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Jonathan
Posted on Thursday, December 04, 2003 - 02:14 pm:   

Hi guys

I mentioned this on another thread, but wanted to ask for any recommendations, so...I've just sold an anthology of the "year's best novellas" to The Science Fiction Book Club. It covers novellas - stories of 17k+ - originally published during '03, is due to be published in May 2004, and hopefully will be the first in a series.

If you've read any good novellas this year, I'd love to see your recommendations.
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Deborah
Posted on Thursday, December 04, 2003 - 04:40 pm:   

Jonathan, is that 17K firm? I know of at least three works of about 14K or a bit more that I would want to recommend...I never can keep the Official Definitions of novelette and novella staright in my mind, so if 17K is an official definition, forgive my absent-mindedness.
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Jonathan
Posted on Thursday, December 04, 2003 - 05:15 pm:   

Hi Deborah -

The major awards tend to define a novella or long story as being 17,500 words and up. Because there is a story that I really want in this book, I'm starting at 17,000, and will keep to that in the future.

The main consideration is that the book is supposed to be novellas or short novels, so I really need to stick with long stories. Still, I'd love to hear your recommendations, and will definitely check them out.

J
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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, December 04, 2003 - 06:52 pm:   

Jonathan: I'd suggest Shepard's Floater (the book that is).

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Jonathan
Posted on Thursday, December 04, 2003 - 06:59 pm:   

Hi Jeff:

Thanks for the recommendation. I loved "Floater" and I'm actively considering it, along with several others of Lucius's stories. I think "Ariel" from Asimov's, "Liar's House" from SciFiction and "Limbo" from The Dark were also outstanding. The problem with Lucius these days isn't whether you should include a story from him, but which one to use.

J
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Deborah
Posted on Thursday, December 04, 2003 - 08:54 pm:   

Jonathan,

I liked Wexler's "In Springdale Town" a whole lot. He's going to be something else. You're right about Lucius; but, you know, I liked "Jailwise" more than the ones you mentioned. Terry Bisson had a good novella at SciFiction called "Greetings" or something like that, I'll check on that later. Hmmm. That's off the top of my head. I'm sure I'll be back.

:-)

Deborah
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Thursday, December 04, 2003 - 11:27 pm:   

I thought Walter John Williams "The Green Leopard Plague" (from last months asimovs) was incredible... And I would be horribly remiss if I did not mention Tim Lebbon's "The Mannequin Man and the Plastic Bitch" which really shows his range, touching as it does on a seemingly dystopian SF premise (which morphs beautifully into a utopian one).

Can't wait to see what you come up with.
-jl
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Jonathan
Posted on Friday, December 05, 2003 - 03:27 am:   

Hey Jeremy -

I loved the Williams too, though I'm not sure if I can use it for a bunch of reasons. On the Lebbon - was that an '02 story?

J
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Jonathan
Posted on Friday, December 05, 2003 - 03:32 am:   

Hi Deborah

See that's the problem with Lucius! You can't rely on him to write a whole bunch of sucky, crap stories and one good one - he has to write a whole bunch of good ones, and then you've got to make a choice. That said, I do need to take a second look at "Jailwise". I agree with you about "In Springdale Town" - liked it a lot. And, yeah, I really liked Bisson's "Greetings" and "Dear Abbey" too. If you haven't seen it, you should check it out.

J
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Mark Gerrits
Posted on Friday, December 05, 2003 - 09:33 am:   

"Pictures from an Expedition" (F&SF) by Alex Irvine and "The Cookie Monster" (Analog) by Vernor Vinge also spring to mind. It's weird how many good stories I remembered as novellas this year turned out to be novelettes when checking back.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Friday, December 05, 2003 - 01:00 pm:   

Lebbon's collection _White and Other Tales of Ruin_ came out in January of '03 (as did the Harrison collection, and the Cady collection). "...Plastic Bitch" was original to _White..._.

-jl
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Deborah
Posted on Friday, December 05, 2003 - 01:32 pm:   

Jonathan, the other one I thought of today was Waldrop's A Better World's in Birth -- it's a trade paperback chapbooky thing from GG, but I'd call it a novella, and a good one, too. Did you see it?

