small skirmish in a war against AIs. Also two stories from April, "Ruminations in an Alien Tongue" by Vandana Singh, about an alien structure and a woman who studies it and the man who keeps coming back to her through time and the structure, again and again; and "Forget You" by Marc Laidlaw, a lovely brief fantasy about lovers and memory. Also, two stories bordering on horror: "Blue Lace Agate", by Sarah Monette (January), a bit of a "buddy cop" story about two members of the Bureau of Paranormal Investigation looking into a murder; and "Renfrew's Course", by John Langan (May), in which a couple retraces a sinister route in Scotland, rumored to lead to a magician who will make you his apprentice, at great cost. I should mention as well a very fun steampunkish story by Carrie Vaughn, "Harry and Marlowe and the Talisman of the Count of Egil" (February); and also a sweet coffee shop fantasy by Ken Sursi, "The Seven Samovars" (September). There was good work too by Ken Liu, Marissa Lingen, Benjamin Parzybok, Richard Bowes, Jeremiah Tolbert, C. C. Finlay, and Sandra McDonald.

The stories are evenly split between SF and Fantasy (according to the design of the magazine), and the writers as well are evenly split between men and women.

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Summary: Ideomancer, 2012

Ideomancer is a quarterly online magazine. It has been around for an impressive 11 years. This year's four issues featured 12 new stories, all short, 1 short-shorts, about 43,000 words total. Leah Bobet is the editor.

My favorites were "The Bohemians", by Alexei Collier (September), a weird SF story about the pursuit of beauty via bodily alterations and drugs (sort of); "Barnstormers" by Wendy N. Wagner (June), a somewhat more traditional SF story about two women veterans in a economically shattered future touring with military mechs of some sort; "The Nazir", by Sofia Samatar (January), about a strange "bird" that only children should see; and, perhaps best of all, "Alterations for Beginners", by Rachel Derksen (December), a very dark fantasy about a magician of some kind and his odd set of students.

3 of the 12 stories were SF, 25%, which is not atypical for Ideomancer. The writers were split evenly between men and women.

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Summary: Clarkesworld Magazine, 2012

Clarkesworld Magazine is a monthly online publication. The editors are Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace. Beginning this year, they have published three stories each month. So, 36 this year, three novelettes, for a total of some 172,000 words, as one might expect almost 50% more than last year, as they moved from 2 stories per month to 3. The site has for years been one of the best sources of new short SF (and some fantasy), and that continued in 2012.

I am reprinting four Clarkesworld stories in my Best of the Year anthology: "Scattered Along the River of Heaven" by Aliette de Bodard (January), one of the clear best stories of the year, about revolution, its aftermath, AIs, betrayal poetry, etc. on a space station; "A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight" by Xia Jia (February), about a young boy raised by "ghosts" who may be the last human alive (?), "Prayer", by Robert Reed (May), a dark story about a teenaged girl terrorist/revolutionary and an intelligent gun;  and "Honey Bear" by Sofia Samatar (August), about a mother and her "changeling" child and a trip to the beach. The authors of these stories are respectively a Franco-Vietnamese woman living in France but writing in English; a Chinese woman (the story was translated by Ken Liu, whose efforts, along with Lavie Tidhar and others, to bring other language SF to the attention of English-language readers must be commended); an American man; and an American woman who has lived much of her life in Africa and is a student of African languages. This to me emphasizes an increased awareness in SF of non-Western cultures, which has been very notable and refreshing in recent years.

Other strong stories included Margaret Ronald's "Sunlight Society" (March), a first rate superhero story about a superhero who realizes the dark underside of a society of them; Carrie Vaughn's "Astrophilia" (July), set in the scarcity-bounded but somewhat utopian future of her earlier story "Amaryllis", and concerning a woman fascinated by astronomy, to her family's disapproval; Theodora Goss's "England Under the White Witch" (October), a very dark story about, well, what the title says -- England dominated by a Narnia-like witch, and the way a young woman is forced to betrayal of her people by the witch's charisma; and also from October, "The Battle of Candle Arc", by Yoon Ha Lee, about a General in a somewhat tyrannical star society, and how his victory in the title battle pushes him to change loyalties. Other fine work includes stories by de Bodard again, Genevieve Valentine, Kij Johnson, Catherynne M. Valente, Sandra McDonald, Erik Amundsen, and David Klecha/Tobias Buckell.

