As happens every year around this time, I just finished this year’s edition of the Jonathan Strahan edited The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year collection. As in previous years I’ll mention the high points.
Where last year was heavy on the feminist lit, this year had a lot of “World building while world building” – stories about construction or changing a world that engage in a great deal of world building themselves. This suits me. As always, it also includes a few authors filling their niche stories, most egregiously, Cory Doctorow’s “Borrowing a title” trope this time was The Brave Little Toaster, and if you have read any Cory Doctorow pieces you already know the rest. It also had Strahan’s usual knack for picking winners; the Novella, Novelette, and Short Story Nebula winners for the year are all included (although except for the Novella, the winners were not the things I would have picked – What We Found over The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees? What were they thinking?).
For me there were two or three losers not worth mentioning and two real winners among 31 stories this time, with an overall solid showing. My favorite was, completely unsurprisingly, Kij Johnson’s high-profile story for the year, The Man who Bridged the Mist. It has the unremarkable premise of man leading a bridge construction project in a slightly fantastical, technologically unsophisticated world, and does amazing things with it. Checking online, it appears to have rightly won the Nebula award for Novellas this year.
My second favorite is much less typical – Catherynne M Valente’s White Lines on a Green Field. It is the traditional American Southwestern The Coyote and the Rabbit mythos cast by incarnation into a modern high-school, and by all rights I should have hated it. But it was fabulous for reasons I can’t quite pin down, and is very much worth reading simply for being something very, very different. I think I was more sympathetic to the “Let’s all get deeply invested in this athletic game some other people are playing” mentality reading that story than at any other time in my life, which was an interesting experience.
The other note is that Joss Whedon and/or Zack Snyder needs to be plopped down with a script for The Last Ride of the Glory Girls. It already has the aesthetic of Sucker Punch and Firefly rolled in with some nice Steampunk stylings, and I would watch the shit out of it as a moive.