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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Tangent Online Recommended Reading List 2010

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Analog cover november 2010TANGENT ONLINE RECOMMENDED READING LIST—2010


If my count is correct, there are almost 190 short stories, novellas and novelettes in the following list, not including those in Dave's afterword. In spite of the fact that Tangent Online comprises more than a dozen regular reviewers and a number of occasional ones, that's a pretty impressive reading list. And these are only the ones we recommend—for every story you see on this list, there are at least four others that didn’t make the cut. This is up from 170-plus in last year’s list.

 

To me that says that short fiction is still robust in the SF and Fantasy (including dark fantasy) fields. People are buying and reading it, people are writing it. Despite the growing fears of traditional print publishers about electronic editions, print fiction hasn’t died yet. For every e‑book someone buys, someone else is buying a larger number of print books. As an avid reader of electronic print myself, I know there are a number of reasons SF/F readers will continue to buy print books and magazines. One is the collecting bug—most SF and fantasy readers have it. Another is the fear of a computer or reader crash accidentally losing your electronic library. (Yet another is DRM—the fear that Amazon or some other bookseller will “untimely rip” your e-book from your reader as has already happened.)

 But in another sense, the publishing world is not really relevant except as it makes it possible for readers and writers to connect. Few genre writers are making a living at this (although it is not only possible, but feasible*), so there must be another reason so many people sit in front of their computers, word processors or notebooks (paper or electronic) night after night, turning out deathless or purple prose as their capabilities prescribe, and sending it out into an (at times) cold and uncaring world. My belief is that it is the love of the field that prevails.

 It is certainly the love of the field that keeps Tangent Online working for you, finding the gold buried in the dross, the diamonds in the dungheap, and bringing these gems to your attention. Without further ado, I direct you to TO’s Recommended Reading List for 2010.

—Steve Fahnestalk


Following each entry the reviewers have done their best to determine the genre of each story:  SF, F, H, DF, or some other admixture of genres they felt appropriate. The list of reviewers contributing to the list is below, and each entry is marked with the initials of the reviewer or reviewers recommending the story. If more than a single reviewer has recommended a story, and one of the reviewers has given it at least one star (*), then the story is placed in the category with the most stars. Thus it is possible to see a story with one or more stars, but not each reviewer recommending the story would necessarily have ranked it as high. It is enough to know that several reviewers liked the story enough to recommend it, and at least one (often more than one) has given it one or more stars.

We welcome any corrections as to the length of stories so that we may place them in their proper categories. Other corrections as to publication dates are also welcome. Errors, omissions, etc., are probably mine (Steve); it’s not easy being green.

[BB=Bob Blough, BTS=Bryan Thomas Schmidt, CS=Carl Slaughter, CWA=Craig W. Anderson, DT=Dave Truesdale, DW=Daniel Woods, FD=Frank Dutkiewicz, ID=Indrapramit Das, JG=Joe Giddings, JO=Jo-Anne Odell, KJG=KJ Greenberg, MJ=Maggie Jamison, ML=Maria Lin, NE=Nader Elhefnawy, NG=Nathan Goldman, RP=Rhonda Porrett, SF=Steve Fahnestalk]


Short Stories—


“On Rickety Thistlewaite” by Michael F. Flynn (Analog, 1-2/10) SF (DT)
“Cargo” by Michael F. Flynn (Analog, 6/10) SF/F (KJG)
Light Conversation” by Alastair J. W. Mayer (Analog, 6/10) SF (KJG)
The Zoo Team” by Allen M. Steele (Analog, 11/10) SF (BTS)
“Contamination” by Jay Werkheiser (Analog, 11/10) SF (BTS)
“Spell Czech” by William Michael McCarthy (Analog, 12/10) SF (SJB)
“Conditional Love” by Felicity Shoulders (Asimov’s, 1/10) SF (DT)“Adrift” by Eugene Fischer (Asimov’s, 4-5/10) SF (NG)
“Unforeseen” by Molly Gloss (Asimov’s, 4-5/10) SF (SF)
“Malick Pan” by Sara Genge (Asimov’s, 4-5/10) SF (SF)
“Pretty To Think So” by Robert Reed (Asimov’s, 4-5/10) SF (SF)
“The Other Graces” by Sola Kim (Asimov’s, 7/10) SF (SF)
“Superluminosity” by Alan Wall (Asimov's, 8/10) SF (BTS)
“The Palace in the Clouds” by Eugene Mirabelli (Asimov’s, 9/10) SF (CEW)
“The Hangman’s Daughter” by Chris Braak (Black Gate #14, Winter 2010) F (SF)
“Hootchie Cootchie Man” by Maurice Broaddus (Black Static #14, Dec. 09/Jan. 10) F (SF)
“Survivor’s Guilt” by Rosanne Rabinowitz (Black Static #14, Dec. 09/Jan. 10) F (SF)
“Teen Spirit” by Gary McMahon (Black Static #14, Dec. 09/Jan. 10) H (SF)
“The Overseer” by Tim Casson (Black Static #16, 4-5/10) H (DT)
“One Last Wild Waltz” by Mike O’Driscoll (Black Static #16, 4-5/10) H (DT)
“The Empty Spaces” by Alison J. Littlewood (Black Static #16, 4-5/10) H (DT)
“Faces in Walls” by John Shirley (Black Static #17, 6-7/10) DF (RP)
“Into the Depths of Illuminated Seas” by Jason Sanford (Interzone #226, 1-2/10) F (DT)
“The Glare and the Glow” by Steve Rasnic Tem (Interzone #227, 3-4/10) F (DT, SF)
“Chimbwi” by Jim Hawkins (Interzone #227, 3-4/10) SF (SF)
“Plague Birds” by Jason Sanford (Interzone #228, 5-6/10) SF (KJG)
“Age of Miracles, Age Of Wonder” by Aliette de Bodard (Interzone #230, 9/10) F (BTS)
“Bait” by Robin Aurelian (F&SF, 1-2/10) F (DT, KJG)
“Silence” by Dale Bailey (F&SF, 5-6/10) F (RW, DT)
“Remotest Mansions of the Blood” by Alex Irvine (F&SF, 5-6/10) F (SF)
“The Real Martian Chronicles” by John Sladek (F&SF, 5-6/10) F/SF (SF, DT)
“Forever” by Rachel Pollack (F&SF, 5-6/10) F (DT)
“The Gypsy’s Boy” by Lokiko Hall (F&SF, 5-6/10) F (DT)
“The Tale of Nameless Chameleon” by Brenda Carre (F&SF, 7-8/10) F (DT, KJG)
Introduction to Joyous Cooking, 200th Anniversary Edition” by Heather Lindsley (F&SF, 7-8/10) SF (KJG)
F&SF Mailbag” by David Gerrold (F&SF, 9-10/10) SF (SJB)
“About It” by Terry Bisson (F&SF, 9-10/10) SF (SJB)
“Mouse and I” by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (Kaleidotrope, April 2010) SF (NG)
Hush Little Brother” by Richard Rippon (Murky Depths, Spring 2010) SF (NG)
“Loose?” by Mike Wook (Murky Depths, Spring 2010) SF (NG)
“Commonplace Sacrifices” by L. L. Hannett (On Spec #79, Winter 2009/10) F (DW)
“Heartless Gao Walks Number Nine Hell” by Bill Ward (Realms #1, Winter 2010) F (NG)
“The Fortuitous Meeting of Gerard Van Oost and Oludara” by Christopher Kastensmidt (Realms of Fantasy, 4/10) F (DT)
“In the Dreaming House” by Darrell Schweitzer (Space & Time #110, Spring 2010) F (DT)
“The Gallows” by Jove Belle (Skulls and Crossbones, 2/10) F (SF)
“HMS Nefarious” by Rod Santos (Skulls and Crossbones, 2/10) F (SF)
“Seven Years from Home” by Naomi Novik (Warriors, 3/10) SF (BB)
“Ninieslando” by Howard Waldrop (Warriors, 3/10) SF (BB)
“King Rat” by Gene Wolfe (Gateways, 7/10) SF (BB)
“Sparrowjunk” by Margit Schmitt (OSCIGMS #17, 06-07/10) F (SF)
“Sister Jasmine Brings the Pain” by Von Carr (OSCIGMS #17, 06-07/10) SF (SF)
“Frankie and Johnny, and Nellie Bly” by Richard Wolkomir (OSCIGMS #17, 06-07/10) F (SF)
“Right Before Your Very Eyes” by Matthew S. Rotundo (OSCIGMS #19, 10-11/10) F (JO)
“The Cull” by Robert Reed (Clarkesworld, 9/10) SF (RP)
“The Bright and Shining Parasites of Guiyu” by Grady Hendrix (Strange Horizons, 7-12/10 & 7-19/10) SF (RP, ML)
“The President’'s Brain is Missing"” by John Scalzi (Tor.com, 7/10) SF (BB)
“High Noon of the Living Dead” by Sam Kepfield (Science Fiction Trails, 2010) SF (SF)
“Hearts of Kaldun” by Martin Turton (Realms, Winter 2010) F (BTS)
“Paradoxically Correct” by Adam Colston (Redstone #7, Dec 2010) SF (JO)
“The Walker in the Cemetery” by Ian Watson (Cthulhu’s Reign, 4/10) H (DT)
“What Brings the Void” by Will Muray (Cthulhu’s Reign, 4/10) H (DT)
“This is How the World Ends” by John R. Fultz (Cthulhu’s Reign, 4/10) H (DT)
“The Shallows” by John Langan (Cthulhu’s Reign, 4/10) H (DT)
“Nothing Personal” by Richard A. Lupoff (Cthulhu’s Reign, 4/10) H (DT)
“The Mexican Bus” by Walter Greatshell (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H (SJB)
“Flotsam and Jetsam” by Carrie Ryan (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H (SJB)

 

Asimov's cover august 2010Short Stories—One StarF&SF Cover Sept. 2010

 

