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The Year's Best Science Fiction: Eighteenth Annual Collection
Well, the millennium is definitely at hand (cue the swell of ominous, Apocalyptic music in the background), and even calendar purists can no longer deny that we're living in the twenty-first century.
It'll probably be hard to convey to younger readers a sense of how downright strange that seems to old fogies like me. For most of my life, the twenty-first century was THE FUTURE, that unimaginably distant territory in which most science fiction stories took place; now I find myself living there, in the remote, glittering FUTURE ... (which somehow feels different than you thought it would, more mundane and less goshwow fantastical, once you're actually rubbing up against it, in spite of technological innovations all around us that would have dropped the jaw of anybody in 1950--a lesson many SF writers and futurologists could usefully learn). To paraphrase Mark Twain, I wish the new century well, although I doubt I'll get to see all that much of it--but it's not my century. My century was the previous one.
But the twentieth century is gone, taking its freight of unprecedented and unanticipated horrors and wonders with it, and even dinosaurian refugees from that century, like me, must learn to look ahead, not back. We can go ahead, if we're lucky, for a while anyway--but back there's no returning.
The temptation to try to predict what the new century ahead is going to be like is almost irresistible, and I'll succumb to that temptation here and there in the pages that follow, but what makes me hesitant to really give in to it is realizing how poor a job prognosticators at the beginning of the twentieth century did peering ahead at what lay in store for them. In almost every case, even those who thought that they were being wildly daring and outrageous in their predications fell far short of what actually happened, missing both the marvels and the miseries, the triumphs and the tragedies, the unimaginable progress and the equally unimaginable atrocities that waited ahead. For someone standing in 1901 and peering ahead, these things were literally unimaginable; it was beyond the power of the human imagination to predict or fully appreciate how radical the changes that lay ahead really would be, changes that would come to alter almost out of recognition every aspect of the nineteenth-century world, sweeping it aside and replacing it with a new world instead. And I suspect that people at the beginning of the twenty-second century--if there are any people, as we understand the term, still around by then--will look back at today's predictions of what the twenty-first century is going to be like with similar amusement (if not outright scorn) at how naive and limited our imaginations turned out to be. So then, let's mostly content ourselves with taking a look at 2000, which is safely past, and thus can be confidently examined with 20/20 hindsight.
It was a pretty quiet year, for the most part. Once again, the science fiction genre didn't die, much to the disappointment of some commentators. In fact, the genre seems to be fairly stable at the moment commercially (knock wood!); artistically, even taking into account all of the tie-ins and media and gaming-associated books that crowd the shelves, there are still considerably more science fiction novels of quality being published now than were being published in, say, 1975 (including a few that would probably not have been allowed to be published at all back then), in a very wide range of styles and moods, by a spectrum of writers ranging from Golden Age giants to Young Turks with one book under their belts--quite probably more quality material (including a wide range of short work) than any one reader is going to be able to read in the course of one year, unless they make a full-time job of it. The last couple of years have been dominated by Merger Mania, but this year the corporations were mainly quiescent, like huge snakes digesting the goats they'd swallowed; there were no major changes in publishing, at the genre level, anyway, except in the troubled magazine market--no print SF lines lost or gained. (Most of the major action, both positive and negative, was in the online market, about which see more below.) There were no major changes in editorial personnel this year either, although last year saw a vigorous round of the traditional game of Editorial Musical Chairs, with several Big-Time players leaving the scene (most of whom have yet to return in any significant way).
Most of the serious action this year was going on behind the scenes, like the legal battle over Napster--at first glance, something far removed from the SF world ... but not really, eh?, as I strongly suspect that if you want a good model for the problems that the book-publishing business is going to encounter tomorrow, you take a look at the problems that the music industry is dealing with today. (Already, the Science Fiction Writers of America is embroiled in a legal battle with pirate Web sites, with Harlan Ellison--good for you, Harlan!--being one of those leading the rush to the battlements ... although I suspect that as yet we've only seen some very early skirmishes in what's going to be a long and bloody war.) The turmoil in the stock market over the faltering dot.com market--with many big Internet players failing to meet expectations by huge margins and being forced to close up shop, and possible major trouble ahead forecast for others, like the online book-selling (and everything else-selling) superservice Amazon.com--also cast a long shadow into the SF world.
Major changes are looming over the publishing world like thunderheads coming up over the horizon, fundamental changes in the way that books reach the general reading public. This year you could hear those storms of change growling and rumbling off in the distance, mostly as yet producing only occasional gusts of wind and fitful bursts of rain, but not too many commentators would deny that those storms are going to break sooner or later--although you'll hear a wide range of predictions of how severe the weather is going to get, from soak-your-clothes-to-your-skin downpours to barely-wet-your-lawn passing showers. Print-on-demand publishers are appearing like mayflies--as are online sites that sell downloads to PCs, portable handheld computers, and other electronic text-readers--and they may turn out to have the life span of mayflies, too ... but it's a good bet that there will be others coming along behind them to replace those that falter and fall bythe wayside. And just behind these are marching other waves of change: new generations of better and more sophisticated handheld computers and electronic text-readers of all sorts (some of which may already be in stores by the time you read these words); print-on-demand systems in most major bookstores that can print most books in their extensive catalogues for you right on the spot, while you wait, "electronic paper"; genuinely reprogrammable "e-books" that will look and feel as much like print books as possible, and be as easy to carry around (even today, you can call into the Internet with a wireless modem and get new novels or stories downloaded into your handheld, as easily as making a phone call). And, no doubt, behind these changes there'll be coming other innovations and technologies that will end up having a major effect on the publishing world, stuff we haven't even heard of yet.
None but the most wild-eyed prognosticators believe that all this is going to make print books, or regular trade publishers, or bookstores that exist in the physical world, disappear (that's not going to happen in the foreseeable future, and likely will never happen at all). But it is going to mean big readjustments in market share, something that's already happening, and which isn't going to stop anytime soon.
Although cyber-optimists of the "Print books will be extinct by 2004! With Internet shopping, nobody will ever bother leaving their homes again!" sort may have been a bit too giddy, those semi-Luddites who have spent the last few months smugly anticipating the forecast demise of Amazon.com (proving that all this Internet stuff was "just a fad") are probably going to be disappointed as well. Amazon.com may (or may not) die, but there will still be online booksellers. That's not going to change, not now; too many people have become accustomed to the ease of ordering books online, one of the most rapidly growing areas in the whole book-selling industry, and somebody will appear to take up the slack and provide that service for them, even if Amazon.com and all the other present online booksellers went down. Books will continue to be produced and sold online, in one form or another, in one way or another, no matter how the fortunes of an individual publisher rise or fall; the technology is just too easy and too seductive not to use, and sooner or later somebody will figure out a reliable way to make money doing so. Although it may not be the Milk-and-Honey Promised Land of starry-eyed would-be dot.com millionaires, the High Road to Effortless Business Success, the Internet is not going away. It--or its successor technologies--will be a part of our lives (probably an ever-more-integral, indispensable, and yet taken-for-granted-and-largely-ignored part) for the foreseeable future, and for our children's future as well. Barring all-out war, an asteroid strike, a universally potent pestilence, environmental collapse, or some other disaster that sends civilization reeling back to the Dark Ages or worse, things are not going to go back to The Way They Were. The clock cannot be turned back, once you set it ticking--your only option is to smash the clock altogether.
So fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy decade. But it just might--with luck--end up taking us to some places worth going to.
It was another bad year in the magazine market, with sales down again almost across the board (in areas far outside the genre, as well), and with only a few hopeful notes to be found here and there.
There were two major losses in the magazine market in 2000, the demise of Science Fiction Age (which happened early enough in 2000 that we covered it in last year's anthology) and then, toward the end of the year, the death of Amazing Stories--which was axed in its recent incarnation as a glossy mixed SF/media magazine soon after parent company Wizards of the Coast was sold to Hasbro (Hasbro also axed its card-gaming magazine, Top Deck; apparently a severe slump in the card-gaming market was responsible for both decisions). This was perhaps not quite as much of a hammer blow to the market as the cancellation of Science Fiction Age, since Amazing Stories in its current version was less central and important to the genre than Science Fiction Age had become, but it still sent shock waves through the field. There was a flicker of hope late in the year, as the online site GalaxyOnLine announced that they were going to buy Amazing Stories and reinvent it as an online site selling versions of the magazine in CD format, but this deal fell through when GalaxyOnLine itself died (see below). Amazing Stories has died and then come miraculously back to life several times in the twenty-five years I've been editing Best of the Year anthologies, but this may finally be the end of the line for the grand old magazine, which has existed in one form or another (with occasional breaks in continuity), since 1926. (On the other hand, I've said that before, only to watch the magazine rise from the ashes again, so we'll just have to wait and see, and hope that Amazing Stories can somehow pull off the Lazarus trick one more time. That probably wouldn't be the way to bet it, though.)
The other big change in the magazine market this year is potentially positive: late in the year, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction was bought by its current editor, Gordon Van Gelder, from its longtime owner and publisher, Edward L. Ferman. If Gordon can cope with the extra work and problems that will come with assuming the role of publisher as well, and if he has deep enough pockets to weather any financial setbacks that might be caused by the transition, then this might well give F&SF a new lease on life--the Fermans were getting near retirement age, and there has been speculation as to what would happen to the magazine when they did retire. Without someone like Gordon willing to assume the stewardship of the magazine, a big job, it might well have died. Now it has a decent chance of surviving, for as long as Gordon can keep it going, anyway.
The news in the rest of the magazine market was no more cheerful than it has been for the last several years. Overall sales were down almost everywhere, with Asimov's Science Fiction, Analog Science Fiction & Fact, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Realms of Fantasy reaching all-time lows (sales were down across the entire range of the magazine market, in fact, far beyond genre boundaries--it shows up more noticeably with the genre magazines because their initial audience bases were lower to begin with). Asimov's Science Fiction registered a 12.3% loss in overall circulation in 2000, 3,348 in subscriptions, and 1062 in newsstand sales. Analog Science Fiction & Fact registered a 7.5% loss in overall circulation in 2000, 1461 in subscriptions, and 2,435 in newsstand sales. The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction registered an 8.1% loss in overall circulation,1,294 in subscriptions, and 1,360 in newsstand sales. Realms of Fantasy registered a 12.1% loss in overall circulation, rising 2,313 in subscriptions, but dropping by 7,157 in newsstand sales. As it has for several years, now, Interzone held steady at a circulation of about 4,000 copies, more or less evenly split between subscriptions and newsstand sales.
I've mentioned before that these figures probably look worse than they actually are. Most of the subscriptions that have been lost, to date, are not of the core subscribers who regularly renew their subscriptions at full rate, the most profitable subscribers for a magazine, but rather Publishers Clearing House-style cut-rate stamp-sheet subscriptions, which can actually cost more to fulfill than they actually bring in in revenue. The good news, then, is that the core subscribers who do remain seem loyal, dedicated, and, according to surveys, enthusiastic about the product that they're receiving. Helping also to keep the digest-size or near-digest-size magazines (Asimov's, Analog, F&SF) profitable in spite of declining circulation, is the fact that they're so cheap to produce in the first place that you don't have to sell very many of them to make a profit, the advantage that has kept digest-size magazines alive for decades when more expensive-to-produce magazines, which need to sell a far greater number of copies in order to be profitable, have faltered and died. Nevertheless, this continued decline in circulation is distressing, and if the slide continues long enough, must ultimately threaten the existence of these magazines; without at least a trickle of new subscribers coming in, you can't counterbalance the inevitable attrition of your subscriber base due to death and circumstance, and sooner or later you're left with no subscribers at all, or at least not enough to keep the magazine in the black.
One mildly hopeful note is that in the last couple of years most of the SF magazines are pulling in at least a trickle of new subscribers over the Internet from audiences that probably haven't been tapped much by them before, including people who had probably never heard of the magazines before coming across them online (most people, even many habitual science fiction readers, have no idea that the SF magazines--which receive no advertising or promotion at all, in most cases--even exist), and people from other parts of the world, where interested readers have formerly found it difficult to subscribe because of the difficulty of obtaining American currency and because of other logistical problems. Asimov's, Analog, and F&SF have also all made deals with PeanutPress (http://www.peanutpress.com) that enables readers to download electronic versions of the magazines into Palm Pilot handheld computers, with the choice of either buying an electronic "subscription," or of buying them individually on an issue-by-issue basis, and a small but steady flow of new subscribers drawn from new audiences is coming in from this source as well.
With today's chaotic newsstand situation, which keeps most SF magazines off most newsstands, I have a feeling that if anything is going to save the magazines, it'll be the use of the Internet as a promotional tool, using Web sites to push sales of the physical product through subscriptions, and so I'm going to list the URLs for those magazines that have Web sites: Asimov's site is at http://www.asimovs.com. Analog's site is at http://www.analogsf.com. The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction's site is at http://www.sfsite.com/fsf/. Interzone's site is at http://www.sfsite.com/interzone/. (Realms of Fantasy doesn't have a Web site per se,although content from it can be found on scifi.now.com ... although you could surf the whole site and be hard-pressed to find even a mention of the magazine's name; if you persist, though, you can eventually find a place to subscribe to it online.) The amount of activity varies on these sites, with the Asimov's and Analog sites perhaps the busiest and the Interzone site perhaps the least active, but the important thing about all of the sites is that you can subscribe to the magazines there, electronically, online, with just a few clicks of some buttons, no stamps, no envelopes, and no trips to the post office required. It would be hard for us to make it any easier for you.
All of these magazines (and a half dozen others) deserve your support. One of the best things you can do to ensure that short science fiction remains alive and plentiful in the market is to subscribe to whatever magazine you like best. In fact, subscribe to as many of them as you can--it'll still turn out to be a better reading bargain, more fiction of reliable quality for less money, than buying the year's hit-or-miss crop of original anthologies could possibly supply. Do it now, while you're thinking about it, and while it still has a chance to help. If you're a fan of short SF, as someone reading this book presumably is, and you don't bother to do it, you're taking a chance that there could be a lot less short SF around to enjoy in the future.
