"Year's best" Fantasy?

Robyn Starkey rohina at shaw.ca
Mon Oct 7 20:55:39 EDT 2002

I just had the dubious pleasure of reading the collection called 15th 
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror - I'm sure you know the ones, big trade 
paperback, nice cover with lots of short stories; edited by Datlow and 
Windling. And I was wondering, is it just me? Does their taste in Fantasy 
totally and utterly suck?
In the beginning of the book there is a "summation" which includes a list 
of the "best" novels of the year. Most of them I haven't heard of. 
"American Gods" by Neil Gaiman and "Lirael" by Garth Nix are well down on 
this list, and they (fairly enough, I suppose) criticise the Nix book for 
not really being a complete novel. They nominated a couple of things I 
found unreadable, and nothing else that was a Nebula or Hugo nominee, not 
even "Passage" by Connie Willis.

I always feel like DWJers are well informed about good fantasy, so I was 
surprised, I guess, that so few of the books mentioned in this collection 
have been recommended on this list. I got to the end of the introduction 
when I realised that the editors had totally failed to nominate Bujold's 
"Curse of Chalion," although they mention its publication. So I was kind of 
intrigued to read the stories. My goodness, they were, almost without 
exception, absolutely, unreadably dreadful. Leaving aside the fact that 
urbany, horrory fantasy is my least favourite kind, even the ones that were 
not of this sub-genre were just plain bad, for the most part, and only one 
or two were more than mediocre.

Is this collection a good representation of the short story market? I have 
to say, I don't read a lot of fantasy short stories because I find it a 
difficult form, and often the products are disappointing, but are they all 
really this drear? Does anyone regularly read any short story magazines? 
What do you think?


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