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retrospective look at sf&f year-by-year
The Ultimate Guide to New SF&F Writers (from 1990 till now)

Best Fantasy Story
(1961 to now)

FIRST PLACE Best Fantasy Story (1961 to now)

Joseph Brodsky all poems

SECOND PLACE Best Fantasy Story (1961 to now)

Ron Wolfe "Our Friend Electricity"
Jeff Vandermeer "The Transformation of Martin Lake"

THIRD PLACE Best Fantasy Story (1961 to now)

James Blaylock "Paper Dragons"; "Small Houses"; "Thirteen Phantasms"
Terry Carr "Stanley Toothbrush" (as Carl Brandon); "They Live On Levels"
Jonathan Carrol "Friend's Best Man"
A. M. Dellamonica "Nevada"
Paul Di Filippo "Mama Told Me Not To Come"
Graham Joyce "The Coventry Boy"
Garry Kilworth "Mirrors"
Bentley Little "The Potato"
Ursula Le Guin "Darkness Box"
Tanith Lee "Bite-Me-Not, Or Fleur De Fiur"; "La Dame"
Lucius Shepard "The Glassblower's Dragon"
Richard Matheson "Duel"
Karl Edward Wagner "Two Suns Setting"

FOURTH PLACE Best Fantasy Story (1961 to now)

Kim Antieau "Sanctuary"
Clive Barker "The Age Of Desire"; "The Body Politic"
"In The Hills, The Cities"; "The Inhuman Condition"
"The Midnight Meat Train";"On Jerusalem Street";
"Rawhead Rex"; "Revelations"; "Scapegoats";
"The Skins Of The Fathers"; "Son Of Celluloid"
Michael Blumlein "Hymenoptera"; "Keeping House"
J. G. Ballard "The Screen Game" ; "The Singing Statues"
Terry Bisson "Bears Discover Fire"
James Blaylock "Hula Ville"; "In For A Penny"
Robert Bloch "The Funny Farm"; "The Yugoslaves"
Joseph Payne Brennan "The Jugular Man"
Michael Chabon "The Martian Agent, A Planetary Romance"
Stepan Chapman "The Comedian"
Pat Cadigan "Dirty Work"
Ramsey Campbell "Above The World"; "Call First"
David Campton "At the Bottom of the Garden"
Jonathan Carrol "The Sadness Of Detail"
Lin Carter "Black Moonlight"
Suzy McKee Charnas "Unicorn Tapestry"
Storm Constantine "My Lady of the Hearth"
Tony Daniel "Sun So Hot I Froze To Death"
Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois "Night Of The Dead"
Thomas M. Disch "Descending"; "The Squirrel Cage"
"The Descent Of The West End"; "Minnesota Gothic"
"Eggs And Chips"; "The Roaches"
M. J. Engh "Moonblood"
Harlan Ellison "Basilisk"; "Bleeding Stones"
"The Deathbird"; "Delusion for a Dragon Slayer"
"Do-It-Yourself"; "Flop Sweat"; "Neon"; "Rock God"
"The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World"
"Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman"
Dennis Etchinson "Deathtracks"
Sharon Farber "Return of the Dust Vampires"
Alan Dean Foster "The Thunderer"
Neil Gaiman "A Study In Emerald"
M. John Harrison "Empty"
Rick Hautala "Schoolhouse"
Robert Holdstock "The Graveyard Cross"; "High Pressure";
"Scarrowfell"; "The Shapechanger"; "Thorn"; "Time of the Tree"
Russel Kirk "Lex Talionis"
Kathe Koja "At Eventide"
Naomi Kritzer "Comrade Grandmother"
Stephen King "Trucks"; "The Crate"
Nancy Kress "Words Like Pale Stones"
Michael Kube-McDowell "The Gargoyle"; "Slippage"
Tommaso Landolfi "Gogol's Wife"
Joel Lane "The Receivers"
Ursula Le Guin "The Word of Unbinding"
Tanith Lee "Because Our Skins Are Finer"; "Black As Ink"
"The Demoness"; "Elle Est Trois"; "The Gorgon"
"La Reine Blanche"; "Medra"; "Nunc Dimittis"; "Flower Water"
Fritz Leiber "Gonna Roll the Bones"; "The Snowbank Orbit"
Bret Lott "The Train, The Lake, The Bridge"
Ian R. MacLeod "The Giving Mouth"
Sarah Maitland "Why I Became a Plumber"
Richard Christian Matheson "Hiding"
George R. R. Martin "The Pear-Shaped Man"
Thomas Monteleone "Where All The Songs Are Sad"
Tom Piccirilli "Ice On Heated Steel Script"
Stacy Richter "The Cavemen In The Hedges"
Kristine Kathryn Rusch "Phantom"; "Precious Moments"
Eric Schaller "The Five Cigars Of Abu Ali"; "The Assistant to Dr. Jacob"
Michael Shea "The Horror on the No. 33"
Lucius Shepard "Jailwise"; "Senior Volto"
Lewis Shiner "Scales"
Neal Stephenson "Crunch"
Bruce Sterling "Dinner in Audoghast"
Langdon Swanson "Likeness of Julie"
Michael Swanwick "Five British Dinosaurs"
Melanie Tem & Steve Resnick Tem "Mama"; "The Man On The Ceiling"
Steve Resnick Tem "Invisible"
Karl Edward Wagner "Sticks"
Manly Wade Wellman "Goodman's Place"; "Trill Coster's Burden"
Chet Williamson "To Feel Another's Woe"
F. Paul Wilson "The November Game"


