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Jonathan
Posted on Thursday, December 02, 2004 - 04:36 pm:   

There are many practicalities that govern assembling any book, especially something like a year's best annual. I've been reading for three of them this year and, while it's been rewarding, the final books have been impacted on by all sorts of real world considerations (which don't need to be gone into here).

Realising that, I began to think about what stories I'd put into a year's best, if the only restrictions I had to face were 1) the book was a single volume and 2) the stories were ones I really liked. After a bit of thought, I came up with a list of thirty-one stories that straggled across genres, but might just sneak into a single set of covers.

Looking at the list, it occurred to me that I should probably try to sequence them, but this is an idle thought experiment, and I only have so much time. Still, if you're interested in such things, here's my 'Best Stories of 2004'. Oh, and should you wonder, this list was winnowed down from over 230 stories, a number of which were damn fine.

"Flat Diane", Daniel Abraham
"The People Of Sand And Slag", Paolo Bacigalupi
"The End of the World As We Know It", Dale Bailey
"Sergeant Chip", Bradley Denton
"Anda's Game", Cory Doctorow
"Zora and the Zombie", Andy Duncan
"The Annals of Eelin-Ok", Jeffrey Ford
"Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves ...", Neil Gaiman
"The Wings of Meister Wilhelm", Theodora Goss
"Waiting for Gandalf", Joanne Harris
"The Baum Plan for Financial Independence", John Kessel
"Lisey and the Mad Man", Stephen King
"Red Nose Day", Margo Lanagan
"Singing My Sister Down", Margo Lanagan
"The Faery Handbag", Kelly Link
"The Silver Dragon", Elizabeth Lynn
"Reports of Certain Events in London", China Mieville
"The Third Party", David Moles
"The Fabled Light House at Vina Del Mar", Joyce Carol Oates
"Pat Moore", Tim Powers
"Life in Stone", Tim Pratt
"Cold Fires", M. Rickert
"The Enchanted Trousseau", Deborah Roggie
"The Voluntary State", Christopher Rowe
"CATNYP", Delia Sherman
"Perfidia", Lewis Shiner
"Screaming for Faeries", Ellen Steiber
"Luciferase", Bruce Sterling
"The Last Geek", Michael Swanwick
"Three Days in a Border Town", Jeff VanderMeer
"Golden City Far", Gene Wolfe
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Friday, December 03, 2004 - 05:23 am:   

Looks like it was a pretty good year. Did the Joanne Harris story appear anywhere else but in her JIGS AND REELS collection?
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Jonathan
Posted on Friday, December 03, 2004 - 06:16 am:   

No, it didn't. There were several original stories in the book, and that was one of maybe two I would have considered year's best quality.

As to whether it was a good year - I'm coming 'round to the position that it was a pretty good year for SF, a very good year for fantasy, and a terrific year for 'fantasy and science fiction'. By that I mean, if you had broad taste, there was some great stuff to read.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Sunday, January 02, 2005 - 12:01 pm:   

Jonathan---

Do you have a T of C for any of your anthologies yet? Just curious. I heard today from someone who says he sold a story to one of the YEAR'S BEST anthologies and I think he means yours.
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Jonathan
Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2005 - 05:52 pm:   

Hey Gordon - I'd don't have all of the ToCs here, but I'll post 'em later tonight. I know we took several F&SF stories for the SF and fantasy books, and I'm taking at least one (from memory) for the novella book. - Jonathan
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2005 - 07:38 pm:   

Jonathan---

Glad to hear it, but I'm just as interested in the stories you pick that I haven't read already.
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Jonathan
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 05:48 am:   

Gordon,

The ToCs for the two books are as below. We had to drop two stories from the fantasy book at the very death knell, which was a real disappointment. There should have been a Margo Lanagan story, "Rites of Spring", and a story by Joanne Harris in the book but, through no fault of the authors, we couldn't make it work. Still, this is what you'll see when the books come out in a month or so:

FANTASY: BEST OF 2004
Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire, Neil Gaiman
The Word That Sings the Scythe, Michael Swanwick
The Little Stranger, Gene Wolfe
The Faery Handbag, Kelly Link
Quarry, Peter S. Beagle
The Enchanted Trousseau, Deborah Roggie
The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Robert Silverberg
The Annals of the Eelin-Ok, Jeffrey Ford
Pat Moore, Tim Powers
The Angel's Daughter, Jay Lake
The Silver Dragon, Elizabeth A. Lynn


SCIENCE FICTION: BEST OF 2004
The Best Christmas Ever, James Patrick Kelly
The Voluntary State, Christopher Rowe
The Lost Pilgrim, Gene Wolfe
Memento Mori, Joe Haldeman
PeriAndry's Quest, Stephen Baxter
Three Days in a Border Town, Jeff VanderMeer
Elector, Charles Stross
Opal Ball, Robert Reed
My Mother Dancing, Nancy Kress
The People of Sand and Slag, Paolo Bacigalupi
Tourists, M. John Harrison
All of Us Can Almost..., Carol Emshwiller
The Tang Dynasty Underwater Pyramid, Walter Jon Williams
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 08:27 am:   

Thanks for posting the lists. I feel your pain when it comes to dropping the stories---we had to do that at St. Martin's once or twice.