There were another couple of upbeat notes in this troubled market this year. The year 2000 saw a very impressive and promising debut made by a new Scottish SF magazine, Spectrum SF, edited by Paul Fraser, which published four issues in 2000. By rights, since the circulation is still low, this should be mentioned in the semiprozine section, but as Spectrum SF was not only totally professional in content, but very high-end professional at that, featuring two of the year's best stories, by Charles Stross and Alastair Reynolds, as well as good work by Jack Deighton, Eric Brown, Garry Kilworth, Mary Soon Lee, and others, and the serialization of the late Keith Roberts's as-yet-otherwise-unpublished last novel, Drek Yarman, that I'm going to go ahead and list it here in the professional section instead, and you can send me complaining letters about that if you want. Spectrum SF was certainly the most promising debut of a British magazine since Interzone--and, like Interzone, one that's especially welcome to me because it's one of the few British magazines to concentrate on core science fiction; most British magazines emphasize slipstream and/or horror instead. Fraser clearly doesn't have a lot of money to work with--this is obviously a labor of love--so let's hope that he can build a subscription base quickly before he runs out of funds, cash, and hope, since this is a tasty little magazine that deserves to survive, and another magazine that deserves your support.
PS Publishing (http://www.editorial-services.co.uk/pspublishing), a British small press, brought out some of the year's best novellas, in individual chapbook form, as part of a series, edited by Peter Crowther, that included Tendeléo's Story, by Ian McDonald, Watching Trees Grow, by Peter F. Hamilton, Making History, by Paul J. McAuley, Reality Dust, by Stephen Baxter, and others, with more to come next year. These novellas will eventually be gathered in omnibus collections, first published in Britain, and then in the United States. Keep your eye out for them, and for the new novellas that will be coming out, for so far they've included some of the best work to be found anywhere in the genre this year.
As usual, short SF and fantasy also appeared in many magazines outside genre boundaries, from Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine to Playboy. The science magazine Nature, in honor of the millennium, published a very short science fiction story (some of them by very Big Names) in every weekly issue for the past 52 weeks--most of them were too short to have much impact as fiction, but they certainly managed to introduce some sophisticated genre conceptualization and concepts to wide nongenre audiences that were probably unfamiliar with them, and the staff of Nature is to be commended for that. On the other hand, on a sour note, Playboy fired longtime fiction editor Alice Turner, saying that maintaining a full-time fiction editor was "a luxury" that they could no longer afford, and that future stories would be selected by a committee. They didn't ask me, and don't care what my opinion is, but I think that this was a mistake--at a time when endless numbers of photos of naked women can be downloaded from the Internet for far less than the cost of an issue of Playboy, they need to emphasize those touches of class and quality that differentiate them from the average online porn site if they want to survive, not throw them away. At any rate, Alice will be missed.
(Subscription addresses follow: The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Spilogale, Inc., PO Box 3447, Hoboken, NJ 07030, annual subscription--$38.97 in U.S.; Asimov's Science Fiction, Dell Magazines, P.O. Box 54033, Boulder, CO 80322-4033--$39.97 for annual subscription in US; Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Dell Magazines, P.O. Box 54625, Boulder, CO 80323--$39.97 for annual subscription in US; Interzone, 217 Preston Drove, Brighton BN1 6FL, United Kingdom, $60.00 for an airmail one-year (twelve issues) subscription. Realms of Fantasy, Sovereign Media Co. Inc., P.O. Box 1623, Williamsport, PA 17703--$16.95 for an annual subscription in the U.S.; Spectrum SF, Spectrum Publishing, PO Box 10308, Aberdeen, AB11 6ZR, United Kingdom--17 pounds sterling for a four-issue subscription, make checks payable to "Spectrum Publishing". PS Publishing, 98 High Ash Drive, Leeds L517 8RE, England, UK--$17 each for Tendeleo's Story, by Ian McDonald, Watching Trees Grow, by Peter F. Hamilton, Making History, by Paul J. McAuley; and Reality Dust, by Stephen Baxter. Note that many of these magazines can also be subscribed to online, at their various Web sites.)
It was a wild year in the young field of "online electronic publishing," with some upbeat stories to partially balance some major reversals and disappointments--things change so fast in this ephemeral market, though, that what I write here is likely to be already obsolete by the time this book sees print, so if you're interested, keep that in mind, and keep a close eye on the markets themselves.
The big stories here this year were probably the terminal decline of GalaxyOnLine, and the rise of SCI FICTION. GalaxyOnLine, supervised by veteran editor/writer Ben Bova, and introduced in early 2000, was perhaps the most glossy and ambitious such site to date, featuring a distinguished lineup of columnists such as Harlan Ellison, Mike Resnick, Joe Haldeman, Jack Dann, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and many others, running scientific articles and book and movie reviews as well as original short SF stories, and promising eventually to provide everything from downloadable novels to online movies to animation to Web TV. By the middle of the year, though, their money had run out, their venture capitalists had dried up (the same thing that had killed the Event Horizon site the year before),new investors could not be found--and GalaxyOnLine was dead before the end of the year. A major disappointment, and another major blow to the dream that such sites can be made self-sustaining. Another ambitious fiction site, which was creating an anticipatory buzz and already drawing the work of top authors, The Infinity Matrix, to be edited by SF writer Eileen Gunn, also ran out of backing money, and had the plug pulled on it just before we went to press, losing the SF online world a site of great potential. It was the same story with yet another site with large-scale plans, Bookface, which was making books available to the online community for free (as long as you read them on screen online, the idea being to entice people into buying a download of a book, after they'd "browsed" it), and which was also "publishing" some original short fiction by young writers, but which also ran out of money, and was unable to find sufficient amounts of "Web advertising" revenue to replace it, and had also closed down shop by the end of the year.
The faltering of the "dot.com" market, one of the year's big financial stories, is probably the proximate cause of the failure of most of these sites. All of them were funded by big initial rushes of money from venture capitalists back when the market was hot (amounting to multiple millions of dollars in some cases), all ran through their money without being able to find an effective way of bringing any money back in, and then, once the market had soured and venture capitalists had become cautious and conservative again, were unable to find new investors to keep things going.
The big problem in this market is still a simple one: nobody has yet figured out how you can reliably make money "publishing" fiction online. The Last Great Hope here, the model that suggested that you could draw in enough income with "Web-advertising" to pay your expenses and even make a profit, seems to have been pretty thoroughly discredited, and the "patronage model," that big companies will support the arts online as part of their Public Relations campaigns, to improve their image, depends on a prosperous and growing economy; once belts start being seriously tightened, art for the sake of improving your image is probably the first thing to go. For the most part, with fiction sites, you either support it yourself, as what amounts to a hobby (an old tradition among print semiprozines, where magazines like Crank! were paid for for years out of the editor's own pockets), you absorb the costs because you hope to get an equal value in promotion, publicity, and prestige for some other product back out of it, you use it as a place to sell subscriptions or some other physical product that exists in the real world--or you find some way to make the customers pay for accessing the fiction, and hope you can get them to cough up in sufficient numbers to keep you afloat. This last is the tricky one, although many are working on it. Sites that sell "e-books" and even individual stories, to be downloaded to various "Palm-Pilot"-type platforms, may be on to a potentially successful model, especially as a wave of new and supposedly greatly improved technology in this area is just about to break upon us.
Although we've run through a lot of grim news so far, not all the stories in this market were negative, though, by any means. Early in 2000, the Sci-Fi Channel site (scifi.com) went through an extensive expansion and renovation, which included buying the long-running e-zine Science Fiction Weekly (the new editor of which is former Science Fiction Age editor Scott Edelman, replacing Craig Engler,who has moved up the corporate ladder in the SCI FI organization), and also launching a major new Web site, SCI FICTION, a fiction site within the larger umbrella of the Sci-Fi Channel site, edited by Ellen Datlow, the former Fiction Editor of Omni, as well as of the now-defunct web sites Omni Online and Event Horizon. As she did before with those other sites, Ellen has quickly established SCI FICTION as one of the best places on the Internet to find reliably professional-quality short fiction, putting up one new story and one "classic reprint" story every week (all of which are kept archived). This year SCI FICTION published good original stories this year by Severna Park, Steven Utley, Nancy Kress, Howard Waldrop, Robert Reed, Elizabeth Hand, A. R. Morlan, Linda Nagata, and many others, most of this work at a level of quality and professionalism unrivaled almost anywhere else online. Since the Sci-Fi Channel seems to be operating here on the "promotion, publicity, and prestige" model, SCI FICTION is not expected to make money (nor is there any real way for it to make money), which makes it far less vulnerable than Omni Online or Event Horizon had been, and the chances are good that it will probably survive as long as the parent company itself remains prosperous and healthy. Certainly the Sci-Fi Channel is getting its money's worth as far as promotion, publicity, and prestige is concerned, since SCI FICTION to date has generated a great deal of all three for them, and in areas outside the usual media-fan circles, where people may not even have heard of the Sci-Fi Channel or paid much attention to it, before this.
Another good new fiction site is Strange Horizons (http://www.strangehorizons.com), edited by Jed Hartman. Strange Horizons isn't yet operating reliably on the (very high) level of quality maintained by SCI FICTION, but there is some good stuff here, including, in 2000, good professional-level stories by Tamela Viglione, Chuck Rothman, Bruce Holland Rogers, and others; in recent months, they scored points with me by taking a retrospective look at the work of Howard Waldrop, many of whose stories can be accessed there. Another seeming success story (so far--knock wood!) is Fictionwise (http://www.fictionwise.com), which is not really an "electronic magazine" at all, but rather a place to buy downloadable e-books; however, not only is there a very large selection of individual "reprint" stories here of high professional quality by some of the best writers in the business available to be bought for a small fee, either on a story-by-story basis or in "fiction bundles" (see mention also in the short-story collection section, below), which should make them of interest to our readers, but they have just recently begun to offer original short science fiction stories for sale as well--at the moment, this is mostly limited to some original, heretofore unpublished stories by Kage Baker, but their intention is to add more original fiction by other popular authors, and that could in time become an important feature of the site. Along similar lines, ElectricStory (http://www.electricstory.com) is another site where you can buy downloadable e-books, including reprints of books by Terry Bisson, Paul Park, and others, but they make the site interesting with such stuff as movie reviews by Lucius Shepard and articles by Howard Waldrop, which can be read online for free; ElectricStory is also starting to experiment with original content--there's an original novel by new writer Richard Wadholm available there, and a new short-story collection, never published in print form, by Howard Waldrop). Coming later in 2001 is a site called Ipublish (http://www.ipublish.com), which will offer,among other enticements, downloadable original science fiction stories in e-form, selected by SF writer Paul Witcover; they've already bought a novella by Greg Feeley, as well as work by other writers.
Short original SF tends to become harder to find after this; you're more likely to find original horror, fantasy, or slipstream stories on the sites that follow, although you will find an occasional SF story as well: Talebones (http://www.fairwoodpress.com/), Dark Planet (http://www.sfsite.com/darkplanet/), Ticonderoga On-Line (http://www.omen.net.au/~rustle/ticonderagal) Electricwine (http://www.electricwine.com); Chiaroscuro (InterText (http://www.intertext.com/), Quantum Muse (http://www.quantummuse.com) and E-Scape (http://www.interink.com/escape.html. ).
Although it's relatively hard to find good short original SF online, it's not hard at all to find good short reprint SF stories. At sites like the above-mentioned Fictionwise, Mind's Eye Fiction (http://tale.com/genres.htm), and Alexandria Digital Literature (http://alexlit.com), you'll have to pay a small fee to access reprints (usually amounting to less than fifty cents per story, in most cases), but there are also a fairly large number of sites here and there around the Internet which archive good reprint SF stories that can be accessed for free. Perhaps the best such site is the British Infinity Plus (http://www.infinityplus.co.uk), a good general site which features a very extensive selection of good-quality reprint stories, most (though not all) by British authors, as well as extensive biographical and bibliographical information, book reviews, and critical essays. Most of the sites that are associated with existent print magazines, such as Asimov's, Analog, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Eidolon, Aurealis, and others, will have extensive archives of material, both fiction and nonfiction, previously published by the print versions of the magazines, and some of them regularly run teaser excerpts from stories coming up in forthcoming issues.
Finding good fiction to read, though, is not the only reason to go Web-surfing. Among the most prominent SF-related sites on the Internet are general-interest sites that, while they don't publish fiction, do publish lots of reviews, critical articles, and genre-oriented news of various kinds. Among the best of these sites are: the SF Site (http://www.sfsite.com/), not only features an extensive selection of reviews of books, games, and magazines, interviews, critical retrospective articles, letters, and so forth, plus a huge archive of past reviews; but also serves as host site for the Web-pages of a significant percentage of all the SF/fantasy print magazines in existence, including Asimov's, Analog, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Interzone, and the whole DNA Publishing group (Absolute Magnitude, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Weird Tales, Aboriginal SF, Dreams of Decadence); Locus Online (http://www.locusmag.com), the online version of the newsmagazine Locus; a great source for fast-breaking genre-related news, as well as access to book reviews, critical lists, extensive database archives, and lists of links to other sites of interest (Mark Kelly's short-fiction review column only sporadically appears now, alas, but Locus has made up for it to some extent by regularly featuring short-fiction reviews by other hands); the English site BEST SF (http://www.bestsf.net/), which also features reviews of the short fiction to be found in current SF magazines and anthologies; Science Fiction Weekly (http://www.scifi.com/sfw/), more media-and-gaming-oriented than SF Site or Locus Online,but which also features news and book reviews every issue, as well as providing a home for columns by such shrewd and knowledgeable genre insiders as John Clute and Michael Cassut; and SFF NET (http//www.sff.net), a huge site featuring dozens of home pages and newsgroups for SF writers, genre-oriented live chats, a link to the Locus Magazine Index 1984-1996, and a link to the research data and reading lists available on the Science Fiction Writers of America page (which can also be accessed directly at http://www.sfwa.org/.); and the above-mentioned Sci-Fi Channel (http://www.scifi.com), which not only provides a home for Ellen Datlow's SCI FICTION and for Science Fiction Weekly, but which is also home to the acclaimed audio-play site Seeing Ear Theater, and to the monthly SF-oriented chats hosted by Asimov's and Analog, as well as vast amounts of material about SF movies and TV shows; audio-plays can also be accessed at Audible (http://www.audible.com) and at Beyond 2000 (http://www.beyond2000.com); multiple-Hugo-winner David Langford's online version of his fanzine Ansible (http://www.dcs.gla.ac.uk/Ansible/). which provides a funny and often iconoclastic slant on genre-oriented news, is well worth checking out on a regular basis.
