Best SF

Welcome to Best SF – now in its second decade reviewing short SF.

I’ve been reading SF since 1969, when I was 9 years old and began reading the Hugh Walters children’s books (‘Mission to Mercury’, ‘Voyage to Venus’, etc). I progressed through Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom books, Asimov, and whatever I could lay my hands on in the local library (which I ended up working in for a year). There weren’t many bookshops in the colonial outpost that was British West Hartlepool at the time – two stationery shops with a single shelf of SF books was all I had to spend my small amount of pocket money on. I still have the first book I bought from there in about 1973 – a Panther edition of Asimov’s ‘The Martian Way’.

There was a slightly fallow patch for reading SF whilst at university (sex, drugs and rock and roll) in the late 70s/early 80s. In the late 80s I picked up a copy of one of the British editions of one of the first volumes of the Gardner Dozois annual anthologies, and got bitten by the short story bug. Aided by working at the time in central London, with a couple of excellent (and now sadly departed) SF bookshops accessible in my lunch hour, I started collecting the many series of Year’s Best SF anthologies from various editors, and also set up a database to store notes about the stories I was reading.

I launched Best SF on April 16th 2000 as www.bestsf.fsnet.co.uk and got the BestSF.net domain a little later. The site was manually hand-tooled in HTML in notepad for many years, until I migrated the site to WordPress in 2010. I now review stories individually as I read them, rather than reading an issue and reviewing it as a whole. But I do put together a review of the whole magazine or anthology once I’ve reviewed all the stories in it.

mwI aim to get a new review on the site several days of the week, but don’t always succeed. Over 10hrs a week commuting on the train in the 1990s allowed me do a lot of reading, but I don’t do that any more and my SF reading and reviewing has to vie for my spare time with things like cycling, helping my wife with her website Essex Days Out, my other hobby website Essex Real Ale, walking the dog, gardening and running an allotment. And then there’s ‘the day jobbe’ : www.careknowledge.com! I’m not sure whether this range of interests makes be a renaissance man, or a dilettante!

The best way to find material on the site is through using the search box to look for something specific, or use the Categories listing in the right-hand column to browse. The Year’s Best, Nebulas, and Hugo categories go back many, many years! You can sign up to regular email updates, or even an email update after each new review appears!

Mark Watson

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