A Reading List

Jonathan Strahan’s Best SF and Fantasy of the Year, vol 3 (via, annotated for venue of first publication and online availability):

Exhalation – Ted Chiang (Eclipse 2)
Shoggoths in Bloom – Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s, March; online)
Uncle Chaim and Aunt Rifke and the Angel – Peter S. Beagle (Strange Roads)
Fixing Hanover – Jeff VanderMeer (Extraordinary Engines)
The Gambler – Paolo Bacigalupi (Fast Forward 2; online)
The Dust Assassin – Ian McDonald (The Starry Rift)
Virgin – Holly Black (Magic in the Mirrorstone)
Pride and Prometheus – John Kessel (F&SF, Jan; online in this collection)
The Thought War – Paul McAuley (Postscripts 15)
Beyond the Sea Gates of the Scholar Pirates of Sarskoe – Garth Nix (Fast Ships, Black Sails)
The Small Door – Holly Phillips (Fantasy Magazine, July; online)
Turing’s Apples – Stephen Baxter (Eclipse 2)
The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates – Stephen King (F&SF Oct-Nov)
Five Thrillers – Robert Reed (F&SF, April)
The Magician’s House – Meghan McCarron (Strange Horizons, July; online)
Goblin Music – Joan Aiken (The Serial Garden)
Machine Maid – Margo Lanagan (Extraordinary Engines)
The Art of Alchemy – Ted Kosmatka (F&SF, June)
26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss – Kij Johnson (Asimov’s, July 2008; online)
Marrying the Sun – Rachel Swirsky (Fantasy Magazine, June; online)
Crystal Nights – Greg Egan (Interzone 215)
His Master’s Voice – Hannu Rajaniemi (Interzone 218)
Special Economics – Maureen McHugh (The Del Rey Book of SFF)
Evidence of Love in a Case of Abandonment – M Rickert (F&SF Oct-Nov)
From Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled… – Michael Swanwick (Asimov’s, Feb)
If Angels Fight – Rick Bowes (F&SF, Feb)
The Doom of Love in Small Spaces – Ken Scholes (Realms of Fantasy, April)
Pretty Monsters – Kelly Link (Pretty Monsters)

So let’s see: that’s 29 28 stories, of which 14 (50%) are from non-magazine sources. Is that the highest proportion yet for a year’s best? Of those that are from magazines, the clear leader is F&SF with 6 — twice as many stories as its nearest rival, Asimov’s, and a fifth of the entire book. Three stories were first published online, and an additional four are already available online. Given that, of the seven stories on this list I’ve read so far, the only one I question the inclusion of is the King (I’m not as bowled over by “His Master’s Voice” as some, but it’s certainly ambitious), and three are already on my planned Hugo ballot, I will be tracking down as many of the others as I can before nomination time rolls around. Two further notes: 10 11 stories are by women, or 34%, about the same as 39%, slightly up from the two other volumes in this series; and I could be wrong, but I don’t think any of these stories are novellas. Is that the case? And if so, has it just been a weak year for novellas? [I am wrong; “Five Thrillers” and “Pretty Monsters” are novellas.]

The First of Many

Best of the year lists, that is. Publisher’s Weekly says the best genre books of 2008 are

The Living Dead edited by John Joseph Adams (Night Shade)
Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade)
Ink and Steel by Elizabeth Bear (Roc)
City at the End of Time by Greg Bear (Del Rey)
Fallen by Tim Lebbon (Bantam Spectra)
Filter House by Nisi Shawl (Aqueduct)
Half a Crown by Jo Walton (Tor)

— which if nothing else means that someone at PW (a) finished and (b) liked City at the End of Time, which is rather better than most of the people I know who’ve tried it have managed. (EDIT: see also.) To be fair, I do think Bacigalupi’s collection is excellent, and I want to read both the E. Bear and the Walton (although in both cases I need to find time to fit in the rest of the relevant series) … but from this UK perspective, where the G. Bear and the Lebbon are the only ones in print, it’s a list that looks a bit, well, remote.

Anyway: I am now at that stage of the year’s reading in which I face up to the fact that there are many more 2008 books left that I would like to read before January 1 than I will realistically have time to read, and thus start triaging like mad. Anyone got any suggestions for books I absolutely must not miss?