2001 Short Fiction
- Redshift, edited by Al Sarrantonio (Roc, Dec)
This big new anthology of original stories may or may not be the new millennium's Dangerous Visions, but a number of the stories have been singled out for praise by Locus reviewers Gary K. Wolfe (in the December issue) and Nick Gevers (January). (Locus Online will have a detailed review by F. Brett Cox shortly.)
- Elizabeth Hand, "Cleopatra Brimstone"
A young woman obsessed with entomology undergoes transformation in London; "as elegantly macabre as any of her work" (Gevers).
- Gene Wolfe, "Viewpoint"
Reality TV in which a man with $100,000 cash tries to survive as implants broadcast signals of what he sees over all the news channels.
"As with all Wolfe stories, it's assembled with the elegance of Russian dolls, and leads to unexpected nuggets of discovery." (Wolfe)
- Ursula K. Le Guin, "The Building"
Anthropological account of a planet with two societies where one works compulsively on an enormous building designed for its rival.
"[A] superb meditation on mastery and servitude and the nature of civilization." (Gevers)
- Dan Simmons, "On K2 with Kankaredes"
Mountain climbing adventure with an alien in tow whose
"purpose on Earth is reflected in the intricate harmony of survival required of the climbers." (Wolfe)
- Kathe Koja & Barry Malzberg, "What We Did That Summer"
Michael Marshall Smith, "Two Shot"
Two sexual parables: A strange encounter with three nude girls who may be aliens, and a man who videotapes his own sexual excapades.
"[I]f, as Sarrantonio earnestly hopes, Redshift has kindled genius in subversively distasteful form, it is surely here." (Gevers)
- Stephen Baxter, ''In the Un-Black''
A new story in the author's Xeelee sequence that
"rates as one of the author's best short works thus far." (Gevers)
- Gregory Benford, "Anomalies"
An inexplicable astronomical event leads to speculation about the nature of the universe;
"a fine example of what this author does especially well in short fiction ." (Wolfe)
- Joyce Carol Oates, "Commencement"
Allegedly Oates's first geniuine SF tale, this academic version of Shirley Jackson's ''The Lottery'' isn't new in concept
"but is so masterfully written, such a scathing torrent of satiric observation, that it simply overwhelms
- James P. Blaylock, "Small Houses" (Sci Fiction, 10.01.01)
A widower who's built his own coffin feels the end of his life approaching. "A moving story about fate and expectations." (Mark R. Kelly, Locus, Jan 2002)
- Richard Paul Russo, "The Dread and Fear of Kings" (Sci Fiction, 10.24.01)
On a planet that legend says was settled by people who came on starships, a mad king is obsessed by bringing back the starfarers. "Sparely told, deceptively simple in its details and contrasts, possessing something of the timeless texture of legend, this is Russo's best short work so far." (Nick Gevers, SF Site)
- Vernor Vinge, "Fast Times at Fairmont High" (The Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge, Tor, Dec)
Eighth graders in a future San Diego saturated by microscopic network nodes face final exams, including a "naked" exam to complete without Net access. An "incisive look at the near future of computer networks with a provocative story of student, and corporate, competition." (Mark R. Kelly, Locus, Jan 2002)
References are to reviews in Locus Magazine, unless otherwise indicated. Reviewers are Mark R. Kelly (MRK), Nick Gevers (NG), Jonathan Strahan (JS), Ed Bryant (EB), Gary K. Wolfe, Rich Horton.
A comprehensive list of recommended 2001 short fiction is being compiled for Locus's February 2002 issue.
Published Earlier in 2001
(17,500 - 40,000 words; roughly, 50+ pages)
- Jack Dann, "The Diamond Pit" (F&SF June, Jubilee)
Colorful pastiche of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Lost Horizon; "One of his most entertaining and rewarding stories to date." (JS, June)
- L. Timmel Duchamp, "The Mystery of Laura Molson" (Asimov's July)
Complicated criminal farce about clones and secret identities; "clever and compelling." (MRK, August)
- Andy Duncan, "The Chief Designer" (Asimov's Jun)
The secret history of the Soviet space program, whose compassionate leader lives on: "a Stephen Baxter story with literary soul." (MRK, June)
- Gregory Feeley, "Spirit of the Place" (iPublish.com)
In 1802 a spirit haunts the ship taking the Elgin marbles to Britain (Rich Horton, Locus Online)
- Ian R. MacLeod, "New Light on the Drake Equation" (Sci Fiction, May)
An aging astronomer clings to dreams of detecting signs of extraterrestrial intelligence; "it's more than about disillusionment; it's about the maturity of asking why those dreams mattered so much in the first place" (MRK, Jul)
- Lucius Shepard, "AZTECHS" (Sci Fiction, Sept.)