“Deca-Dad” by Ron Collins (Analog, 12/10) SF* (SJB)
“The Witch, the Tinmen, The Flies” by JM Sidorova (Asimov's, 8/10) SF* (BTS)
“Devil on the Wind” by Michael Jasper and Jay Lake (Black Gate #14, Winter 2010) F* (SF)
“Fair Ladies” by Theodora Goss (Apex, 8/10) F* (DT)
“Still Life (A Sexigesimal Fairy Tale) by Ian Tregillis (Apex, 10/10) F* (DT)
“Red Hell” by Renee Stern (Black Gate #14, Winter 2010) F* (SF)
“La Señora de Oro” by R. L. Roth (Black Gate #14, Winter 2010) F* (SF)
“We, Who Live in the Wood” by Paul Finch (Black Static #14, Dec. 09/Jan. 10) H* (SF)
“A History of Cadmium” by Elizabeth Bourne (F&SF, 5-6/10) F* (SF)
“Seven Sins for Seven Dwarves” by Hilary Goldstein (F&SF, 5-6/10) F* (SF, DT)
“How Seosiris Lost the Favor of the King” by James L. Cambias (F&SF, 9-10/10) F* (SJB)
“Crumbs” by Michaela Roessner (F&SF, 11-12/10) F/H* (DT)
“Johnny’s New Job” by Chris Beckett (Interzone #227, 3-4/10) SF* (DT)
“The History Of Poly-V” by Jon Ingold (Interzone #227, 3-4/10) SF* (SF)
“Dance Of The Kawkawroons” by Mercurio D. Rivera (Interzone #227, 3-4/10) SF* (SF)
“Flying In The Face Of God” by Nina Allan (Interzone #227, 3-4/10) SF* (SF)
“United States of America” by Mario Milosevic (Interzone #228, 5-6/10) SF* (KJG)
“The Usherette” by Kathleen J. Stowe (Kaleidotrope, April 2010) F* (NG)
“Sarah 87” by Camille Alexa (Murky Depths, Spring 2010) SF* (NG)
“How Interesting: a Tiny Man” by Harlan Ellison (Realms of Fantasy, 2/10) F* (NG, DT)
“Mister Oak” by Leah Bobet (Realms of Fantasy, 2/10) F* (NG)
“Hanuman's Bridge” by Euan Harvey (Realms of Fantasy, 4/10) DF* (MJ)
“The Taste of Night” by Pat Cadigan (Is Anybody Out There?, 2010) SF* (DT)
“The Truth About Pickman” by Brian Stableford (Black Wings, PS Publishing, 5/10) H* (RW)
“Resolution 1838” by David Brookes (Skulls and Crossbones, 2/10) F* (SF)
“The After” by Carrie Vaccaro Nelkin (Skulls and Crossbones, 2/10) SF* (SF)
“The Harm” by Gary McMahon (TTA Press, 3/10) H* (SF, CWA)
“Dream Burgers at the Mouth of Hell” by Lucious Shepard (The Book of Dreams, 2010) F* (BB)
“The Mystery of Miranda” by David A. Simons (OSCIGMS #18, 9/10) SF* (ML)
“The Cassandra Project” by Jack McDevitt (Lightspeed, 6/10) SF * (BTS)
“The Anteroom” by Adam-Troy Castro (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H* (SJB)
“When the Zombie Win” by Karina Sumner-Smith (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H* (SJB)
“Mouja” by Matt London (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H* (SJB)
“Lost Canyon of the Dead” by Brian Keene (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H* (SJB)
“Pirates vs Zombies” by Amelia Beamer (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H* (SJB)
“Steve and Fred” by Max Brooks (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H* (SJB)
“Everglades” by Mira Grant (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H* (SJB)
“He Said, Laughing” by Simon R. Green (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H* (SJB)
“Last Stand” by Kelly Armstrong (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H* (SJB)
“Tameshigiri” by Steven Gould (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H* (SJB)
“And the Next, and the Next” by Genevieve Valentine (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H* (SJB)
“Are You Trying to Tell Me This Is Heaven?” by Sarah Langan (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H* (SJB)
“Commander Perry’s Mystic Wonders Show” by Jamie Lee Moyer (Triangulation: End of the Rainbow, 7/10) F* (JO)

 

Short Stories—Two StarsInterzone 230 CoverBlack Static 17 cover

 

“A Placebo Effect” by Brian C. Coad (Analog, 12/10) SF** (SJB)
“A Letter From the Emperor,” by Steve Rasnic Tem (Asimov's, 1/10) SF** (NE)
“The Lovely Ugly,” by Carol Emshwiller (Asimov's, 8/10) SF** (BTS)
“The Incarceration of Captain Nebula” by Mike Resnick (Asimov's, 10-11/10) SF** (BTS)
“The Eleventh Day” by Christopher Fowler (Black Static #14, Dec. 09/Jan. 10) H** (SF)

“Songwood” by Marc Laidlaw (F&SF, 1-2/10) F** (KJG, DT)
“Fort Clay, Louisiana: A Tragical History” by Albert E. Cowdrey (F&SF, 3-4/10) F** (DT)
“Recrossing the Styx” by Ian R. MacLeod (F&SF, 7-8/10) SF** (BB, KJG, DT)
“The Window of Time” by Richard Matheson (F&SF, 9-10/10) SF** (SJB)
“Blind Spot” by Rick Wilber and Nick Dichario (F&SF, 9-10/10) F** (SJB)
“Eris Sinks Pluto” by Will Kaufman (Kaleidotrope, April 2010) SF** (NG)
“The Singing Spear,” by James Enge (Swords & Dark Magic, 6/10) F* (NE)
“A Suitable Present for a Sorcerous Puppet,” by Garth Nix (Swords & Dark Magic, 6/10) F* (NE)
“Susie” by Jason Van Hollander (Black Wings, PS Publishing, 5/10) H** (RW)
“Patient Zero” by Tananarive Due (Lightspeed, 8/10) SF** (FD)
“Under the Leaves” by A. C. Wise (Sybil’s Garage #7, 7/10) F ** (JO)
“Good People” by David Wellington (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H** (SJB)
“Reluctance” by Cherie Priest (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H** (SJB)
“Zombie Gigolo” by S.G. Browne (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H** (SJB)
“The Summer Place” by Bob Fingerman (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H** (SJB)
“Who We Used to Be” by David Moody (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H** (SJB)
“Zero Tolerance” by Jonathan Mayberry (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H** (SJB)
“Dr. Lash Remembers” by Jeffrey Ford (Steampunk II, 10/10) SF** (JG)
“A Womb of My Own” by Tinatsu Wallace (Triangulation: End of the Rainbow 7/10) SF** (JO)


Short Stories—Three Stars

 

“A Letter from the Emperor” by Steve Rasnic Tem (Asimov’s, 1/10) SF*** (DT, SF, CB, NG, BB, NE, DW)
“Dr. Skenner's Special Animals” by David A. Simons (Analog, 3/10) SF*** (MJ)
“The Hebras and the Demons and the Damned” by Brenda Cooper (Analog, 12/10) SF*** (SJB)
“Happy are the Bunyips” by Carl Frederick (Analog, 12/10) SF*** (SJB)
“Heart of Hearts” by Bruce McAllister (Albedo One #38, 6-10) F*** (DT)
“Blue Fire” by Bruce McAllister (F&SF, 3-4/10) F/H*** (DT, BB)
“Steadfast Castle” by Michael Swanwick (F&SF, 9-10/10) SF*** (SJB)
“The Exterminator’s Want Ad” by Bruce Sterling (F&SF, 11-12/10) SF*** (DT)
“Beach Blanket Spaceship” by Sandra McDonald (Clarkesworld, 7/10) SF*** (BB)
“Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time” by Catherine M. Valente (Clarkesworld, 8/10) SF*** (BB)
“Hokkaido Green,” by Aidan Green (Strange Horizons, 11/10) F*** (CS)
“Alone, Together” by Robert Kirkman (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H*** (SJB)
“The Other Side” by Jamie Lackey (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H***(SJB)
“The Crocodiles” by Steven Popkes (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H*** (SJB)
“The Skull Faced City” by David Barr Kirtlye (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H*** (SJB)
“Dating in a Dead World” by Joe McKinney (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H*** (SJB)
“The Price of a Slice” by John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H*** (SJB)
“The Unbecoming of Virgil Smythe” by Ramset Shehadeh (Steampunk II, 10/10) SF*** (JG)

“Lussi Natt” by Andrew Coulthard (Blind Swimmer, 2010) F*** (CEW)

 

OSCIGMS #17Novelettes—

 

“The Hub of the Matter” by Christopher L. Bennett (Analog, 3/10) SF (MJ)
“Fly Me to the Moon” by Marianne Dyson (Analog, 7-8/10) SF (CS)
“Outbound” by Brad R. Torgersen (Analog, 11/10) SF (BTS)
“The Man from Downstream” by Shane Tourtellotte (Analog, 12/10) SF (SJB)
“Spell Czech” by William Michael McCarthy (Analog, 11/10) SF (SJB)
“Home is Where the Hub Is” by Christopher L. Bennett (Analog, 12/10) SF (SJB)
“Primum Non Nocere” by H.G. Stratman (Analog, 12/10) SF (SJB)
Backlash” by Nancy Fulda (Asimov’s, 9/10) SF/T (CEW)
“Stone Wall Truth” by Carline M. Joachim (Asimov’s, 2/10) SF/H (DT)
“Blind Cat Dance” by Alexander Jablokov, (Asimov’s, 3/10) SF (KJG)
“The Six Skills of Madame Lumiere” by Marissa Lingen (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, (7-1/10) F (DT)
“Writers of the Future” by Charles Oberndorf (F&SF, 1-2/10) SF (DT)
“Waiting for the Phone to Ring” by Richard Bowes (F&SF, 3-4/10) F (BB)
“Thief of Shadows” by Fred Chappell (F&SF, 5-6/10) F (SF, DT)
“The Door in the Earth” by Alexandra Duncan (F&SF, 9-10/10) H (SJB)
“Uncle Moon in Raintree Hills” by Fred Chappell (F&SF, 9-10/10) H (SJB)
“Death Must Die” by Albert E. Cowdrey (F&SF, 11-12/10) F (DT)
“The King of Norway” by Cecelia Holland (Warriors, 3/10) F (DT)
“And Ministers of Grace” by Tad Williams (Warriors, 3/10) SF (DT)
“Defenders of the Frontier” by Robert Silverberg (Warriors, 3/10) SF (BB)
“The Custom of the Army” by Diana Gabaldon (Warriors, 3/10) F (BB)
“Army of Orphans” by Brock L. Noel (Realms, Winter 2010) F (BTS)
“A Preliminary Assessment of the Drake Equation, Being an Excerpt from the Memoirs of Star Captain Y.T. Lee” by Vernor Vinge (Gateways, 7/10)SF (BB)
“Mysterium Tremendum” by Laird Barron (Occultation, Night Shade Books, 5/10) H (DT)


Novelettes—One Star

 