Live online interviews with prominent genre writers are also offered on a regular basis on many sites, including interviews sponsored by Asimov's and Analog and conducted by Gardner Dozois on the Sci-Fi Channel (http://www.scifi.com/chatnevery other Tuesday night at 9 P.M. EST; regular scheduled interviews on the Cybling site (http://www.cybling.com/); and occasional interviews on the Talk City site (http://www.talkcity.com/). Many Bulletin Board Services, such as Delphi, Compuserve, and AOL, have large online communities of SF writers and fans, and some of these services also feature regularly scheduled live interactive realtime chats or conferences, in which anyone interested in SF is welcome to participate, the SF-oriented chat on Delphi, every Wednesday at about 10 P.M. EST, is the one with which I'm most familiar, but there are similar chats on SFF NET, and probably on other BBSs as well.
Other sites are more problematical. The extremely valuable short-fiction review site, Tangent Online, seemed to have died in 1999, with no new content being published there for more than seven months, came back to life briefly in 2000, "died" again for several months, and since then has maintained a very slow trickle of activity, with a few new reviews being published every so often, but nothing like the rate of refreshment it promised, or that it needs to really succeed in fulfilling the function it was created to fulfill, of reviewing the bulk of the year's short fiction. Recently, editor David Trusdale announced the birth of a new and revitalized Tangent Online site (http://www.tangentonline.com), welcome news that inspired a surge of hope in Tangent fans--but since his initial announcement, more than a month back now, nothing new has appeared on the revamped and redesigned site, and there's almost no real content there, just broken links that hopefully one day will lead to the reviews they promise. So, will Trusdale actually get his act together and successfully revive Tangent Online, or will it remain just hopeful vaporware? Who knows? Check in to the site occasionally to see if there's anything new going on, as I do, and see for yourself. Along similar lines, I think that the review site SFRevu (http://www.sfsite.com/sfrevu) is still in existence, after having died late in 1999 and then come back to life again, but every time I try to get to the site it crashes my system, so you'll have to go there and see foryourself. Many of the print criticalzines also have Web sites, but most of them haven't been refreshed in years. Speculations, which abandoned its print edition last year, still maintains a Web site (http://www.speculations.com) and no doubt is still dispensing writing advice, but you'll have to subscribe to the site online if you want to access it.
It's worth mentioning again that things change with such lightning speed in the online world that it's worth surfing around every once in a while to see what's still there, what's gone, and what's new. I can almost guarantee you that a lot of things will be different in this market by this time next year--it seems to be the nature of the beast.
Things were fluid in the print semiprozine market as well, as they have been for decades, with magazines dying and new magazines springing up to replace them.
One of the most astonishing stories in this market was the rebirth of the fiction semiprozine Century after almost four years of total silence, long after everyone (including, I must admit, me) had given it up for dead. Nevertheless, a new issue appeared in late 1999 (dated 2000), and was followed by another issue in the middle of 2000, and so Century will have to be considered to be alive again. Although they lean away from center-core SF and toward more literary stuff, with a high percentage of mainstream and fantasy stuff, Century was widely considered back in its Glory Days to be perhaps the most literate and sophisticated of all the fiction semiprozines, and this version of it lives up to that reputation, with good stories (most of them outside the genre, or with only thin traces of it) by Michael Bishop, Ian MacLeod, Michael Kandel, Robert Reed (one of the few real SF stories), Terry Windling, Greer Gilman, and others. Whether Century will disappear again or not, nobody knows (or what effect the recent tragic death of associate editor Jenna A. Felice will have on the magazine)--but the quality of these two issues is high enough to probably make it worthwhile taking a chance that they can maintain their schedule this time around, and subscribe. Artemis Magazine: Science and Fiction for a Space-Faring Society is another magazine that had been talked about and promised for years without ever actually materializing, so that many people had probably given up on it, but, like Century, it actually appeared late in 1999, with another issue coming out later on in 2000. The overall level of literary quality here is not as high or as consistent as that of Century--on the other hand, unlike Century, almost everything here is honest-to-gosh actual science fiction. Artemis published some good stuff this year, including a story by Stan Schmidt that made the Final Nebula Ballot, but to me they already seem to be chafing against their self-imposed restriction of only publishing stories about moon colonization, and I'd advise them to widen their purview a bit--in my opinion, if a story's about space exploration, that ought to be enough to get it in, without insisting that it take place on the Moon (they're already rationalizing ways around this stricture--stories that take place on a moon are okay--so why not do away with it altogether?).
In 1998, several fiction semiprozines were consolidated under the umbrella of Warren Lapine's DNA Publications, which now publishes Aboriginal Science Fiction, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination (formerly titled Pirate Writings), Weird Tales, and the all-vampire-fiction magazine Dreams of Decadence; as well as Lapine'soriginal magazine, Absolute Magnitude, The Magazine of Science Fiction Adventures. Lapine continues to publicly announce that he's well-satisfied with the progress of the magazines, and it's true that the circulation of all the DNA magazines is growing, unlike most of the other magazines in the field, although only by miniscule degrees (the circulation for Absolute Magnitude, for instance, increased from 2,500 copies to 3,000 this year) ... still, any forward motion is better than none, or, worse, motion in the other direction, and Lapine has some reason to congratulate himself on this. On the other hand, there are still problems: in spite of the fact that most of these magazines are supposed to be quarterlies, most of them (with the exception of Weird Tales) only managed to produce two issues apiece this year. And the overall quality of the fiction they contained in 2000 seemed a bit more lackluster than in some years past, with fewer standout stories. The DNA empire continues to expand--this year taking over the newsmagazine Science Fiction Chronicle--but it may be time for them to pause in expansion and devote more time and energy to things like stabilizing publication schedules for the magazines and working on producing a more reliable level of quality in the fiction. It would be a mistake for them to overextend themselves, a mistake the once-mighty Pulphouse empire made before them. Let's hope they can avoid that fate and keep the magazines they do have growing--the fiction semipro market could use a success story for a change. (Information about all of the DNA Publications magazines can be found at http://www.dnapublications.com/.)
Of the remaining SF fiction semiprozines, Terra Incognita, one of the brighter new lights on the fiction semiprozine scene, rivaled only by Century and Eidolon for their consistently high level of literary quality, managed to produce two issues in 2000 (after publishing no issues at all in 1999), featuring good work by Terry McGarry, Stefano Donati, L. Timmel Duchamp, David J. Hoffman-Dachelet, and others (although I still think that their self-imposed restriction of only using stories that take place on Earth is too limiting; it's hard enough to find good material for a magazine, without ruling out a very large percentage of it sight unseen). For the last couple of years, Australia has been bringing us three fiction semiprozines (two of them, Aurealis and Eidolon among the longest-running of all fiction semiprozines), but there seems to be trouble Down Under, and most of these magazines are emitting distressed wobbling noises. Just a few years back, much print was spilled hyping the new "Golden Age of Australian Science Fiction," but, although there are still plenty of good Australian writers working in the genre market, the Australian Boom seems to have sprung a leak as far as the Australian magazines themselves are concerned. Altair, the newest of the Australian semiprozines, published one double issue this year, out of a scheduled four, and then seems to have gone on hiatus due to lack of funds--perhaps permanently, if things don't work out. Aurealis published two issues (out of a scheduled four), one also a double issue but then got itself embroiled in some sort of strange controversy with most of its major writers (the details of which remain obscure to non-Australians, with most of the Australians being rather close-mouthed about it) which ended with most of them swearing to boycott the magazine from then on, leaving Aurealis's future somewhat in doubt, although they are still officially continuing. Eidolon, of recent years the most reliable of the Australian semiprozines, published a double issue that featured some good, high-professional-level stories from writers such asChris Lawson, Damien Broderick, Geoffrey Maloney, Stephen Dedman, Terry Dowling, and others, undoubtedly the best issue by far produced by any Australian semiprozine this year, and then announced that they were abandoning their print edition to "reinvent" themselves on their Eidolon Online Web site (http://www.eidolon.com) as an online-only "electronic magazine"--an announcement drawing cries of dismay from many industry insiders, who, after watching other print magazines such as Omni and Tomorrow try the same thing and fail, considered it to be tantamount to an announcement that Eidolon was going down the tubes (whether this turns out to be true or not remains to be seen; but I must admit that I myself am far from sanguine about its chances). So whether or not I can honestly advise you to subscribe to any of these magazines, I don't know. Do you feel lucky? I'll post what subscription information I have, and you can make up your own minds. (Meanwhile, a new Australian fiction semiprozine, Orb, is starting up, having produced two issues I've not yet seen. Rather than post a subscription rate for overseas subscriptions, they say to "please send inquiries regarding overseas subscriptions"; you can do so at their Web site, //home.vicnet.net.au/~kendacot/Orb/welcome.htm.)
The other longest-running fiction semiprozine, the Canadian On Spec, had seemed a bit dull and lackluster the last few years, overshadowed by the more robust Eidolon, but as the Australian magazines head into a rocky patch, it seems to have improved, with the overall quality of the fiction better than it's been in a while, with worthwhile stories by Cory Doctorow, Derryl Murphy, Kain Massin, Rebecca M. Senese, and others appearing there this year. Meanwhile, the other Canadian fiction semiprozine, Transversions, seems to have disappeared completely. There's also an Irish fiction semiprozine, an interesting and eccentric little magazine called Albedo One, which managed two issues this year. The leading British fiction semiprozine has for some years now been The Third Alternative, which is a slick and handsome full-size magazine that attracts the work of some top professional authors--but which also runs very little SF or fantasy, featuring "slipstream," literary surrealism, and horror instead. I only saw one issue of Tales of the Unanticipated and Space & Time, and LC-39 died after a final issue. Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine died this year, after thirteen years of publication. I don't follow the horror semiprozine market much anymore, but there the most prominent magazine seems to be the highly respected Cemetery Dance and the lively and audacious little magazine Talebones, Fiction on the Dark Edge, which also sneaks some science fiction in from time to time.
A quirky and interesting newcomer in the fiction semiprozine market is Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet (http://www.lcrw.net); as you can tell from the title, it tends to be a bit self-consciously eccentric and "literary," but although you'll find no center-core SF here (or even fantasy, as it's usually known in the genre), you will find some good stories, most of them existing somewhere on the borderline between slipstream and surreal literary fantasy; this year, they ran interesting stuff by Ellen Klages (a story which is on this year's Final Nebula Ballot), Kelly Link, Jeffrey Ford, James Sallis, and others.
Another newcomer is Black Gate (http://www.blackgate.com), a handsome slick large-format fantasy magazine, supposedly concentrating on "Sword & Sorcery" and "High Fantasy" (although, oddly, the debut issue also contains a science fictionstory by Jeffrey Ford); the first issue features a gorgeous cover by Keith Parkinson, as well as good work by Richard Parks, Charles de Lint, Michael Moorcock, and others (there are already rumors of behind-the-scenes trouble at Black Gate, though, so we'll have to wait and see if it survives).
Turning to the critical magazines, the top two magazines, and just about the only two published on a reliable schedule (or even anywhere near one), are Charles N. Brown's "newszine" Locus, and David G. Hartwell's eclectic critical magazine The New York Review of Science Fiction. Andy Porter's SF Chronicle, for years Locus's chief rival, has fallen on hard times of late, with its publishing schedule becoming so erratic that often there were only a couple of issues per year. In 2000, however, SF Chronicle became part of Warren Lapine's DNA Publications group, theoretically freeing Porter to concentrate on editing rather than the mundane details of production and distribution, and it is sincerely to be hoped that this change will put SF Chronicle back in contention as a top newszine again. There were two issues of Lawrence Person's playful and intelligent Nova Express out this year, prompting some to exclaim that the millennium must be at hand (as indeed it is, isn't it?) There's not really a lot more left to the critical semiprozine market anymore, what with some magazines falling silent, and Tangent and Speculations converting (supposedly, in Tangent's case) to online-only electronic versions--a fate which I sometimes think might overtake all critical semiprozines in time.