Shepard revisits and reinterprets the Central American war stories of his earlier career, in a tale about a freelance security contractor lured into the wilderness; "another triumph for SF’s greatest master of the novella form" (Nick Gevers, Locus Online)
- Lucius Shepard, "Eternity and Afterward" (F&SF Mar)
One surrealistic night at a very exclusive nightclub in post-Soviet Russia: "a blistering existential salvo such as hasn't been seen from him since the 80s" (Nick Gevers, SF Site)
- John Shirley, "Her Hunger" (Night Visions 10)
"Deceptively gentle as it guides readers into a disquieting encounter between a group of young-adult California moderns and a succubus" (EB, June)
- Allen Steele, "Stealing Alabama" (Asimov's Jan)
The first starship is hijacked by patriotic opponents of the right-wing government; first in a series. "Slickly readable and engaging" (MRK, March)
- Kate Wilhelm, "Yesterday's Tomorrows" (F&SF Sept.)
The mystery over a woman's firing from a prestigious biotech firm suggests the possibility of alternate realities; the science is slim, but "Kate Wilhelm shows in her work that science as metaphor and science as reality are, in the course of human events, pretty much the same thing" (MRK, Sept); "should both please Wilhelm’s admirers and serve as a fine introduction for those unfamiliar with her work" (F. Brett Cox, Locus Online)
(7500 - 17,500 words; roughly, 20-50 pages)
- Stephen Baxter & Simon Bradshaw, "First to the Moon!" (Spectrum SF #6)
The British land on the Moon in 1950, using concepts from 1939, enabled by political compromises in the shadow of an alternate-history World War II. (MRK)
- Terry Bisson, "The Old Rugged Cross" (Starlight #3)
A convicted rapist and murderer is persuaded to insist on execution by crucifixion: a media-culture satire that "ranks with the very best of his work" (JS, June)
- Ted Chiang, "Hell Is the Absence of God" (Starlight #3)
In a world where heaven and hell are literally real, a man copes with the death of his wife. "A brilliant and powerful look at faith and devotion" (JS, June); "This dark-humored satire of (literally) blind faith continues Chiang's string of first-rate stories that seem to be totally unlike each other in both sensibility and style" (Gary K. Wolfe, July)
- Brenda W. Clough, "May Be Some Time" (Analog April)
A missing South Pole expeditioner rescued by 21st century time travelers; "entertaining and believable, and Oates is a likeable character" (Rich Horton, Tangent Online)
- Jim Grimsley, "Into Greenwood" (Asimov's Sept.)
A woman journeys to find her brother on a world where humans enter into symbiotic relationships with trees; a "complex and vivid tale that effectively subverts the myth of paradise" (MRK, Nov); "marks Grimsley as a potentially notable heir to Ursula K. Le Guin" (Nick Gevers, SF Site)
- Nancy Kress, "Computer Virus" (Asimov's April)
A hostage drama about the capture of a sentient computer virus; "belongs on the awards shortlists" (Nick Gevers, SF Site)
- John Langan, "On Skua Island" (F&SF Aug)
Archaeologists discover something creepy on a remote island in the Shetlands; familiar in content, but told with thrilling intensity. (MRK, Aug)
- Jack O'Connell, "Legerdemain" (F&SF, Oct/Nov)
A man's life is changed by reading a paperback novel that prefigures his own life, and obsession. "O'Connell writes like a born storyteller" (MRK, Nov)
- Robert Reed, "The Boy" (Asimov's Oct/Nov Aug)
A professional woman's encounters with her neighbors, in a world where male/female relationships are fundamentally reversed, ends with a striking revelation; "Such jolts to the reader's consciousness are what science fiction is all about" (MRK, Sept)
- Robert Reed, "One Last Game" (F&SF Aug)
Adolescent angst during a family's weekend lakeside trip resolves with time travelers, perhaps. "This is a dramatic, edgy story that shows how speculative theories are never so simple when they rely for expression on real people." (MRK, Aug); "one of its prolific author's finest tales to date" (Nick Gevers, SF Site)
- Geoff Ryman, "Have Not Have" (F&SF Apr)
Life in a remote Chinese village facing connection to the universal net; "a very fine, very quiet, effective story" (Rich Horton, Locus Online).
