Best Short Novels reviewed

Paul Kincaid reviews Best Short Novels: 2006 for SF Site. It’s an interesting review and Kincaid is an intelligent critic. The only comment I’d make on it is to clarify that the book is called Best Short Novels omitting reference to genre because it is published by The SF Book Club. Were it published by a trade publisher, it probably would go with the original title from the proposal: The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Novellas of the Year (which is a mouthful, I know).

Unreal Book No.1 – The Best of Kim Stanley Robinson

I like to come up with ideas for books, to push and prod to see if they can happen, and I occasionally even get to work on them. However, not every book can happen, and I certainly can’t work on all of them either. So, I thought I might occasionally blog about book ideas, see how they sound out in the world. And who knows? Someone might even do the book some day.

Kim Stanley Robinson is best known for his ‘Mars’ trilogy, and perhaps for the ‘Three California’ novels. However, he’s a Nebula and World Fantasy Award winning short story writer, and he’s done some of the best work of his career at that length. I can’t help but feel that a Best of Kim Stanley Robinson would be a terrific book.

The first problem you come up against in compiling this book is that three of his best stories – “Green Mars”, “A Short, Sharp Shock”, and “The Blind Geometer” – are all long-ish novellas. I don’t have word counts, but I’d be unsurprised if they topped 80,000 words as a group. For me, in an ideal situation, a ‘best of’ shouldn’t top about 125,000 words all up. Doing a four or five story book isn’t an option, and I don’t like the idea of splitting the book into a ‘long story’ and ‘short story’ book (something that seldom works, for my money).

So, stepping outside the real world, here is an eighteen story selection from Robinson’s near 70 story bibliography. I’m guessing, but I’d say it’s about 200,000 words long, though you could probably shorten it by dropping a story or two. The book opens with his World Fantasy Award winner, “Black Air”, and just goes from strength to strength. If you’re interested in reading this unbook, I can point you to sources. Just let me know in the comments field to this post. Oh, and I’d love to hear any alternate suggestions.

1. Black Air
2. Escape from Kathmandu
3. Rainbow Bridge
4. The Lucky Strike
5. Exploring Fossil Canyon
6. On the North Pole of Pluto
7. Green Mars
8. Coming Back to Dixieland
9. Mother Goddess of the World
10. A Short, Sharp Shock
11. Our Town,
12. Remaking History
13. Venice Drowned
14. Arthur Sternbach Brings the Curveball to Mars
15. Down and Out in the Year 2000
16. A Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions
17. Ridge Running
18. The Blind Geometer

Tachyon revamp

I see that Tachyon Publications have revamped their website. It’s still not quite perfect, but it’s a major improvement over the old site that they’d had for quite a while. They’ve added a blog, have more information on forthcoming books (the section I always want sites to improve on), and even a news page (which I always think should be on the home page. Now, if you could just shop easily online…

I am very impressed with their 2007 line-up. In addition to the terrific Ellen Klages’ collection, Portable Childhoods, which I mentioned earlier, they’re publishing Susan Palwick’s The Fate of Mice, Carol Emshwiller’s The Secret City, a reprint of Peter Beagle’s A Fine and Private Place, The Asimov’s SF 30th Anniversary Anthology, and, happily, Year’s Best Fantasy 7 by David Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer. The only item on their list that I don’t quite ‘get’, and I never have, is the Tiptree Awards volume. I hope it’s an enormous success, but it puzzles me.

Editing year’s bests…

A certain amount of a year’s best editor is being a detective. I’ve written (far too many times) in introductions to anthologies that stories are coming out in a greater range of outlets than ever before. I just found out today, for example, that UK publishers Serpent’s Tail Press are publishing a series of anthologies of short stories ‘inspired’ by certain independent bands. The first two books in the series, Perverted By Language: Fiction Inspired by The Fall and The Empty Page: Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Sonic Youth, are both due in the first half of 2007. Anthologies are also planned that cover The Smiths, The Ramones, Joy Division and The Velvet Underground. And of course genre writers are involved, so there are stories by people like Jeff VanderMeer and Paul Di Filippo. They could be very cool books and may be great stories, but they’re not easy to stumble across. Still, this is one of the reasons we do it I guess.