“The Anunnaki Legacy” by Bond Elam (Analog, 6/10) SF* (KJG)
Marya & The Pirate” by Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s, 1/10) SF* (BTS)
“The Woman Who Waited Forever” by Bruce McAllister (Asimov's, 2/10) H* (DT)
“Alten Kameraden” by Barry B. Longyear (Asimov’s, 4-5/10) SF/F* (SF, DW)
“The Jaguar House, in Shadow” by Aliette de Bodard (Asimov’s, 7/10) SF* (SF)
“Nanosferatu” by Dean Whitlock (F&SF, 1-2/10) SF* (DT, BTS)
“City of the Dog” by John Langan (F&SF, 1-2/10) H* (DT)
“Star-Crossed” by Tim Sullivan (F&SF, 3-4/10) SF/F* (DT)
“Why That Crazy Old Lady Goes Up the Mountain” by Michael Libling (F&SF, 5-6/10) F* (DT)
“The Crocodiles” by Steven Popkes (F&SF, 5-6/10) SF/H* (SF, DT)
“Advances in Modern Chemotherapy” by Michael Alexander (F&SF, 7-8/10) SF* (DT, KJG)
“The Literomancer” by Ken Liu (F&SF, 9-10/10) F* (SJB)
“A Rich Full Week,” by K.J. Parker (Swords & Dark Magic, 6/10) F* (NE)
“The Deification of Dal Bamore,” by Tim Lebbon (Swords & Dark Magic, 6/10) F* (NE)
“Hew the Tint Master,” by Michael Shea (Swords & Dark Magic, 6/10) F* (NE)
“Two Lions, A Witch and the War-Robe,” by Tanith Lee (Swords & Dark Magic, 6/10) F* (NE)
“The Fool Jobs,” by Joe Abercrombie (Swords & Dark Magic, 6/10) F* (NE)
“Lightbringers and Rainmakers,” by Felix Gilman (Tor.com, 10/10) SF* (NE)
“Pickman’s Other Model (1929)” by Caitlan R. Kiernan (Black Wings, PS Publishing, 5/10) H* (RW)
“—30—” by Laird Barron (Occultation, Night Shade Books, 5/10) H* (DT)

 

Novelettes—Two Stars

 

“Helping Them Take the Old Man Down” by William Preston (Asimov’s, 3/10) SF** (KIG)
“Forever Bound” by Joe Haldeman (Warriors, 3/10) SF** (DT)
“Recidivist” by Gardner Dozois (Warriors, 3/10) SF** (BB)
“Jump to Zion” by Beth Bernobich (A Handful of Pearls & Other Stories, 6/10) SF** (DT, BB)
“In The Stacks,” by Scott Lynch (Swords & Dark Magic, 6/10) F** (NE)
“Sacrifice of the First Sheason,” by Peter Orullian (Tor.com, 11/10) F** (NE)

Novelettes—Three Stars

 

“Pupa” by David Levine (Analog, 9/10) SF*** (CS)
“The Long Retreat” by Robert Reed (F&SF, 1-2/10) F*** (KJG)
“Amor Fugit” by Alexandra Duncan (F&SF, 3-4/10) F*** (BB)
“Class Trip” by Rand B. Lee (F&SF 3-4/10) SF*** (BB, DW)
“The Precedent” by Sean McMullen (F&SF, 7-8/10) SF*** (DT)
“Eating at the End-of-the-World Café” by Dale Bailey (F&SF, 9-10/10) SF*** (SJB)
“The Triumph” by Robin Hobb (Warriors, 3/10) F*** (DT)
“Dirae” by Peter S. Beagle (Warriors, 3/10) F*** (BB, DT)
“Copping Squid” by Michael Shea (Black Wings, PS Publishing, 5/10) H*** (RW)
“The Truth Is a Cave In The Black Mountains” by Neil Gaiman (Stories, William Morrow, 06/2010) F*** (ID)
“The Isthmus Variation” by Kris Millering (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #46, 7-1/10) F/H*** (ML, DT)

 

Novellas—

 

Cthulhu's Reign cover“Robot Girl” by Brenda Cooper Black Gate 14 cover
(Analog, 4/10) SF (BTS)
“The Ice Line” by Stephen Baxter (Asimov's, 2/10) SF (DT)
“The Union of Soil and Sky” by Gregory Norman Bossert (Asimov’s, 4-5/10) SF (NG, DW)
“Orfy” by Richard Chwedyk (F&SF, 9-10/10) SF (SJB)
“Destroyer” by James Enge (Black Gate #14, Winter 2010) F (SF, DT)
“The Natural History of Calamity” by Robert J. Howe (Black Gate #14, Winter 2010) F (SF)
“Chicken Little” by Cory Doctorow (Gateways, 7/10) SF (BB)


Novellas—One Star

 

“Of One Mind” by Shane Tourtellotte (Analog, 3/10) SF* (MJ)
“They Laughed at Me in Vienna, and Again in Prague, and Then in Belfast, and Don’t Forget Hanoi! But I’ll Show Them! I’ll Show Them All, I Tell You!” by Tim McDaniel (Asimov’s, 4-5/10) SF* (NG)
“Jackies-Boy” by Stephen Popkes (Asimov’s, 4-5/10) SF* (SF)
“Tomb of the Fathers” by Eleanor Arnason (Aqueduct Press, 6/10) SF* (BB)

 

Living Dead 2 CoverNovellas—Two StarsWarriors Cover

 

“The Sultan of the Clouds” by Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s, 9/10) SF** (DT)
“The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen’s Window” by Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Online, Summer 2010) F** (JG, DT)
“Cloud Permutations” by Lavie Tidhar (PS Publishing, 5/10) SF** (BB)
“Seven Cities of Gold” by David Moles (PS Publishing, 7/10) SF** (CWA, DT)
“The Mystery Knight” by George R.R. Martin (Warriors, 3/10) F** (BB)
“Snow Comes To Hawk’s Folly” by J. Kathleen Cheney (Panverse Two, 9/10) F** (JO)


Novellas—Three Stars


“Ghosts Doing the Orange Dance” by Paul Park (F&SF, 1-2/10) SF/H*** (DT)
“The Bug Trap” by Stephen Burns (Analog, 7-8/10) SF*** (CS)
“Phantom Sense” by Richard A. Lovett and Mark Niemann-Ross (Analog, 11/10) SF ***(BTS)
“The Life Cycle of Software Objects” by Ted Chiang (Subterranean Press, 06/2010) SF*** (BB, ID)
“Red Pearls,” by Michael Moorcock (Swords & Dark Magic, 6/10) F*** (NE)

 

 Noted Briefly but Highly Recommended

 

Originally slated for full-length reviews, personal circumstances prevented the following collections from receiving their proper due. My sincere apologies to the publishers, for while the overwhelming majority of publications received for review are doled out to reviewers, it remains the prerogative of the editor to retain a few select works for himself. That said, and while not intended to be comprehensive, I heartily recommend the following 2010 publications unequivocally, each in their own fashion. I have either nearly completed, or have begun work on full reviews for several of the following and when completed they will be duly posted, but I desired nevertheless to make mention of them here, for this 2010 Recommended Reading List.

 

Return to Otherness coverDetour to Otherness, Tales of Science-Fantasy and Terror, by Henry Kuttner & C.L. Moore. Introduction by Robert Silverberg, with an Afterword by Frederik Pohl and cover art by Richard Powers. Haffner Press (www.haffnerpress.com), 568 pp., hc, $40/Trade Edition, $150/Limited Edition.

As we’ve come to expect from Haffner Press, this is a classy, high quality production—in every respect. It includes the complete contents of two superior collections from the early 1960s and eight additional stories specially selected for this volume. The inside cover flap sums it up accurately and succinctly:

In 1961, Ballantine Books published Bypass to Otherness, a paperback collection of some of Henry Kuttner’s (and C.L. Moore’s) best short stories. Several selections were drawn from Kuttner’s popular series such as the ‘Hogbens’ (comedic otherworldly hillbillies living in America), ‘Gallegher Galloway’ (scientist who invents technical marvels only when intoxicated), and the ‘Baldy’ stories about mutant telepaths. Bypass was projected as the first of three ‘Otherness’ collections of Kuttner’s short fiction. Return to Otherness followed in 1962 with eight additional stories. And then…nothing. The third ‘Otherness’ collection never appeared.

“Now, almost fifty years later, Detour to Otherness collects the contents of the previous ‘Otherness’ books, and adds eight more stories selected for their scarcity, quality, and sheer entertainment value.”

My copies of the original pair of paperbacks are literally falling apart so I was pleased to see them collected again here in more lasting form. While all the stories are, at the very least, entertaining and clever (a number ingeniously so), some have become classics; among them “The Piper’s Son,” “Absalom,” “The Proud Robot,” and “Gallegher Plus.” Of the eight new stories collected here I admit to not having read any of them. Publisher Stephen Haffner selected wisely, for each and every story is a minor gem. So much so, in fact, that it is difficult to choose favorites. At turns (as with the stories in the previous two collections) the stories exhibit the range of intellect, understanding and insight into corners of the human psyche, and yes, humor, that mark a Kuttner (or Kuttner and Moore) story as unique. Kuttner was so prolific in so many different genres during the pulp era that many of his stories were actually co-written with Moore, and even those closest to them and their unique method of collaboration have proclaimed their inability (in most cases) to ascertain, with any degree of absolute certainty, who wrote what. Kuttner, for those new to his name or body of work, is an iconic figure in the science fiction and fantasy genres, noted especially for his short stories of which he was an early master—and as Robert Silverberg notes in his introduction, rightly so. Kuttner wrote tirelessly in the 1940s until his untimely death in 1958 at the age of 43. A Kuttner, Kuttner/Moore story never disappoints and neither will this expertly crafted volume. Worth every penny and then some.

Who Fears the Devil?, The Complete Tales of Silver John by Manly Wade Wellman. Planet StoriesWho Fears The Devil cover #24, February 2010. Introductions by Karl Edward Wagner and Mike Resnick. 197 pp., tpb, $15.99, (www.paizo.com/planetstories).

Manly Wade Wellman (1903-1986) is much lesser known these days than Henry Kuttner, and that’s a shame. As this book informs the reader: Wellman’s work has won multiple Locus Awards and World Fantasy Awards (including one for lifetime achievement), a British Fantasy Award, and the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America, and been nominated for numerous others, including a Hugo Award, five more World Fantasy Awards, and a Pulitzer Prize.

