Personal ‘Best of 2004’

There are many practicalities that govern assembling any book, especially something like a year’s best annual. I’ve been reading for three of them this year and, while it’s been rewarding, the final books have been impacted on by all sorts of real world considerations (which don’t need to be gone into here).

Realising that, I began to think about what stories I’d put into a year’s best, if the only restrictions I had to face were 1) the book was a single volume and 2) the stories were ones I really liked. After a bit of thought, I came up with a list of thirty-one stories that straggled across genres, but might just sneak into a single set of covers.

Looking at the list, it occurred to me that I should probably try to sequence them, but this is an idle thought experiment, and I only have so much time. Still, if you’re interested in such things, here’s my ‘Best Stories of 2004’. Oh, and should you wonder, this list was winnowed down from over 230 stories, a number of which were damn fine.

“Flat Diane”, Daniel Abraham
“The People Of Sand And Slag”, Paolo Bacigalupi
“The End of the World As We Know It”, Dale Bailey
“Sergeant Chip”, Bradley Denton
“Anda’s Game”, Cory Doctorow
“Zora and the Zombie”, Andy Duncan
“The Annals of Eelin-Ok”, Jeffrey Ford
“Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves …”, Neil Gaiman
“The Wings of Meister Wilhelm”, Theodora Goss
“Waiting for Gandalf”, Joanne Harris
“The Baum Plan for Financial Independence”, John Kessel
“Lisey and the Mad Man”, Stephen King
“Red Nose Day”, Margo Lanagan
“Singing My Sister Down”, Margo Lanagan
“The Faery Handbag”, Kelly Link
“The Silver Dragon”, Elizabeth Lynn
“Reports of Certain Events in London”, China Mieville
“The Third Party”, David Moles
“The Fabled Light House at Vina Del Mar”, Joyce Carol Oates
“Pat Moore”, Tim Powers
“Life in Stone”, Tim Pratt
“Cold Fires”, M. Rickert
“The Enchanted Trousseau”, Deborah Roggie
“The Voluntary State”, Christopher Rowe
“CATNYP”, Delia Sherman
“Perfidia”, Lewis Shiner
“Screaming for Faeries”, Ellen Steiber
“Luciferase”, Bruce Sterling
“The Last Geek”, Michael Swanwick
“Three Days in a Border Town”, Jeff VanderMeer
“Golden City Far”, Gene Wolfe