Also see: (full navigation tree)

Best SF Novel (General Themes)
Best Space SF Novel
Best Time SF Novel
Best Apocalyptic SF Novel


Best SF Series (general themes)
Best Space SF Series

Best SF Novella 1920-1960 (general themes)
Best SF Novella 1961-now (general themes)
Best Space SF Novella 1920-1960
Best Space SF Novella 1961-now
Best Time SF Novella
Best Apocalyptic SF Novella

Best SF Story 1920-1960 (general themes)
Best SF Story 1961-now (general themes)
Best Space SF Story 1920-1960
Best Space SF Story 1961-now
Best Time SF Story
Best Apocalyptic SF Story





Best Fantasy Story 1920-1960
Best Fantasy Story 1961-now




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Collecting Pulp Magazines

Ephemera Interview with Avi Abrams

Enchanting Victorian Fairy Tale Art

"Then world behind and home ahead..."

Exceptional British Scifi Artwork from the 1950s

Space Pulp Art by Ron Turner and other British artists

Pulp Pleasures: Eando Binder

Great space adventure fiction from the 1930s
"Where Eternity Ends" and other rare gems

Epic Fantasy: the Start of the Journey

Part 2 of our "Best Classic Fantasy" series
incl. works by Henry Kuttner, Tolkien, etc.

Strange Shadows: Best Classic Fantasy

Fantasy "glitches in the matrix",
...lovely baroque magical lands, and more

Classic Cyberpunk SF Novels: Reviews

Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, K. W. Jeter, et al
(awesome must-reads)

10 Possible Sources of "Avatar" in Classic Science Fiction

Going beyond the obvious "Dances with Smurfs"...
(many stories worth reading)

"Steampunk" Anthology: Full Review

some truly crazed stories in there...
(plus artwork by John Coulthart)

"Dune", Plus Often-Neglected
Other Novels by Frank Herbert

"Dune", plus some overlooked gems:
"The Santaroga Barrier" and "The Green Brain"

Universe at Play:
Two Must-Read Novels of the Fantastic

"The Yiddish Policemen's Union" by Michael Chabon...
and David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas"

Two of the Most Entertaining SF Novels from the 1980s

"Vacuum Flowers" by Michael Swanwick...
and Tim Power's "The Anubis Gates", of course!

"The Body Snatchers" and Other Alien Pods

Fiction by Jack Finney, Vance, Simak and Bloch
mind impostors and emotion imitators

Exploring the Noir and the Grotesque

Jack O'Connell "The Resurrectionist"
and other newest examples of the bizarre

Overpopulation, Sex and Sensibility

Robert Silverberg's "The World Inside"
and other classic sf blasts

H. P. Lovecraft "At the Mountains of Madness"

and other masterpieces of terror
including original illustrations

"Constellations", edited by Peter Crowther

original anthology, 2005
full review: mind-bending stories

The Ultimate Guide to New Writers of SF&F

more than 2,000 writers, 1990-2009
Ratings, awards, web links

The Surreal Office

"The Situation", "The Cookie Monster"
Weird fiction by Jeff VanderMeer and Vernor Vinge

Mind-shattering Novels of Philip K. Dick

"UBIK", "Now Wait for Last Year", etc.

Theodore Sturgeon's "More Than Human"

There’s a problem with this new gestalt being: needs a conscience.

Jack Williamson's "Legion of Space" Series

Classic Space Opera
The ultimate weapon, controlled by a gorgeous woman

Astounding Stories, August 1934

Jack Williamson, Nat Schachner, "Doc" Smith
Epic space opera gems and horror surprises

Rare Pulp SF&F, Issue 3

Leigh Brackett, Fritz Leiber, Vic Phillips
Rediscovered gems of wonder & adventure

William Gibson's Novels

"Pattern Recognition", "Neuromancer"
A Fractured Delight...

Alfred Bester "The Computer Connection"

"Bester was the mountain, all the rest of us..."
Pyrokinetic writing in one neat package

Two Novels by Samuel R. Delany

"Nova" and "Babel-17"
New Wave Milestones, and then some.

Theodore Sturgeon's "The Cosmic Rape"

(and more reviews of his fiction)
Classic SF at its best and most humane

Travel Distant Worlds!

Vintage Space Travel Posters, and more.
Part 3 of Pulp Sf art series...

Alastair Reynolds' Epic Novels

"Chasm City" and "Revelation Space"
And it's only the beginning...

