About Best SF

Welcome to Best SF – reviewing SF short stories since April 16th 2000.

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) and a condensed children’s version of ‘A Princess of Mars’. I progressed through all the ERB Barsoom and Venus books, Isaac Asimov, John Wyndham, Edmund Cooper, the James Blish edtions of stories from ‘Star Trek’ episodes, and whatever I could lay my hands on in Hartlepool Central Library (which I ended up working in for a year after leaving school). Pride of place on my bookshelves now is the ‘original’ collection of about 100 paperbacks I bought.

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.

mwThe Big News of 2016 is that I’ve happily taken a redundancy option from the Day Jobbe, in what amounts to a form of early retirement, but rather than spending hours each day in a chair catching up on my SF reading backlog, I’ve been and gone and set up a nano-brewery (Watsons Brewery). This means that my reading and reviewing SF has to vie with this, alongside running another website (Essex Days Out), cycling, walking the dog, gardening, running an allotment, and any number of other things (does this make me a Renaissance Man, or 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