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mike bishop
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 04:19 am:   

The following list is a completely unbiased and totally definitive catalogue of the best sf and/or fantasy novels ever written. I don't see how any knowledgeable person of taste and discrimination could possibly dispute it.

1. Brittle Innings
2. No Enemy but Time
3. The Secret Ascension; or, Philip K. Dick Is Dead, Alas
4. Unicorn Mountain
5. Count Geiger's Blues
6. Who Made Stevie Crye?
7. A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire
8. Transfigurations
9. Stolen Faces
10. Catacomb Years

The precise sequence of these titles is still a matter of some controversy, of course, and I would have included And Strange at Ecbatan the Trees except that it's awfully short, and eleven makes a moderately awkward number for a Top Ten List, anyway. Still, though, I'm happy to have provided this service for sf and fantasy aficionados confused about exactly where to start building their personal libraries. :-)
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Bruce
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 07:15 am:   

Hi Mike,

Hmmm. Something mighty familiar about that list. I'd put Brittle Innings up top as well, but Catacomb Years could be a bit higher.

Could you do us all a favor and post an unbiased list of finest SF/F collections as well?!

Cheers, Bruce
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okiefolkie
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 02:46 pm:   

Mike, Congratulations on scoring so many of your own titles on this great list! Look forward to more from you.
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mike bishop
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 04:57 pm:   

Bruce,

Yes, I'm not exactly sure how these particular titles rose into my awareness, such that they cried out for enshrinement in a Top Ten List, but I'm sure it was neither ego nor a bad custard before bedtime that prompted their ascension. In response to many requests (well, one) to catalogue short-story collections worthy of an equivalent enshrinement, I hereby add the following bias-free and scintillatingly authorative catalogue:

1. Brighten to Incandescence: 17 Stories
2. Blue Kansas Sky: 4 Novellas
3. At the City Limits of Fate
4. Emphatically Not SF, Almost
5. Close Encounters with the Deity
6. One Winter in Eden
7. Blooded on Arachne
8. Other Arms Reach Out to Me (unpublished)
9. Warm Worlds and Otherwise
10. Tales from the White Hart

I'm not sure how James Tiptree, Jr., and Arthur C. Clarke scored titles on this second list, okiefolkie, but it may have something to do with the fact that the author of the first eight titles isn't as prolific as Lionel Fanthorpe, worse luck. And, believe me, I do appreciate all of you on this message board (well, two folks, one an okie) clamoring for my recommendations; after all, I lived in Tulsa for five years once, back in another life, in another century, and I'm still hoping that city gets a major-league baseball club.
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Bruce
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 05:23 pm:   

Well, a pattern is emerging. Obviously, 'Blooded on Arachne' is woefully underappreciated, and 'Star Songs of an Old Primate' clearly blows away the other Tiptree selection.

...and where the heck is Wolfe or Shepard? I ask you. Sheesh.
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Bruce
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 05:55 pm:   

I should've pointed out either of those gentlemen might have a shot at the coveted tenth spot on the list. Clearly, Sir Arthur's out of his league.

...and 'Ancient of Days'? Mike, you might try reading that novel. Can't believe it didn't smoke that Stevie whatchamacallit.
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mike
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 04:07 am:   

My Lord, Wolfe and Shepard and Ellison and Le Guin and William Tenn and James Morrow and Jeff VanderMeer and Jeffrey Ford and Dale Bailey and Kate Wilhem and . . . and . . . and . . . . What was I thinking?

And, oh yeah, how could I have forgotten -- I mean, really! -- Ancient of Days? Golly, I must have been smoking something, because it would have certainly bumped Catacomb Years off my original list (not Stevie) because of course it's actually a fix-up, one of those cobbled-together jobbies such as folks like van Vogt and Blish and Bradbury were always (successfully) fobbing off as coherent linear narratives. In any event, I stand aghast at my own short-sightedness here.
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m.
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 04:10 am:   

So, yeah, put Catacomb Years in the number two spot in the first list and bump every other title down a notch, thereby dislodging the imposter Catacomb Years, which of course moves into the number eight spot on the short-story collection list, and bumps Sir Arthur into Beuthelahatchie. (I should have added Andy Duncan to the list in my previous posting, and probably twenty-three or -four other writers, insofar as that goes.)
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MarcL
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 11:42 am:   

Put Catacomb Years back on there, if only for the story that featured the nightmarish dental hygiene presentation. I'd call it unforgettable but I've forgotten what it's called.

