The Best Short Stories of 2004

Jan 31, 20:55 by Bluejack

Who does this bluejack guy think he is, anyway, making a list like this. Don't let him get away with it.

(The list is here.)
Jan 31, 22:06 by Jay Swartzfeger
Great list, Blunt! "The Anatomist's Apprentice" was also one of my favorites of the year.
Jan 31, 22:11 by Jed Hartman
Good lists! I'm especially pleased to see you list "Embracing-the-New" and "Arabian Wine", two of my favorites from Asimov's this year. (Others included "The Third Party" and "The Pasho"; I haven't yet gone through all the issues to see what others I'm forgetting.) ...Quibble: I think "A Christmas Tree" was meant to be science fiction rather than fantasy.

I'm a little surprised not to see "The Voluntary State" on your list; I don't remember what you said about it, and don't have time to go back and look for your review at the moment.

When I'm ready to sit down and put together my Hugo noms list, I'll definitely be using your lists for pointers to stuff I've missed.

If you're looking for non-magazine things to read, I highly recommend the latest RatBastards anthology (don't remember if you reviewed it or not), and Ben Rosenbaum's brilliant story in the zeppelin anthology.

Here are the length categories for the SH stories:

St. Ailbe's Hall: Novelette
Genderbending at the Madhattered: Short Story
Rapture: Novelette
Magic Makeup: Short Story
Unfinished: Novelette
The Great Old Pumpkin: Short Story
2:30: Short Story

Thanks for the lists!
Jan 31, 22:29 by Bluejack
Thanks. Updated with those sizes.

Re: "Voluntary State" -- well, my own review is not a particularly competant one. I remember enjoying the opening of the story, but sort of losing the thread of it towards the end -- the character motivations that hooked me in the beginning became subsumed by the bigger story, but that was a story I was less involved in.

Re: "Christmas Tree" -- far future? alternate universe? wacked out imagination? does it matter? it was a delightful lala land, wherever it was.
Feb 1, 05:12 by David Eland
Thanks for all the work that must have gone into this list. Of those on your list that I have read, 80% would be on my own list of favs for 2004. Some that you liked didn't grab me in the first page or two so I skipped past them--due to limited time to read. You've given me a good reason to go back and try them again.
Feb 1, 06:09 by Lois Tilton
Bluejack, you obviously need more to read! What about the short fiction in anthologies?
Feb 1, 07:09 by Gregory Feeley
I greatly enjoyed two stories that Bluejack has omitted: Lois Tilton's "The Gladiator's War: A Dialogue" (Asimov's) and Noreen Doyle's "Ankhtifi the Brave is Dying" (The First Heroes). Tilton's story is deceptively complex -- many commentators have failed to notice, to take only its most obvious level, how profoundly an alternate history it is -- while Doyle's is right-out-there peculiar, the dramatization of a consciousness that comes from a profoundly alien culture.

Both stories -- I think they qualify as "novelettes" -- merit much more attention (and, in Tilton's case, publication in book form) than they have so far received.
Feb 1, 08:19 by Bluejack

Anthologies... anthologies... a few people have sent me anthologies to review, but I simply haven't been able to squeeze them in (sorry Ken! sorry Polyphony! sorry Fairwood Press!). Until I learn how to read faster &/or review more efficiently (or increase the time spent on reviewing), I am running at or close to capacity.

In 2005 I am going to go back to the original format of the column where I review a few stories in depth rather than all the stories in brief. It's hard because if I read a story, I like to say something about it, but it takes time and one person just can't be comprehensive all by himself.
Feb 1, 08:19 by Bluejack

Thanks for those additions. Anyone else read something they loved & I missed?
Feb 1, 08:21 by Dawn Burnell
Good list. I was surprised by the omission of Jay Lake's "The Angel's Daughter" (Short Story, ROF).
Other notables that I enjoyed: "The Best Christmas Ever", James Patrick Kelly, SCIFICTION; "Her", by Tobias Buckwell, Fortean Bureau; & Gree Glass Sea, by Ellen Kadges, Strange Horizons.

My full list of recommendations [with less bredth & no reviews] can be found on my LJ.
Feb 1, 09:17 by Bluejack
Hehe. Thanks for listing us in your recs for best website.

It does look like your taste and mine differ, Zhaneel, so it's always interesting to see where they overlap.
Feb 1, 12:34 by Zara Baxter
FYI, A Small Blue Planet is a Novella (20k words on the dot)

Thanks for the lists - good stuff in there, and not just because you included two of my favourite ASIM stories :)
Feb 2, 04:48 by Michael Swanwick
I second "Green Glass Sea" by Ellen Klages. A beautiful story which, technically speaking, is neither science fiction nor fantasy, but which genre readers will love.
Feb 2, 15:04 by Robin Mayhall
Feb 2, 16:11 by Bluejack
Thanks for those recommendations, Hieran, I do hope to be able to broaden the net a little this year.

Feb 2, 19:01 by Aleta Daknis
Hi Bluejack and all--

First of all, thanks for your list! I have a lot of reading to do!

Second, I hope that in 2005 you will consider adding Abyss & Apex to your list of publications to read for next year's best-of. :-)

A couple of stories we published in A&A that I think merit mention on your list are:
Jay Lake's Clown Eggs;
Ryan Robert Mullen's Grey Head and Them Big Black Eyes; and,
Steve Wilson's My Duties Aboard Ship, which we've nominated for the SLF's Foundation Award.

All best,
Aleta Daknis
Feb 2, 21:43 by Bluejack
A little forum oddness here; sorry for any confusion; my reply to Hieran was meant for Aleta's post which is after mine; which somehow happened because of some lingering bug in my software, for which I apologize, and am working to fix.
Feb 4, 15:42 by Gregory Feeley
People should take a look at the Tor anthology The First Heroes: New Tales of the Bronze Age. It's "Edited by Harry Turtledove and Noreen Doyle," but it was Noreen's project, with Turtledove agreeing to lend his name to the project (and some editorial input) in order to secure a publisher.

It contains a number of strikingly good stories, including Doyle's own (mentioned earlier) and a long narrative poem (in Byronic stanzas) by poet Larry Hammer -- his first genre sale, I believe. Also good stories by Gene Wolfe, Lois Tilton, Katharine Kerr, and others.
Feb 4, 16:08 by Ellen Datlow
Hi Bluejack.
Zora and the Zombie is a novelette (by the skin of its teeth) and so is "Of Imaginary Airships and Miniscule Matter."
Feb 4, 17:33 by Bluejack
Thanks... I don't know where I got the idea Zora was a short story! I *remember* it being long.
Feb 5, 08:45 by twosheds
I don't read nearly as much as bluejack, but I did see two of my favorites on the list, both in ROF: Green Girls and Embers. Both are very different from each other, yet they're great reading. I've been reading a quarterly called Black Gate. Most of the stories are novelette length. Great reading.

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