Some Good Stories from 2004

I've recently gotten a few requests from people who wondered, for one reason or another, what I thought some good SF/fantasy stories from 2004 have been. It's a difficult request to honor, because I feel like I have missed more stories than I have read this year -- I've read maybe 20% of SciFiction's offerings, maybe 40% of Strange Horizons, less of Fortean Bureau and Lenox Avenue. Two issues of Third Alternative, none of Interzone, and I'm behind on various 'zines, including Lady Churchill's, Flytrap, Say...Why Aren't We Crying?, and the latest Electric Velocipede. (I'll be getting to all of those by the end of the year, but need to get a couple of other things out of the way.) And I haven't even seen a copy of what some people have told me is the best anthology of the year, The Faery Reel. So I'm hardly an authority on short fiction in 2004!

But what the heck -- for those of you curious for what stories I have found most interesting this year, in whole or in part, here is a preliminary list. (Since I've written about most of them somewhere or another, links are generally to what I wrote, though in a few cases I just liked the story a lot and didn't write about it):
"The Golden Age of Fire Escapes" by John Aegard
"The Pasho" by Paolo Bacigalupi
"Hurricane Sandrine" by Daniel Braum
"The Rules of Gambling" by Richard Butner
"Revenge of the Calico Cat" by Stepan Chapman (forthcoming in Leviathan 4)
"A Keeper" and "Tetrarchs" by Alan DeNiro
"The Library" by Carol Emshwiller
"Women are Ugly" by Eliot Fintushel
"Pictures on a Cafe Wall" by Damian Kilby
"The Redundant Order of the Night" by Jay Lake
"Cold Fires" by M. Rickert
"The Voluntary State" by Christopher Rowe
"Delhi" by Vandana Singh
"Secret Life" by Jeff VanderMeer
"Three Days in a Border Town" by Jeff VanderMeer
A couple of those stories will make it into various "Best of the Year" anthologies, a couple will end up on awards ballots (most likely "The Voluntary State"), but most are, I expect, too odd in one way or another to appeal to a large audience. There's very little traditional science fiction on the list, which surprises me somewhat, because last year, I thought, was a strong year for SF. This year seems to have been much stronger for fantasy.

Update: I fully intended to include Tim Pratt's "Life in Stone" and then forgot it. Bad me.


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