Perhaps his most well-known and beloved character is John the Balladeer, known simply as Silver John. Steeped in the culture, mythology, and folklore of the Appalachian Mountains, its music, landscape, peoples and legends, these 30 short stories (published first and primarily in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction beginning in 1951) quickly envelop the reader in the dark, quirky, and sometimes downright eerie tales of the self-sufficient wanderer Silver John, he of the silver-stringed guitar. Writing about his own home stomping grounds with authenticity, Wellman unveils the superstitions and hidden subculture of the “monster-covered mountains” as Mike Resnick puts it, introducing the reader to one horror after another: the Behinder, the Bammat, and the Gardinal, to name but three. Battles with the devil (in several guises) also mark more than a few of these tightly written tales, and there are curses and spells aplenty to keep the reader turning the pages. I found these tales rather refreshing for their locale, altogether charming (if darkly so), and immensely satisfying. As Robert Silverberg remarks: “This is the real thing—a book of haunting fantasies with their roots going down deep into the American folk tradition.” To which we concur without reservation, especially at the price.


The Space Annihilator, and Other Early Science Fiction from The Argosy, edited by Gene Christie (Black Dog Books, March 2010, tpb, 158 pp., $15.95).

Space Annihilator cover The Argosy has the distinction of being the very first “pulp” magazine. It published anything and everything, regardless of what would later be known as “genre.” These 16 “proto” scientifiction stories (culled from 1896-1910) ran alongside mysteries, love stories, and all the rest. None of the authors were familiar to me in the least; indeed, I had heard of none of them and I wager 99.9% of you haven’t either: Charles H. Palmer, Harlie Oren Cummins, William Forster Brown, Mabel Ernestine Abbott, Bertram Lebhar, F. J. Knight-Adkin, and so on. And the story titles are equally unknown, though rather purplishly descriptive: “The Gravity Regulator,” “The Blue Death,” “The Crimson Blight,” “Professor Jonkin’s Cannibal Plant,” the title story “The Space Annihilator,” and so on. Judged by today’s standards these stories are poorly written from a technical, literary perspective. Some are mere dialogues between characters, full of straight info-dump exposition and little plot or storyline, others have the narrator alone recounting a past fantastical event which forms the body of the story. But there are a few with an outright plot, more than one or two characters, and at least some dynamic tension as plot elements are worked through and overcome (or not).

 The attraction of these stories isn’t their literary prowess, needless to say, but the intensely wild and unfettered imaginations of their authors. These guys (and ladies) were really Out There, and oh, what fun these stories are! As the rear cover copy proclaims, quite accurately I might add: “These vintage tales feature such imaginative concepts as matter transmission, a laser weapon, telepathy, devices to regulate gravity and render people invisible, a murderous long-distance attack from Mars, a cannibal plant, reanimation of the dead, a regimented 1984-type society—and even such startlingly ‘modern’ subjects as a cellular telephone and a man-made earth satellite!”

 I find these stories valuable for two primary reasons: insight into the (then) contemporary-world descriptions of place, dress, mechanical contrivances (the straight-up historical perspective in general; the antiquated nomenclature, quaint turns of phrase, overall world-view including that of science, etc.), and for their historical value as pre-SF stories, with concepts explored, however crudely—or entertainingly, that would be fleshed-out and polished in decades to come. Fascinating stuff. I daresay you won’t find these stories anywhere outside of their original magazine publication from over 100 years ago; many, if not all, reprinted here for the first time. Kudos to editor Gene Christie, who is at work on another volume of hitherto “lost” SF from various almost-forgotten publications…and decades before Amazing Stories was even a twinkle in Hugo Gernsback’s eye.


The Last Hieroglyph, The Collected Fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith, Volume 5, edited by Scott Connors and Ron Hilger, with an introduction by Richard A. Lupoff. Night Shade Books, November 2010, hc, 376 pp., $39.99 (www.NightShadeBooks.com).

Last year in this space we brought to your attention Night Shade Books fifth and final volume of the collected fiction of William Hope Hodgson, The Dream of X and Other Fantastic Visions. November of 2010 saw the publication of the fifth and final volume of the collected fantasies of none other than Clark Ashton Smith, who, along with H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, formed the most potent triumvirate in the history of Weird Tales magazine during its heyday in the 1930s. Much credit goes to the various editors at Night Shade for bringing back these priceless gems, and in so carefully researched and complete arcs via the multiple volumes.

There are 29 stories included here, spanning roughly a 25-year span from around 1934 to 1958 (with a couple published posthumously in the early 1980s). Many of the stories were darker than I had anticipated, having read sporadically and at random only a few CAS stories in various collections over the years. One first notices the ornately wrought language used to excellent effect to set mood and tone. Often with biblically inspired turns of phrase bordering on poetry, Smith’s archaic and oddly constructed terms further immerse the reader in a totally different, totally strange world from the one we know. We get a sense of dark and malicious evil when these arcane, deliciously derived words flow over and around the images they conjure. One is struck in a few pieces by the sheer gruesomeness of the imagery, as in the June 1938 Weird Tales story “The Garden of Adompha,” wherein the court magician to the king Adompha brings a whole new meaning to bio-engineering when we discover a ghastly tree in a secret garden whose “flowers” are various human body parts: quivering ears, wavering eye stalks, and human heads of the recently murdered, male and female alike. The majority of stories are not quite so…explicit, but tombs, vaults, curses, spells, sorcerers, seductresses, and other visual grotesqueries abound…much to the delight of this reader. Also present are entries from worlds CAS returned to time after time, Averoigne and Zothique. Terrific stuff.

Editors Connors and Hilger, after much research of original manuscripts, original publication dates, and final versions or CAS’s preferred ms. (many were not edited to Smith’s liking), have decided to organize the stories in chronological order as written, not as published. This works very well, as we can trace Smith’s auctorial evolution as a work in progress. While primarily dark fantasy, outright horror, and sword & sorcery, included are the odd SF story (“The Dark Age,” from Thrilling Wonder Stories, April 1938) and even a brief foray into contemporary satire (“The Great God Awto” from Thrilling Wonder Stories, February 1940). Further props go to the editors for the 60 pages of individual story notes drawn from Smith’s own correspondence with fellow writers and various editors, as well as alternate endings to a few stories, and material excised from one story, now revealed. Richard Lupoff’s insightful introduction provides useful material about the author, his life and times, and what the reader can expect in the stories to follow. All in all, a fitting conclusion to a landmark series of the collected fantasies of one of the most revered dark fantasists of any age, one whose influence has been acknowledged by many a past and current practitioner. Handsomely produced, this is a must have volume (as are the previous four) for any serious fantasy aficionado worthy of his or her salt.

Night Shade was also kind enough to send along two collections featuring some of the finest work of two contemporary authors, complimenting nicely their retrospective historical collections of which the Clark Ashton Smith was one: Occultation and Other Stories by Laird Barron (May 2010, 245 pp., hc, $24.95), with an introduction by Michael Shea, and The Green Leopard Plague and Other Stories by Walter Jon Williams (May 2010, 305 pp., hc, $24.95), with an introduction by Charles Stross.


Occultation coverOccultation includes nine stories, three from Ellen Datlow-edited anthologies, three from other sources, and three new tales. The six reprints are quite recent, appearing first from 2007-2010. Set against the CAS stories and their ornate language, Laird Barron’s brand of dark fantasy and horror in contrast are lean and mean, contemporary or urban df/h often with strong language and /or sexual situations or scenes (both straight and gay) that may not be suitable for younger readers. These caveats for younger readers in mind, I found the language and sexual scenes/situations quite appropriate to each story’s mood or tone and definitely not of a gratuitous nature. Indeed, the sexual component concerning a number of gay men served only to heighten, and give depth to the horror found in one of the new tales, “Mysterium Tremendum,” which component also served to perhaps dispel a trite cliché that gay men aren’t tough. The traveling friends in this lengthy piece give a handful of barroom bullies more than what-for rather brutally, and as the story progresses face the evil which forms the crux of the story, concerning as it does, one of their former (now dead) companions and the strange haunting surrounding his death. I found this story so compelling you’ll find it on the recommended list above.

 The six reprints include: “The Forest,” “Occultation,” “The Lagerstatte,” “Catch Hell,” “Strappado,” and “The Broadsword.” Along with “Mysterium Tremendum,” the other new stories are “—30—” and “Six Six Six.” “—30—” can also be found on the above recommended list.” Laird Barron’s first collection, The Imago Sequence and Other Stories, was the recipient of the first Shirley Jackson Award. With this second collection he solidifies his position as one of the very top-rank purveyors of modern short horror. A strong talent and a strong collection mark this as a must-have for the horror lover.

 

I’ve been a trueThe Green Leopard Plague cover fanatic of Walter Jon Williams’ science fiction for at least 25 years it must be now, both at novel and short length. The words exciting, imaginative, fresh, energetic, and always entertaining are the best I can come up with to encapsulate his body of work. His newest collection, The Green Leopard Plague and Other Stories, showcases nine stories from the decade 1997-2007, including a pair of Nebula winners, “Daddy’s World” and “The Green Leopard Plague.” High-tech, virtual reality, and post-singularity worlds predominate as integral settings for these wild and woolly stories. While highly cognizant that story comes first, Williams shows here keen insight into some of the unseen ramifications and ultimately human problems with which our coming ultra high-tech society might have to confront (i.e., “Daddy’s World” and “Incarnation Day” for but two). For an example of the colorful, plot-centered tale with mystery, intrigue, and unusual characters—all meant to capture our undivided attention as the story races headlong to its conclusion, we have “The Tang Dynasty Underwater Pyramid.” Its international setting coupled with the witty dialogue and motley cast of oddball, yet professional associates invite one to believe Williams was paying direct homage to his longtime friend, the late, much-lamented Roger Zelazny, for while the specific storyline and details differ, it is as if Williams was recalling Zelazny’s story “The Eve of RUMOKO” for its tone, style, and atmosphere. I felt I was in fact reading a Zelazny story, so finely wrought was the similarity.

 Along with the Charles Stross introduction Williams provides notes on each story which are fascinating in and of themselves. The remaining entries include “Lethe,” “The Last Ride of German Freddie,” “The Millennium Party,” “Send Them Flowers,” and “Pinocchio.” A truly superlative collection by one of science fiction’s remarkable talents. Highly recommended.


 

As always, we hope this Recommended List for 2010 proves in some way useful and hopefully gives more exposure to authors and stories which otherwise and in many cases tend to be quickly forgotten in the overwhelming deluge now published in print and online. My thanks go to the persevering efforts of our reviewers, and especially to Assistant Managing Editor Steve Fahnestalk for stepping in to fill the void during my temporary absence. I hope to be back online soon.