Statistics: Clarkesworld publishes predominantly SF: I classified only 4 of the 36 stories as Fantasy (with a couple more kind of borderline): about 11%. By my count, over 71% of the stories were by women.

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Summary: Beneath Ceaseless Skies, 2012

Beneath Ceaseless Skies debuted in late 2008, a webzine devoted to "literary adventure fantasy". The editor and publisher is Scott H. Andrews. It publishes two stories every other week, usually -- every so often a story is serialized over two issues, and both the fourth anniversary issue and the 100th issue this year had two extra stories. There were 26 issues in 2011, with an impressive total of 55 stories, 1 novellas, 16 novelettes and 38 shorts, for some 372,000 words of fiction. That makes it the one of the largest sources of new fiction among magazines and webzines, possibly behind only the traditional "Big Three" (there may be another 'zine or two out there with comparable numbers).

It has been a strong source of short fantasy (with the occasional story I'd classify as SF) from the beginning, and to my mind it is still improving -- 2012 was its best year yet.

My favorite two stories will be in my best of the year volume. These are "The Governess and the Lobster", by Margaret Ronald (May 17), and "The Castle that Jack Built", by Emily Gilman (January 26). Ronald's story (which I read as SF) is about a young woman starting a school in a city split between intelligent automata and humans, and finding a way to reach both sorts of intelligence; while Gilman's is a beautifully written and original fairy-tale like piece about a scarecrow of sorts who remembers being a human, an architect, and in his journeys begins to disover himself. Two more stories were on my final list for inclusion -- Richard Parks' "In the Palace of the Jade Lion" (July 26) is a romantic Chinese-set ghost story, in which a scholar encounters the ghost of a young woman -- a dangerous thing, but his good sense and good will win out; while Chris Willrich's "The Mote Dancer and the Firelife" (March 8) is a colorful story set on another planet, about a woman accompanied by her husband's ghost encountering the alien who may have killed him. Other strong stories included Anne Ivy's "Scry" (March 8), about a woman who can see the future, and who ends up joining her conquerors after an invasion; Gregory Norman Bossert's "The Telling" (November 29), about a child in a household where the Lord dies, who is then called to "tell" to the bees of the household and plead for their continued grace; Noreen Doyle's "His Crowning Glory" (December 27), set in her version of Egypt, a witty story about a maverick archaeologist and a "djinee"; Cory Skerry's "Sinking Among Lilies" (April 5), about a monster slayer come to a town victimized by "anathema", but harboring a still darker secret; and Amanda Olson's "Virtue's Ghost" (July 26), in which people must where pendants that enforce a particular "virtue", such as, in this story, a woman with a beautiful voice having the "virtue" of silence. Other strong work came from Parks again, from Mike Allen, from Alec Austin, from David D. Levine, from Christie Yant, from Jack Nicholls, from Grace Seybold, from Kenneth Schneyer, and from Yoon Ha Lee.

This year I thought five stories were SF (9%), and 27 were by women, or 49%.

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We are still waiting on permissions from two writers. So, pending those two stories, since I've been chomping at the bit to post this TOC, here's the rest of the book. The order is alphabetical by place of original publication, by the way. And the wonky formatting is from pasting from a spreadsheet -- No idea why I can't fix the line spacing at the beginning, or the weird fontedness.