Deborah
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Jonathan
Posted on Friday, December 05, 2003 - 11:26 pm:   

Mark: I liked "The Cookie Monster" a lot and may well use it. The Irvine piece is good, but I'm going to have to re-read it. I remember wondering if the idea was strong enough for the story. Appreciate the recs.

Jeremy: I'll have to check out the Lebbon story.

Deborah: I love Howard's stuff beyond reason, and have read "Better World's", but it's only 10,500 words long - way too short for my book.

Best
J
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Deborah
Posted on Saturday, December 06, 2003 - 10:08 am:   

I think I better stop trying to estimate word counts right here and now. :-)

Anyway, Jonathan, I didn't say this before, but I think this is a wonderful project and wish you all the best with it.
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Patricia Duffy
Posted on Saturday, December 06, 2003 - 12:55 pm:   

By Patricia on Saturday December 06 3:39 pm

For best novella of 2003, I recommed author Rosalind Palermo Stevenson's "Insect Dreams", a major work contained in the anthology, "Trampoline" (edited by Kelly Link, Small Beer Press). "Insect Dreams" has a lush, sensuous imagery together with a sense of depth that evokes Pre-Raphaelite sensibility- and makes the wonder and horror the characters encounter all the more piercing and haunting--

It must be read--it will stay with you--Patricia
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Ellen
Posted on Saturday, December 06, 2003 - 08:28 pm:   

Patricia,
I remember being impressed by it but I don't recall it being novella length--or sf (although I may be wrong re: the latter).
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Patricia Duffy
Posted on Sunday, December 07, 2003 - 08:56 pm:   

By Patricia on Sunday, December 07, 2003 - 11:52 pm

Ellen,
I remember reading that "Insect Dreams" was about 17,000 words. While it's true, the work doesn't fall into the 'sci-fi' category, it does straddle the boundary of 'fanatastic fiction'.
It evokes a sense of wonder.
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Jonathan
Posted on Monday, December 08, 2003 - 03:33 am:   

Hi Deborah

I understand completely about estimating word counts. I'm lousy at it, and often think stories are longer than they are. For example, the SFBC's Marvin Kaye anthology THE DRAGON QUINTET has five stories in it that are supposed to be novellas, but most of them are under 17,000 words. The only reason I have accurate counts on the stories I've mentioned is because I've been able to get electronic copies.

Thanks for the congrats and best wishes too. I'm still reading extra novellas, but have a short list of about twelve that I'm likely to pick from at the moment. I need to get down to nine stories, or about 200,000 words, and it's going to be pretty tough.

Best
J
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Ellen
Posted on Monday, December 08, 2003 - 08:47 am:   

Patricia,
It's absolutely within the borders of the fantastic but I'm not sure it's the kind of work Jonathan is looking for for this anthology (I may be wrong, of course).

Jonathan, Deborah,
I'm the world's worst counter. I grossly underestimated Peter Straub's "Mr Club and Mr. Cuff" for YBFH a few year's ago and had to cut a few other stories that I'd really wanted because of it. I have less trouble counting shorter stories than longer ones, for some reason.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, December 08, 2003 - 09:03 am:   

"I have less trouble counting shorter stories than longer ones, for some reason."

Maybe because there's not as many words...

:-)
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Ellen
Posted on Monday, December 08, 2003 - 01:57 pm:   

You laugh Lucius but that is the reason.
:-)
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, December 08, 2003 - 06:27 pm:   

Oh...okay! I thought it was gonna be like some esoteric reason....

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JV
Posted on Wednesday, December 10, 2003 - 11:05 am:   

Boy, I second all of these recommendations. I liked all of them, and like Jonathan, I feel that when it comes to Lucius it's a question of what to include rather than whether to include something.

