1999 In Review

Posted 28 December 1999

A decidedly down year in long fiction, an average year in short fiction, and a typically appalling year in dramatic presentations. Although it's not immediately apparent from the reviews page, I read about four books of fiction and two of nonfiction for each one I review. (Even today's bloated novels seldom take more than four or five hours.) The proportion of dreck was substantially higher in 1999 than in 1998. The publishing industry consolidation pigeons are coming home to roost.

I am not optimistic about the 2000 lineup. A scan of the Locus list of forthcoming books is not very encouraging. Names are withheld at this time to protect the innocent. And, for that matter, the guilty, since I don't convict until the rubbish is on the shelves; even the guilty deserve a fair trial—followed by a first-class hanging.

And now, without further ado, the envelope, please:

Best Speculative Fiction Novel of the Year Orson Scott Card, Enchantment
Honorable Mention: J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Honorable Mention: Greg Bear, Darwin's Radio (review forthcoming)
Best Speculative Fiction First Novel of the Year Kristine Smith, Code of Conduct
Worst Big-Name Speculative Fiction Novel of the Year Unfortunately, the tabulating machines broke. There are just too many candidates. Perhaps some good old Chicago politicking will be necessary to help choose the winner. First, though, I'll have to ensure that the dead trees are registered to vote.
[this category is open only to authors who have previously won a Nebula, a WFA, or a Hugo—people who should know better]
Best Speculative Fiction Anthology of the Year Gardner Dozois (ed.), The Year's Best Science Fiction (16th Annual Collection
Honorable Mention: Robert Silverberg (ed.), Far Horizons
Honorable Mention: Patrick Nielsen Hayden (ed.), Starlight 2
Best Speculative Fiction Dramatic Presentation [no award]
The new releases this year were all so seriously flawed that none deserves an award. Go watch 2001 again instead.
Best Book Publisher Avon Eos (now part of HarperCollins)
The Aegean Stables Award Barnes & Noble [for its brazen attempts to obtain monopoly power over book distribution]
Dishonorable Mention: Writer's Digest Books [it seems impossible, but the magazines and books have actually deteriorated]
Best Professional Print Magazine [tie] The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
Interzone
Best Semiprofessional Print Magazine Speculations
Continues to be the top of the line in writing publications. And I'm not saying that just because it printed two of my articles; I would not have submitted to the magazine if I did not think it was worthwhile.
Best Webzine Jackhammer

Overall rating for 1998: 2 stars
Mediocre.
As I remarked in the 1998 In Review, there were signs of arteriosclerosis. Short fiction remains relatively viable, if of poor cardiovascular fitness. Long fiction, however, had an angina year.


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