As many of y'all know, Rich Horton reads possibly a higher percentage of the short science fiction and fantasy published each year than anyone else. (In 2005, for example, he read a total of about 1750 works of short speculative fiction, where "short" ranges up to novella length; a total of almost 10 million words. To put it another way, he averaged reading about 25,000 words a day, all year; call it roughly 75 pages of fiction a day. And that's not counting the novels and the older short stories that he reads.) He reviews short sf for Locus, and he posts year-end summaries of all the major short-sf venues in his sff.net newsgroup; those summaries are collected and reposted on the Speculative Literature Foundation's website, though it looks like his 2005 summaries aren't on the SLF site yet.
For the past couple years, Rich has concluded his year-end summaries by posting hypothetical tables of contents for a volume of the year's best science fiction and fantasy. John O'Neill of Black Gate recently posted Rich's Virtual Best of the Year: 2005 on the Black Gate site. He starts by listing his favorites in each length category, then a ToC for a combined fantasy/science fiction volume, then individual fantasy and science fiction volumes, then a mass-market-paperback-sized combined volume. (The list also contains links to the stories that are available online.)
Well, the Horton year's bests are to be virtual no longer, as shown by this press release:
Prime Books is proud to announce a new series of "year's best" fiction anthologies covering science fiction, fantasy, and horror, for early summer releases in trade paperback editions. Science Fiction: The Best of the Year, and Fantasy: The Best of the Year, will be edited by notable genre expert Rich Horton. Horror: The Best of the Year will be edited by World Fantasy Award-nominated editors John Gregory Betancourt and Sean Wallace. Covering the best short fiction of 2005, these three anthologies will repint modern classics from authors including Clive Barker, Peter Beagle, Ramsey Campbell, Cory Doctorow, Neil Gaiman, James Patrick Kelly, Caitlin Kiernan, Joe Lansdale, Robert Reed, Alastair Reynolds, Michael Marshall Smith, Michael Swanwick, Gene Wolfe, and many more. Trade distribution by Diamond Books Distributors.
I'm sad that there won't be a combined science fiction/fantasy volume, but whenever the subject comes up, I'm told that there's just not enough of an audience for it.
At any rate, I'm pleased that Rich will get to put together non-virtual year's best volumes. And not only because I suspect there might be some SH stories in them. (I should note that there's no guarantee that the final ToCs will match the virtual ones; the final ToCs have not yet been announced.) My tastes don't always match Rich's, but they're close enough that I suspect that I'll like more of the stories in his volumes than in most of the other year's bests.
There are getting to be quite a herd of these. Gardner's SF, Ellen and Gavin & Kelly's fantasy-and-horror, Hartwell and Cramer's SF and fantasy, Strahan's Best Short Novels: 2006, and now Rich's SF and fantasy and Betancourt and Wallace's horror. We haven't quite reached the Year's Best Stories in Which Dogs or Cats Talk, If Briefly foretold by Locus last April 1, though, so I think we're okay.
Except: Yikes! I just looked at Jonathan Strahan's blog for the first time in a while, and I see that Ibooks filed for bankruptcy last week! (Cheryl M also noted this in her blog, it turns out, only I haven't looked there in the past week or so either.) Ibooks being the publishers of the year's best volumes (fantasy and science fiction) that Strahan and Haber were editing; those volumes were about to go to press, and are apparently now in limbo. Eep. I'm sad to hear it.
. . . I appear to be out of things to say, and I'm approximately half asleep, so I think I'll stop here.