(Locus, The Newspaper of the Science Fiction Field, Locus Publications, Inc., P.O. Box 13305, Oakland, California 94661, $56.00 for a one-year first class subscription, 12 issues; The New York Review of Science Fiction, Dragon Press, P.O. Box 78, Pleasantville, NY, 10570, $32.00 per year, 12 issues; Nova Express, P.O. Box 27231, Austin, Texas 78755-2231, $12 for a one-year (four-issue) subscription; On Spec. More Than Just Science Fiction, P.O. Box 4727, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6E 5G6, $18 for a one-year subscription; Aurealis, the Australian Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Chimaera Publications, P.O. Box 2164, Mt. Waverley, Victoria 3149, Australia, $43 for a four-issue overseas airmail subscription, "all cheques and money orders must be made out to Chimarea Publications in Australian dollars"; Eidolon, the Journal of Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy, Eidolon Publications, P.O. Box 225, North Perth, Western Australia 6906, $45 (Australian) for four-issue overseas airmail subscription, payable to Eidolon Publications; Altair. Alternate Airings in Speculative Fiction, PO Box 475, Blackwood, South Australia, 5051, Australia, $36 for a four-issue subscription; Albedo, Albedo One Productions, 2 Post Road, Lusk, Co., Dublin, Ireland; $34 for a four-issue airmail subscription, make checks payable to "Albedo One"; Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Absolute Magnitude, The Magazine of Science Fiction Adventures, Aboriginal Science Fiction, Weird Tales, Dreams of Decadence, Science Fiction Chronicle--all available from DNA Publications, P.O. Box 2988, Radford, VA 24142-2988, all available for $16 for a one-year subscription, although you can get a group subscription to all five DNA fiction magazines for $70 a year, with Science Fiction Chronicle $45 a year (12 issues), all checks payable to "D.N.A. Publications"; Century, Century Publishing, P.O. Box 150510, Brooklyn, NY 11215-0510, $20 for a four issue subscription; Terra Incognita, Terra Incognita, 52 Windermere Avenue #3, Lansdowne, PA 19050-1812, $15 for four issues; Tales ofthe Unanticipated, Box 8036, Lake Street Station, Minneapolis, MN 55408, $15 for a four-issue subscription; Space & Time, 138 W. 70th Street (4B), New York, NY. 10023-4468, $10.00 for a two-issue subscription (one year), $20.00 for a four-issue subscription (two years); Artemis Magazine: Science and Fiction for a Space-Faring Society, LRC Publications, 1380 E. 17th St., Suite 201, Brooklyn NY 11230-6011, $15 for a four-issue subscription, checks payable to LRC Publications; Talebones, Fiction on the Dark Edge, 5203 Quincy Ave SE, Auburn, WA 98092, $18 for four issues; The Third Alternative, TTA Press, 5 Martins Lane, Witcham, Ely, Cambs. CB6 2LB, England, UK, $22 for a four-issue subscription, checks made payable to "TTA Press"; Black Gate, New Epoch Press, 815 Oak Street, St. Charles, IL 60174, $25.95 for a one-year (four-issue) subscription; Cemetery Dance, CD Publications, Box 18433, Baltimore, MD 21237; Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Small Beer Press, 360 Atlantic Avenue, PMB #132, Brooklyn, NY 11217, $12 for four issues, all checks payable to Gavin Grant. Many of these magazines can also be ordered online, at their Web sites; see the online section, above, for URLs.)
All in all, 2000 was another weak year for original anthologies, with only a few bright spots here and there. The best original SF anthology of the year, with even less competition for the title than usual, was probably Vanishing Acts (Tor), edited by Ellen Datlow. Although it carries the assertive subtitle, "A Science Fiction Anthology," a number of stories here, including a few of the best ones (the Chiang, the Stableford, the McDowell), are fantasy by any reasonable definition--but enough of the rest of them are center-core SF to tip the balance and let us judge this as an SF anthology. The best story here is probably Ted Chiang's eccentric and brilliant novella "Seventy-two letters," a story which dances right on the razor-thin boundary between fantasy and science fiction; I finally decided that it actually was a fantasy, as it depends at base on the core assumption that cabalistic magic really does work, but it's a member of that small but select subsubgenre of stories that rigorously examine fantasy material through the logical and rational lens of the scientific method--in fact, "Seventy-two Letters" reminds me the most strongly of those sections in Avram Davidson's The Phoenix and the Mirror concerned with the making of the speculum majorum. Other than the Chaing, clearly the cream of the crop here, the best stories in Vanishing Acts are M. Shayne Bell's "The Thing About Benny," Daniel Abraham's "Chimera 8," and Paul. J. McAuley's "The Rift," with Brian Stableford's "Tenebrio" and Ian McDowell's "Sunflowers" a half step below that. The book also contains worthwhile but somewhat flawed stories by Mark W. Tiedemann and A. R. Morlan, and William Shunn, as well as less successful pieces by Michael Cadnum and David J. Schow. Vanishing Acts is also anchored by strong reprints by Suzy McKee Charnas, Avram Davidson, Karen Joy Fowler, and Bruce McAllister (be sure to catch in particular Charnas's strong and underrated "Listening to Brahms"), and graced by an intriguing poem by Joe Haldeman, and is a good value at $24.95.
You run quickly out of options this year when searching for possibilities for a follow-up candidate for the title of best original SF anthology. The most solid contender is probably Skylife: Space Habitats in Story and Science (Harcourt),edited by Gregory Benford and George Zebrowski, which features two excellent original stories, "Reefs," by Paul J. McAuley and "Open Loops," by Stephen Baxter, as well as good reprints (of both stories and essays) by James Patrick Kelly, Arthur C. Clarke, Larry Niven, Joan D. Vinge, James Blish, Greg Bear, Gregory Benford himself, and others. This is a worthwhile anthology, and a valuable addition to any SF library, but it somehow feels a bit musty--most of the reprint stories are from the late '70s, as is the longest of the reprint essays, as if the book was really an anthology from the late '70s that had somehow not seen print until the year 2000. With the exception of the originals by McAuley and Baxter, there's little here reflective of the evolution of genre thinking about the theme during the decades of the '80s and '90s: without those two stories, there wouldn't be much evidence that Skylife hadn't originally been published twenty years ago (even the extensive bibliography doesn't mention much that was published after the beginning of the '80s). As is, the book seems out of balance, with the bulk of it composed of reprint material, much of it rather dated. I think they'd have been better off throwing out some of the reprints, both fiction and nonfiction, and commissioning more originals from contemporary authors (or fresh material from veterans such as Bear, Benford, and Vinge, for that matter), especially if they could have gotten stories at the same level of quality as the two originals they do have. Still, in spite of these quibbles, Skylife will probably be the standard anthology on this theme for some time to come. At $28, it may be seen as a bit expensive by some, but when you throw in the eight pages of color art, it's probably worth it.
Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora (Warner), edited by Sheree R. Thomas, is an anthology of huge historical significance, but can hardly be a serious contender for the title of best original SF anthology of the year, since it doesn't really contain that much actual science fiction. Whatever its value as literature, most of the original material here is fantasy or horror of various stripes, or near-mainstream, or surrealism of one sort or another, or literary erotica; what science fiction there is here (with the exception of two of the reprints) tends to be quite "soft," or to be mixed in a hybrid with one or more of the other genres mentioned. (The next Dark Matter anthology, being planned now, supposedly will concentrate more on science fiction.) The best of the original stories in Dark Matter are by Tananarive Due, Nalo Hopkinson, Linda Addison, Nisi Shawl, Leane Ross, and Jewelle Gomez, the book also features rare and rarely seen material of great historic import from black writers not usually seen as part of SF's family tree, such as W. E. B. Du Bois, George S. Schuyler, Ishmael Reed, and Charles W. Chesnutt, more contemporary (but still classic) reprints by writers such as Samuel R. Delany and Octavia E. Butler, and an array of essays about racism and science fiction by Delany, Butler, Paul D. Miller, Charles R. Saunders, and Walter Mosley. A landmark anthology.
After this, we quickly run out of alternatives. Star Colonies (DAW), edited by Martin H. Greenberg and John Helfers, is probably an attempt to follow up on the success of last year's acclaimed Moon Shots anthology (edited by Peter Crowther), but although it does contain good stories by Allen Steele, Pamela Sargent, Robert Charles Wilson, and others, nothing here really reaches the level of quality of the best of the stories from Moon Shots. Far Frontiers (DAW), edited by Greenberg and Larry Segriff, is even weaker, although there's still some entertainingmaterial here by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Alan Dean Foster, Robin Wayne Bailey, and others. This year's assembled-online SFF.net anthology (number three in the "Darkfire anthology series," according to the cover copy) is The Age of Wonders: Tales from the Near Future (SFF.NET), edited by Jeffry Dwight. This anthology seems weaker than last year's SFF.net anthology, The Age of Reason, perhaps because of the limitation in potential story material implied by the subtitle, perhaps because that's just the way it came out, with lots of minor stories, but it does feature a superior story by William Sanders, and interesting work by Brian Plante, Dave Smeds, Mary Soon Lee, Lawrence Fitzgerald, and others (you won't find this one in stores, so mail-order from: SFF Net, 3300 Big Horn Trail, Plano, TX 75075-$14.95 for The Age of Wonders: Tales from the Near Future; the book can also be ordered online at sff.net, and back titles in the Darkfire series can be ordered either by mail or online). Guardians of Tomorrow (DAW), edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Larry Segriff, was also pretty minor, although it featured interesting work by Willam H. Keith, Jane Lindskold, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and others. Such a Pretty Face: Tales of Power and Abundance (Meisha Merlin), edited by Lee Martindale, is a mixed SF/fantasy anthology that features good work by Gene Wolfe, Laura Underwood, K. D. Wentworth, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, and others. And, as usual, L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume XVI (Bridge), edited by Algis Budrys, presents novice work by beginning writers, some of whom may later turn out to be important talents.
There wasn't a big standout anthology in fantasy this year, as there has been some years. The best original fantasy anthology of the year was probably Black Heart, Ivory Bones (Avon), edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, the latest in their long series of anthologies of updated fairy tales, featuring good stories by Howard Waldrop, Severna Park, Brian Stableford, Jane Yolen, Tanith Lee, Esther Friesner, Russell Blackford, and others. A Young Adult version of the same kind of thing, updated fairy tales, lacking the sharp edges of the adult version but still containing some good material, was A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales (Simon & Schuster), also edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, which featured good work by Neil Gaiman, Jane Yolen, Janeen Webb, Tanith Lee, Kelly Link, Patricia A. McKillip, and others.
The two Datlow/Windling anthologies are primarially Eurocentric in orientation, though, and some may prefer the more offbeat and unconventional fantasy to be found in Dark Matter, or the fantasies inspired by Caribbean folktales featured in whispers from the cotton tree root (Invisible Cities Press), edited by Nalo Hopkinson, which contains "Caribbean fabulist fiction" from a large cross section of writers whose work will be unfamiliar to most genre readers, as well as from a few more-familiar figures such as Ian McDonald and Hopkinson herself.
The rest of the year's original fantasy anthologies (and original fantasy anthologies seem to be proliferating as reprint fantasy anthologies dwindle) were the usual welter of "pleasant but minor" theme anthologies, each containing a couple of interesting stories, but rarely more than that; as they're all inexpensive paperbacks, you may get your money's worth out of individual titles, but don't expect anything really special. They included: Warrior Fantastic (DAW), edited by Martin H. Greenberg and John Helfers, which features interesting work by Charles deLint, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Alan Dean Foster, and others; Spell Fantastic (DAW), edited by Martin H. Greenberg and John Heifers, which featured work by Jane Lindskold, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, and others; Civil War Fantastic (DAW), edited by Martin H. Greenberg, which featured work by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Nancy Springer, Karen Haber, Mike Resnick and Catharine Asaro, and others; New Amazons (DAW), edited by Margaret Weis, featuring work by Nancy Springer, Jo Clayton, and others; and Perchance to Dream (DAW), edited by Denise Little, which featured worthwhile stuff by Diane Duane, Peter Crowther, Nancy Springer, Bruce Holland Rogers, Michelle West, and others. The Chick Is in the Mail (Baen), edited by Esther M. Friesner, is another entry in a one-joke anthology series that has probably gone on for too long; this one features good writers such as Harry Turtledove, William Sanders, Nancy Kress, Charles Sheffield, and Friesner herself, all trying gamely to deal with the lame theme, although one gets the feeling that they could have better spent the time writing something else for some other market instead. Another fantasy anthology was the latest, and probably the last, in a very long-running series: Swords & Sorceresses XVII (DAW), edited by the late Marion Zimmer Bradley.
I don't pay close attention to the horror genre anymore, but there didn't seen to be any Big Prestigious Anthology--like last year's 999--there either; the most prominent anthologies seemed to be Dark Terrors 5 (Gollancz), edited by Stephen Jones and David Sutton, and a mixed original and reprint anthology, October Dreams: A Celebration of Halloween (CD Publications), edited by Richard T. Chizmar and Robert Morrish (CD Publications, PO Box 943, Abingdon, MD 21009--$40 for October Dreams). I've already counted Black Heart, Ivory Bones as a fantasy anthology, and Dark Matter as a science fiction anthology, but reasonable cases could be made for considering them to be horror instead, depending on how you squint at them. There were also several other anthologies that existed on the borderline of fantasy and horror this year, some stories seeming to belong in one camp, some in the other (some of them even threw in a smidgen of science fiction): Treachery and Treason (Penguin/Roc), edited by Laura Ann Gilman and Jennifer Heddle, featured interesting work by Lois Tilton, Karen Haber, Esther Friesner, Jerry Oltion, K. D. Wentworth, Scott Edelman, and others; Graven Images (Ace), edited by Nancy Kilpatrick and Thomas S. Roche (Ace), featured worthwhile material by Lois Tilton, Gene Wolfe, Kathe Koja, Tanith Lee, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and others; and Mardi Gras Fantastic: Tales of Terror and Mayhem in New Orleans (Cumberland House), edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Russell David, featured stories by Peter Crowther, Bruce Holland Rogers, Charles de Lint, Jane Lindskold, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, and others. There was also a hybrid fantasy/horror anthology from Australia, Mystery, Magic, Voodoo & the Holy Grail (Voyager), edited by Stephanie Smith and Julia Stiles, featuring no names which would be familiar to the American genre audience.
An extremely disappointing story in the anthology market this year was the announcement of the cancellation of the long-promised new Avon Eos anthology series, which was supposed to be "like Full Spectrum," a project upon which a lot of hopes had been pinned. That leaves little to look forward to in this market except for the next volume in the Starlight anthology series, promised for 2001,and a new SF anthology edited by Peter Crowther, about Mars, said to be in the works.
It was a relatively stable year in the novel market, with no significant gains in the overall number of novels published, but no really dramatic losses, either, in spite of the mergers and cutbacks and shakeups of the last couple of years. There are still a lot of science fiction/fantasy/horror books being published, in spite of recent talk about how these genres are "dying," and a lot of them seem to have done quite well commercially. Barring a sudden catastrophic recession in the publishing industry of Great Depression-like proportions (which could happen, of course, especially if we head into a societywide Depression of cataclysmic severity), the probability is that there will continue to be a lot of genre books published in the foreseeable future as well. (Quality is a much more subjective call, of course; and some critics seem to delight in gloomy talk about how nothing worthwhile gets into print anymore, but it seems to me that, to the contrary, there are still plenty of novels of quality being published out there, including some that probably wouldn't have been printed ten or fifteen years ago.)
