In recent years (see menu to left) I’ve bemoaned the tendency for this annual volume to overdo the non-fiction at the expense of the fiction. Well, huzzah, this year’s volume, now published by Tor, is chock-full of fiction. And to make matters easier for the fiction-phile, it’s all in the correct order!
The volume starts with the six short stories nominated for Best Short Story, finishing with the deserved winner. First up is Saladin Ahmed’s “Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela” (originally in : Clockwork Phoenix 2), which I’ve yet to read.
Michael A. Burstein’s “I Remember the Future” (originally in : I Remember the Future), which I’ve yet to read.
N.K.Jemisin’s ‘Non-Zero Possibilities” (originally in : Clarkesworld, November 2009) – I liked this when I listed to it a while back – a ‘neat urban fantasy’ – [ full review here ].
James Patrick Kelly’s “Going Deep” (originally in : Asimov’s, June 2009) – when I read it I noted “Kelly handles the story carefully – just the right length, and some neat touches, handling everything deftly and with just the right tone.” – [ full review here ]
Will McIntosh’s “Bridesicle” (originally in Asimov’s, January 2009) – I noted “.. a clever conceit, handled well.” [ full review ]
Kij Johnson’s ‘Spar’ (originally in : Clarkesworld, October 2009) was the Nebula Award Winner, Short Story. I noted that it was intense and emotionally draining when I first listened to it – [ full review here ]
The volume then marks the SFWA Author Emeritus award, which went to Neal Barrett Jr., by way of a commendation by Joe R. Lansdale, and a reprint of his ‘Getting Dark’.
The Best Novelette category then has several excellent stories, starting with Paolo Bacigalupi’s “The Gambler” (Originally in : Fast Forward 2). I read it a couple of years ago, but don’t have strong memories of it, and certainly didn’t single it out for particular praise – [ full review here ]
Michael Bishop’s “Vinegar Peace (or, the Wrong-Way, Used-Adult Orphanage) (Originally in : Asimov’s July 2008). I noted it was ‘bleak’ and ‘unsettling’ – [ full review here ].
Richard Bowes’ “I Needs Must Part, the Policeman Said” (Originally in : Fantasy & Science Fiction, December 2009). I noted it was a ‘strong story’, one of several interlinked stories from him due to be (if not already) fixed-up as a novel – [ full review here ].
Ted Kosmatka’s “Divining Light” (Originally in : Asimov’s, August 2008). I noted it was ‘Scientist fiction – but good scientist fiction’, and intriguing – [ full review here ]
Rachel Swirsky’s “A Memory of Wind” (Originally online : Tor.com). I’ve not read it yet – but it’s still online.
Eugie Foster’s “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mark, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” (Originally in : Interzone, February 2009) was winner in the Best Novelette. I noted it was a ‘classy fantasy’ when I first read it – [ full review here ].
The next section praises tribute to the SFWA Damon Knight Grand Master Joe Haldeman, who has a tribute from Connie Willis, and a reprint of “A !Tangled Web”.
Unless the volume in hand was to reach the size of the annual Dozois anthology, space limitations mean that only the winner of the Best Novella was included. That honour fell to Kage Baker’s “The Women of Nell Gwynne’s”), originally published as a chapbook by Subterranean Press. Evidently a steampunk tale.
Not included in this volume, the other nominees were Carolyn Ives Gilman’s “Arkfall” (Originally in : Fantasy & Science Fiction, September 2009); Nancy Kress’ “Act One” (Originally in : Asimov’s, March 2009); James Morrow’s “Shambling Towards Hiroshima” (Originally published by Tachyon); Jason Sanford’s “Sublimation Angels” (Originally in : October 2009); John Scalzi’s “The God Engines” (Originally published by Subterranean).
Next up are The Rhysling Award winners, and the volume concludes with a range of commentary on the other awards handed out last year.
So, all in all, a great book – full of the fiction which the SFWA honoured, and long may the series continue (especially in this fiction+ format!)