Friday, October 17, 2014

FFB: the best short stories of 1978 (the year I started reading new short fiction in earnest) as judged by the annual editors...



I picked up (either purchased or found in libraries) all these volumes (with the exception of the Pushcart item) 
back when, and I was fascinated not only by the contents themselves but also by the choices made among the short fiction published in 1978, a good chunk of which I'd read as it was offered in the magazines and original anthologies. Looking at their contents now, I'm impressed, if not universally, any more than I was back then, by the quality of the selection--it was a good year to start reading new fiction, though it's usually if not always a good year to do so. It's rather telling that the fantasy (and horror) volumes have no overlap or shared stories, and neither do the eclectic/contemporary mimetic volumes, but the sf volumes certainly do. Also notable to me, as it was then, how certain books demonstrate, if not the desire to include Names at the cost of quality, then at least a certain kindness or nostalgia toward some of the writers...certainly Terry Carr, in the first two volumes of his fantasy annual, included two of the worst Stephen King stories I've read...at least Gerald Page and Ed Hoch selected rather better, though not Year's Best, stories from King for their books. The Stephen Donaldson story was also not up to most of the rest of the Carr fantasy selections. Lin Carter likewise could let nostalgia and desire to play up Conan and such overwhelm his annual, but Arthur Saha, who would inherit the series on his own after Carter's death, probably was already being felt in this volume in some of the more innovative choices.

Multiple appearances across several volumes include those of John Varley, with four appearances of two different stories (three reprints of "The Persistence of Vision"), four appearances with three different stories for Michael Bishop and three with three for Thomas Disch (the O. Henry volume was indexed for WorldCat by a proud fellow Minnesotan), three inclusions of two stories by Gregory Benford, likewise three inclusions for two stories by Joan D. Vinge, and, as noted, three appearances with three different stories by Stephen King. It really was a very good year for Disch and Bishop amd Janet Fox.

Among the particularly brilliant stories (among many) I remember are Dennis Etchison's "The Pitch" (Horror), Bill Pronzini's "Strangers in the Fog" (Detective),  Fox's "Demon and Demoiselle" (Carter/Saha Fantasy), and Gregory Benford's squicky "In Alien Flesh" (several). John Varley's "The Persistence of Vision" certainly blew me (and the award voters) away in 1978 and into the next year, though even from the first reading it struck me as more fantasy than sf, and perhaps in more than one way (though Varley's sexual libertinism certainly struck a chord with 13yo me, and I'm somewhat in sympathy with that attitude still, with certain reservations).  Look at all that established and emerging talent in the Pushcart...and all the others...

The Year’s Best Horror Stories: Series VII ed. Gerald W. Page (DAW 0-87997-476-1, Jul ’79, $1.95, 221pp, pb)

The Year’s Finest Fantasy Volume 2 ed. Terry Carr (Berkley 0-425-04155-7, Jul ’79, $1.95, 311pp, pb); Series continued with Fantasy Annual III.

The Year’s Best Fantasy Stories: 5 ed. Lin Carter  and Arthur W. Saha (DAW 0-87997-510-5, Jan ’80, $1.95, 204pp, pb)

The 1979 Annual World’s Best SF ed. Donald A. Wollheim & Arthur W. Saha (DAW 0-87997-459-1, May ’79, $2.25, 268pp, pb)
  • 7 · Introduction · Donald A. Wollheim · in
  • 11 · Come to the Party · Frank Herbert & F. M. Busby · ss Analog Dec ’78
  • 37 · Creator · David Lake · nv Envisaged Worlds, ed. Paul Collins, Void, 1978
  • 64 · Dance Band on the Titanic · Jack L. Chalker · nv IASFM Jul/Aug ’78
  • 87 · Cassandra · C. J. Cherryh · ss F&SF Oct ’78
  • 96 · In Alien Flesh · Gregory Benford · nv F&SF Sep ’78
  • 122 · SQ · Ursula K. Le Guin · ss Cassandra Rising, ed. Alice Laurance, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1978
  • 133 · The Persistence of Vision · John Varley · na F&SF Mar ’78
  • 181 · We Who Stole the Dream · James Tiptree, Jr. · nv Stellar #4, ed. Judy-Lynn del Rey, Ballantine, 1978
  • 206 · Scattershot · Greg Bear · nv Universe 8, ed. Terry Carr, Doubleday, 1978
  • 239 · Carruthers’ Last Stand · Dan Henderson · nv Analog Jun ’78

