ecbatan (ecbatan) wrote,

Summary: F&SF, 2010

Summary: F&SF, 2010

F&SF published 65 stories in 2010, all but one of them new (and that other a reprint from a slightly out of the way online source in 2010). 3 stories were novellas, 25 were novelets, and 37 were short-stories (three of these short-shorts). The fiction came almost 500,000 words, somewhat less than in previous years.


Two of the novellas are outstanding stories, clearly Hugo candidates in my view. "Ghosts Doing the Orange Dance", by Paul Park from the January/February issue. The story, subtitled "The Parke Family Scrapbook Number IV", is more metafiction from perhaps our best writer of metafiction -- and it's also subtle near future SF, about the dreams of an aging novelist and about his family history. Robert Reed's "Dead Man's Run" (November/December) is also fine near future SF, as well as being a solid mystery story, and a good sports story, about the murder of the sort of leader of a group of running friends. The other novella is "Orfy", by Richard Chwedyk, from September/October, one of his popular Saur stories, and while enjoyable enough it is a bit too sentimental for my tastes.


Novelets I liked this year included Charles Oberndorf’s "Writers of the Future" (January/February). a nice story about a couple of writers in a future in which AIs rule a tiny remainder of the human race, confined to artificial worlds in Mars’s orbit; another Falco story from Fred Chappell, "Thief of Shadows" (May-June), an origin story of sorts, beginning with Falco coming to Master Astolfo, followed by a somewhat later mystery, in which Astolfo is hired to authenticate a shadow purportedly belonging to a fearsome pirate; and also from May-June, "The Crocodiles", by Steven Popkes, a Nazi zombie story, told in first person by a German engineer who tells us, with some near glee, of the efforts the Nazis go through to weaponize their "Tote Manner", using, of course, the ready supply of subjects from Buchenwald, then Auschwitz, for their trials. His deadpan lack of morality is almost funny, though the end results are anything but. And finally Alexandra Duncan's "Amor Fugit" (March-April), beautifully written, and bittersweet, about a daughter of Day and Night falling in love with a human.

Other fine work came from Aaron Schutz, Dale Bailey, Duncan again, Alexander Jablokov, and Albert E. Cowdrey.

Short Stories

As to the shorter stories, I enjoyed James L. Cambias's "How Seosiris Lost the Favor of the King" (October/November), about a magician for the son of Ramesses the Great, whose influence is superseded by a foreigner, but who even after banishment remains sufficiently loyal to his king to protect him from the foreigner’s schemes; and from July-August Ian R. MacLeod's "Recrossing the Styx", set on a grand cruise ship, that caters to the very rich, and particularly to one subset of the very rich: the dead. That is, the dead but revived : zombies, in a science-fictional sense. A nicely twisty story. I also enjoyed a couple of comic pieces from Ramsey Shehadeh: "Epidapheles and the Insufficiently Affectionate Ocelot" (March-April) and "Epidapheles and the Inadequately Enraged Demon" (July-August), about a ridiculously incompetent magician and his long-suffering chair.

Other nice pieces came from John Kessel, Michael Swanwick, Michael Alexander, Kate Wilhelm, and Elizabeth Bourne.


Of the 65 pieces of new short fiction, 9 are by women, about 14%, a lower proportion than usual. I also estimate that 28 of 65 stories are SF, which is 43%. a bit below the magazine's more normal 50% total. (But all the novellas, the longest stories, are SF by my estimation.)

Tags: magazines, yearly summaries

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