Linda Nagata, Nahiku West
Joe Pitkin, A Murmuration of Starlings
Sandra McDonald, The Black Feminist's Guide to Science Fiction Film Editing
Gord Sellar, The Bernoulli War

Elizabeth Bear, In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns
Emily Gilman, The Castle That Jack Built
Nina Allan, Sunshine
Aliette de Bodard, Scattered Along the River of Heaven
Xia Jia, A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight
Robert Reed, Prayer
Sofia Samatar, Honey Bear
Christopher Rowe, The Contrary Gardener
Aliette de Bodard, Heaven Under Earth
Naomi Kritzer, Scrap Dragon
Michael Blumlein, Twenty-Two and you
Maria Dahvana Headley, Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream
Genevieve Valentine, The Gravedigger of Konstan Spring
Robert Charles Wilson, Fireborn
Leonard Richardson, Four Kinds of Cargo
K.M. Ferebee, The Keats Variation
Kate Bachus, Things Greater Than Love
Jay Lake, The Weight of History, The Lightness of the Future
Nick Mamatas , Arbeitskraft
Ursula K. Le Guin, Elementals
Meghan McCarron, Swift, Brutal Retaliation
Marissa K. Lingen, Uncle Flower's Homecoming Waltz
Tamsyn Muir, The Magician's Apprentice
Margaret Ronald, The Governess and the Lobster
Caroline Yoachim, The Philosophy of Ships
Kelly Link, Two Houses
Lavie Tidhar, Under the Eaves
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Summary: F&SF, 2012

F&SF published 62 stories in 2012, with as usual a story reprinted from a near-simultaneous collection. 3 stories were novellas, 28 were novelets, and 31 were short-stories (three short-shorts). The fiction total was just under 500,000 words, in line with F&SF's usual numbers.

Novellas

The top novella this year was a Great Ship story by Robert Reed, "Katabasis" (November-December), about a woman acting as a sort of tour guide across a deadly environment within the ship, and also her backstory on her unusual native planet. The other two novellas were fine work, from Kate Wilhelm and Fred Chappell.

Novelets

The clear standout novelet for me at F&SF was "Twenty-two and You", by Michael Blumlein (March-April), which is An excellent piece of pure science fiction examining the unexpected consequences of modest genetic fixes. Other novelets I liked this year included "Jack Shade in the Forest of Souls", by Rachel Pollack (July-August), about a "ghost hunter" of sorts, hired by a man to understand why his wife's ghost is haunting him; "The Color Least Used in Nature", by Ted Kosmatka (January-February), dark and powerful story of a boat builder in a South Pacific island; a pair from Naomi Kritzer: "Liberty's Daughter" (May-June) and "High Stakes" (November-December), both about a teenaged girl living in a radically libertarian enclave at sea; "Troll Blood", by Peter Dickinson (September-October), about a Norwegian woman who discovers something about her unusual ancestry; "Electrica", by Sean McMullen (March-April), about an eccentric scientist in the early 19th Century encoutering a strange being while doing electrical research; and "Small Towns", by Felicity Shoulders (January-February), about a very small woman in a very very small town. There was more good work from the late Michael Alexander, from Andy Duncan, from Peter S. Beagle, from Matthew Hughes, and from Ken Liu.

Short Stories

Of the short stories, I really liked Naomi Kritzer's "Scrap Dragon" (January-February), sort of a post-modernish and subversive take on the old "Prince kills dragon" story; and also Steven Popkes' "Breathe" (November-December), a sharp moral exercise about a family of sort of "health vampires". Other good stories included two from July-August: Jeffrey Ford's "The Natural History of Autumn", in which what firsts seems a brief romance between a man and a prostiture twists darkly a couple of times, and Eleanor Arnason's "The Woman Who Fooled Death Five Times", a wry Hwarhath folk tale. From March-April I liked an enjoyable cynical examination of an attempt to bring the dying Mozart forward in time from Robert Walton and Barry Malzberg: "The Men Who Murdered Mozart". Other good short stories came from Ken Liu again, Lewis Shiner, Steven Utley, Robert Reed, Matthew Corradi, Andy Stewart, Michaele Jordan, and Alter S. Reiss.


Stats

Of the 62 pieces of short fiction, 13 are by women, about 21%. I also estimate that perhaps 34 of the 62 stories are SF, which is 55%, not unusual for the magazine, which tends to be pretty close to 50/50 SF/Fantasy.