According to the newsmagazine Locus, there were 1,927 books "of interest to the SF field," both original and reprint, published in 2000, down by 2% from 1999's total of 1,959, but still a hefty number. Original books were down by 7%, down 1,027 from last year's total of 1,107. The number of new SF novels was down slightly, with 230 novels published, as opposed to 251 novels published in 1999. The number of new fantasy novels was also down, with 258 novels published, as opposed to 275 published in 1999, still higher than 1998's total of 233. Horror was also down, with 80 novels published as opposed to 1999's total of 95 novels.
It's interesting to compare these totals by category with the totals from 1995: there were 239 new SF novels published in 1995, 230 published in 2000, so SF is really only down by nine titles when compared to five years ago; there were 227 new fantasy novels published in 1995, as opposed to 258, so fantasy has grown by 31 titles when compared to 1995; there were 193 new horror novels published in 1995, as opposed to 80, so horror has dwindled by 113 titles when compared to 1995. In spite of all the talk over the last five years about how science fiction as a commercial category is dying, there's really not that much difference in the number of SF books published in 2000 and in 1995, nor has fantasy grown enough by comparison to really be said to have "swallowed" SF or driven it off the bookshelves, as is sometimes averred. Horror isn't "dead" either, in spite of the funeral services that have been read over that genre.
(And, for some historical perspective, the next time that you hear that the SF genre is "dying," keep in mind that the number of original mass-market paperbacks published this year, 324, is alone higher than the total number of original genre books, of any sort, published in 1972, which was 225. And that a much-wider-audience of people have easier access to SF books than at any other time in the genre's history; when I was a kid, you had to travel more than twenty miles by train or bus if you wanted to find a bookstore that carried science fiction titles,and there was no such thing even as a science fiction section in bookstores, let alone a science fiction specialty store.)
I don't have time to read many novels, with all the reading I have to do at shorter lengths, and this year have read even fewer than usual--so rather than endorsing anything personally, I'll limit myself to mentioning those novels that received a lot of attention and acclaim in 2000 including: The Telling (Harcourt), Ursula K. Le Guin; Genesis (Tor), Poul Anderson; The Coming (Ace), Joe Haldeman; In Green's Jungles (Tor), Gene Wolfe; Eater (Eos), Gregory Benford; Probability Moon (Tor), Nancy Kress; Shrine of Stars (Eos), Paul McAuley; A Storm of Swords (Bantam Spectra), George R. R. Martin; The Fountains of Youth (Tor), Brian Stableford: Zeitgeist (Bantam Spectra), Bruce Sterling; Look to Windward (Orbit), lain M. Banks; The Amber Spyglass (Knopf), Philip Pullman; Marrow (Tor), Robert Reed; Crescent City Rhapsody (Avon Eos), Kathleen Ann Goonan; The Sky Road (Tor), Ken MacLeod; Dervish Is Digital (Macmillan), Pat Cadigan; Galveston (Ace), Sean Stewart; Midnight Robber (Warner Aspect), Nalo Hopkinson; The Light of Other Days (Tor), Stephen Baxter and Arthur C. Clarke; Candle (Tor), John Barnes; The Collapsium (Del Rey), Wil McCarthy; Mendoza in Hollywood (Harcourt), Kage Baker; The Miocene Arrow (Tor), Sean McMullen; Perdido Street Station (Macmillan), China Mieville; Ventus (Tor), Karl Schroeder; White Mars (St. Martin's), Brian W. Aldiss and Roger Penrose; Wild Angel (Tor), Pat Murphy; Oceanspace (Ace), Allen Steele; The Fresco (Eos), Sheri S. Tepper; The Prophecy Machine (Bantam Spectra), Neal Barrett, Jr.; The Last Hot Time (Tor), John M. Ford; Empire of Unreason (Del Rey), J. Gregory Keyes; Lodestar (Tor), Michael Flynn; Wild Life (Simon & Schuster), Molly Gloss; Darwin's Blade (Morrow), Dan Simmons; Jumping Off the Planet (Tor), David Gerrold; Colony Fleet (Eos), Susan R. Matthews; Daemonomania (Bantam), John Crowley; Ash: A Secret History (Eos), Mary Gentle; Blind Waves (Tor), Steven Gould; Kirith Kirin (Meisha Merlin), Jim Grimsley; Infinity Beach (HarperPrism), Jack McDevitt; The Memory of Fire (Bantam Spectra), George Foy; The Jazz (Tor), Melissa Scott; Lieutenant Colonel (Ace), Rick Shelley; Fortress of Dragons (Eos), C. J. Cherryh; The Glass Harmonica (Ace), Louise Marley; Spindle's End (Putnam), Robin Mc-Kinley; Hunted (Eos), James Alan Gardner, Brain Plague (Tor), Joan Slonczewski; Colonization: Down to Earth (Del Rey), Harry Turtledove; The Quiet Invasion (Warner Aspect), Sarah Zettel; and The Truth (HarperCollins), Terry Pratchett.
It was a slightly stronger year for first novels this year than last year. The two first novels that attracted the most attention were Revelation Space (Gollanz), by Alastair Reynolds and Mars Crossing (Tor), by Geoffrey A. Landis. Other first novels included: Wheelers (Warner Aspect), Ian Steward and Jack Cohen; Soulsaver (Harcourt), Jams Stevens-Acre; Growing Wings (Houghton Mifflin) Laurel Winter; House of Leaves (Pantheon), Mark Z. Danielewski; Ceres Storm (Tor), David Herter; and The Glasswrights' Apprentice (Tor), Mindy L. Klasky. As usual, all publishers who are willing to take a chance publishing first novels should be commended, since developing new talent by publishing their maiden efforts, taking a risk on writers without a proven track record, is a chance that must be taken by someone if new talent is going to be able to develop, and if the field itself is going to survive.
Looking over these lists, it's obvious that Tor and Eos had strong years. Once again, in spite of complaints that nobody publishes "real" science fiction anymore, the majority of novels here are center-core science fiction novels. Even omitting the fantasy novels and the borderline genre-straddling work on the list, the Anderson, the Haldeman, the Le Guin, the Baxter and Clarke, the Benford, the Goonan, the McAuley, the Banks, the Kress, the Barnes, the Reed, the McCarthy, the Stableford, the Sterling, the Reynolds, the Landis, and a half dozen others are science fiction by any even remotely reasonable definition, many of them "hard science fiction" as hard and as rigorous as it's ever been written by anybody--in fact, despite what "they" say, I think more center-core SF has been published in the last five years or so than ever before ... as well as a large range of other kinds of work, from pure fantasy to borderland SF/fantasy hybrids of a dozen different sorts.
Like last year, 2000 was also a good year for the reissuing of long-out-of-print classic novels. The SF Masterworks reprint series, from English publisher Millennium, has been doing an excellent job over the last two years of making classic novels available to the public again, with recent titles including such seminal works as Nova, by Samuel R. Delany, Pavane, by Keith Roberts, More Than Human, by Theodore Sturgeon, Ubik, by Philip K. Dick, Non-Stop, by Brian W. Aldiss, and more than thirty other titles, every single one of which belongs in the library of any serious student of the genre. Millennium's recently launched Fantasy Masterworks reprint series is doing an equally good job of bringing classic fantasy books such as Little, Big, by John Crowley, Lud-in-the-Mist, by Hope Mirrlees, Fevre Dream, by George R. R. Martin, and The Land of Laughs, by Jonathan Carroll back into print, as well as doing omnibus volumes of Gene Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun" series, Jack Vance's "Dying Earth" stories, Roger Zelazny's "Amber Chronicles," and L. Sprague De Camp's "Incomplete Enchanter" books, and hard-to-find collections by writes such as Robert E. Howard, M. John Harrison, and Lord Dunsany. On this side of the Atlantic, reprint series such as Tor/Orb and Del Rey Impact, and a reprint line from Vintage are also performing invaluable services for the field by bringing long-unavailable novels back into print, including, this year, The Big Time (Tor), by Fritz Leiber, A Case of Conscience (Del Rey Impact), by James Blish, The Power (Orb), by Frank M. Robinson, The Empire of Isher (Orb), by A. E. Van Vogt, The Genocides (Vintage), by Thomas M. Disch, and many others. Ace is also reissuing classics from its backlist, such as The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin, Neuromancer, by William Gibson, and The Northern Girl, by Elizabeth A. Lynn, and Overlook Press offered an omnibus of James Blish's famous "Okie" novels, Cities in Flight. Print-on-demand (POD) publishers are also having a big impact on making classic work available to readers again; Wildside Press (http://www.wildside.com) has already returned to easy availability (if not, technically, to print) almost all of the long-out-of-print and long-unavailable novels of writers such as R. A. Lafferty and Avram Davidson, and this is only the beginning of what should be a flood of "reissued" POD classic titles over the next few years.
In fact, all in all, this may be the best time in decades to get your hands on long-unavailable work and fill up those holes in your library shelves with booksyou've long meant to read but couldn't find, so be sure to take advantage of it. Most of these classic novels should be read by anybody who wants to understand the evolution of science fiction, how the genre got to where it is today, and where it's going next--and also by anybody who just wants a lot of first-rate reading, works that have been unavailable to them before now, sometimes unavailable for decades. Get them and read them now, while you have the chance.
(There are a lot of new POD novels available, too, too many to individually list here, many of them by first-rate SF writers such as William Sanders and Lois Tilton; check the Web sites of POD publishers such as Xlibris and Wildside and Subterranean Press and Universe for these, is my advice. Novels both old and new are also available in great numbers to either be downloaded or read online at PeanutPress, Fictionwise ElectricStory, Alexandria Digital Literature, Project Gutenberg, and many other sites.)
My track record for predicting what novels are going to win major awards is bad enough (last year, I predicted Vernor Vinge's Hugo win, but missed the Nebula winner completely) that I suppose I shouldn't even try. Your guess is, obviously, as good as mine.
Borderline SF novels this year included Bad Medicine (HarperCollins Australia), by Jack Dann, a wonderfully crafted and keenly observed "road" novel about two old men setting off for a last adventure--and a last chance for knowledge and self-discovery--on the edge of life: mostly "mainstream," but with a few strong fantastic touches here and there to add spice; and the comic The Man of Maybe Half-a-Dozen Faces (St. Martin's), by Ray Vuckcevich. Mystery novels by SF writers included Deepest Water (St. Martin's), by Kate Wilhelm. and Bleeding Heart (Berkeley), by Mary Rosenblum, writing as "Mary Freeman."
It was another good year for short-story collections, as it has been for the past several years now. The year's best collections included Tales of Old Earth (North Atlantic/Tachyon), by Michael Swanwick; Beluthahatchie and Other Stories (Golden Gryphon), by Andy Duncan; Perpetuity Blues and Other Stories (Golden Gryphon), by Neal Barrett, Jr.; Moon Dogs (NESFA Press), by Michael Swanwick; Worlds Vast and Various (Eos), by Gregory Benford; Strange Travelers (Tor), by Gene Wolfe; Blue Kansas Sky (Golden Gryphon), by Michael Bishop; Terminal Visions (Golden Gryphon), by Richard Paul Russo; The Perseids and Other Stories (Tor), by Robert Charles Wilson; Night Moves and Other Stories (Subterranean Press), by Tim Powers; and In the Upper Room and Other Likely Stories (Tor), by Terry Bisson.
Other good collections included: High Cotton: Selected Stories of Joe R. Lansdale (Golden Gryphon), by Joe R. Lansdale; Thirteen Phantasms and Other Stories (Edgewood Press), by James Blaylock; Kafka Americana (Subterranean Press), by Jonathan Lethem and Carter Scholz; In the Stone House (Arkham House), by Barry N. Malzberg; Sister Emily's Lightship and Other Stories (Tor), by Jane Yolen; Blackwater Days (Eidolon), by Terry Dowling; Puck Aleshire's Abecedary (Dragon Press), by Michael Swanwick; Travel Arrangements (Gollancz), by M. John Harrison; Gnarl! (Four Walls Eight Windows), by Rudy Rucker; In Space No OneCan Hear You Laugh (Farthest Star SF), by Mike Resnick; The Death Artist (Dream Haven), by Dennis Etchison; Tagging the Moon (Night Shade), by S. P. Somtow; and Triskell Tales (Subterranean Press), by Charles de Lint.
The year also featured strong retrospective collections such as The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon, Volume VII: Saucer of Loneliness (North Atlantic), by Theodore Sturgeon; Selected Stories (Vintage), by Theodore Sturgeon; The Essential Hal Clement, Volume 2: Music of Many Spheres (NESFA Press), by Hal Clement, edited by Mark L. Olsen and Anthony R. Lewis; The Essential Hal Clement, Volume 3: Variations on a Theme by Sir Isaac Newton (NESFA Press), by Hal Clement, edited by Mark L. Olsen and Anthony R. Lewis; Meet Me in Infinity (Tor), by James Tiptree, Jr.; Telzey Amberdon (Baen), by James H. Schmitz, edited by Eric Flint; T'n'T: Telzey & Trigger (Baen), by James H. Schmitz, edited by Eric Flint; The Collected Stories of Jack Williamson, Volume Three: Wizard's Isle (Haffner Press), by Jack Williamson; The Third Cry to Legba and Other Invocations: The Selected Stories of Manly Wade Wellman, Volume I (Night Shade Books) by Manly Wade Wellman; Hell on Earth: The Lost Bloch Volume Two (Subterranean Press), by Robert Bloch; The Yellow Sign and Other Tales (Chaosium), by Robert W. Chambers; and Major Ingredients: The Selected Short Stories of Eric Frank Russell (NESFA Press), by Eric Frank Russell. And although it contains a number of mainstream stories as well as SF and fantasy, Davidson fans will certainly want Everybody Has Somebody In Heaven: Essential Jewish Tales of the Spirit (Pitspopany Press), by the late Avram Davidson, edited by Jack Dann and Grania Davis, which collects some of Davidson's rarest and hardest-to-find early stories, as well as some later classics like "The Golem" and "Goslin Day."