Nice try though.
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m.
Posted on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 10:26 am:   

Marc,

That story is called "If a Flower Could Eclipse," which title I lifted from my photographer friend Bill Burnham, a fellow instructor, back when, at the Air Force Academy Preparatory School on the grounds of the USAF Academy outside Colorado Springs. I got two cents a word for the piece from Worlds of Fantasy, then edited by Ejler Jakobsson, and it appeared in the same issue as a "complete novel" by Ursula K. Le Guin, The Tombs of Atuan, part of her Earthsea trilogy. I gave Bill Burnham a dime (two cents a word), and I have his photograph "If a Flower Could Eclipse," a shot of a windmill under a cloud-obscured sun on a dismal, snow-covered plain, on the wall behind my desk.

By the way, I should have mentioned Bruce Holland Rogers as a story writer of real merit up there a few postings back. We've just collaborated with a couple of other folks on a symmetrina, his self-invented fixed prose form, and I'm hoping to see the others' contributions to it pretty soon.
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Andrew Fox
Posted on Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - 09:20 am:   

Dear Mike,

Just wanted to let you know that my family and I attended Capclave in Vienna, Virginia (just outside Washington, DC) this past weekend, and I was delighted to find copies of both your Count Geiger's Blues and No Enemy But Time (which, even better, was signed!). Great little con -- the dealers' room was 90% books. The dealer from whom I bought your books was delighted that I'd selected them; he and a few other dealers gathered around and praised you and your work. He said he sees you regularly at a con in North Carolina. Wish I could recall his name; sorry about that.

Anyway, I'm really looking forward to digging into these two books. I'll let you know what I think.
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m.
Posted on Wednesday, October 20, 2004 - 07:21 am:   

Andrew, many thanks for this account of your trip and indeed for picking up a couple of my books. I wish I could remember this particular dealer's name myself, but I'm a wash on names unless I jot them down in a memo book. And then, of course, I've got a different memo book or no memo book at all when I run into these good folks later. But, really, thanks for the input.
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Michael Walsh
Posted on Wednesday, October 20, 2004 - 09:01 pm:   

In response to Andrew Fox . . . the dealer was probably the husband & wife team of Art & Becky Henderson. 24 tables in the room, 6 were non book folks.

As for Capclave, yeah, it's currently a small thing. Of course next year it should grow with GoHs Howard Waldrop and Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Michael Walsh
Capclave 2005 Chair

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m.
Posted on Thursday, October 21, 2004 - 03:56 am:   

Michael, thanks for your input here. And good luck with next year's Capclave. Having Howard Waldrop and Haydens as GoHs should pull in a good crowd. I know I'd love to see them.
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Michael Walsh
Posted on Thursday, October 21, 2004 - 02:12 pm:   

Yeah, getting Howard and PNH & TNH should be a big plus to the con.

Y'all should visit.

Michael
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m.
Posted on Thursday, October 21, 2004 - 04:28 pm:   

Wish we could. It seems unlikely, though. I get to about one con a year, if that many. But Howard is certainly a draw, and I'd love to see him and talk with him again.
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Andrew Fox
Posted on Friday, October 22, 2004 - 07:37 am:   

Mike, my family and I will probably attend again next year. Now that my stepdaughter Natalie is living in Northern Virginia, Capclave is a great excuse to get up there for a visit. Plus, it's a very fun, intimate literary con. I recommend it!
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m.
Posted on Friday, October 22, 2004 - 09:47 am:   

Thanks. We have friends in Virginia, but no family, which would be a strong incentive to bite the financial (and time) bullet and come.

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