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Rich Horton
Posted on Sunday, October 09, 2005 - 05:02 pm:   

Here's my yearly summary of the fiction published in F&SF:

Summary, F&SF, 2005

F&SF published 83 stories in 2005, for a total of about 598,000 words of fiction, close to the same word count as the last couple years. There were a couple of reprints, and one near simultaneous publication with a story collection, but I hadn't seen any of the reprints and they are generally from quite obscure places, so I'm counting them all as new.

According to my count there were 4 novellas, 25 novelets, and 55 short stories. But the TOC listings had only two novellas, and two that I counted as novelets were listed as short stories, meaning the "official count" was 2 novellas, 25 novelets, and 57 short stories. The two "long novelets" were both about 18,500 words by my count, just close enough that I'll assume they really were about 17,500 words, and the two "long short stories" were in the neighborhood of 7900 words, again short enough that I'm ready to believe my estimates were off a bit. Four of the short stories were short-shorts (under 1500 words).


The two definite novellas were Laird Barron's "The Imago Sequence", overheated horror of the sort a lot of folks seem to just love, but which leaves me rather cold; and ... and ... the best story I saw this year: "Magic for Beginners", by the spectacular Kelly Link. It goes without saying further that that is my pick as Best Novella for whatever award is coming. I'll quote my Locus review:

I was grabbed from the beginning lines: "Fox is a television character, and she isn't dead yet. But she will be, soon. She's a character on a show called The Library. You've never seen The Library on TV, but I bet you wish you had." Indeed I do! But the story isn't really about Fox --it's about Jeremy Mars, a 15-year-old boy with a writer father and a librarian mother and a four close friends and, it turns out, an interest in a Las Vegas wedding chapel and a phone booth. Delight is the best word -- I was delighted every second to be reading this story.

The two stories that I had listed as novellas but that the magazine calls novelets were John McDaid's "Keyboard Practice: Consisting of an Aria with Diverse Variations for the Harpsichord with Two Manuals" and Al Michaud's "Ayuh, Claudius", both pretty decent.

Quite a few novelets were on my list of special stories. In chronological order: Bruce Sterling's "The Blemmeye's Stratagem" (January), Esther Friesner's "Last Man Standing" (January), R. Garcia y Robertson's "Queen of the Balts" (February), Matthew Hughes's "Inner Huff" (February), Robert Thurston's "I.D.I.D." (May), Matthew Hughes's "The Gist Hunter" (June), and no less than three from October/November: Paolo Bacigalupi's "The Calorie Man", Hughes's "Help Wonted", and Peter Beagle's "Two Hearts".

Three of these stories are vying for first on my list. As of now I'll put them in this order -- but it might change -- 1) Sterling's "The Blemmeye's Stratagem", about an nun and an assassin working for a mysterious Master towards the end of the Crusades, 2) Hughes's "The Gist Hunter", I think the best of his Hengis Hapthorn stories, in which Hapthorn investigates the case of a friend of his accused of murder and other unspeakable acts, and 3) Bacigalupi's "The Calorie Man", set in a biotech dominated future in which the hero tracks down a man the biotech industries are interested in -- because he might threaten their monopoly.

Short Stories

And my top short stories, again in chronological order, were Carol Emshwiller's "I Live With You" (March), Steven Popkes's "The Great Caruso" (May), K. D. Wentworth's "Born Again" (May), Robert Reed's "Poet Snow" (June), Yoon Ha Lee's "Eating Hearts" (June), Scott Bradfield's "Angry Duck" (July), Steven Utley's "Promised Land" (July), Mike Schutz's "Old as Books" (July), Robert Reed's "Pure Vision" (August), Eugene Mirabelli's "The Woman in Schrodinger's Wave Equation" (August), Bruce Sterling's "The Denial" (September), David Gerrold's "A Quantum Bit Exists in Two States Simultaneously: Off" (September), and Jeffrey Ford's "Boatman's Holiday" (November).

The problem is, none of these stories is really leaping out at me and saying "Me first! Me first". I'm going to tentatively list my top three as: 1) Emshwiller's "I Live With You", 2) Wentworth's "Born Again", and 3) Gerrold's "A Quantum Bit Exists in Two States Simultaneously: Off".

Silly Numbers

This year just over 77,000 words were devoted to the novellas (my list of 4!), about 275,000 to the novelets, and about 245,000 to the short stories. Average novella: 19200 words, average novelet: 11000 words, average short story: 4500 words, all roughly the same (the novellas somewhat shorter) as last year.

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Rick Hauptmann
Posted on Monday, October 10, 2005 - 07:49 am:   

Thanks, Rich. For anyone interested, Rich did a similar summary of Asimov's over at their forum.
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Monday, October 10, 2005 - 11:11 am:   

Thank you, Rich.

Matt Hughes
Black Brillion now in paperback
The Gist Hunter & Other Stories now in stores

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