 

(*Footnote: I direct you to Dean Wesley Smith's “Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com for ideas on how to make a very good living at writing.--Steve)


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If my count is correct, there are almost 190 short stories, novellas and novelettes in the following list, not including those in Dave's afterword. In spite of the fact that Tangent Online comprises more than a dozen regular reviewers and a number of occasional ones, that's a pretty impressive reading list. And these are only the ones we recommend—for every story you see on this list, there are at least four others that didn't make the cut. This is up from “170-plus” in last year’s list.

 

To me that says that short fiction is still robust in the SF and Fantasy (including dark fantasy) fields. People are buying and reading it, people are writing it. Despite the growing fears of traditional print publishers about electronic editions, print fiction hasn’t died yet. For every e‑book someone buys, someone else is buying a larger number of print books. As an avid reader of electronic print myself, I know there are a number of reasons SF/F readers will continue to buy print books and magazines. One is the collecting bug—most SF and fantasy readers have it. Another is the fear of a computer or reader crash accidentally losing your electronic library. (Yet another is DRM—the fear that Amazon or some other bookseller will “untimely rip” your e-book from your reader as has already happened.)

 

But in another sense, the publishing world is not really relevant except as it makes it possible for readers and writers to connect. Few genre writers are making a living at this (although it is not only possible, but feasible*), so there must be another reason so many people sit in front of their computers, word processors or notebooks (both paper and electronic) night after night, turning out deathless or purple prose as their capabilities prescribe, and sending it out into an at times cold and uncaring world. My belief is that it is the love of the field that prevails.

 

It is certainly the love of the field that keeps Tangent Online working for you, finding the gold buried in the dross, the diamonds in the dungheap, and bringing these gems to your attention. Without further ado, I direct you to TO’s Recommended Reading List for 2010.

—Steve Fahnestalk

 

Following each entry the reviewers have done their best to determine the genre of each story:  SF, F, H, DF, or some other admixture of genres they felt appropriate. The list of reviewers contributing to the list is below, and each entry is marked with the initials of the reviewer or reviewers recommending the story. If more than a single reviewer has recommended a story, and one of the reviewers has given it at least one star (*), then the story is placed in the category with the most stars. Thus it is possible to see a story with one or more stars, but not each reviewer recommending the story would necessarily have ranked it as high. It is enough to know that several reviewers liked the story enough to recommend it, and at least one (often more than one) has given it one or more stars.

 

We welcome any corrections as to the length of stories so that we may place them in their proper categories. Other corrections as to publication dates are also welcome.

[BB=Bob Blough, BTS=Bryan Thomas Schmidt, CS=Carl Slaughter, DT=Dave Truesdale, DW=Daniel Woods, FD=Frank Dutkiewicz, ID=Indrapramit Das, JG=Joe Giddings, JO=Jo-Anne Odell, KJG=KJ Greenberg, MJ=Maggie Jamison, ML=Maria Lin, NE=Nader Elhefnawy, NG=Nathan Goldman, RP=Rhonda Porrett, SF=Steve Fahnestalk]

 

 

Short Stories—

 

“On Rickety Thistlewaite” by Michael F. Flynn (Analog, 1-2/10) SF (DT)

“Cargo” by Michael F. Flynn (Analog, 6/10) SF/F (KJG)

Light Conversation” by Alastair J. W. Mayer (Analog, 6/10) SF (KJG)

The Zoo Team” by Allen M. Steele (Analog, 11/10) SF (BTS)

“Contamination” by Jay Werkheiser (Analog, 11/10) SF (BTS)

“Spell Czech” by William Michael McCarthy (Analog, 12/10) SF (SJB)

“Conditional Love” by Felicity Shoulders (Asimov’s, 1/10) SF (DT)

“Adrift” by Eugene Fischer (Asimov’s, 4-5/10) SF (NG)

“Unforeseen” by Molly Gloss (Asimov’s, 4-5/10) SF (SF)

“Malick Pan” by Sara Genge (Asimov’s, 4-5/10) SF (SF)

“Pretty To Think So” by Robert Reed (Asimov’s, 4-5/10) SF (SF)

“The Other Graces” by Sola Kim (Asimov’s, 7/10) SF (SF)

“Superluminosity” by Alan Wall (Asimov's, 8/10) SF (BTS)

“The Palace in the Clouds” by Eugene Mirabelli (Asimov’s, 9/10) SF (CEW)

“The Hangman’s Daughter” by Chris Braak (Black Gate #14, Winter 2010) F (SF)

“Hootchie Cootchie Man” by Maurice Broaddus (Black Static #14, Dec. 09/Jan. 10) F (SF)

“Survivor’s Guilt” by Rosanne Rabinowitz (Black Static #14, Dec. 09/Jan. 10) F (SF)

“Teen Spirit” by Gary McMahon (Black Static #14, Dec. 09/Jan. 10) H (SF)

“The Overseer” by Tim Casson (Black Static #16, 4-5/10) H (DT)

“One Last Wild Waltz” by Mike O’Driscoll (Black Static #16, 4-5/10) H (DT)

“The Empty Spaces” by Alison J. Littlewood (Black Static #16, 4-5/10) H (DT)

“Faces in Walls” by John Shirley (Black Static #17, 6-7/10) DF (RP)

“Into the Depths of Illuminated Seas” by Jason Sanford (Interzone #226, 1-2/10) F (DT)

“The Glare and the Glow” by Steve Rasnic Tem (Interzone #227, 3-4/10) F (DT, SF)

“Chimbwi” by Jim Hawkins (Interzone #227, 3-4/10) SF (SF)

“Plague Birds” by Jason Sanford (Interzone #228, 5-6/10) SF (KJG)

“Age of Miracles, Age Of Wonder” by Aliette de Bodard (Interzone #230, 9/10) F (BTS)

“Bait” by Robin Aurelian (F&SF, 1-2/10) F (DT, KJG)

“Silence” by Dale Bailey (F&SF, 5-6/10) F (RW, DT)

“Remotest Mansions of the Blood” by Alex Irvine (F&SF, 5-6/10) F (SF)

“The Real Martian Chronicles” by John Sladek (F&SF, 5-6/10) F/SF (SF, DT)

“Forever” by Rachel Pollack (F&SF, 5-6/10) F (DT)

“The Gypsy’s Boy” by Lokiko Hall (F&SF, 5-6/10) F (DT)

“The Tale of Nameless Chameleon” by Brenda Carre (F&SF, 7-8/10) F (DT, KJG)

Introduction to Joyous Cooking, 200th Anniversary Edition” by Heather Lindsley (F&SF, 7-8/10) SF (KJG)

F&SF Mailbag” by David Gerrold (F&SF, 9-10/10) SF (SJB)

“About It” by Terry Bisson (F&SF, 9-10/10) SF (SJB)

“Mouse and I” by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (Kaleidotrope, April 2010) SF (NG)

Hush Little Brother” by Richard Rippon (Murky Depths, Spring 2010) SF (NG)

“Loose?” by Mike Wook (Murky Depths, Spring 2010) SF (NG)

“Commonplace Sacrifices” by L. L. Hannett (On Spec #79, Winter 2009/10) F (DW)

“Heartless Gao Walks Number Nine Hell” by Bill Ward (Realms #1, Winter 2010) F (NG)

“The Fortuitous Meeting of Gerard Van Oost and Oludara” by Christopher Kastensmidt (Realms of Fantasy, 4/10) F (DT)

“In the Dreaming House” by Darrell Schweitzer (Space & Time #110, Spring 2010) F (DT)

“The Gallows” by Jove Belle (Skulls and Crossbones, 2/10) F (SF)

 “HMS Nefarious” by Rod Santos (Skulls and Crossbones, 2/10) F (SF)

“Seven Years from Home” by Naomi Novik (Warriors, 3/10) SF (BB)

“Ninieslando” by Howard Waldrop (Warriors, 3/10) SF (BB)

“King Rat” by Gene Wolfe (Gateways, 7/10) SF (BB)

“Sparrowjunk” by Margit Schmitt (OSCIGMS #17, 06-07/10) F (SF)

“Sister Jasmine Brings the Pain” by Von Carr (OSCIGMS #17, 06-07/10) SF (SF)

“Frankie and Johnny, and Nellie Bly” by Richard Wolkomir (OSCIGMS #17, 06-07/10) F (SF)

“Right Before Your Very Eyes” by Matthew S. Rotundo (OSCIGMS #19, 10-11/10) F (JO)

“The Cull” by Robert Reed (Clarkesworld, 9/10) SF (RP)

“The Bright and Shining Parasites of Guiyu” by Grady Hendrix (Strange Horizons, 7-12/10 & 7-19/10) SF (RP, ML)

“The President’'s Brain is Missing"” by John Scalzi (Tor.com, 7/10) SF (BB)

“High Noon of the Living Dead” by Sam Kepfield (Science Fiction Trails, 2010) SF (SF) “Hearts of Kaldun” by Martin Turton (Realms, Winter 2010) F (BTS)

“Paradoxically Correct” by Adam Colston (Redstone #7, Dec 2010) SF (JO)

“The Walker in the Cemetery” by Ian Watson (Cthulhu’s Reign, 4/10) H (DT)

“What Brings the Void” by Will Muray (Cthulhu’s Reign, 4/10) H (DT)

“This is How the World Ends” by John R. Fultz (Cthulhu’s Reign, 4/10) H (DT)

“The Shallows” by John Langan (Cthulhu’s Reign, 4/10) H (DT)

“Nothing Personal” by Richard A. Lupoff (Cthulhu’s Reign, 4/10) H (DT)

“The Mexican Bus” by Walter Greatshell (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H (SJB)

“Flotsam and Jetsam” by Carrie Ryan (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H (SJB)

 

Short Stories—One Star

 

“Deca-Dad” by Ron Collins (Analog, 12/10) SF* (SJB)

“The Witch, the Tinmen, The Flies” by JM Sidorova (Asimov's, 8/10) SF* (BTS)

“Devil on the Wind” by Michael Jasper and Jay Lake (Black Gate #14, Winter 2010) F* (SF)

“Fair Ladies” by Theodora Goss (Apex, 8/10) F* (DT)

“Still Life (A Sexigesimal Fairy Tale) by Ian Tregillis (Apex, 10/10) F* (DT)

“Red Hell” by Renee Stern (Black Gate #14, Winter 2010) F* (SF)

“La Señora de Oro” by R. L. Roth (Black Gate #14, Winter 2010) F* (SF)

