If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know that I sent myself on a magazine quest to find the best SFF magazine, and ultimately subscribe to it. When I began my quest, I thought I’d review a dozen magazines. I’ve already reviewed 32 magazines here, and I’ve discovered so many others that I’m looking for an arbitrary stopping point to round one of the quest (there will be rounds two and three, where I read additional issues of the top magazines, to determine the ultimate winner).
I’ve considered 40 as a stopping point, because I once read an anthology with something about forty days and forty nights of water, and the same collection had some people wandering around in a desert for forty years. Now, if I could just remember the title….
I’ve also considered 42 as a stopping point. As many science fiction fans will recognize from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 42 was a supercomputer’s answer when asked to solve all the mysteries of the universe. Leave me a comment and let me know where you think I should stop.
While the magazine quest wraps up, I’ve also sent myself on a side quest. For those of you who aren’t gamers, a side quest is a mission which isn’t necessary to complete/win the game, but which can be fun and/or give you something which makes the primary quest easier.
For my side quest, I decided that rather than choosing the best magazine myself, I could let other people do the work for me, cherry-picking the best stories from many different magazines:
I chose collections of stories published in 2011. Why 2011? Because for me, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the year I married my wonderful wife, and also the year we moved to Catfish City. I was so busy that year, I’m pretty sure I didn’t read any SFF short stories, so everything in these collections should be new to me.
The collections are fairly long, containing 35, 31, and 29 stories. I’ll try to keep my reviews of the individual stories short, and break the side-quest posts into manageable chunks of 10 stories or so.
Looking at the titles in each collection, it becomes obvious how subjective “best” is. Roughly two-thirds of the stories in each collection are not found in the other two collections, and there is only one story found in all three.
Taking this idea further, I decided to look at the Novellas, Novelettes, and Short Stories nominated for the Hugo (2012) and Nebula (2011) awards, and see how much overlap there was. Only 50% of the Hugo nominees made it into one of these collections, and only 35% of the Nebula nominees.
The story that was in all three collections also won the Hugo and Nebula for best Novella, so there is perfect agreement on that one, at least. I’m tempted to spill the beans on what I thought of it, but I think I’ll save that for a future side-quest post.
Are you shocked by the lack of objectivity in “best” story collections? Let me know in the comments below.