Year’s Best Annuals and the Consensus View of SF

During the coming nine months ten companies will publish no fewer than nineteen separate books collecting the best science fiction, fantasy, horror, paranormal romance, noir, long, Australian, Nebula nominated, Tiptree shortlisted, and even overlooked stories that were published during the 2005* calendar year.

Now, given that trade journal Locus reported that it saw a record 3,000 short stories in 2005, and noted that even that represented only a small sample of the number of stories actually published, nineteen books collecting maybe 300 stories may not necessarily seem like a lot, especially given that a number of those books will appeal to quite different readers. And, if industry insiders might expect some kind of reduction in those numbers over time, it doesn’t explain the value of the year’s best annual. What interests me the most, as an editor of three different year’s best anthologies myself, is the role that these books play in defining what science fiction (or fantasy) is for the modern reader.

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