As you can see, small-press publishers remain vital to the publication of short-story collections, with new publisher Golden Gryphon Press particularly distinguishing itself, following in the footsteps of its founder, the late Jim Turner; NESFA Press, Tachyon, North Atlantic, and other small presses also brought a lot of good work to the public this year that otherwise might never have been seen again. Regular trade publishers, though, do seem to be doing more collections these days than in years past, and a special nod should be given to Tor, which has probably published more collections in the past couple of years than any other trade publisher.
Print-on-demand publishers are becoming important suppliers of short-story collections. Mike Resnick had one POD collection last year, A Safari of the Mind from Wildside Press, and he had another one out this year, a collection of his stories in collaboration with Nick DiChario, Magic Feathers: The Mike & Nick Show(Obscura Press). Wildside Press also published The Sweet and Sour Tongue: Stories by Leslie What, by Leslie What, Without Absolution, by Amy Sterling Casil, and Nightscapes: Tales of the Ominous and Magical, by Darrell Schweitzer this year. And there are many more POD collections on the way for next year, from Wildside and from other POD publishers as well.
Another rapidly developing source of collections, at least of the downloadable "electronic collection" variety, are online fiction sites. "Collections" by Nancy Kress, Mike Resnick, Damon Knight, Kage Baker, Robert Silverberg, Harlan Ellison, Tom Purdom, John Kessel, James Patrick Kelly, for instance, andmany others, are available to be downloaded for a fee at Fictionwise (http://www.fictionwise.com), and ibooks (http://www.ibooksinc.com) also "published" (promulgated? We need new terminology for this!) downloadable electronic collections by Robert Silverberg, Alfred Bester, and others this year. And more such sites are on the way.
As very few small-press titles will be findable in the average bookstore, or even in the average chain superstore, that means that mail order is still your best bet, and so I'm going to list the addresses of the small-press publishers mentioned above: NESFA Press, P.O. Box 809, Framinghan, MA 01701-0809-$25 for Moon Dogs, by Michael Swanwick; $25 for The Essential Hal Clement, Volume Two: Music of Many Spheres, by Hal Clement, $25 for The Essential Hal Clement, Volume Three: Variations on a Theme by Sir Isaac Newton, by Hal Clement; $29 for Major Ingredients: The Selected Short Stories of Eric Frank Russell, by Eric Frank Russell; Golden Gryphon Press, 364 West Country Lane, Collinsville, IL 62234-$23.95 for Beluthahatchie and Other Stories, by Andy Duncan, $21.95 for Perpetuity Blues and Other Stories, by Neal Barrett, Jr; $24.95 for Blue Kansas Sky, by Michael Bishop; $23.95 for Terminal Visions, by Richard Paul Russo; $23.95 for High Cotton: Selected Stories of Joe R. Lansdale, by Joe R. Lansdale; North Atlantic Books, P.O. Box 12327, Berkeley, CA, 94701-$25 for Tales of Old Earth, by Michael Swanwick; $30 for The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon, Volume VII: Saucer of Loneliness, by Theodore Sturgeon; Pitspopany Press, 40 East 78th St., Suite 16D, New York, NY 10021-$24.95 for Everybody Has Somebody in Heaven: Essential Jewish Tales of the Spirit, by Avram Davidson; Edgewood Press, P.O. Box 380264, Cambridge, MA 02238-$25 for Thirteen Phantasms and Other Stories, by James Blaylock; Wildside Press, P.O. Box 45, Gillette, NJ 07933-0045-$13.95 for The Sweet and Sour Tongue Stories by Leslie What, by Leslie What; $15 for Without Absolution, by Amy Sterling Casil; $16 for Nightscapes: Tales of the Ominous and Magical, by Darrell Schweitzer; Farthest Star SF, 65 Macedonia Road, Alexander, NC 28701-$16.95 for In Space No One Can Hear You Laugh, by Mike Resnick; Obscura Press, P.O. Box 1992, Ames, Iowa 50010-1992-$12.95 for Magic Feathers: The Mike 6 Nick Show, by Mike Resnick & Nick DiChario; Eidolon Publications, PO Box 225, North Perth, Western Australia 6906--$A22.95 for Blackwater Days, by Terry Dowling; Haffner Press, 5005 Crooks Rd., Suite 35, Royal Oak, MI 48073-1239-$32 plus $5.00 postage for The Collected Stories of Jack Williamson, Volume Three: Wizard's Isle; Night Shade Books, 563 Scott #304, San Francisco, CA 94117-$35 for The Third Cry to Legba and Other Invocations: The Selected Stories of Manly Wade Wellman, by Manly Wade Wellman; $25 for Tagging the Moon, by S. P. Somtow;. Subterranean Press, P.O. Box 190106, Burton, MI 48519-$40 for Hell on Earth: The Lost Bloch Volume Two, by Robert Bloch; $40 for Night Moves and Other Stories, by Tim Powers; $40 for Triskel Tales, by Charles de Lint--$40 for Kafka Americana, by Jonathan Lethem and Carter Scholz (although this last title appears to be currently out-of-stock); Dragon Press, P.O. Box 78, Pleasantville, NY 10570--$8 for Puck Aleshire's Abecedary, by Michael Swanwick; Arkham House, PO Box 546, Sauk City, WI 53583-$25.95 for In the Stone House, by Barry N. Malzberg; DreamHaven Books, 912 W. Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55408-$30 plus $4.75 postage for The Death Artist, by Dennis Etchison; Wizard's Attic, 900 MurmanskSt., Suite 7, Oakland, CA 94608-$19.95 for The Yellow Sign and Other Tales, by Robert W. Chambers.
The year 2000 was somewhat slender in the reprint anthology field, with fewer books overall and fewer really worthwhile ones than last year, although there were still a few good values here and there.
The best bets for your money in this category, as usual, were the various Best of the Year anthologies, and the annual Nebula Award anthology, Nebula Awards Showcase 2000 (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich), edited by Gregory Benford (note the title change; last year's volume was titled Nebula Awards 33, and we would have expected this one to be Nebula Awards 34, but instead they flew in the face of decades of tradition and called it Nebula Awards Showcase 2000 instead; wonder what next year's volume will be called?). As has been true for several years now, science fiction is being covered by two Best of the Year anthology series, the one you are holding in your hand, and the Year's Best SF series (HarperPrism), edited by David G. Hartwell, now up to its sixth annual volume. Once again, there were two Best of the Year anthologies covering horror in 2000: the latest edition in the British series The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror (Robinson, Caroll & Graff), edited by Stephen Jones, now up to Volume Eleven, and the Ellen Datlow half of a huge volume covering both horror and fantasy, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror (St. Martin's Press), edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, this year up to its Thirteenth Annual Collection. This year, for the first time since Art Saha's Year's Finest Fantasy series died, fantasy will be being covered by two Best of the Year anthologies, by the Windling half of the Datlow/Windling anthology, and by a new Fantasy Best of the Year annual being edited by David G. Hartwell and Katherine Cramer.
The best retrospective reprint SF anthology of the year was probably The SFWA Grand Masters, Volume 2 (Tor), edited by Frederik Pohl, the second volume in a series collecting the work of writers who have won SFWA's Grand Master Award, this year featuring classic work by Isaac Asimov, Andre Norton, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, and Alfred Bester. A look back over the history of the Writers of the Future contest can be found in L. Ron Hubbard Presents the Best of Writers of the Future (Bridge), edited by Algis Budrys. And historic overviews of the evolution of SF over the last fifty years is provided in Explorers: SF Adventures to Far Horizons (St. Martin's Griffin) and The Furthest Horizon: SF Adventure to the Far Future (St. Martin's Griffin), both edited by Gardner Dozois, and noted without further comment.
The only "regional" anthology I spotted this year was the Canadian retrospective Aurora Awards: An Anthology of Prize-Winning Science Fiction & Fantasy (Out of This World), edited by Edo van Belkom. An anthology of science fiction poetry is to be found in The 2000 Rhysling Anthology (SFPA/Stone Lightning Press).
Noted without comment are Aliens Among Us (Ace), edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois, Isaac Asimov's Mother's Day (Ace), edited by Gardner Dozois and Sheila Williams, and Isaac Asimov's Utopias (Ace), edited by Gardner Dozois and Sheila Williams.
There didn't seem to be many reprint fantasy anthologies this year. One wellworth looking into, though, is the follow-up to last year's popular anthology My Favorite Science Fiction Story; this one is called My Favorite Fantasy Story (DAW), edited by Martin H. Greenberg, in which famous fantasy writers are asked to select their favorite fantasy story, and explain why, with fascinating results; writers whose stories were picked included Jack Vance, Charles de Lint, Robert Bloch, and M. R. James. Another reprint fantasy anthology, this one of "comic fantasy," was Knights of Madness (Ace), edited by Peter Haining, which featured work by Woody Allen, Peter S. Beagle, Gene Wolfe, and Terry Prachett, among others.
Other than the above-mentioned "Best" anthologies by Stephen Jones and Datlow & Windling, there don't seem to be a lot of reprint horror anthologies anthologies anymore, although since I no longer follow the horror market closely, I might have missed them. The most prominent horror reprint anthology I saw this year was the retrospective Arkham's Masters of Horror (Arkham House), edited by Peter Ruber. Another one I spotted was My Favorite Horror Story (DAW), edited by Mike Baker and Martin H. Greenberg, the horror version of the fantasy anthology described above. Other reprint horror anthologies included The Mammoth Book of Haunted House Stories (Robinson), edited by Peter Haining, and The Best of Cemetery Dance, Volume 1 (Penguin/Roc), edited by Richard T. Chizmar.
It was not a particularly exciting year in the SF-and-fantasy-oriented nonfiction and referee book field--although it was a pretty good year in the related art book field.
There were no populist histories or sociological overviews of the genre this year, of the sort that have dominated this market for the past few years. There were some critical studies, including Transrealist Fiction (Greenwood Press), by Damien Broderick, Critical Theory and Science Fiction (Wesleyan/New England), by Carl Freedman, and a few academically oriented reference books such as French Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Pulp Fiction (MacFarland & Co.), by Jean-Marc Lofficier and Randy Lofficier, and The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales (Oxford), by Jack Zipes.
Most of the books in this category this year, though, revolve around individual writers, being either about them or by them. The autobiographical pieces include Algernon, Charlie and I (Challcrest Press), by Daniel Keyes, and Man of Two Worlds: My Life in Science Fiction and Comics (HarperCollins), by Julius Schwartz with Brian M. Thomsen. Collections of correspondence by well-known authors include 1984: Selected Letters (Voyant Publishing), by Samuel R. Delany, and Lord of a Visible World: An Autobiography in Letters (Ohio University Press), by H. P. Lovecraft, edited by S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz. Books about writers, or critical studies of their work, include Jack Vance: Critical Appreciations and a Bibliography (The British Library), edited by A. E. Cunningham, Robert A. Heinlein: A Reader's Companion (Nitrosyncretic), by James Gifford, J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century (HarperCollins UK), by Tom Shippey, Terry Pratchett: Guilty of Literature (The Science Fiction Foundation), edited by Andrew M. Butler, Edward James, and Faarah Mendelsohn, The Strange Case of Edward Gorey (Fantagraphics), by Alexander Theroux, At the Foot of the Story Tree: An Inquiry into the Fiction of Peter Straub (Subterranean Press), by Bill Sheehan, and VastAlchemies: The Life and Work of Mervyn Peake (Peter Owen), by G. Peter Winnington. A book of writing advice, with much autobiographical material worked in around the edges, is On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (Scribner), by Stephen King. A more generalized book of writing advice is The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Science Fiction (Alpha Books), by Cory Doctorow and Karl Schroeder. Also of interest is a book of writing advice that doubles as a short-story collection, with Hugo- and Nebula-winner Mike Resnick reprinting five of his stories and then taking them apart to analyze what makes them tick, in Putting It Together: Turning Sow's Ear Drafts into Silk Purse Stories (Wildside Press), by Mike Resnick.
As mentioned, the art book field was strong in 2000, with many good retrospective art collections by top artists seeing print (most of them from Paper Tiger, which had an astonishingly productive year), including Greetings from Earth: The Art of Bob Eggleton (Paper Tiger), by Bob Eggleton, Frank Kelly Freas: As He Sees It (Paper Tiger), by Frank Kelly Freas and Laura Brodian Freas, Inner Visions, The Art of Ron Walotsky (Paper Tiger), by Ron Walotsky, Journeyman: The Art of Chris Moore (Paper Tiger), by Chris Moore, Mass: The Art of John Harris, by Ron Tiner, Josh Kirby: A Cosmic Cornucopia (Paper Tiger), by David Langford, The Art of Rowena (Paper Tiger), by Doris Vallejo, Titans: The Heroic Visions of Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell (Paper Tiger), and Dreams: The Art of Boris Vallejo (Thunder Mouth Press), by Boris Vallejo.
There were also some good general overviews and/or illustrated retrospectives, including Out of Time: Designs for a Twentieth-Century Future (Abrams), by Norman Brosterman, The Frank Collection: A Showcase of the World's Finest Fantastic Art (Paper Tiger), by Jane and Howard Frank, and, as usual, the latest edition in a Best of the Year-like retrospective of the year in fantastic art, Spectrum 7: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art (Underwood), by Kathy Fenner and Arnie Fenner. Overviews of the comics field were presented in Comic Book Culture (Collectors Press), by Ron Goulart, and Vertigo Visions: Artwork from the Cutting Edge of Comics (Watson Guptill), by Alisa Kwitney. A similar art-oriented overview of the horror field is provided in Horror of the 20th Century: An Illustrated History (Collectors Press), by Robert Weinberg.
