Friday, October 27, 2006

My Favorite Fantasy Novellas of 2005

And so we finish up on Day Five.

This will be my last list, and, following WFA rules (since those governed my reading and thinking this year) it consists of stories between 10,000 and 40,000 words. Since there are fewer stories of this length published, I just have ten stories to mention. And the list, like the others, is in alphabetical order by author:
  • "The Imago Sequence," Laird Barron (F&SF 5/05) -- I don't love it as much as some people do, but it's definitely a major story.
  • "In the Machine," Michael Cunningham (Specimen Days) -- Oh, it so counts as a novella. (Specimen Days is less of a novel than Van Vogt's most obvious fix-ups.) But this is a really good fantasy novella.
  • "Voluntary Committal," Joe Hill (20th Century Ghosts) -- A great, great creepy story. Everyone should read this. Read it before his novel comes out, when everyone in the world will be talking about how great Joe Hill is.
  • "UOUS," Tanith Lee (The Fair Folk, edited by Marvin Kaye) -- Speaking of creepy, this story ups the creepy quotient even from Hill's already high level. After a long era of sweet cutesy-pie fairies, and tall Tolkienesqe elves, we're finally (with stories like this and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell) getting those mean, sneaky, folkloric "fair folk" back.
  • "Magic for Beginners," Kelly Link (Magic for Beginners and F&SF 9/05) -- It's the story of 2005, and one of Link's best, though I'm still not sure what it all means.
  • Another War, Simon Morden (Telos, published as a book) -- It's Lovecraftian, which I nearly always like when it's done well, and it's straightforward rather than being artsy (which I appreciated in the middle of reading a lot of artsy stories for World Fantasy).
  • "The Gypsies in the Wood," Kim Newman (The Fair Folk) -- It's a bit too long, and the structure is a bit wonky, but this is essentially an excellent novella with a very good short story stuck onto the front of it.
  • "The Last Ten Years in the Life of Hero Kai," Geoff Ryman (F&SF 12/05) -- I am inordinately fond of extremely structured stories, but I don't think that's the only reason I like this story; it's also damn good.
  • "Inside Job," Connie Willis (Asimov's 1/05) -- There are those who don't like Willis in her funny mode, but I hope even they will enjoy this odd tale, which runs straight down the line between SF and Fantasy, demanding to be both and neither at the same time.
  • "Even the Queen," Jane Yolen & Midori Snyder (The Fair Folk) -- I'm not entirely convinced by the ending, but otherwise this is an excellent story.

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