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Summary: Strange Horizons, 2012

Strange Horizons is one of the longest-running and one of the best webzines going. They made additional changes in 2012, after many changes in 2011 -- this year, there are three new fiction editors: Brit Mandelo, Julia Rios, and An Owomoyela. Niall Harrison is Chief Editor.

I counted just about 142,000 words of new fiction this year, about the same as last year, including two bonus stories issued in response to contributions during their annual fund drive. There were a total of 32 stories, four of them novelettes, five short-shorts.

My favorite four stories of the year were "Things Greater Than Love", by Kate Bachus (March 19), a moving story of mountain climbing with aliens; "The Keats Variation", by K. M. Ferebee (June 4-11), a powerful and austere ghost story; "The Grinnell Method", by Molly Gloss (September 3-10), a beautifully written story of a woman making her way as a scientist (an ornithologist) in the Pacific Northwest decades ago; and "Four Kinds of Cargo", by Leonard Richardson (5 November), a funny and also quite moving story of a spaceship run by an alien Captain obsessed with entertainment products she doesn't even understand.

Other strong stories included "Beside Calais" by Samantha Henderson (March 21), "America Thief" by Alter S. Reiss (December 3-10), "The Fourth Exam", by Dorothy Yarros (October 10), and "Wings", by Amal El-Mohtar (December 17). There was also fine work from Albert Yanex, Nghi Vo, Benjamin Rosenbaum, and Ken Liu.

I make the totals 20 SF stories of 32 pieces, at 62.5% rather more than most recent years.. Also, 10 of the stories were by men, so 31%, 69% by women, fairly normal for Strange Horizons, perhaps a bit more tilted in favor of women than in the past.

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The Locus All Centuries Poll -- best SF/Fantasy novels and short fiction of the 20th and 21st centuries (separately) is ending just about now. Here's my votes (note that they change over time, and the order is random, and there are stories I missed!)

20th Century SF Novel:
1: The Book of the new Sun, Gene Wolfe

2: Nova, Samuel R. Delanny

3: The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester

4: The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin

5: A Deepness in the Sky, Vernor Vinge

6: Engine Summer, John Crowley

7: Sarah Canary, Karen Joy Fowler

8: Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys

9: Use of Weapons, Iain M. Banks

10: Pavane, Keith Roberts

20th Century Fantasy Novel:
1: The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov

2: One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

3: The Anubis Gates, Tim Powers

4: The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien

5: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon

6: The Lost Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle

7: The Princess Bride, William Goldman

8: Winter Rose, Patricia McKillip

9: Peace, Gene Wolfe

10: Lud-in-the-Mist, Hope Mirrlees

20th Century Novella:
1: "Story of Your Life", Ted Chiang

2: "Great Work of Time", John Crowley

3: "Green Mars", Kim Stanley Robinson

4: "The Blabber", Vernor Vinge

5: "Seven American Nights", Gene Wolfe

6: "The Star Pit", Samuel R. Delany

7: "The Last of the Winnebagos", Connie Willis

8: "E for Effort", T. L. Sherred

9: "The Originist", Orson Scott Card

10: "The Gold at the Starbow's End", Frederik Pohl

20th Century Novelette:
1: "Wang's Carpets", Greg Egan

2: "Fondly Fahrenheit", Alfred Bester

3: "The Second Inquisition", Joanna Russ

4: "The Sources of the Nile", Avram Davidson

5: "A Rose for Ecclesiastes", Roger Zelazny

6: "Starfog", Poul Anderson

7: "An Infinite Summer", Christopher Priest

8: "Nine Lives", Ursula K. Le Guin

9: "The Stars Below", Ursula K. Le Guin

10: "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius", Jorge Luis Borges

20th Century Short Story:
1: "Out of All Them Bright Stars", Nancy Kress

2: "The Man Who Lost the Sea", Theodore Sturgeon

3: "The Milk of Paradise", James Tiptree, Jr.

4: "Nobody's Home", Joanna Russ

5: "Light of Other Days", Bob Shaw

6: "Day Million", Frederik Pohl

7: "New Rose Hotel", William Gibson

8: "The Last Flight of Dr. Ain", James Tiptree, Jr.