“We, Who Live in the Wood” by Paul Finch (Black Static #14, Dec. 09/Jan. 10) H* (SF)

“A History of Cadmium” by Elizabeth Bourne (F&SF, 5-6/10) F* (SF)
“Seven Sins for Seven Dwarves” by Hilary Goldstein (F&SF, 5-6/10) F* (SF, DT)

“How Seosiris Lost the Favor of the King” by James L. Cambias (F&SF, 9-10/10) F* (SJB)

“Crumbs” by Michaela Roessner (F&SF, 11-12/10) F/H* (DT)

“Johnny’s New Job” by Chris Beckett (Interzone #227, 3-4/10) SF* (DT)

“The History Of Poly-V” by Jon Ingold (Interzone #227, 3-4/10) SF* (SF)

“Dance Of The Kawkawroons” by Mercurio D. Rivera (Interzone #227, 3-4/10) SF* (SF)

“Flying In The Face Of God” by Nina Allan (Interzone #227, 3-4/10) SF* (SF)

“United States of America” by Mario Milosevic (Interzone #228, 5-6/10) SF* (KJG)

“The Usherette” by Kathleen J. Stowe (Kaleidotrope, April 2010) F* (NG)

“Sarah 87” by Camille Alexa (Murky Depths, Spring 2010) SF* (NG)

“How Interesting: a Tiny Man” by Harlan Ellison (Realms of Fantasy, 2/10) F* (NG, DT)

“Mister Oak” by Leah Bobet (Realms of Fantasy, 2/10) F* (NG)

“Hanuman's Bridge” by Euan Harvey (Realms of Fantasy, 4/10) DF* (MJ)

“The Taste of Night” by Pat Cadigan (Is Anybody Out There?, 2010) SF* (DT)

“The Truth About Pickman” by Brian Stableford (Black Wings, PS Publishing, 5/10) H* (RW)

“Resolution 1838” by David Brookes (Skulls and Crossbones, 2/10) F* (SF)

“The After” by Carrie Vaccaro Nelkin (Skulls and Crossbones, 2/10) SF* (SF)

“The Harm” by Gary McMahon (TTA Press, 3/10) H* (SF, CWA)

“Dream Burgers at the Mouth of Hell” by Lucious Shepard (The Book of Dreams, 2010) F* (BB)

“The Mystery of Miranda” by David A. Simons (OSCIGMS #18, 9/10) SF* (ML)

“The Cassandra Project” by Jack McDevitt (Lightspeed, 6/10) SF * (BTS)

“The Anteroom” by Adam-Troy Castro (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H* (SJB)

“When the Zombie Win” by Karina Sumner-Smith (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H* (SJB)

“Mouja” by Matt London (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H* (SJB)

“Lost Canyon of the Dead” by Brian Keene (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H* (SJB)

“Pirates vs Zombies” by Amelia Beamer (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H* (SJB)

“Steve and Fred” by Max Brooks (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H* (SJB)

“Everglades” by Mira Grant (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H* (SJB)

“He Said, Laughing” by Simon R. Green (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H* (SJB)

“Last Stand” by Kelly Armstrong (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H* (SJB)

“Tameshigiri” by Steven Gould (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H* (SJB)

“And the Next, and the Next” by Genevieve Valentine (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H* (SJB)

“Are You Trying to Tell Me This Is Heaven?” by Sarah Langan (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H* (SJB)

“Commander Perry’s Mystic Wonders Show” by Jamie Lee Moyer (Triangulation: End of the Rainbow, 7/10) F* (JO)

 

Short Stories—Two Stars

 

“A Placebo Effect” by Brian C. Coad (Analog, 12/10) SF** (SJB)

“A Letter From the Emperor,” by Steve Rasnic Tem (Asimov's, 1/10) SF** (NE)

“The Lovely Ugly,” by Carol Emshwiller (Asimov's, 8/10) SF** (BTS)

“The Incarceration of Captain Nebula” by Mike Resnick (Asimov's, 10-11/10) SF** (BTS)

“The Eleventh Day” by Christopher Fowler (Black Static #14, Dec. 09/Jan. 10) H** (SF)

 

“Songwood” by Marc Laidlaw (F&SF, 1-2/10) F** (KJG, DT)

“Fort Clay, Louisiana: A Tragical History” by Albert E. Cowdrey (F&SF, 3-4/10) F** (DT)

“Recrossing the Styx” by Ian R. MacLeod (F&SF, 7-8/10) SF** (BB, KJG, DT)

“The Window of Time” by Richard Matheson (F&SF, 9-10/10) SF** (SJB)

“Blind Spot” by Rick Wilber and Nick Dichario (F&SF, 9-10/10) F** (SJB)

“Eris Sinks Pluto” by Will Kaufman (Kaleidotrope, April 2010) SF** (NG)

“The Singing Spear,” by James Enge (Swords & Dark Magic, 6/10) F* (NE)

“A Suitable Present for a Sorcerous Puppet,” by Garth Nix (Swords & Dark Magic, 6/10) F* (NE)

“Susie” by Jason Van Hollander (Black Wings, PS Publishing, 5/10) H** (RW)

“Patient Zero” by Tananarive Due (Lightspeed, 8/10) SF** (FD)

“Under the Leaves” by A. C. Wise (Sybil’s Garage #7, 7/10) F ** (JO)

“Good People” by David Wellington (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H** (SJB)

“Reluctance” by Cherie Priest (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H** (SJB)

“Zombie Gigolo” by S.G. Browne (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H** (SJB)

“The Summer Place” by Bob Fingerman (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H** (SJB)

“Who We Used to Be” by David Moody (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H** (SJB)

“Zero Tolerance” by Jonathan Mayberry (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H** (SJB)

“Dr. Lash Remembers” by Jeffrey Ford (Steampunk II, 10/10) SF** (JG)

“A Womb of My Own” by Tinatsu Wallace (Triangulation: End of the Rainbow 7/10) SF** (JO)

 

Short Stories—Three Stars

 

“A Letter from the Emperor” by Steve Rasnic Tem (Asimov’s, 1/10) SF*** (DT, SF, CB, NG, BB, NE, DW)

“Dr. Skenner's Special Animals” by David A. Simons (Analog, 3/10) SF*** (MJ)

“The Hebras and the Demons and the Damned” by Brenda Cooper (Analog, 12/10) SF*** (SJB)

“Happy are the Bunyips” by Carl Frederick (Analog, 12/10) SF*** (SJB)

“Heart of Hearts” by Bruce McAllister (Albedo One #38, 6-10) F*** (DT)

“Blue Fire” by Bruce McAllister (F&SF, 3-4/10) F/H*** (DT, BB)

“Steadfast Castle” by Michael Swanwick (F&SF, 9-10/10) SF*** (SJB)

“The Exterminator’s Want Ad” by Bruce Sterling (F&SF, 11-12/10) SF*** (DT)

“Beach Blanket Spaceship” by Sandra McDonald (Clarkesworld, 7/10) SF*** (BB)

“Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time” by Catherine M. Valente (Clarkesworld, 8/10) SF*** (BB)

“Hokkaido Green,” by Aidan Green (Strange Horizons, 11/10) F*** (CS)

“Alone, Together” by Robert Kirkman (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H*** (SJB)

“The Other Side” by Jamie Lackey (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H***(SJB)

“The Crocodiles” by Steven Popkes (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H*** (SJB)

“The Skull Faced City” by David Barr Kirtlye (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H*** (SJB)

“Dating in a Dead World” by Joe McKinney (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H*** (SJB)

“The Price of a Slice” by John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow (The Living Dead 2, 9/10) H*** (SJB)

“The Unbecoming of Virgil Smythe” by Ramset Shehadeh (Steampunk II, 10/10) SF*** (JG)

“Lussi Natt” by Andrew Coulthard (Blind Swimmer, 2010) F*** (CEW)

 

 

Novelettes—

 

“The Hub of the Matter” by Christopher L. Bennett (Analog, 3/10) SF (MJ)

“Fly Me to the Moon” by Marianne Dyson (Analog, 7-8/10) SF (CS)

“Outbound” by Brad R. Torgersen (Analog, 11/10) SF (BTS)

“The Man from Downstream” by Shane Tourtellotte (Analog, 12/10) SF (SJB)

“Spell Czech” by William Michael McCarthy (Analog, 11/10) SF (SJB)

“Home is Where the Hub Is” by Christopher L. Bennett (Analog, 12/10) SF (SJB)

“Primum Non Nocere” by H.G. Stratman (Analog, 12/10) SF (SJB)

Backlash” by Nancy Fulda (Asimov’s, 9/10) SF/T (CEW)

“Stone Wall Truth” by Carline M. Joachim (Asimov’s, 2/10) SF/H (DT)

“Blind Cat Dance” by Alexander Jablokov, (Asimov’s, 3/10) SF (KJG)

“The Six Skills of Madame Lumiere” by Marissa Lingen (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, (7-1/10) F (DT)

“Writers of the Future” by Charles Oberndorf (F&SF, 1-2/10) SF (DT)

“Waiting for the Phone to Ring” by Richard Bowes (F&SF, 3-4/10) F (BB)

“Thief of Shadows” by Fred Chappell (F&SF, 5-6/10) F (SF, DT)

“The Door in the Earth” by Alexandra Duncan (F&SF, 9-10/10) H (SJB)

“Uncle Moon in Raintree Hills” by Fred Chappell (F&SF, 9-10/10) H (SJB)

“Death Must Die” by Albert E. Cowdrey (F&SF, 11-12/10) F (DT)

“The King of Norway” by Cecelia Holland (Warriors, 3/10) F (DT)

“And Ministers of Grace” by Tad Williams (Warriors, 3/10) SF (DT)

“Defenders of the Frontier” by Robert Silverberg (Warriors, 3/10) SF (BB)

“The Custom of the Army” by Diana Gabaldon (Warriors, 3/10) F (BB)

“Army of Orphans” by Brock L. Noel (Realms, Winter 2010) F (BTS)

“A Preliminary Assessment of the Drake Equation, Being an Excerpt from the Memoirs of Star Captain Y.T. Lee” by Vernor Vinge (Gateways, 7/10)SF (BB)

“Mysterium Tremendum” by Laird Barron (Occultation, Night Shade Books, 5/10) H (DT)

 

Novelettes—One Star

 

“The Anunnaki Legacy” by Bond Elam (Analog, 6/10) SF* (KJG)

Marya & The Pirate” by Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s, 1/10) SF* (BTS)

