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'Tis the season for the announcement of Year's Best short fiction tables of contents (and for all manner of other best-of-the-year lists, but let's ignore those for now). Over the past few weeks we've had the contents for Jonathan Strahan's Year's Best SF and Fantasy 6, Gardner Dozois' Year's Best SF 29, and Rich Horton's Year's Best SF and Fantasy 2012. That leaves the Hartwell/Cramer volumes, and Ellen Datlow's Year's Best Horror, and probably a couple of others that I'm not thinking of right now; but I thought it would be fun to see what patterns, if any, are emerging.

Overall 78 stories have been selected to fill 95 slots, with 15 stories being selected for more than one volume and 2 being selected for all three volumes. So the best of the best so far are:

  • "A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong" by KJ Parker (Subterranean; in Strahan/Horton)
  • "After the Apocalypse" by Maureen F. McHugh (After the Apocalypse; in Strahan/Dozois)
  • "Canterbury Hollow" by Chris Lawson (F&SF; in Horton/Dozois)
  • "Digging" by Ian McDonald (Life on Mars; in Strahan/Dozois)
  • "Ghostweight" by Yoon Ha Lee (Clarkesworld; in Horton/Dozois)
  • "Martian Heart" by John Barnes (Life on Mars; in Horton/Dozois)
  • "The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees" by E. Lily Yu (Clarkesworld; in Strahan/Horton)
  • "The Choice" by Paul McAuley (Asimov's; in Strahan/Horton/Dozois)
  • "The Dala Horse" by Michael Swanwick (; in Strahan/Dozois)
  • "The Invasion of Venus" by Stephen Baxter (Engineering Infinity; in Strahan/Dozois)
  • "The Man Who Bridged the Mist" by Kij Johnson (Asimov's; in Strahan/Horton/Dozois)
  • "The Smell of Orange Groves" by Lavie Tidhar (Clarkesworld; in Horton/Dozois)
  • "What We Found" by Geoff Ryman (F&SF; in Strahan/Dozois)
  • "Woman Leaves Room" by Robert Reed (Lightspeed; in Strahan/Horton)
  • "Younger Women" by Karen Joy Fowler (Subterranean; in Strahan/Horton)

In total that's 5 overlaps between Strahan and Horton, 6 between Dozois and Horton, and 7 between Strahan and Dozois. Also of note is the fact that Catherynne M. Valente appears with a different story in each volume -- "The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland, For a Little While" ( in Horton, "White Lines on a Green Field" (Subterranean) in Strahan, and "Silently and Very Fast" (WSFA Press/Clarkesworld) in Dozois. Asimov's is the most-reprinted venue, as I think it has been for the past few years, with 9 different stories selected (and both of the triple-reprint stories came from Asimov's, of course); F&SF is close behind with 8 reprints, followed by Eclipse 4 on 6. What else? Of the 78 stories reprinted, 45 (58%) were by men; Horton has the lowest proportion of stories by men, 41%, and Dozois has the highest, 80%.

And, of course, we're delighted that Rich Horton selected two Strange Horizons stories for his book: "Widows in the World" by Gavin Grant, and "The Last Sophia" by C.S.E. Cooney. Congratulations to them, and to all the other authors being reprinted.

(And personally speaking I'm also pleased that Horton has also picked up the title story from Nina Allan's The Silver Wind. And for yet another perspective, see Lois Tilton's review of 2011 short fiction.)

Niall Harrison is a reader and fan.
4 comments on “Year's Best”
Lois Tilton

The comparison isn't as direct as it might be, since the Horton and Strahan volumes include fantasy and the Dozois does not.

True -- which makes the overlap between Dozois and Strahan more striking, I think.

Lois Tilton

Gardner doesn't include fantasy except when he calls it science fiction.

Indeed, so something like half of Strahan's sf content is overlap.

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