Top Ten of 1998
selected by Mark R. Kelly
This list is adapted from the summary of the year's short fiction to be published in the February 1999 issue of Locus Magazine
Terry Bisson, ''Get Me to the Church on Time''
(Asimov's May 1998) A sequel to two earlier stories about southern lawyer Irving and his physics pal Wilson Wu, this tale of chronological oddities in New York City (trains and taxis are always on time), private universes, and old TV sets is playful, inventive, and hilarious; one of Bisson's best.
Ted Chiang, ''Story of Your Life''
(Starlight 2 edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Tor)
A human linguist's study of the nonlinear language of alien visitors reveals a radical new conception of physics, and of free will, and gives the linguist deep yet heartbreaking insight into the life of her daughter. Chiang has only published three stories before this, one of which, ''Tower of Babylon'', won a Nebula; this story is just as strong.
Greg Egan, ''Oceanic''
(Asimov's Aug 1998)
A coming-of-age tale on a planet settled by humans, now with altered sexualities, who worship Beatrice, the daughter of God. As the boy grows up he first questions and then understands the source of his faith. Egan addresses important philosophical issues raised by contemporary science, while extending his range with a colorful depiction of a semi-alien culture.
R. Garcia y Robertson, ''A Princess of Helium''
(F&SF Sep 1998)
A high-spirited planetary romance set on a mountainous terraformed world where a young airship captain worships Elvis, falls in love, and falls victim to a conspiracy by xenophobes against symbiotic alien Bugs. Who says they don't write 'em like this any more?
James Patrick Kelly, ''Lovestory''
(Asimov's Jun 1998)
A provocative and moving alien viewpoint tale about a race with just two sexes but three roles in rearing offspring. It's a careful balance of exoticism and emotional appeal that also offers some intriguing ideas about the different kinds of ''stories'' intelligent beings use to think about the world.
Ian R. MacLeod, ''The Summer Isles''
(Asimov's Oct/Nov 1998)
This alternate history set in a repressive 1940s England explores the life of a closeted gay man and his past relationship with the leader of the English government. It's an absorbing tale, beautiful and harrowing.
Paul J. McAuley, ''The Secret of My Success''
(Interzone May 1998)
A taut thriller about a London writer who discovers a conspiracy among the rich and powerful to control a means of achieving immortality through manipulation of genetic ''telomeres''. McAuley is an under-appreciated hard SF writer as adept with biological ideas as with physics and astronomy.
Robert Reed, ''Whiptail''
(Asimov's Oct/Nov 1998)
A young woman is taken to meet her lover's relatives in a future world dominated by clonal families. This sophisticated, crafty story addresses a serious scientific issue while creating a classic sense of SFnal estrangement and viewing it all through the volatile emotions of its characters.
Bruce Sterling, ''Maneki Neko''
(F&SF May 1998)
Sterling at the top of his form: a screwball comedy about a video format upgrader in a future Tokyo where a gift economy is managed by a benevolent computer network, much to the frustration of a clueless American prosecutor on the trail of software pirates.
Michael Swanwick, ''Radiant Doors''
(Asimov's Sep 1998)
The world is besieged by time traveling refugees from the future. Can the future atrocities they fled from be avoided? Swanwick uses a time travel paradox to explore the nature of evil and speculate on what people will do with themselves in the hyperautomated future.
Stephen Baxter, “Moon-Calf” (Analog Jul/Aug 98)
David Brin, “Stones of Significance” (Lamps on the Brow)
Raphael Carter, “Congenital Agenesis of Gender Ideation” (Starlight 2)
Arthur C. Clarke & Stephen Baxter, “The Wire Continuum” (Playboy 1/98)
Tony Daniel, “Radio Praha” (Asimov’s 3/98)
Greg Egan, “The Planck Dive” (Asimov’s Feb 1998)
Mark S. Geston, “The Allies” (F&SF 5/98)
Michael Kandel, “Wading River Dogs and More” (Asimov’s 5/98)
John Kessel, “Every Angel Is Terrifying” (F&SF 10-11/98)
Geoffrey A. Landis, “Approaching Perimelasma” (Asimov’s 1/98)
Paul J. McAuley, “The Gardens of Saturn” (Interzone Nov 1998)
Mark J. McGarry, “The Mercy Gate” (F&SF 3/98)
Robert Reed, “Savior” (Asimov’s Aug 1998)
Norman Spinrad, “The Year of the Mouse” (Asimov’s 2/98)
Michael Swanwick, “Microcosmic Dog” (SF Age 11/98)
Michael Swanwick, “The Very Pulse of the Machine” (Asimov’s 2/98)
Michael Swanwick, “Wild Minds” (Asimov’s 5/98)
Top Ten of 1997