I read various issues of 36 print magazines, 29 electronic sources, 50 original anthologies, 14 story collections with original pieces, 12 single story chapbooks, and a few other miscellaneous spots. These places included (that I read) a total of 2325 stories: 69 novellas, 434 novelettes, and 1823 short stories (240 of those short-shorts). Those numbers are mostly in the same ballpark as last year – novelettes a bit higher, short-shorts somewhat lower – so that the word count total is a record for me, a bit over 13.5 million.
I may have misidentified a few authors, but I counted 952 stories by women, or 41%, a significant increase from last year’s percentage, about 36%.
And I counted 994 science fiction stories, the rest being fantasy (or horror or slipstream or mainstream). That's almost 43%, slightly up from 2007.
Best of the Year
Here I will simply list the contents of the three books I plan to publish this year: the Science Fiction: The Best of the Year 2009 Edition, Fantasy: The Best of the Year 2009 Edition, and also a new best of the year drawn entirely from online sources: Unplugged. 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: The Best of the Year, 2009
Elizabeth Bear, "Shoggoths in Bloom" (Asimov's, March)
Daryl Gregory, "Glass" (MIT Technology Review, November/December)
Ted Kosmatka, "The Art of Alchemy" (F&SF, June)
Margo Lanagan, "The Fifth Star in the Southern Cross" (Dreaming Again)
Robert Reed, "Character Flu" (F&SF, June)
Rivka Galchen, "The Region of Unlikeness" (The New Yorker, March 17)
James Alan Gardner, "The Ray-Gun: A Love Story" (Asimov's, February)
Will McIntosh, "The Fantasy Jumper" (Black Static, February)
James L. Cambias, "Balancing Accounts" (F&SF, February)
Charlie Anders, "Suicide Drive" (Helix #7, January)
Peter Watts, "The Eyes of God" (The Solaris Book of New SF, Volume 2)
Beth Bernobich, "The Golden Octopus" (Postscripts, Summer))
Jeff VanderMeer, "Fixing Hanover" (Extraordinary Engines)
Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette, "Boojum" (Fast Ships, Black Sails)
Paul Cornell, "Catherine Drewe" (Fast Forward 2)
Mary Robinette Kowal, "Evil Robot Monkey (The Solaris Book of New SF, Volume 2)
Garth Nix, "Infestation" (The Starry Rift)
Ian McDonald, "The Tear" (Galactic Empires)
Fantasy: The Best of the Year, 2009
Kij Johnson, "26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss" (Asimov's, July)
Naomi Novik, "Araminta, or, The Wreck of the Amphidrake" (Fast Ships, Black Sails)
Eugene Mirabelli, "Falling Angel" (F&SF, December)
Meghan McCarron, "The Magician's House" (Strange Horizons, July 14-21)
Karen Heuler, "The Difficulties of Evolution" (Weird Tales, July/August)
Jay Lake, "A Water Matter" (Tor.com)
Liz Williams, "Spiderhorse" (Realms of Fantasy, August)
Alex Jeffers, "Firooz and His Brother" (F&SF, May)
Ann Leckie, "The God of Au" (Helix #8, Spring)
James Maxey, "Silent as Dust" (Intergalactic Medicine Show #7, January)
Erik Amundsen, "Blue Vervain Murder Ballad #2: Jack of Diamonds" (Not One of Us, October)
Delia Sherman, "Gift from a Spring" (Realms of Fantasy, April)
Christopher Golden, "The Hiss of Escaping Air" (PS Publishing)
Peter S. Beagle, "King Pelles the Sure" (Strange Roads)
Alice Sola Kim, "We Love Deena" (Strange Horizons, February 11)
Jeffrey Ford, "Daltharee" (The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy)
Patrick Rothfuss, "The Road to Levinshir" (Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy)
Holly Phillips, "The Small Door" (Fantasy, May)
Richard Bowes, "If Angels Fight" (F&SF, February)
Beth Bernobich, "Air and Angels" (Subterranean, Spring)
Mercurio D. Rivera, "Snatch Me Another" (Abyss and Apex, First Quarter)
Nancy Kress, "First Rites" (Baen's Universe, October)
Tina Connolly, "The Bitrunners" (Helix, Summer)
Rebecce Epstein, "When We Were Stardust" (Fantasy, February)
Jason Stoddard, "Willpower" (Futurismic, December)
Peter S. Beagle, "The Tale of Junko and Sayiri" (Intergalactic Medicine Show, July)
David Dumitru, "Little Moon, Too, Goes Round" (Aeon Thirteen)