Jeff
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Roger
Posted on Friday, January 02, 2004 - 12:16 pm:   

I just read Silverberg's Legends 2 fantasy novella anthology. The Martin and the Gaiman novellas are outstanding. Do you (and Locus) consider this a 2003 or 2004 release? (UK edition Nov 03, US edition Jan 04)
Roger
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Jonathan
Posted on Friday, January 02, 2004 - 02:36 pm:   

I consider it an '03 release, but I don't know that Locus has made an official decision. The problem, as I understand it, for using the stories in the "year's best novellas" book is that the stories are contractually embargoed from being reprinted for two years, so the earliest they could be collected is 2005. While that may seem excessive, there was a lot of money involved, so I can understand the publishers quite reasonably wanting some exclusivity.

Jonathan
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Andrew
Posted on Wednesday, January 28, 2004 - 09:52 am:   

Three novellas not mentioned above that I enjoyed a great deal: "The Albertine Notes" by Rick Moody from McSweeney's # 10, Greer Gilman's "A Crowd of Bone" from Trampoline -- though that's a fantasy -- and "The Man Who Counts" by William Barton from "scifiction" -- though that one may be slightly too short (his novella "Off on a Spaceship" from the September "Asimov's" was a hoot).

[And, of course, there's "The Red World of Polaris" by Clark Ashton Smith, first published in 2003 by Night Shade Books theirownselves. ;-) ]

I'm so happy that there'll be a year's best short novels antho again. There's just far too much long short [sic] fiction that evaporates if they don't land a rare berth in a year's best antho. But you all know this, I'm sure. :-)

-Andrew J. Breitenbach
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ellen
Posted on Wednesday, January 28, 2004 - 11:36 am:   

Hey Andrew. Thanks for mentioniong "The Man Who Counts." It is indeed a novella at 17,500 words. But Jonathan has already made his decisions, I think.
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Jonathan
Posted on Wednesday, January 28, 2004 - 03:00 pm:   

Andrew-

First, thanks for your suggestions. I really liked the Rick Moody and Greer Gilman stories, and have seriously considered them for the final line-up of the book. As to the Barton - it's a personal thing, but Barton actually published two terrific novellas in 2003 - "The Man Who Counts" and (as you mention) "Off on a Starship". I liked both of them, but have to admit to a soft spot for the Asimov's story.

Jonathan
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Andrew
Posted on Thursday, January 29, 2004 - 09:25 am:   

Jonathan,

Oh I liked "Off on a Starship" plenty (for me, the word "hoot" is a positive thing), I just preferred "The Man Who Counts". But I would be quite happy with seeing either. :-)


-Andrew
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Jonathan
Posted on Monday, February 09, 2004 - 11:09 pm:   

Hi all,

Well, the contracts are signed and the book gets delivered tonight so, as promised, the table of contents for BEST SHORT SCIENCE FICTION NOVELS: 2003, which will be published by the SFBC in May in hardcover:

"The Empress of Mars", Kage Baker
"Off on a Starship", William Barton
"Greetings", Terry Bisson
"The Swastika Bomb", John Meaney
"Jailwise", Lucius Shepard
"In Springdale Town", Robert Freeman Wexler
"The Green Leopard Plague", Walter Jon Williams
"Just Like the Ones We Used to Know", Connie Willis
"Awake in the Night", John C. Wright

It also looks like its going to have a cool Les Edwards cover. Yay.

I'd like to thank all of the authors for being involved and for being tolerant of the turn-around times etc. I'd also like to thank everyone on the Night Shade boards who have helped at various times - Lou, Ellen, Robert, Pete, Jeff and probably someone who I'll forget now and kick myself about tomorrow. I'd also like to specially thank Nick and Rich from Locus, who gave excellent advice.. Hope you guys like the book when it comes out. I'm happy with it, and think readers should like it too. And, fingers crossed, I'll be doing it again next year.

Best
J
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 04:09 pm:   

Jonathan,
Congratulations. Sounds terrific.
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Jonathan
Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 10:57 pm:   

Thanks Ellen. It was a relief to get them all finished.

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andres
Posted on Monday, February 23, 2004 - 12:00 pm:   

Will a paperback edition of "the best sf short novels of the year" be available?
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Jonathan
Posted on Monday, February 23, 2004 - 02:01 pm:   

Not at the moment, though we are in discussions with a trade publisher, so I'm hopeful. I'll certainly let everyone know, the moment I hear anything.

Jonathan

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