I refuse to call them "the best of the year", because I haven't read all the stories of the year, and haven't even read all the major publications, never mind the minor ones.
I've provided links to any commentary I've made about the stories in reviews, to the story itself if it was published online, or, at the least, to the author's or publisher's website.
Some observations: Far more out-and-out fantasy than out-and-out science fiction, which is a significant change in my reading habits and/or tastes. For some reason, fantasy appealed to me far more than science fiction this year. (Stories in the margins of those two labels appealed to me the most, but this is not new.)
- "Flat Diane" by Daniel Abraham (F&SF Oct/Nov)
- "The Golden Age of Fire Escapes" by John Aegard
- "Sand Dollars and Apple Halves" by Barth Anderson
- "The Pasho" by Paolo Bacigalupi (Asimov's, September)
- "Tammy Pendant" by Chris Beckett (Asimov's, March)
- "Hurricane Sandrine" by Daniel Braum
- "The Rules of Gambling" by Richard Butner
- "Revenge of the Calico Cat" by Stepan Chapman (Leviathan 4)
- "A Keeper" and "Tetrarchs" by Alan DeNiro
- "Labyrinth City" by Rudi Dornemann
- "The Library" by Carol Emshwiller
- "Women are Ugly" by Eliot Fintushel
- "Johnny Beansprout" by Esther M. Freisner (F&SF, July)
- "The Continuing Adventures of Rocket Boy" by Daryl Gregory (F&SF, July)
- "Pictures on a Cafe Wall" by Damian Kilby
- "The Redundant Order of the Night" by Jay Lake
- "Music Lessons" by Douglas Lain
- "Stone Animals" by Kelly Link
- "Withdraw, Withdraw!" by Nick Mamatas
- "The Ideas" by David Moles
- "Life in Stone" by Tim Pratt
- "Cold Fires" by M. Rickert
- "Night Waking" by Benjamin Rosenbaum
- "The Voluntary State" by Christopher Rowe
- "Delhi" by Vandana Singh
- "Secret Life" and "Three Days in a Border Town" by Jeff VanderMeer
- "Glinky" by Ray Vukcevich (F&SF, June)
- "2.30" by Leslie What
The majority of the writers on the list are people whose names I did not know 5 years ago.
The July and October issues of F&SF particularly appealed to me.
Most of the writers are men. The women's stories, though, are some of my absolute favorites of the year. (I've just tried to analyze this and ended up deleting what I wrote three times because what I was saying seemed stupid, so I will not analyze it, just note it.)
Something I didn't expect: Of online magazines, stories from Strange Horizons stuck with me far more than stories from SciFiction, even though I thought SciFiction had a strong year and Strange Horizons was mixed. As I went back and really looked at stories, though, what I found was that I felt SciFiction was reliable and good but seldom astonishing, while Strange Horizons was sometimes not at all interesting but also more likely to be astonishing. This was also true of the small press magazines vs. the big press magazines. F&SF seemed quite solid throughout the year, with some real high spots, Asimov's seemed overall quite dull (but generally competent), while small press magazines published things that I tended to find either half-baked or flat-out brilliant.
There are no stories from Realms of Fantasy on the list. I read quite a few, and some were pretty good, but none that I read were more than that in any way that stuck with me. This could be more my fault than the magazine's.
I look forward to seeing how my taste matches up with awards nominations and best-of-the-year anthologies. There will be a little bit of overlap, I expect, but also significant differences, both because I haven't had a chance to read everything, and because my taste is somewhat odd.
A few people who are friends of mine within the writing world have stories on the list. A few people who are friends of mine within the writing world do not have stories on the list. This does not necessarily mean that I am entirely and completely objective. (But I do try to be.)