Ah, sweet hubris

I’ve been pondering science fiction a lot, this past couple weeks, and year’s best anthologies particularly. I’ve been asking myself questions like ‘what makes a good year’s best’, ‘what should go into one’, ‘how long should it be’, ‘as year’s bests have gotten longer, has the overall quality of the books increased, decreased or stayed the same’. As I’ve been pondering, I’ve been searching through all kinds of bibliographic listings, just to see what’s there. I was surprised to see Orson Welles had written an introduction for a year’s best, and even more surprised that he’d edited an SF anthology. What I didn’t expect to stumble across, though, was information on Bleiler and Dikty’s Years Best Science Fiction Novels series. Between 1952 and 1955 these two veteran anthologists compiled what I now suspect was the first ever ‘year’s best novellas’ anthology series. I was really surprised. I’d thought the Terry Carr series was the first ‘best novellas’ series, but live and learn. Bleiler and Dikty edited five volumes of Years Best Science Fiction Novels. I’m headed to Oakland again later this year, and I expect I’ll be burying myself in CHARLES’s basement for a day or so, pouring over what they did and how they did it. Always, always something more to learn.