M. John Harrison's "Tourists" didn't appear anywhere but on Amazon.com, did it?
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Jonathan
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 02:16 pm:   

Bantam also published it as a special giveaway chapbook for reviewers with the galley of LIGHT. Don't know how many copies were produced of that, but it wasn't for the public.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 03:29 pm:   

Jonathan,
thanks for the lists. Delighted you're taking for stories from SCIFICTION for the sf book.

Where did the Gaiman appear?
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 03:29 pm:   

Um. I mean "four" not "for"--where did that come from?
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Jonathan
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 05:28 pm:   

Ellen, I'm only sorry I couldn't take more stories from the magazine. I think you had a wonderful year (as I've said elswhere), and could easily have taken at least one or two more. For example, I'd have love to have squeezed Robert Reed's story in. Oh, and I'm going to take one of the novellas for the year's best short novels, assuming permissions work out.

As to the Gaiman - it appeared in Gothic!, that Deborah Noyes antho. I think you've seen it. Gaiman actually had a couple interesting stories that were eligible. His piece from FLIGHTS was worth checking out, if not entirely successful. - J
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Jonathan
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 05:29 pm:   

Oh, and since we're posting about short fiction, I'm interested in hearing who people thought stood out as writers this year. 2003 was the year of Lucius, but this year no-one seemed to dominate quite as much, though Gene Wolfe had an extraordinary year, and Robert Reed was everywhere.
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John Joseph Adams
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 07:25 pm:   

I don't know if I'd call it "The Year of Matthew Hughes," but he burst onto the short fiction scene with four stories published this year in F&SF, along with one in Asimov's and one in Hitchcock's. 2005 is looking promising as well, with two already published, one in F&SF, one in Asimov's, and there are at least four others in inventory at F&SF.
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Jonathan
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 09:19 pm:   

I was a little surprised that we got so few recommendations for Hughes' work while compiling the annual recommended reading list. For some reason, he seemed to slip underneath the radar.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 09:43 pm:   

Jonathan,
Thanks. Let me know about the novella once you know.

Oh yeah, I read that story in Gothic! and two other stories of Neil's that made my Honorable mentions-the one in Flight and a novella in Legengs II --I believe you considered and/or reprinted it last year.

Daniel Abraham had two terrific stories out: "Leviathan Wept" and "Flat Diane."

In horror and fantasy (not sf)
Margo Lanagan--although her collection won't be published in the US till this year.

Christopher Fowler had a great collection out
Simon Bestwick had an excellent collection

Joyce Carol Oates had at least five notable dark stories out, one of which I've taken for YBFH and another of which I'm considering.

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Trent Jamieson
Posted on Thursday, January 06, 2005 - 04:58 am:   

Jonathan,

When's the Australian release of the Best Of's? I loved last year's effort - and we sold out pretty damn quickly at work.

I just want to make sure we have enough this time. Which is just me being lazy because I can find out tomorrow. Looking forward to reading the Jeff Vandermeer and the Kelly Link stories.

Hell, I'm looking forward to devouring all the Best ofs this year. 2004 didn't see my bookseller's income extending to much in the way of magazines last year.
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Jonathan
Posted on Thursday, January 06, 2005 - 05:26 am:   

Hey Trent - I haven't seen an Australian release date yet, but I'd imagine June. The books are both due in about four weeks, with the best novellas book in May. And you're right to look forward to the VanderMeer and Link stories. They're both terrific. Wish I could have found a way to get Kelly's Stone Animals in too. - Jonathan
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Trent Jamieson
Posted on Friday, January 07, 2005 - 04:51 am:   

Thanks Jonathan,

That gives me plenty of time to make sure we get plenty of copies. Kelly's stuff is fantastic, must say I was I late to come to it, but I was utterly bowled over by Stranger Things Happen.

Have you got an Australian distributor for the novella collection?

Trent
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Jonathan
Posted on Friday, January 07, 2005 - 06:06 am:   

I don't have an Australian distributor, no. What I really need is an Australian publisher to reprint the book, as the SFBC edition isn't a trade edition.
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leon horrocks
Posted on Monday, February 07, 2005 - 03:47 am:   

Trent,

Leon

chuck me an email at leon_horrocks@optushome.com.au

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