- Allen Steele, "The Days Between" (Asimov's March)
Striking tale of an interstellar colonist trapped awake aboard his centuries-long flight; "a real quality of nightmare here, cogently rendered" wrote Nick Gevers (SF Site)
- Charlie Stross, "Lobsters" (Asimov's Jun) and "Troubadour" (Asimov's Oct/Nov)
Two stories in a series about a 21st century genius inventor who gives away his ideas.
"If ever science fiction is about new ideas... -- this is the crème de la crème" (MRK, June); "Writers like Stross who are actually paying attention to the rapid pace of technology and thinking about its future are rare and deserve to be celebrated" (MRK, Sept)
- Shane Tourtellotte, "The Return of Spring" (Analog, Nov)
This story of a man recovering from Alzheimer's is
"an excellent example of using science fiction to look at the social and personal effects of new technology"; it's the author's "best story to date." (Rich Horton, Locus Online)
- Howard Waldrop, "Major Spacer in the 21st Century" (Dream Factories and Radio Pictures, ElectricStory.com)
1950 TV space opera meets post-Y2K New York; "Waldrop's best story in years" (MRK)
- Connie Willis, "deck.halls@boughs/holly" (Asimov's Dec.)
A screwball comedy set in a near-future when Christmas is even more commercialized than now; "Willis's best Christmas story in several years." (MRK, Oct)
(Under 7500 words; roughly, under 20 pages)
- Daniel Abraham, "As Sweet" (Realms of Fantasy, Dec)
A schoolteacher's unhappiness with her marriage is mirrored by Rosalind's reaction to being dumped by Romeo; "an uncommonly thoughtful and mature story from a relatively young author." (MRK, Nov)
- Daniel Abraham, "Exclusion" (Asimov's Feb)
Suppose you could really block someone, as in a chatroom, and make them vanish from your life?
"Perhaps the best short story of this young year 2001" (Rich Horton, Tangent Online)
- Tony Ballantyne, "Restoring the Balance" (Interzone May) and "Restoring the Balance, 2" (Interzone June)
Companion stories about a future war on drugs, when the drugs are free and create the effect of phantom personalities; government hypocrisy vies with humanity's relationship with mother Earth. (MRK)
- James P. Blaylock, "His Own Back Yard" (Sci Fiction, July)
A man revisits the house where he grew up, and finds himself back in time; the story, "simply plotted, elegantly circular, is pure nostalgia, pure emotion really" (Nick Gevers, SF Site)
- Andy Duncan, "Senator Bilbo" (Starlight #3)
Tale about an old man in the Shire who is "an uncanny counterpoint between Tolkien’s very British epic and a tale strongly reminiscent of the American South" (JS, June)
- Jeffrey Ford, "Exo-Skeleton Town" (Black Gate #1)
Ribald tale of alien bugs and old movies. (MRK)
- Ian R. MacLeod, "Isabel of the Fall" (Interzone July)
In an exotic far-future space colony, an acolyte betrays her Church's control; "A rich, complex, evocative story, full of wonders" (MRK, Oct); "MacLeod's prose scintillates, and his compassion burns; poetry and feminism will rarely combine better than here." (Nick Gevers, SF Site)
- Paul Park, "Self-Portrait, with Melanoma, Final Draft" (Interzone May)
A writer discovers that his life mirrors a story by another writer, who made it all up. "A sly bit of metafiction with surprises in store even after you think you've figured it out" (MRK, July)
- Michael Swanwick, "The Dog Said Bow-Wow" (Asimov's Oct/Nov)
In a post-technological-meltdown future, a talking dog and London rogue conspire a theft using the ruse of a forbidden artifact: a modem. Clever, substantial, playful (MRK, Sept)
- Shane Tourtellotte, "Nanoweights" (Analog February)
Nanotech and boxing: "The setup is believable, and the solution logical and well-presented" (Rich Horton, Tangent Online)
- James Van Pelt, "What Weena Knew" (Analog April)
The Time Traveler's female Eloi friend questions the way things are; "low-key little gem" (Dave Truesdale, Tangent Online)
- Gene Wolfe, "Queen" (Realms of Fantasy, Dec) and "In Glory Like Their Star" (F&SF Oct/Nov)
Two oblique tales, the first a fantasy about two travelers leading a village woman to a coronation, the second SF about an alien visitor's effect on desert-dwelling humans. Religiously based perhaps; subtle, exotic, minimalist. (MRK, Nov)