9: "The Man Who Came Early", Poul Anderson

10: "Schwartz Between the Galaxies", Robert Silverberg

21st Century SF Novel:
1: Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell

2: The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Michael Chabon

3: The Sky So Big and Black, John Barnes

4: Spin, Robert Charles Wilson

5: Ares Express, Ian McDonald

21st Century Fantasy Novel:
1: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Susannah Clarke

2: Lavinia, Ursula K. Le Guin

3: The Light Ages, Ian R. MacLeod

4: The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss

5: The City and the City, China Mieville

21st Century Novella:
1: "New Light on the Drake Equation", Ian R. MacLeod

2: "Magic for Beginners", Kelly Link

3: "A Billion Eves", Robert Reed

4: "The Engines of Desire", William Barton

5: "The Tear", Ian McDonald

21st Century Novelette:
1: "The Voluntary State", Christopher Rowe

2: "The People of Sand and Slag", Paolo Bacigalupi

3: "Lull", Kelly Link

4: "The Path of the Transgressor", by Tom Purdom

5: "Finisterra", by David Moles

21st Century Short Story:
1: "The House Beyond Your Sky", Benjamin Rosenbaum

2: "Three Days of Rain", Holly Phillips

3: "Pip and the Fairies", Theodora Goss

4: "More Adventures on Other Planets", Michael Cassutt

5: "Exhalation", Ted Chiang
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Summary: Analog, 2012

Analog published 68 pieces of short fiction in 2012, plus one four-part serial. There were 7 novellas, 23  novelettes, and 38 short-stories, 5 of the latter being short-shorts (four of those Probability Zero pieces). This was about 657,000 words of fiction, rather more last year and not untypical for Analog. About 557,000 words of this was short fiction.

On balance, this year, Stanley Schmidt's last full year at the helm, was a good year, one of Analog's best in some time.

Novellas

The best novella this year was probably "The Moon Belongs to Everyone", by Michael Alexander and K. C. Ball (December), a murder mystery/labor relations piece about work on the Moon in an alternate history. Just about as good was "The Conquest of the Air", by Rob Chilson, about aliens who live underwater mounting an expedition to dry land, where they encounter humans. Other fine novellas included "Nightfall on the Peak of Eternal Light" (one of two stories this year about that location!) by Richard A. Lovett and William Gleason, "The End of Ordinary Life" by Daniel Hatch, and "Project Herakles" by Stephen Baxter.

Novelettes

My favorite novelette at Analog was "Nahiku West", by Linda Nagata (October), also a crime story (lots of those at Analog, it seems), about a policeman on a space habitat, charged with enforcing rather draconian genetic purity laws. Other good ones included "Ninety Thousand Horses", by Sean McMullen (January-February), a steampunk-flavored alt hist story about a really early English rocket project; "The Journeyman: On the Short Grass Prairie", by Michael F. Flynn (October), about humans on a long-colonized planet discovering a mysterious object; and "Siege Perilous", by Daniel Hatch (November), about an attack on a space habitat that is developing significant AI-related tech. There were also fine novelettes from Alec Nevala-Lee, Susan Forest and Sarah K. Castle.

Short Stories

Best of the year at Analog was Joe Pitikin's "A Murmuration of Starlings" (June), about plague caused by unusual-acting starlings. I also enjoyed, from the same issue, Emily Mah's YA-oriented "Darwin's Gambit", a space adventure story set on a journey to Ganymede. Howard V. Hendrix's "Red Rover, Red Rover" (July-August) is also very strong, about a man on Mars and his enhanced dog. Other good work came from Jerry Oltion, Catherine Shaffer, N. M. Cedeno*, and Steven Utley.

Statistics Corner

Gender Balance: 14.5 of 67 stories were by women. (For one author, N. M. Cedeno, I have no idea of the gender)That's almost 22%, by far the highest percentage I've seen at the magazine. As usual for Analog, all the stories were SF.

(*the n in Cedeno should have a tilde, but I don't know how to do that!)

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