There were still a few general genre-related nonfiction books of interest this year, although not as many as in some years past. Most SF fans will probably be interested by Chasing Science: Science As Spectator Sport (Tor), by SF writer Frederik Pohl, and it's a fair bet that at least some will be want to get the essay collections Did Adam and Eve Have Navels? (W. W. Norton), by Martin Gardner and The Lying Stones of Marrakech (Harmony Books), by Stephen Jay Gould ... and from there it's not a very far stretch to guess that some at least will be intrigued by The Greatest Inventions of the Past 2000 Years (Simon & Schuster), edited by John Brockman. Those struggling to make sense of the somewhat spooky implications of modern-day cosmology might find some useful insights in Just Six Numbers (Basic Books), by Martin Rees. And I'll close with two highly controversial books that are challenging existing paradigms and attempting to establish new ones, and which at the very least are already inspiring a flood of stories (particularly the first one), Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe (Copernicus), by Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownie (which puts forth the heretical thought that maybe we are alone after all) and The End of Time: The Next Revolutionin Physics (Simon & Schuster), by Julian Barbour (which, as far as I can understand it, seems to be saying that time doesn't actually exist--a notion which will no doubt inspire as many stories as the other book as soon as more authors are able to figure out what in the world Barbour is talking about).
This was a pretty disappointing year for genre movies all in all, both artistically and commercially. There were lots of genre movies of one sort or another released in 2000, but few that stuck in the mind for longer than it took to walk out of the theater, and, with a few exceptions, such as the megahit The X-Men, not that many that really burned up the box office either; there were a few films that did okay-but-less-well-than-anticipated, and a few outright financial bombs.
Somewhat depressingly, the rule seemed to be that the closer to the center of the genre the movies got, the worse they did; the big hits were on the margins of the genre, or in related genres like fantasy, while the several big-budget movies that took place in outer space or in a future society were bombs, or at least performed well under expectations.
The year featured two big, glossy, expensive movies with all-star casts about the first manned mission to Mars, both of which were critically savaged, and both of which performed well under expectations, probably especially disappointing to the producers considering how expensive they were to make in the first place. Mission to Mars was a well-meaning movie, with stunning special effects and beautiful set-dressing, and even moderately intelligent once allowance is made for the now-traditional scientific errors and plot holes, but it seems to have been assembled with a kit from pieces of other movies, a bit of 2001 here, a chunk of Contact there, a hint of Red Planet Mars, and even, curiously enough, a dash of Robinson Crusoe on Mars. The good cast struggled manfully with the material, and probably even served it a bit better than it deserved, but the almost total familiarity of the plot, with hardly a stretch of footage which didn't prompt a feeling of hey-haven't-I-seen-this-before-somewhere?, drained the movie of all suspense and helped make a film that by rights ought to have been exciting curiously bland instead. I didn't catch the other big Mars movie, Red Planet, which was even more sliced up by critics than Mission to Mars, and which went through town quicker than green corn through the hired man (probably an indication that it didn't make much money), but the reviews would seem to indicate that it suffered from some of the same problems as the other movie, particularly the feeling of covering familiar ground less well than it had been covered before (critic Roger Ebert liked it a good deal better than Mission to Mars, though, and as Ebert is a longtime SF fan who's quite familiar with Prior Art in both the film and print SF genres, you might want to take this--almost lone--dissenting voice into consideration when deciding whether to rent Red Planet or not).
Overfamiliarity was also the big downcheck for an otherwise pretty good SF/ horror thriller called Pitch Black. In spite of being edited like a rock video, especially in the early part of the movie, with lots of jump-cuts, odd close-ups, and swirling camera movement (an annoying and counterproductive way to film an action movie, in my opinion), it eventually settles down a bit (perhaps they gave the cameraman--or the director--Prozac) and ultimately delivers an engrossingand fast-paced traditional thriller, with some genuinely suspenseful moments. The emphasis here is on the word "traditional," though--no thriller movie or horror movie fan will be in the least bit surprised by what happens, with most of the plot turns guessable long in advance; in fact, within the first half hour I'd managed to guess precisely which of the cannon-fodder cast were going to end up surviving at the end of the movie and which were going to be chomped by the monsters; in spite of the necessary strictures imposed by the basic deep structure of the form, a really first-rate thriller ought to be able to figure out some way to be less predictable than that. The cast is uneven, but Vin Diesel is very impressive as the brooding, brutal killer whom the other colonists come to depend on for their only chance of survival. The ambitious "adult" animated movie Titan AE also suffers from predictability (is there really anybody in the audience who isn't going to be able to guess both of the major "surprise" character turnarounds the film has in store within the first twenty minutes?), but unlike the more tightly plotted Pitch Black, it's a collection of loosely linked picaresque adventures (with many of the plot elements seemingly lifted from various old Star Trek episodes), that could have been extended arbitrarily forever, full of gaping holes in what passes for plot logic--it plays as if it had been plotted by a roomful of writers who never bothered to compare notes about what was going to happen next. If you can check your forebrain at the door, there is some fun to be had here, although perhaps we should not be surprised, considering that it is a cartoon, that it's cartoonish one-dimensional fun. In fact, in spite of its expensive and sometime quite impressive animation, in spite of the top-level star voice talent, in spite of the fact that they spent eighty million dollars (!) on this, Titan AE is ultimately just a Saturday morning cartoon with an unusually big budget--no worse, but, sadly, not much better, either.
Of course, it could be worse. Supernova makes Titan AE look like it was plotted by Jane Austen, and seems to be a movie made by someone who saw Event Horizon and had a terrible but murky dream about it that night.
(Space Cowboys, widely if unofficially known as Geezers In Space, did fairly well at the box office, better than these others, anyway, but although it delivers some of the same kind of eyeball-clicks, it's off at a bit of a tangent to the movies above--an Astronaut Movie, like Apollo 13, rather than a Space Movie per se.)
After this parade of immensely expensive failures and near failures, you have to wonder how long it will be before a studio takes a chance on a space movie again? Probably a long time, unless one hits big next year. Which is too bad, because I actually like space movies--and even the worst of them these days have great Sense of Wonder visuals. (A coherent plot and some effective writing would be nice, though. There's not one of these movies that couldn't have been greatly improved by hiring some real SF writers to work on them--at a cost of considerably less than coffee-and-doughnuts-for-the-crew money, too, since most print SF people work dirt-cheap by Hollywood standards. Instead, the moviemakers seem to think that they don't need writers--but they're wrong ... and saving money by doing without them is penny-wise and pound-foolish. Some of these movies might well have succeeded with them.)
Other kinds of SF movies didn't do much better than the Space Movies, for the most part. Battlefield Earth, based on the novel by the late SF writer L. RonHubbard, was a box-office disaster of monumental proportions, and undoubtedly the most critically savaged genre movie of the year--perhaps the most critically savaged movie of the year of any sort. The futuristic thriller The Sixth Day did better, but doesn't seem to have been enough of a hit to pull star Arnold Schwarzenegger's career out of its downward spiral. Hollow Man, an expensive, special-effects-heavy remake (of sorts) of The Invisible Man, tromped heavily on the horror-and-gore pedal, but although it did modestly well, was somehow less compelling, for all of the Big Bucks sunk into the visual effects, than Claude Raines had been in the old version with nothing but some bandages wrapped around his face.
A bit further away from the core of the genre, and more successful this year both artistically and commercially, are those movies that examine (usually as comedy, sometimes as drama) the intrusion of one fantastic element (usually one with a thin and improbable "scientific" rationale) into an otherwise "normal" everyday world, our world--at least as Hollywood sees it. Sliding Doors may have popularized this kind of movie, a few years back. The best of these this year was Frequency, in which a freak accident enables a son in the present day to communicate by shortwave radio with his long-dead (from the son's perspective) father in the past. This is a nicely bittersweet conceit, and is well played by the principal actors, and the first part of the movie is quite good--unfortunately, rather than having the courage of their convictions and sticking to the main concept, the filmmakers felt they had to spice things up by throwing in a track-down-a-serial-killer suspense plot and a cold porridge of time paradoxes, all of which the movie would have been better off without, so that the second half of the film is less effective than the first half. Along the same lines, What Women Want invests Mel Gibson with the sudden ability to hear women's thoughts (what at least some of them turn out to be thinking is that they want Me/ Gibson, unsurprisingly enough), The Family Man, Me Myself I, and Disney's The Kid surprise a self-involved character with miraculously appearing family members (in the former two, the families the main characters might have had, in an Alternate World; in the latter, a visitation through time from a child to the adult he would later grow up into), and Me, Myself, and Irene plays with the idea of multiple personalities who are in love with the same woman, and vie for her affections while running Jim Carrey through lots of There's Something About Mary-style slapstick, while What Planet Are You From? is a broad comic take on the old Aliens-Trying-to-Impregnate-Our-Women theme, complete with an alien whose dick rings when he sees a likely prospect.
The biggest successes commercially this year were out on the tenuous, fraying edge of the SF genre. The X-Men, of course, is not really a science fiction film at all, but rather a filmed version of a superhero comic book, a genre related to but by no means identical with SF, one with a different set of values and an internal logic all its own--once that's understood, you can enjoy The X-Men as a sleek and stylish vehicle, probably the best filmed version of a superhero comic since the original Tim Burton Batman--although I'm not at all sure that the convoluted plot made sense even by comic-book standards (nobody seemed to care, though). Chicken Run was a clever, sophisticated, and hugely entertaining children's fantasy (a sly postmodern homage to The Great Escape, done with claymation chickens), The Grinch That Stole Christmas a crude, ham-handed, and hugely annoying one,polluting the original classic with a double shot of Dumb and Dumber aesthetics, but they both made immense amounts of money. There were a lot of other children's fantasy movies too, including Fantasia 2000 (which was disappointing by comparison with the original, although the computer animation for "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" section was interesting), 102 Dalmatians, Pokemon the Movie 2000, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (which tanked, big time), The Road to El Dorado, Dinosaur (which went to a lot of time, trouble, and expense making sure that their dinosaurs were drawn as realistically and scientifically accurately as possible--and then gave them lips and had them talk. And cohabit with lemurlike creatures that in the real world wouldn't evolve for millions of years to come. Disney! Go figure!), and The Emperor's New Groove. The martial arts movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, in which most of the combatants have supernatural powers of one sort or another, was a surprise hit at the end of the year, as was the erotic fantasy Chocolat. Shadow of the Vampire seems to be becoming a succès d'estime, a recursive postmodern study about a real vampire playing a vampire in a vampire movie, although I'm not sure how it's doing at the box office. Mission Impossible 2 and Gladiator, among the year's biggest hits, seem too far out on the edge to really be justifiable as genre films, although Mission Impossible 2 is certainly a fantasy of some sort, and I suspect that Gladiator appeals to many of the same readers who enjoy Alternate History and Heroic Fantasy.
Unbreakable, the sophomore effort by new director M. Night Shyamalan, was a bit of a disappointment after last year's immensely successful (both critically and commercially) The Sixth Sense, although perhaps expectations for the new one had been built so high by the triumph of the previous movie that no film would have measured up to them; Unbreakable is still a stylish, well-crafted, and well-acted movie, although most people seemed to find it slow and uninvolving after The Sixth Sense, and missed the stinger in that movie's tail. Highlander: Endgame seemed to disappoint even most stone Highlander fans, Dungeons & Dragons was, well, a filmed version of a D&D game, and Nutty Professor II: The Klumps was about what you'd expect, a half dozen different flavors of Eddie Murphy in a convenient Variety Pack. Bedazzled was a remake of the classic old Peter Cook/ Dudley Moore comedy, lame and disappointing by comparison.
There was another herd (a slither?) of horror movies, ranging from the stylish, beautifully art-directed dip into the mind of a serial killer, The Cell (sort of What Dreams May Come meets Silence of the Lambs) to the crude but occasionally funny slasher-movie spoof Scary Movie, with lots of the usual stops on the way (Satanistic Apocalypse movies; dead people harassing the living; knife-wielding serial killers, and so forth). I could not overcome my ennui enough to bring myself to see Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 or American Psycho, so you're on your own there.
All in all, rather a pallid year. Most of the buzz in the air at the moment is directed toward some of the keenly anticipated movies that are theoretically going to be out sometime in 2001: The new film version of The Lord of the Rings, the Harry Potter movie, Spielberg's version of Kubrick's A.I., the new Matrix movie, perhaps Star Wars: Episode Two, maybe even a new Star Trek movie (hey, it could happen!). Next year at this time, the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter fans will be locked in pitched battle about whether the filmed versions did justice to (orwere faithful enough to) the books, but, for the moment, anticipation is high, and the implicit agreement among genre movie fans seems to be to just write off the year 2000 and forget about it. Not a bad idea, really.
It was also a lackluster year for SF and fantasy on television. Shows such as The X-Files, Xena: Warrior Princess, and Star Trek: Voyager dragged out their messy death agonies throughout the year, but already there's a sense that these shows are yesterday's news, fading into the past and into nostalgic memory even before they've actually left the airwaves. So far, it doesn't look to me as if any of the "new" series are really a good prospect to fill the power vacuum that'll be left behind once former Big Shows like The X-Files are finally gone. Farscape is still a pretty good show, as TV Space Opera goes, but although it certainly has its fans, it so far doesn't seem to me to have created the kind of fanatical, fantastically dedicated fan base that former Cult Favorites such as Babylon 5 once enjoyed. There are few other shows that are even in the running for that crown; Gene Roddenbery's Andromeda may be a distant prospect, or Stargate, but so far neither seems to have generated even as much buzz as Farscape has. Cleopatra 2525, mercifully, seems to have died, and I think that Lexx might have as well. Roswell, the prime-time soap opera featuring the adventures of the part-human, young, attractive, blow-dried descendants of UFO aliens, almost died, too, but was given a last-minute reprieve. Futurama is still on, and still occasionally funny, but it must say something--although I'm not sure what--that the two best SF shows on TV are a cartoon and one featuring Muppets (clearly recognizable as Muppets) as aliens. From here on down, most of the shows are comedies, and the rationale for considering them to be SF shows, rather than shows with comic surreal elements that occasionally borrow SF tropes, grows increasingly thin: The Simpsons and Third Rock From the Sun keep on keeping on, as they do year after year, and South Park is still with us, too, although its ratings are dropping, and it may be beginning to lose its audience.
The fantasy end of the spectrum seems to be in better shape than the science fiction end at the moment, commercially at least, with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel firmly established as huge hits, and shows such as Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and Charmed also doing well, to say nothing (which would be my preference) of a number of Angels-Among-Us shows.
