2002 In Review

Posted 22 January 2002

2002 could just as well be called "no fiction left behind." Although it provided very few opportunities for the talented and gifted, the barrel's bottom was not nearly as deep as 2001 was, whether in the mainstream or in speculative fiction. The proportion of very good and excellent works was no higher than 2001, but the proportion of insults to dead trees was somewhat lower. Unfortunately, I do not believe that the best works of 2002 will be viewed as "classics" in a quarter century; but then, I generally treat about six or seven works in a given decade that way, so that may not be saying much.

For a variety of reasons, I simply have not had the time, energy, or motivation to review a very high proportion of the works I read last year.

And now, without further ado, the envelope, please:
Best Speculative Fiction Novel of the Year Kim Stanley Robinson, The Years of Rice and Salt
Honorable Mention: Jonathan Carroll, White Apples
Honorable Mention: China Miéville, The Scar
Most Overblown Big-Name Speculative Fiction Novel of the Year Stephen King, From a Buick 8 (proof that he should retire, or at least take an extended sabbatical, now instead of in the threatened future)
Best Speculative Fiction Anthology/Collection of the Year Ursula K. Le Guin, The Birthday of the World and Other Stories
Honorable Mention: Ted Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others
Honorable Mention: Jeffrey Ford, The Fantasy Writer's Assistant and Other Stories
Best Book Publisher Golden Gryphon Press
Golden Gryphon has established itself an enviable niche: the single-author collection that, for the last decade, has generally been so poorly marketed by New York publishers that it might as well not exist—particularly since Golden Gryphon is making such a large effort to publish the works of non-dinosaurs, and is doing so with much greater attention to product quality than one would expect from a small independent press that is not in a publishing center (ok, so there are six other publishers in town, but one of them is a university press, one is the press for an academic organization that just happens to be located here, and the others are all specialty nonfiction publishers).
The Aegean Stables Award Technically, this should be in the 2003 awards, but Disney is fully deserving of it for its hypocrisy and general corporate dishonesty with intellectual property. Demanding perpetual copyright for The Mouse while not respecting the perpetual copyright of Peter Pan strikes me as a load of horse manure.
Best Professional Periodical The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
Honorable Mention: SciFiction (even if the site design remains virtually unreadable)
Best Semiprofessional Periodical Speculations
Continues to be the top of the line in writing publications. Although it is now an electronic publication, it still feels like a print magazine. Although these are not Hugos, Speculations does seem to be piling up wins in this category…

Overall rating for 2002: 2 stars
Mediocre.
Again, some of the "best" news has been two much-better-than-average speculative fiction films at the end of the year—Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and The Two Towers. Surprisingly, these two "middle pieces" in series were not abject failures. It is disappointing that this is so remarkable; but then, considering that so much of what is out there is mediocre or worse by my standards, 2002 was really pretty average. A Powell's Books Partner

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