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retrospective look at sf&f year-by-year
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Best Science Fiction Novella (1961 to now)


(not included in this list):

Again let me repeat, this list omits any SPACE-themed or TIME-themed or "END-of-the-WORLD" themed novellas - they get their own "best lists"!

FIRST PLACE Best SF Novella (1961 to now)

Lucius Shepard "R&R"

SECOND PLACE Best SF Novella (1961 to now)

Brian Aldiss "The Saliva Tree"
Ronald Anthony Cross "Hotel Mind Slaves"
Gardner R. Dozois "Chains of the Sea"
Paul Di Filippo & Bruce Sterling "The Scab's Progress"
Harlan Ellison "Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans"
Philip C. Jennings "Isotope"
George R. R. Martin "Sandkings"
Vernor Vinge "The Cookie Monster"

THIRD PLACE Best SF Novella (1961 to now)

Poul Anderson "Epilogue"
Terry Bisson "Get Me To The Church On Time"
Eric Brown "Krash-Bangg Joe And The Pineal-Zen Equation"
Jack Chalker "No Hiding Place"
Ted Chiang "Seventy-Two Letters"
Phillip K. Dick "All We Marsmen"; "The Days of Perky Pat"
"Lies, Inc." ("The Unteleported Man"); "What the Dead Men Say"
Harlan Ellison "Catman"
Philip Jose Farmer "Riders of the Purple Wage"
Alan Dean Foster "Dance on a Forgotten Shore"
Sever Gansovski "Chast Etogo Mira"
Karl Hansen "Sergeant Pepper"
Fritz Leiber "Ship of Shadows"
Tom Maddox "Snake Eyes"
Ian McDonald "The Days Of Solomon Gursky"
"The Old Cosmonaut And The Construction Worker Dream Of Mars"
Andre Norton "Long Live Lord Kor!"; "Toys of Tamisan"
Tom Reamy "San Diego Lightfoot Sue"
Rudy Rucker "Big Jelly" (with Bruce Sterling)
William Browning Spencer "Downloading Midnight"
Michael Shea "Fill It With Regular"
Lucius Shepard "How the Wind Spoke At Madaket"; "Over Yonder"
Clifford Simak "Auk House"
Dan Simmons "On K2 With Kanakaredes"
Cordwainer Smith "Down to a Sunless Sea"
Norman Spinrad "Riding The Torch"
Bruce Sterling "The Shores of Bohemia"
Charles Stross "Lobsters"
A. & B. Strugatskie "Piknik Na Obochine" ("Stalker")
Michael Swanwick "Ginungagap"
Jack Vance "The Last Castle"
Kate Wilhelm "Stranger In The House"

FOURTH PLACE Best SF Novella (1961 to now)

Poul Anderson "Door to Anywhere"; "The Queen of Air and Darkness"
Catherine Asaro "Walk in Silence"
J. G. Ballard "Myths of the Near Future"
James Blaylock "Lord Kelvin's Machine"
Terry Bisson "The Edge Of The Universe"
Stephen L. Burns "In The Kingdom At Morning"
Pat Cadigan "Fool To Believe"
Lin Carter "The Thief of Thoth"
Ted Chiang "Story Of Your Life"
Tony Daniel "A Dry, Quiet War"
Paul Di Filippo "Karuna, Inc"; "Spondulix"
Greg Egan "Border Guards"; "Luminous"
Herbert Franke "The Orchid Cage"
Michael F. Flynn "The Forest of Time"
Jeffrey Ford "Exo-Sceletal Town"
William Gibson & Bruce Sterling "The Angel of Goliad"
William Gibson "Johnny Mnemonic"
Felix Gotschalk "The Wishes Of Maidens"
Colin Greenland "The Well Wishers"
James Gunn "If I Forget Thee"
Richard Mueller "The Chains of the Sea"
Ian McDonald "New Light On The Drake Equation"
Michael Moorcock "Islands" ("Not by Mind Alone"); "Pale Roses"
Pat Murphy "Desert Rain" (with Mark L. Van Name)
Larry Niven "Death by Ecstasy"; "Spirals" (with Jerry E. Pournelle)
Robert Silverberg "Born with the Dead"
Bruce Sterling "Cicada Queen"; "Green Days in Brunei"
A. & B. Strugatskie "Chetvertoe Tzarstvo"
Somtow Sucharitkul "The Dark Side Of Mallworld"
"A Day In Mallworld"; "Mallworld Graffiti"
James Tiptree Jr. "The Girl Who Was Plugged In"
"Houston, Houston, Do You Read?"
Jack Vance "Assault On A City"; "The Dragon Masters"
George Zebrowski "Transfigured Night"
Roger Zelazny "Home Is the Hangman"


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:
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--/ cool : (equal to fifth place)

These awards are given in the following categories:
- novel :
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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
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--/ 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.