Rare Fantasy Gems by C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner

Hidden Gems of Pulp Fiction
When two star writers become husband and wife

Grand Old Times... in the Future

Overview of Pulp Art
A Loudly Lurid Universe of Sci-Fi Illustration

Exclusive: Interview with Nancy Kress

From High Fantasy to Hard Science Fiction
A Spectrum of Wonder

Jack Vance

"To Live Forever"
and other Vance extravaganzas

Alastair Reynolds

"Pushing Ice"
Cosmological "noir" chase across space

Charles Stross

"Missile Gap"
Mind-bending Cold War world-building

Hidden Gems of Pulp SF, Part 2

Rare stories from the "Age of Wonder"
incl. David Keller, Horace Gold etc.

Ultra-Rare Serials from "Fantasy Magazine"

"Cosmos" + "Challenge From Beyond"
incredible line-up of writers

Hidden Gems of Pulp SF, Part 1

Neat & Rare Stories
incl. the mad rally story "The Racer"

Astounding Stories, June 1935

Full Issue Review
incl. Gallun, Schachner, Campbell

Astounding Stories, May 1941

Full Issue Review
incl. Heinlein, Asimov, Eric Frank Russell

Horace Gold; P. Schuyler Miller

"Apocalyptic Blockbusters"
"Inflexure" and "Spawn": guilty pleasure

Interview with John C. Wright

Plus his advice to new writers
Adventures in Space & Magic

Frank Belknap Long

"The Horror from the Hills"
Great Lovecraftian Weird Novella

Interview with Jeff VanderMeer

Plus his Recommended Reading List
A Triumph of the Bizarre

Alastair Reynolds, Part 2

More "Galactic North" Stories
A Mixture of Hard Sf, James Bond & Jaws...

Alastair Reynolds Review

"Galactic North"
staring down infinity...

Most Shocking Article

"Holey Fools" by M. Christian
Warning: Gross Subject Matter

Alfred Bester Review

"The Stars My Destination"
"...nail it to the Retro Hugo voting board..."

Larry Niven Review

"Neutron Star"
"better get GP alien ship hull"

Poul Anderson Review

"Ensign Flandry"
"or how to start a sub-genre..."

Thomas M. Disch Review

"The Squirrel Cage"
"...seriously mind-bending stuff..."

Henry Kuttner Review

"Mimsy Were the Borogoves" (The Last Mimzy)
"...great storyline for a pretty average movie..."

Robert A. Heinlein Review

"The Moon is the Harsh Mistress"
" caused a tooth ache, and put my brain on freeze..."

Frank Herbert Review

"Destination: Void"
"...a layered cake of ideas and a scientific extrapolation on a genius level..."

Harlan Ellison Review

"The Abnormals"
"...editors slapped the most outrageous titles on his stories..."

James White Review

"All Judgement Fled"
"...the tension is palpable, soon to grow almost unbearable..."

Grand Adventure Strikes Again

Space Opera Article, by Avi Abrams
Based on Arthur Clarke's "Against the Fall of Night"

William Gibson Review

"Burning Chrome"
"...sheer pyrotechnics and exuberance of style..."

Ace Double: Murray Leinster

"The Pirates of Ersatz /The Mutant Weapon"
"...the characters might as well be cats or hamsters..."

Astounding Stories, May 1935

Pulp SF Magazine Review
with many original illustrations

Also read recent posts:
Author's Pen Names - Most Complete List Ever
The Wonder Timeline: SF&F Restrospective
Space Adventure Article



"SF&F Reading Experience" is part of "Dark Roasted Blend / Thrilling Wonder" family of sites. We try to highlight the most entertaining and rewarding science fiction and fantasy, with emphasis on memorable reader experience, not necessarily general acceptance by the critics. Have fun, and delve into our extensive ratings and reviews!

Most reviews are written by Avi Abrams, unless otherwise noted. Reviews also appear on our unique historical retrospective page Wonder Timeline of Science Fiction. Feel free to submit your own review, if a particular story is not listed here.

All major OFFICIAL AWARDS are highlighted in BLUE
("winner" has a letter "W" by it, otherwise it is a runner-up only)

Our PERSONAL AWARDS (ratings) are highlighted in RED and PURPLE:
--/ first place :
--/ second place :
--/ third place :

--/ fourth place :

--/ cool : (equal to fifth place)

These awards are given in the following categories:
- novel :
- series :
- novella :
- story :
- collection :

Also, there are our personal STYLE / GENRE SPECIFIC AWARDS. These reflect the story's content and the lasting impression on the reader:

--/ wonder award
sense-of-wonder, "visual intensity" and inventiveness

--/ idea award
originality of idea / concept

--/ adventure award
exhilarating plot, excitement / action

--/ style award
outstanding literary qualities, inimitable style

--/ romance award
intense and beautiful love / relationships

--/ humour award
funny and cool

--/ emotion award
touching, lasting impression, sensitivity

--/ shock value
altogether wild

--/ awesome scale
mind-boggling; further enhances sense-of-wonder

--/ rare find
very hard to locate, mostly from old pulps, never reprinted, etc.

Again, please feel free to leave your own review or comment under every writer's entry; also recommend us other stories you liked.