“The Woman Who Waited Forever” by Bruce McAllister (Asimov's, 2/10) H* (DT)

“Alten Kameraden” by Barry B. Longyear (Asimov’s, 4-5/10) SF/F* (SF, DW)

“The Jaguar House, in Shadow” by Aliette de Bodard (Asimov’s, 7/10) SF* (SF)

“Nanosferatu” by Dean Whitlock (F&SF, 1-2/10) SF* (DT, BTS)

“City of the Dog” by John Langan (F&SF, 1-2/10) H* (DT)

“Star-Crossed” by Tim Sullivan (F&SF, 3-4/10) SF/F* (DT)

“Why That Crazy Old Lady Goes Up the Mountain” by Michael Libling (F&SF, 5-6/10) F* (DT)

“The Crocodiles” by Steven Popkes (F&SF, 5-6/10) SF/H* (SF, DT)

“Advances in Modern Chemotherapy” by Michael Alexander (F&SF, 7-8/10) SF* (DT, KJG)

“The Literomancer” by Ken Liu (F&SF, 9-10/10) F* (SJB)

“A Rich Full Week,” by K.J. Parker (Swords & Dark Magic, 6/10) F* (NE)

“The Deification of Dal Bamore,” by Tim Lebbon (Swords & Dark Magic, 6/10) F* (NE)

“Hew the Tint Master,” by Michael Shea (Swords & Dark Magic, 6/10) F* (NE)

“Two Lions, A Witch and the War-Robe,” by Tanith Lee (Swords & Dark Magic, 6/10) F* (NE)

“The Fool Jobs,” by Joe Abercrombie (Swords & Dark Magic, 6/10) F* (NE)

“Lightbringers and Rainmakers,” by Felix Gilman (Tor.com, 10/10) SF* (NE)

“Pickman’s Other Model (1929)” by Caitlan R. Kiernan (Black Wings, PS Publishing, 5/10) H* (RW)

“—30—” by Laird Barron (Occultation, Night Shade Books, 5/10) H* (DT)

 

Novelettes—Two Stars

 

“Helping Them Take the Old Man Down” by William Preston (Asimov’s, 3/10) SF** (KIG)

“Forever Bound” by Joe Haldeman (Warriors, 3/10) SF** (DT)

“Recidivist” by Gardner Dozois (Warriors, 3/10) SF** (BB)

“Jump to Zion” by Beth Bernobich (A Handful of Pearls & Other Stories, 6/10) SF** (DT, BB)

“In The Stacks,” by Scott Lynch (Swords & Dark Magic, 6/10) F** (NE)

“Sacrifice of the First Sheason,” by Peter Orullian (Tor.com, 11/10) F** (NE)

 

Novelettes—Three Stars

 

“Pupa” by David Levine (Analog, 9/10) SF*** (CS)

“The Long Retreat” by Robert Reed (F&SF, 1-2/10) F*** (KJG)

“Amor Fugit” by Alexandra Duncan (F&SF, 3-4/10) F*** (BB)

“Class Trip” by Rand B. Lee (F&SF 3-4/10) SF*** (BB, DW) 

“The Precedent” by Sean McMullen (F&SF, 7-8/10) SF*** (DT)

“Eating at the End-of-the-World Café” by Dale Bailey (F&SF, 9-10/10) SF*** (SJB)

“The Triumph” by Robin Hobb (Warriors, 3/10) F*** (DT)

“Dirae” by Peter S. Beagle (Warriors, 3/10) F*** (BB, DT)

“Copping Squid” by Michael Shea (Black Wings, PS Publishing, 5/10) H*** (RW)

“The Truth Is a Cave In The Black Mountains” by Neil Gaiman (Stories, William Morrow, 06/2010) F*** (ID)

“The Isthmus Variation” by Kris Millering (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #46, 7-1/10) F/H*** (ML, DT)

 

 

Novellas—

 

“Robot Girl” by Brenda Cooper (Analog, 4/10) SF (BTS)

“The Ice Line” by Stephen Baxter (Asimov's, 2/10) SF (DT)

“The Union of Soil and Sky” by Gregory Norman Bossert (Asimov’s, 4-5/10) SF (NG, DW)

“Orfy” by Richard Chwedyk (F&SF, 9-10/10) SF (SJB)

“Destroyer” by James Enge (Black Gate #14, Winter 2010) F (SF, DT)

“The Natural History of Calamity” by Robert J. Howe (Black Gate #14, Winter 2010) F (SF)

“Chicken Little” by Cory Doctorow (Gateways, 7/10) SF (BB)

 

Novellas—One Star

 

“Of One Mind” by Shane Tourtellotte (Analog, 3/10) SF* (MJ)

“They Laughed at Me in Vienna, and Again in Prague, and Then in Belfast, and Don’t Forget Hanoi! But I’ll Show Them! I’ll Show Them All, I Tell You!” by Tim McDaniel (Asimov’s, 4-5/10) SF* (NG)

“Jackies-Boy” by Stephen Popkes (Asimov’s, 4-5/10) SF* (SF)

“Tomb of the Fathers” by Eleanor Arnason (Aqueduct Press, 6/10) SF* (BB)

 

 

Novellas—Two Stars

 

“The Sultan of the Clouds” by Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s, 9/10) SF** (DT)

“The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen’s Window” by Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Online, Summer 2010) F** (JG, DT)

“Cloud Permutations” by Lavie Tidhar (PS Publishing, 5/10) SF** (BB)

“Seven Cities of Gold” by David Moles (PS Publishing, 7/10) SF** (CWA, DT)

“The Mystery Knight” by George R.R. Martin (Warriors, 3/10) F** (BB)

“Snow Comes To Hawk’s Folly” by J. Kathleen Cheney (Panverse Two, 9/10) F** (JO)

 

Novellas—Three Stars

 

“Ghosts Doing the Orange Dance” by Paul Park (F&SF, 1-2/10) SF/H*** (DT)

“The Bug Trap” by Stephen Burns (Analog, 7-8/10) SF*** (CS)

“Phantom Sense” by Richard A. Lovett and Mark Niemann-Ross (Analog, 11/10) SF *** (BTS)

“The Life Cycle of Software Objects” by Ted Chiang (Subterranean Press, 06/2010) SF*** (BB, ID)

“Red Pearls,” by Michael Moorcock (Swords & Dark Magic, 6/10) F*** (NE)

 

 

Noted Briefly but Highly Recommended

 

Originally slated for full-length reviews, personal circumstances prevented the following collections from receiving their proper due. My sincere apologies to the publishers, for while the overwhelming majority of publications received for review are doled out to reviewers, it remains the prerogative of the editor to retain a few select works for himself. That said, and while not intended to be comprehensive, I heartily recommend the following 2010 publications unequivocally, each in their own fashion. I have either nearly completed, or have begun work on full reviews for several of the following and when completed they will be duly posted, but I desired nevertheless to make mention of them here, for this 2010 Recommended Reading List.

 

Detour to Otherness, Tales of Science-Fantasy and Terror, by Henry Kuttner & C.L. Moore. Introduction by Robert Silverberg, with an Afterword by Frederik Pohl and cover art by Richard Powers. Haffner Press (www.haffnerpress.com), 568 pp., hc, $40/Trade Edition, $150/Limited Edition.

 

As we’ve come to expect from Haffner Press, this is a classy, high quality production—in every respect. It includes the complete contents of two superior collections from the early 1960s and eight additional stories specially selected for this volume. The inside cover flap sums it up accurately and succinctly:

 

In 1961, Ballantine Books published Bypass to Otherness, a paperback collection of some of Henry Kuttner’s (and C.L. Moore’s) best short stories. Several selections were drawn from Kuttner’s popular series such as the ‘Hogbens’ (comedic otherworldly hillbillies living in America), ‘Gallegher Galloway’ (scientist who invents technical marvels only when intoxicated), and the ‘Baldy’ stories about mutant telepaths. Bypass was projected as the first of three ‘Otherness’ collections of Kuttner’s short fiction. Return to Otherness followed in 1962 with eight additional stories. And then…nothing. The third ‘Otherness’ collection never appeared.

 

“Now, almost fifty years later, Detour to Otherness collects the contents of the previous ‘Otherness’ books, and adds eight more stories selected for their scarcity, quality, and sheer entertainment value.”

 

My copies of the original pair of paperbacks are literally falling apart so I was pleased to see them collected again here in more lasting form. While all the stories are, at the very least, entertaining and clever (a number ingeniously so), some have become classics; among them “The Piper’s Son,” “Absalom,” “The Proud Robot,” and “Gallegher Plus.” Of the eight new stories collected here I admit to not having read any of them. Publisher Stephen Haffner selected wisely, for each and every story is a minor gem. So much so, in fact, that it is difficult to choose favorites. At turns (as with the stories in the previous two collections) the stories exhibit the range of intellect, understanding and insight into corners of the human psyche, and yes, humor, that mark a Kuttner (or Kuttner and Moore) story as unique. Kuttner was so prolific in so many different genres during the pulp era that many of his stories were actually co-written with Moore, and even those closest to them and their unique method of collaboration have proclaimed their inability (in most cases) to ascertain, with any degree of absolute certainty, who wrote what. Kuttner, for those new to his name or body of work, is an iconic figure in the science fiction and fantasy genres, noted especially for his short stories of which he was an early master—and as Robert Silverberg notes in his introduction, rightly so. Kuttner wrote tirelessly in the 1940s until his untimely death in 1958 at the age of 43. A Kuttner, Kuttner/Moore story never disappoints and neither will this expertly crafted volume. Worth every penny and then some.

 

Who Fears the Devil?, The Complete Tales of Silver John by Manly Wade Wellman. Planet Stories #24, February 2010. Introductions by Karl Edward Wagner and Mike Resnick. 197 pp., tpb, $15.99, (www.paizo.com/planetstories).

 

Manly Wade Wellman (1903-1986) is much lesser known these days than Henry Kuttner, and that’s a shame. As this book informs the reader: Wellman’s work has won multiple Locus Awards and World Fantasy Awards (including one for lifetime achievement), a British Fantasy Award, and the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America, and been nominated for numerous others, including a Hugo Award, five more World Fantasy Awards, and a Pulitzer Prize.