Hal Duncan, "The Behold of the Eye" (Lone Star, August)
Will McIntosh, "Linkworlds" (Strange Horizons, March 17-24)
Merrie Haskell, "The Girl-Prince" (Coyote Wild, August)
Brendan DuBois, "Not Enough Stars in the Night" (Cosmos)
Catherynne M. Valente, "A Buyer's Guide to Maps of Antarctica" (Clarkesworld, May)
Cory Doctorow, "The Things that Make Me Weak and Strange Get Engineered Away" (Tor.com)
I also assembled a prospective volume of Best Short Novels, to include stories of about 15,000 words and up, that didn’t make it into any of my other books. I love stories of this length, but they are often hard to place to begin with, and it’s hard to reprint too many of them in a single book and leave room for all the great shorter stories. It’s worth noting that the book comes to almost 250,000 words – and that’s without including such excellent long stories I’m already reprinting as “The Tear” and “First Rites” and “The Things That Make Me Weak and Strange Get Engineered Away”. So its chances of actually seeing print in this form would be really dim! Anyway here’s what I came up with:
Best Short Novels, 2009 Edition (prospective – not to be published):
Peter S. Beagle, "Uncle Chaim and Aunt Rifke and the Angel" (Strange Roads)
John Kessel, "Pride and Prometheus" (F&SF, January)
Kelly Link, “The Surfer” (The Starry Rift)
Ian R. MacLeod, "The Hob Carpet" (Asimov's, June)
Todd McAulty, "The Soldiers of Serenity" (Black Gate, Spring)
Dean McLaughlin, "Tenbrook of Mars" (Analog, July-August)
Holly Messinger, "End of the Line" (Baen's Universe, February)
Robert Reed, "Five Thrillers" (F&SF, April)
David J. Schwartz, “The Sun Inside” (Rabid Transit Press)
Jeremy Adam Smith, "The Wreck of the Grampus" (Lone Star, April)
Sherwood Smith, "The Rule of Engagement" (Lace and Blade)
Jason Stoddard, "Far Horizon" (Interzone, February)
The following stories were on the cusp of inclusion, but didn’t make it for contractual reasons, or because the authors already had another story in the given book, for because I had to make an agonizing choice, or because for some reason of balancing tone or length or theme I couldn’t make them fit. But they are all damn good, and I’d have been happy to reprint any of them. These are in alphabetical order by author:
William Alexander, "Ana's Tag" (Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, November)
Terry Bisson, “Private Eye” (F&SF, October-November)
Elizabeth Bear, “Overkill” (Shadow Unit)
Ted Chiang, “Exhalation” (Eclipse Two)
Hal Duncan, "The Toymaker's Grief" (Lone Star Stories, October)
Greg Egan, “Crystal Nights” (Interzone, April)
Philip Raines and Harvey Welles, “Alice and Bob” (Albedo 1, #34)
Robert Reed, “Truth” (Asimov’s, October-November)
Jessica Reisman, "Flowertongue" (Farrago's Wainscot, #6)
James Stoddard, “The First Editions” (F&SF, April)
I’ll put together a fuller recommended reading last at a later time.
Hugo Nomination thoughts, short fiction.
My novella list had two certainties:
IanMcDonald’s “The Tear”,
Dean McLaughlin’s “Tenbrook of Mars”.
The other stories I considered were Link’s “The Surfer”, Schwartz’s “The Sun Inside”, Bear’s “Overkill”, Reed’s “Truth” and MacLeod’s “The Hob Carpet”.
For novelette I had as usual a wide array of choices. I ended up with four sure things:
Richard Bowes’s “If Angels Fight”,
Elizabeth Bear’s “Shoggoths in Bloom”,
Ted Kosmatka’s “The Art of Alchemy”,
Beth Bernobich’s “The Golden Octopus”.
For the fifth spot I wavered between Robert Reed’s “Five Thrillers”, Meghan McCarron’s “The Magician’s House”, and James Alan Gardner’s “The Ray-Gun: A Love Story”.
And for short story, I nominated:
Kij Johnson’s “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss”,
Ted Chiang’s “Exhalation,
Margo Lanagan’s “The Fifth Star in the Southern Cross”,
Peter Watts’s “The Eyes of God”.
Rivka Galchen’s “The Region of Unlikeness”.
Almosts include Reed’s “Character Flu”, Valente’s “A Buyer’s Guide to Maps of Antarctica”, Phillips’s “The Small Door”, and Cambias’s “Balancing Accounts”.