Ok. Here's my impassioned plea/push/nag for anyone who reads this blog and is eligible to recommend stories and or novels for the various peer group science fiction, fantasy, and horror awards. I know that some people feel that awards themselves are a bad thing and that they should all be abolished. I'm not talking to you. I don't believe that and I know I'm not going to change your minds.Well, I wish I had the power to nominate or recommend fiction but alas, that's not within my sphere in influence. Still, this is the age of blogging however so here's my new meme: recommend a new (published this year) short story that you really enjoyed and why--sort of a mini-review (yes, so far, out of something like ten memes I tried to spread, only one caught on but failure isn't stopping me!). The Year's Best Science Fiction is still unopened and The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror hasn't arrived yet (praying to the bookstore gods it'll arrive this weekend!) so I'll take my picks from Rich Horton's anthologies, Science Fiction: The Best of the Year 2007 and Fantasy: The Best of the Year 2007 (and I expect some stories will overlap).
Awards are NOT going to go away but they could become less visible (which I think is a bad thing). As an editor I really appreciate it when the stories/books I edit make final award ballots and win awards. And I think most writers are even more appreciative of this. It gives a sense of validation for what you're doing by your peers (for the Nebula and Stoker).
Right now is "award rec season" and there are discussions on both the SFWA Bulletin Board and the HWA Bulletin Board about how their respective awards are dying --not enough members are recommending works to even make a preliminary ballot.
Now some people think that this might be because no one likes the work being published.
Others that no one is reading enough short fiction to be interested in recommending works in those categories.
I have a really difficult time believing the first reason. I've been reading sf/f/h short fiction for twenty five years and have found no drop off in quality in any of those fields.
I can't answer for the second but I hope it's not true because if so my profession will die and I love editing short fiction.
If you care at ALL for the genre short story then I urge you to recommend the stories that you think are worth bringing to the attention of your peers.
I actually read several great science fiction stories this year but the one that stands out the most for me (i.e. I actually remember it after several months) is "Okanoggan Falls" by Carolyn Ives Gilman. It's set on contemporary Earth with a unique twist: aliens invade! Yet Gilman handles the story very differently from what most would expect and has that slow, steady pace as opposed to the adrenaline-pumping War of the Worlds-type of fiction. The aliens are also an interesting concept but the strength of the story I think are the characterizations. No evil overlords here! Never read sci-fi? Give this short story a shot. Love romance? You might want to have a taste of this. Hard science fiction fan? Maybe the aliens will do it for you. Looking for a female SF writer? Give Gilman a try.
There are actually several great fantasy short stories too that it's difficult to choose. I'd like to recommend "The Osteomancer's Son" by Greg van Eekhout (while it has its weaknesses, I still found enjoyable) and "Moon Viewing at Shijo Bridge" by Richard Parks but I'll go with my gut feeling and choose "A Siege of Cranes" by Benjamin Rosenbaum. Suffice to say, "A Siege of Cranes" is included in the anthology Twenty Epics whose goal was to tell an epic story in under ten thousand words. Rosenbaum's story was great read and incorporated non-standard fantasy fare yet retaining the tropes of such a genre. It satisfies my guilty pleasure senses and my literary fiction intellect at the same time.
Go read and better yet, recommend your own new short stories!