ecbatan (ecbatan) wrote,

Summary: F&SF, 2011

Summary: F&SF, 2011

F&SF published 62 stories in 2011, two of which were reprints (one of the longest, and the shortest). (Another was technically a reprint but from a 2011 story collection, so I list it as new. Indeed, that story and one other were actually written long ago, by since-deceased writers.) 5 stories were novellas, 19 were novelets, and 38 were short-stories (one a reprint short-shorts). The fiction total was about 504,000 words, about 476,000 of which were new.


I thought there were three standout novellas this year. "Rampion", by Alexandra Duncan (May/June), is one of a mini-spate of stories that I saw this year derived from a certain fairy tale. (There was another mini-spate from "Jack and the Beanstalk".) It's also a romantic/tragic story of an inter-religious love affair in Umayyid Caliphate (Spain in the time of the Moors). "The Ice Owl" (November/December), by Carolyn Ives Gilman, which is also partly a "retelling" of sorts, but this time of a real-world horror: the Rwandan genocide. It's told by a girl living with her mother on one of a set of human-colonized planets in the same future as her novel Halfway Human. The girl ends up being tutored by a mysterious older man who, it turns out, came from the planet Gmintagad, where, decades before, something called the "Gmintan Holocide" occurred. Of course her tutor turns out to have a sad connection to that horrible event ...  My third favorite story was Robert Reed's "The Ants of Flanders" (July/August) (and pushed to rank them in order it would be the Duncan first, the Gilman second, and the Reed third), a strange story of a strange alien invasion, told from the POV (mostly) of a high-school boy who ends up playing a key role.

Also quite enjoyable was the reprinted novella, "Quartet and Triptych" (November/December), a Luff Imbry story by Matthew Hughes.


Novelets I liked this year included two from January/February: Kate Wilhem's "The Bird Cage" and Matthew Corradi's "The Ghiling Blade", the first a dark tale of research into human hibernation that goes wrong, the second a story of a fisherman from an oppressed race on a fantasy world and his long attempt to recover the title object. From July/August, I enjoyed KJ Kabza's "The Ramshead Algorithm" and Peter David's "Bronsky's Dates With Death". Kabza's story is about a supposed dissolute playboy who is really a hero in the multiverse -- though this story is more about him resolving family issues back on Earth. David's is an amusing but serious story of a man who annoys Death so much he won't take him. From September/October, Geoff Ryman's "What We Found", a near future story about a Nigerian man who becomes a significant biologist, and his supposedly more brilliant brother who fails.

Other enjoyable novelets came from Albert E. Cowdrey, Wilhelm again, Francis Marion Soty, James L. Cambias, Chris DeVito, and Pat McEwen.

Short Stories

Of the short stories, my favorite was "Canterbury Hollow", by Chris Lawson (January/February), about humans surviving on a barren planet, who limit their numbers by a lottery system. I also very much liked "Botanical Exercises for Curious Girls" (March/April), by Kali Wallace, about a girl brought up in near-seclusion inside a Professor's house. And from May/June, "Signs of Life", by Carter Scholz, about a struggling doctoral student ("ABD") who has let his life stall -- and who then stumbles across a potentially remarkable discovery. Peter Beagle's "The Way It Works Out and All" is an hommage to Avram Davidson, with Davidson as a major character -- delightful and yet a bit dark. And "The Klepsydra", by Michaela Roessner (November/December) is a nice tale of a linguist investigating the Greek word "clepsydra" who learns something spooky about a strange ancient creature. (Though Lois Tilton, who knows her classic languages, objected to aspects of the Greek in the story.)

I also liked pieces from M. Rickert, Ken Liu, James Patrick Kelly, Alan Dean Foster, and Joan Aiken.


Of the 60 pieces of new short fiction, 14 are by women, about 23%. I also estimate that 30 of the 60 stories are SF, which is a pretty usual 50/50 split for the magazine.
Tags: 2011, magazines, yearly summaries
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