 

Perhaps his most well-known and beloved character is John the Balladeer, known simply as Silver John. Steeped in the culture, mythology, and folklore of the Appalachian Mountains, its music, landscape, peoples and legends, these 30 short stories (published first and primarily in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction beginning in 1951) quickly envelop the reader in the dark, quirky, and sometimes downright eerie tales of the self-sufficient wanderer Silver John, he of the silver-stringed guitar. Writing about his own home stomping grounds with authenticity, Wellman unveils the superstitions and hidden subculture of the “monster-covered mountains” as Mike Resnick puts it, introducing the reader to one horror after another: the Behinder, the Bammat, and the Gardinal, to name but three. Battles with the devil (in several guises) also mark more than a few of these tightly written tales, and there are curses and spells aplenty to keep the reader turning the pages. I found these tales rather refreshing for their locale, altogether charming (if darkly so), and immensely satisfying. As Robert Silverberg remarks: “This is the real thing—a book of haunting fantasies with their roots going down deep into the American folk tradition.” To which we concur without reservation, especially at the price.

 

The Space Annihilator, and Other Early Science Fiction from The Argosy, edited by Gene Christie. Black Dog Books, March 2010, tpb, 158 pp., $15.95 (www.blackdogbooks.com).

 

The Argosy has the distinction of being the very first “pulp” magazine. It published anything and everything, regardless of what would later be known as “genre.” These 16 “proto” scientifiction stories (culled from 1896-1910) ran alongside mysteries, love stories, and all the rest. None of the authors were familiar to me in the least; indeed, I had heard of none of them and I wager 99.9% of you haven’t either: Charles H. Palmer, Harlie Oren Cummins, William Forster Brown, Mabel Ernestine Abbott, Bertram Lebhar, F. J. Knight-Adkin, and so on. And the story titles are equally unknown, though rather purplishly descriptive: “The Gravity Regulator,” “The Blue Death,” “The Crimson Blight,” “Professor Jonkin’s Cannibal Plant,” the title story “The Space Annihilator,” and so on. Judged by today’s standards these stories are poorly written from a technical, literary perspective. Some are mere dialogues between characters, full of straight info-dump exposition and little plot or storyline, others have the narrator alone recounting a past fantastical event which forms the body of the story. But there are a few with an outright plot, more than one or two characters, and at least some dynamic tension as plot elements are worked through and overcome (or not).

 

The attraction of these stories isn’t their literary prowess, needless to say, but the intensely wild and unfettered imaginations of their authors. These guys (and ladies) were really Out There, and oh, what fun these stories are! As the rear cover copy proclaims, quite accurately I might add: “These vintage tales feature such imaginative concepts as matter transmission, a laser weapon, telepathy, devices to regulate gravity and render people invisible, a murderous long-distance attack from Mars, a cannibal plant, reanimation of the dead, a regimented 1984-type society—and even such startlingly ‘modern’ subjects as a cellular telephone and a man-made earth satellite!”

 

I find these stories valuable for two primary reasons: insight into the (then) contemporary-world descriptions of place, dress, mechanical contrivances (the straight-up historical perspective; the antiquated nomenclature, quaint turns of phrase, overall world-view including that of science, etc.), and for their historical value as pre-SF stories, with concepts explored, however crudely—or entertainingly, that would be fleshed-out and polished in decades to come. Fascinating stuff. I daresay you won’t find these stories anywhere outside of their original magazine publication from over 100 years ago; many, if not all, reprinted here for the first time. Kudos to editor Gene Christie, who is at work on another volume of hitherto “lost” SF from various almost-forgotten publications…and decades before Amazing Stories was even a twinkle in Hugo Gernsback’s eye.

 

The Last Hieroglyph, The Collected Fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith, Volume 5, edited by Scott Connors and Ron Hilger, with an introduction by Richard A. Lupoff. Night Shade Books, November 2010, hc, 376 pp., $39.99 (www.NightShadeBooks.com).

 

Last year in this space we brought to your attention Night Shade Books fifth and final volume of the collected fiction of William Hope Hodgson, The Dream of X and Other Fantastic Visions. November of 2010 saw the publication of the fifth and final volume of the collected fantasies of none other than Clark Ashton Smith, who, along with H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, formed the most potent triumvirate in the history of Weird Tales magazine during its heyday in the 1930s. Much credit goes to the various editors at Night Shade for bringing back these priceless gems, and in so carefully researched and complete arcs via the multiple volumes.

 

There are 29 stories included here, spanning roughly a 25-year span from around 1934 to 1958 (with a couple published posthumously in the early 1980s). Many of the stories were darker than I had anticipated, having read sporadically and at random only a few CAS stories in various collections over the years. One first notices the ornately wrought language used to excellent effect to set mood and tone. Often with biblically inspired turns of phrase bordering on poetry, Smith’s archaic and oddly constructed terms further immerse the reader in a totally different, totally strange world from the one we know. We get a sense of dark and malicious evil when these arcane, deliciously derived words flow over and around the images they conjure. One is struck in a few pieces by the sheer gruesomeness of the imagery, as in the June 1938 Weird Tales story “The Garden of Adompha,” wherein the court magician to the king Adompha brings a whole new meaning to bio-engineering when we discover a ghastly tree in a secret garden whose “flowers” are various human body parts: quivering ears, wavering eye stalks, and human heads of the recently murdered, male and female alike. The majority of stories are not quite so…explicit, but tombs, vaults, curses, spells, sorcerers, seductresses, and other visual grotesqueries abound…much to the delight of this reader. Also present are entries from worlds CAS returned to time after time, Averoigne and Zothique. Terrific stuff.

 

Editors Connors and Hilger, after much research of original manuscripts, original publication dates, and final versions or CAS’s preferred ms. (many were not edited to Smith’s liking), have decided to organize the stories in chronological order as written, not as published. This works very well, as we can trace Smith’s auctorial evolution as a work in progress. While primarily dark fantasy, outright horror, and sword & sorcery, included are the odd SF story (“The Dark Age,” from Thrilling Wonder Stories, April 1938) and even a brief foray into contemporary satire (“The Great God Awto” from Thrilling Wonder Stories, February 1940). Further props go to the editors for the 60 pages of individual story notes drawn from Smith’s own correspondence with fellow writers and various editors, as well as alternate endings to a few stories, and material excised from one story, now revealed. Richard Lupoff’s insightful introduction provides useful material about the author, his life and times, and what the reader can expect in the stories to follow. All in all, a fitting conclusion to a landmark series of the collected fantasies of one of the most revered dark fantasists of any age, one whose influence has been acknowledged by many a past and current practitioner. Handsomely produced, this is a must have volume (as are the previous four) for any serious fantasy aficionado worthy of his or her salt.

 

Night Shade was also kind enough to send along two collections featuring some of the finest work of two contemporary authors, complimenting nicely their retrospective historical collections of which the Clark Ashton Smith was one: Occultation and Other Stories by Laird Barron (May 2010, 245 pp., hc, $24.95), with an introduction by Michael Shea, and The Green Leopard Plague and Other Stories by Walter Jon Williams (May 2010, 305 pp., hc, $24.95), with an introduction by Charles Stross.

 

Occultation includes nine stories, three from Ellen Datlow-edited anthologies, three from other sources, and three new tales. The six reprints are quite recent, appearing first from 2007-2010. Set against the CAS stories and their ornate language, Laird Barron’s brand of dark fantasy and horror in contrast are lean and mean, contemporary or urban df/h often with strong language and /or sexual situations or scenes (both straight and gay) that may not be suitable for younger readers. These caveats for younger readers in mind, I found the language and sexual scenes/situations quite appropriate to each story’s mood or tone and definitely not of a gratuitous nature. Indeed, the sexual component concerning a number of gay men served only to heighten, and give depth to the horror found in one of the new tales, “Mysterium Tremendum,” which component also served to perhaps dispel a trite cliché that gay men aren’t tough. The traveling friends in this lengthy piece give a handful of barroom bullies more than what-for rather brutally, and as the story progresses face the evil which forms the crux of the story, concerning as it does, one of their former (now dead) companions and the strange haunting surrounding his death. I found this story so compelling you’ll find it on the recommended list above.

 

The six reprints include: “The Forest,” “Occultation,” “The Lagerstatte,” “Catch Hell,” “Strappado,” and “The Broadsword.” Along with “Mysterium Tremendum,” the other new stories are “—30—” and “Six Six Six.” “—30—” can also be found on the above recommended list.” Laird Barron’s first collection, The Imago Sequence and Other Stories, was the recipient of the first Shirley Jackson Award. With this second collection he solidifies his position as one of the very top-rank purveyors of modern short horror. A strong talent and a strong collection mark this as a must-have for the horror lover.

 

I’ve been a true fanatic of Walter Jon Williams’ science fiction for at least 25 years it must be now, both at novel and short length. The words exciting, imaginative, fresh, energetic, and always entertaining are the best I can come up with to encapsulate his body of work. His newest collection, The Green Leopard Plague and Other Stories, showcases nine stories from the decade 1997-2007, including a pair of Nebula winners, “Daddy’s World” and “The Green Leopard Plague.” High-tech, virtual reality, and post-singularity worlds predominate as integral settings for these wild and woolly stories. While highly cognizant that story comes first, Williams shows here keen insight into some of the unseen ramifications and ultimately human problems with which our coming ultra high-tech society might have to confront (i.e., “Daddy’s World” and “Incarnation Day” for but two). For an example of the colorful, plot-centered tale with mystery, intrigue, and unusual characters—all meant to capture our undivided attention as the story races headlong to its conclusion, we have “The Tang Dynasty Underwater Pyramid.” Its international setting coupled with the witty dialogue and motley cast of oddball, yet professional associates invite one to believe Williams was paying direct homage to his longtime friend, the late, much-lamented Roger Zelazny, for while the specific storyline and details differ, it is as if Williams was recalling Zelazny’s story “The Eve of RUMOKO” for its tone, style, and atmosphere. I felt I was in fact reading a Zelazny story, so finely wrought was the similarity.

 

Along with the Charles Stross introduction Williams provides notes on each story which are fascinating in and of themselves. The remaining entries include “Lethe,” “The Last Ride of German Freddie,” “The Millennium Party,” “Send Them Flowers,” and “Pinocchio.” A truly superlative collection by one of science fiction’s remarkable talents. Highly recommended.

 

As always, we hope this Recommended List for 2010 proves in some way useful and hopefully gives more exposure to authors and stories which otherwise and in many cases tend to be quickly forgotten in the overwhelming deluge now published in print and online. My thanks go to the persevering efforts of our reviewers, and especially to Assistant Managing Editor Steve Fahnestalk for stepping in to fill the void during my temporary absence. I hope to be back online soon.

 

(*Footnote: I direct you to Dean Wesley Smith's “Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com for ideas on how to make a very good living at writing.--Steve)