2000 In Review

Posted 31 December 2000

Last year I claimed that "The publishing industry consolidation pigeons are coming home to roost." I wish I had been wrong. This year did see some good long fiction and some good short fiction. It got both easier and harder to find both: Easier in that more good novels and good shorter works were published this year than in 1999; harder in that the increase was from less-prominent sources, with less-adequate marketing and distribution. The demise of SF Age eliminated a major source of good short fiction, while the suspension of Amazing cut off another professional-rates source of short fiction. Meanwhile, the turmoil in the book-length segment of the publishing industry continued to cause difficulties. My reduced number of full-length reviews is due to these issues, to the need to read the entirety of several massive series to give a fair (if often scathing) review, and miscellaneous factors.

Overall, in the commercial (professional) press, there were more good books than 1999, but more bad ones; more good stories than 1999, but more bad ones; and noting that Space Cowboys was the best dramatic presentation should give you an idea of just how bad 2000 was in that area. (I'll definitely be nominating that year-in, year-out favorite "No Award" for the Hugo!)

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

Best Speculative Fiction Novel of the Year Richard Powers, Plowing the Dark
Honorable Mention: George R.R. Martin, A Storm of Swords
Honorable Mention: Ursula K. LeGuin, The Telling
Best "Children's" Speculative Fiction Novel of the Year Philip Pullman, The Amber Spyglass
Honorable Mention: J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Worst Big-Name Speculative Fiction Novel of the Year Hanging chads have forced yet another recount. Leading candidates include M'Caffrey and Scarborough's Acorna's World, Watt-Evans's Night of Madness, Sawyer's Calculating God, and Kube-McDowell and Clarke's The Trigger. There are many other candidates, sad to say; this has been a bad year for former award-winners.
[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 (17th Annual Collection
Honorable Mention: Ellen Datlow and Terry Windling (eds.), Black Heart, Ivory Bones
Best Book Publisher Avon Eos (now part of HarperCollins)
The Aegean Stables Award The Federal Trade Commission [for failing to recognize that continued acquisitions within the entertainment industry are bad both for the quality of what is produced and for competition within the industry; wasn't Bertelsmann too much?]
Dishonorable Mention: AOL [for shoveling the bullshit that its acquisition of Time-Warner will be good for anyone other than executives who already own stock options]
Best Professional Periodical The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
Best Semiprofessional Periodical Speculations
Continues to be the top of the line in writing publications.
Best Webzine Abstain. Any vote in the category would represent a conflict of interest.

Overall rating for 2000: 2 stars
Mediocre.
A fractured, disjointed year in content, contrasted by continuing consolidation in a business sense. The reduction in the number of editors bodes ill for the next few years, as the field is no longer growing its own.

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