All in all, not much to write home about on The Tube, either.
Two special presentations deserve mention, though: Toward the end of the year, the Sci-Fi Channel unveiled a six-hour miniseries version of Frank Herbert's Dune, which immediately launched Internet flamewars as to whether it was better or worse than David Lynch's feature film version from some years back, and inspired dozens of letters in Science Fiction Weekly and elsewhere nitpicking that this scene or character from the book had been left out, or weren't portrayed the way they were in the book, or in the Lynch film. (All of which prompts me to warn the producers of the upcoming Lord of the Rings movie to brace themselves for a similar storm of criticism--no matter how well the movie is done, there's always going to be somebody who's incensed because their favorite line was left out, or a character doesn't look the way they pictured them in their minds while reading the book.) Although there were certainly things to criticize about the new miniseries version of Dune, and nits galore waiting to be picked, I thought thaton the whole they did a reasonable job with it, trading compromises in plotting and effects for do-ability and good storytelling techniques. I certainly preferred it to the Lynch, which, while it had some good stuff in it (the scene where they bring the Third-Stage Guild Navigator out in what looks like a steaming railroad freight car, for instance, was spooky and wonderful, and effectively delivered a sense of pure alienness unmatched by anything in the miniseries), was overall a mess, and didn't work anywhere near as well as a coherent aesthetic whole. If nothing else, the straightforward storytelling technique of the new Dune was a relief after the solemn, slow pretentiousness of the Lynch version; it doesn't aim as high, but it doesn't fail as grandly either. The other program which would probably interest most SF fans was Walking With Dinosaurs, which used some extremely good computer animation (along with some very poor puppet-head work) to deliver a show that depicted the lifeways of various kinds of dinosaurs with the immediacy and verisimilitude of a Nature Documentary about wildebeests or giraffes, as though they'd sent time-travelling naturalists and camera crews back to actually observe and film the big beasts in action. Walking With Dinosaurs was intensely controversial among paleontologists, many of whom fiercely criticized it for depicting highly speculative dinosaur behavior as if it was unquestioned fact, but it was good television--unlike most of the stuff on this year.
The 58th World Science Fiction Convention, ChiCon 2000, was held in Chicago, Illinois, August 31-September 4, 2000, and drew an estimated attendance of 6,473. The 2000 Hugo Awards, presented at ChiCon 2000, were: Best Novel, A Deepness in the Sky, by Vernor Vinge; Best Novella, "The Winds of Marble Arch," by Connie Willis; Best Novelette, "1016 to 1," by James Patrick Kelly; Best Short Story, "Scherzo with Tyrannosaur," by Michael Swanwick; Best Related Book, Science Fiction of the twentieth century, by Frank Robinson; Best Professional Editor, Gardner Dozois; Best Professional Artist, Michael Whelan; Best Dramatic Presentation, Galaxy Quest; Best Semiprozine, Locus, edited by Charles N. Brown; Best Fanzine, File 770, edited by Mike Glyer; Best Fan Writer, David Langford; Best Fan Artist, Joe Mayhew; plus the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer to Cory Doctorow.
The 1999 Nebula Awards, presented at a banquet at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in New York City on May 20, 2000, were: Best Novel, Parable of the Talents, by Octavia E. Butler; Best Novella, "Story of Your Life," by Ted Chiang; Best Novelette, "Mars Is No Place for Children," by Mary A. Turzillo; Best Short Story, "The Cost of Doing Business," by Leslie What; Best Script, The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan; plus an Author Emeritus award to Daniel Keyes, and the Grand Master Award to Brian W. Aldiss.
The World Fantasy Awards, presented at the Twenty-sixth Annual World Fantasy Convention in Corpus Christi, Texas, October 26-29, 2000, were: Best Novel, Thraxas, by Martin Scott; Best Novella, "The Transformation of Martin Lake," by Jeff VanderMeer and "Sky Eyes," by Laurel Winter (tie); Best Short Fiction, "The Chop Girl," by Ian R. MacLeod; Best Collection, Moonlight and Vines, by Charles de Lint and Reave the Just and Other Tales, by Stephen R. Donaldson (tie); Best Anthology, Silver Birch, Blood Moon, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling;Best Artist, Jason Van Hollander; Special Award (Professional), to Gordon Van Gelder, for editing The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and at St. Martin's Press; Special Award (Non-Professional), to The British Fantasy Society; plus the Life Achievement Award to Michael Moorcock and Marion Zimmer Bradley.
The 2000 Bram Stoker Awards, presented by the Horror Writers of America during a banquet at the Adams Mark Hotel in Denver, Colorado, on May 13, 2000, were: Best Novel, Mr. X, by Peter Straub; Best First Novel, Wither, by J. G. Passarella; Best Collection, The Nightmare Chronicles, by Douglas Clegg; Best Long Fiction, "Five Days in April," by Brian A. Hopkins and "Mad Dog Summer," by Joe R. Lansdale (tie); Best Short Story, "After Shock," by F. Paul Wilson; Non-Fiction, DarkEcho Newsletter (all 1999 issues), edited by Paula Guran; Best Anthology, 999: New Stories of Horror and Suspense, edited by A1 Sarrantonio; Best Screenplay, The Sixth Sense, by M. Night Shyamalan; Best Work for Young Readers, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J. K. Rowling; Best Illustrated Narrative, The Sandman: The Dream Hunter, by Neil Gaiman; Best Other Media (audio), "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream," by Harlan Ellison; a Specialty Press Award to Christopher and Barbara Roden for Ash-Tree Press; plus the Lifetime Achievement Award to Edward Gorey and Charles L. Grant.
The 1999 John W. Campbell Memorial Award was won by A Deepness in the Sky, by Vernor Vinge.
The 1999 Theodore Sturgeon Award for Best Short Story was won by "The Wedding Album," by David Marusek.
The 1999 Philip K. Dick Memorial Award went to Vacuum Diagrams, by Stephen Baxter.
The 1999 Arthur C. Clarke Award was won by Distraction, by Bruce Sterling.
The 1999 James Tiptree, Jr. Memorial Award was won by The Conqueror's Child, by Suzy McKee Charnas.
Dead in 2000 or early 2001 were: L. SPRAGUE DE CAMP, 92, writer, critic, and anthologist, one of the most famous of the "Golden Age" giants, winner of the Hugo Award, the International Fantasy Award, and the World Fantasy Convention's Life Achievement Award, author of such famous SF novels as Lest Darkness Fall (which practically invented the Alternate History subgenre), The Glory That Was, Rogue Queen, and The Hand of Zei, the seminal fantasy The Complete Enchanter (with Fletcher Pratt), and distinguished historical novels such as The Bronze God of Rhodes and An Elephant for Aristotle, as well as many nonfiction books, anthologies, and critical works, including the definitive history of H. P. Lovecraft; GORDON R. DICKSON, 78, Hugo and Nebula-winner, best known for his long-running "Dorsai" sequence of novels and stories, which included Soldier, Ask Not, The Genetic General, Necromancer, The Far Call, and The Final Encyclopedia, and others, as well as many other unrelated books such as Special Delivery, The Way of the Pilgrim, and The Dragon and the George; KEITH ROBERTS, 65, author, artist, and editor, one of the most important British SF writers of the '60s and '70s, author of the famous novel Pavane, one of the best Alternate World novels ever written, as well as The Chalk Giants, Kiteworld, The Furies, the upcoming Drek Yarman, and a large body of brilliant work at shorter lengths;JOHN SLADEK, 62, writer and satirist, author of The Reproductive System, The Muller-Fokker Effect, Roderick, or The Education of a Young Machine; Roderick at Random, or Further Education of a Young Machine, Tik-Tok, and Bugs, as well as much mordant short work; DAVID R. BUNCH, 74, author of a large body of eccentric, fiercely iconoclastic short stories over a long career, most of which were assembled in the collections Moderan and Bunch!; CURT SIODMAK, 98, novelist, screenwriter, director, author of Donovan's Brain and the screenplay for the famous monster movie, The Wolf Man; EMIL PETAJA, 85, veteran writer, winner of SFWA's Author Emeritus award, author of The Stolen Sun and Saga of Lost Earths, among many others; REX VINSON, 64, who, as VINCENT KING, wrote such SF novels as Another End, Candy Man, and Light a Last Candle; RICK SHELLEY, 54, frequent contributor to Analog, author of many novels, such as Lieutenant Colonel, The Buchanan Campaign, Jump Pay, and the Varayan Memoir series; JOSEPH H. DELANEY, 67, author and attorney, frequent contributor of legal-themed SF stories to Analog for almost twenty years, author of In the Face of My Enemy, and other novels; SHERWOOD SPRINGER, 88, veteran writer of short fiction and a longtime SF fan; DAVID DUNCAN, 86, novelist, author of Occam's Razor and Beyond Eden; RICHARD LAYMON, 54, horror writer, serving a term as president of the Horror Writers of America at the time of his death, author of After Midnight, Blood Games, and The Travelling Vampire Show; ROBERT E. CORMIER, 75, author of Young Adult novels such as the well-known The Chocolate War, and also of the fantasy novel Fade; OLIVER E. SAARI, 81, veteran pulp author; MARY BROWN, 70, British fantasy writer, author of The Unlikely Ones; CLAUDE VAUZIERE, 72, French SF writer; DON WILCOX, 94, veteran pulp author; STURE LONNERSTAND, 80, Swedish SF writer and longtime fan; LAURENCE JAMES, 56, British author and editor; MICHAEL McDOWELL, 49, author of The Amulet and Cold Moon Over Babylon; KEITH SCOTT, 79, Canadian author; Dr. ALEX COMFORT, 80, best known for the bestseller The Joy of Sex, who also wrote such SF novels as Cities of the Plain and The Philosopher; STEVE ALLEN, 78, author, composer, and television personality, pioneering host of The Tonight Show (which practically invented the late-night talk-show format), who created the Alternate History-like TV program, Meeting of Minds, where famous people from across history were brought together for dinner and conversation, and who also wrote (in addition to a recent string of mystery novels) a few fairly well received science fiction stories, the best known of which is probably "The Public Hating"; JEAN SHEPHERD, writer and radio personality, whose funny, nostalgic work occasionally had mild fantastic elements (or at least moments of surreal exaggeration), best known for the collections In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories, and A Fistful of Fig Newtons; EDWARD GOREY, 75, artist and author, winner of two two World Fantasy Awards, probably the best-known artist of the satirically macabre and risibly ghoulish since Charles Addams, author of illustrated books such as The Doubtful Guest, The D. Awdrey-Core Legacy, The Unstrung Harp, The Gashlycrumb Times, The Evil Garden, and many others; CARL BANKS, 99, comics artist and author, creator of Scrooge McDuck, many of whose adventures featured strong and rigorously worked-out fantastic elements that were influential on a whole generation of SF writers, and whose portraits of Uncle Scrooge, DonaldDuck, and others have become highly collectable (and extremely expensive) fine art; KAREL THOLE, 86, artist, considered by many to be one of the most distinguished of all European artists to work in the genre SF market; CHARLES M. SCHULZ, cartoonist, creator of the long-running Peanuts strip, one of the most famous comic strips of all time, which often featured minor fantastic elements; DON MARTIN, 68, cartoonist, known mostly for his semisurreal work for Mad Magazine; JOE MAYHEW, 57, Hugo-winning fan artist, one of the best fannish cartoonists ever, as well as a writer, a carver of beautifully crafted walking sticks, a longtime fan, and a dedicated and tireless convention organizer; CHARLES D. HORNIG, 83, veteran editor of pulp magazines such as Wonder Stories, Science Fiction, and Future Fiction; JEAN KARL, 72, longtime editor of the Atheneum imprint, author of The Turning Place; ADELE LEONE, 48, agent and editor, SF editor of Pocket Books in the '70s; JAMES ALLEN, 48, President of the Virginia Kidd Literary Agency; MICHAEL GILBERT, 53, artist, writer, publishing professional, husband of Sheila Gilbert, the copublisher of DAW Books; JENNA A. FELICE, 25, Tor editor, associate editor of the magazine Century, longtime partner of Century editor Robert K. J. Killheffer, and a personal friend; LINDA GRAY, 54, former President and Publisher of Bantam Books and Ballantine; SIR ALEC GUINESS, 86, distinguished stage and film actor, best known to audiences today--something which did not entirely please him--as the Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi in the movie Star Wars and its sequels; JOHN NEWLAND, 82, host of the pioneering supernatural anthology TV show, Alcoa Presents One Step Beyond, which did some very creepy and effective episodes in the '50s and early '60s; STANLEY KRAMER, veteran film director, best known to genre audiences as the director of the After-the-Bomb movie On the Beach; WALTER A. WILLIS, prominent Irish fan and fan writer; BILL DONAHO, 74, longtime fan and fanzine publisher; BILL DANNER, 93, longtime fan and fanzine editor; ROBERT SALKS, 49, longtime fan and convention organizer; CATHERINE CROOK DE CAMP, 92, wife of SF writer L. Sprague de Camp, his longtime business manager, and his collaborator on many novels and nonfiction projects; NANCY TUCKER SHAW, 71, widow of SF writer Bob Shaw, and the longtime head of the Science Fiction Oral History Society; FRANCES WELLMAN, the widow of SF/fantasy writer Manly Wade Wellman; PEGGY CAVE, 86, wife of SF/fantasy writer Hugh B. Cave; CHARLOTTE R. HENSLEY, 71, wife of SF and mystery writer Joe C. Hensley; DEDE WEIL, 56, wife of SF critic Gary K. Wolfe; ANNE SHERLIN ASHER, 94, mother of SF Book Club editor Ellen Asher; ALICE ALTSCHULER SHERMAN, mother of SF writer Josepha Sherman; JULIUS SCHULMAN, 84, father of SF writer J. Neil Schulman, and a renowned classical violinist; CHARLES BENJAMIN CARD, 16, son of SF writer Orson Scott Card; MARCH LAUMER, 76, brother of SF writer Keith Laumer, author of The Wooden Soldiers of Oz and other children's books.
COLLECTION. Copyright © 2001 by Gardner Dozois. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.