The Best Science Fiction of the Year # 8 ed. Terry Carr (Ballantine 0-345-28083-0, Jul ’79, $2.25, 372pp, pb)

The Best Science Fiction Novellas of the Year #1 ed. Terry Carr (Ballantine, Sep ’79, 328pp, pb)

Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year (1978) ed. Gardner R. Dozois (Elsvier-Dutton, 1979, hc); Also in pb (Dell Aug ’80).

courtesy WorldCat: 

Best detective stories of the year, 1979 ; 33rd annual collection  
edited by Edward D. Hoch. 
New York : E.P. Dutton, 1979. 209 pages

Quitters, Inc. / Stephen King --
Little paradise / Zena Collier --
The man in the lake / Ernest Savage --
Strangers in the fog / Bill Pronzini --
Delayed mail / Jack Ritchie --
Filmflam / Francis M. Nevins --
The fire man / Elizabeth A. Lynn --
The adventure of the blind alley / Edward Wellen --
The cloud beneath the eaves / Barbara Owens --
The closed door / Thomas Walsh --
Truth will out / Ruth Rendell --
Checkpoint Charlie / Brian Garfield --
Rite of Spring / Jerry Jacobson --
The golden circle / Patricia L. Schulze --
Captain Leopold Incognito / Edward D. Hoch --
The leech / Frank Sisk.

courtesy Contento/Stephensen-Payne Miscellaneous Anthologies:

The Best American Short Stories 1979 

ed. Joyce Carol Oates & Shannon Ravenel (Houghton Mifflin, 1979, tp)

[This citation in WorldCat is annoyingly shorthanded...particularly where the writer's name isn't so obvious as with Herbert Gold or Alice Adams.]
 
Prize stories 1979 : the O. Henry Awards  edited and with an introduction by William Abrahams. 

"Includes story by Minnesota author Thomas M. Disch."

Weaver, G. Getting serious.--
Bromell, H. Travel stories.--
Hecht, J.I want you, I need you, I love you.--
Goldberg, L. Shy bearers.--
Heller, S. The summer game.--
Pfeil, F. The quality of light in Maine.--
Leaton, A. The passion of Marco Z--.--
Thomas, A. Coon hunt.--
Molyneux, T.W. Visiting the point.--
Oates, J.C. In the autumn of the year.--
Baumbach, J. Passion?--
Zelver, P. My father's jokes.--
Gold, H. The smallest part.--
Van Dyke, H. Du Côté de Chez Britz.--
Smith, L. Mrs. Darcy meets the blue-eyed stranger at the beach.--
Caputi, A. The derby hopeful.--
Schwartz, L.S. Rough strife.--
Yates, R. Oh, Joseph, I'm so tired.--
Peterson, M. Travelling.--
Disch, T.M. Xmas.--
Adams, A. The girl across the room.  

  The Pushcart prize, IV : best of the small presses  
edited by Bill Henderson.   591 pages


Introduction : about Pushcart Prize, IV --
Home / by Jayne Anne Phillips --
From laughing with one eye / by Gjertrud Schnackenberg Smyth --
A renewal of the word / by Barbara Myerhoff --
Ice / by AI --
In another country / by James Laughlin --
The daisy dolls / by Felisberto Hernández --
Snow owl / by Dave Smith --
Lot's wife / by Kristine Batey --
The stone crab : a love poem / by Robert Phillips --
Night flight to Stockholm / by Dallas Wiebe --
Literature and ecology: an experiment in ecocriticism / by William Rueckert --
Ghosts like them / by Shirley Ann Taggart --
Elegy / by David St. John --
The ritual of memories / by Tess Gallagher --
Plowing with elephants / by Lon Otto --
Meeting Mescalito at Oak Hill Cemetery / by Lorna Dee Cervantes --
A Jean-Marie cookbook / by Jeff Weinstein --
dg The politics of anti-realism / by Gerald Graff --
Winter sleep / by Mary Oliver --
Wildflower / by Stanley Plumly --
Letters from a father / by Mona Van Duyn --
Early winter / by Max Schott --
My work in California / by James B. Hall --
The ownership of the night / by Larry Levis --
The Spanish image of death / by César Vallejo --
For Papa (and Marcus Garvey) / by Thadious M. Davis --
A vision expressed by a series of false statements / by John Love --
Jeffrey, believe me / by Jane Smiley --
Sweetness, a thinking machine / by Joe Ashby Porter --
To Ed Sissman / by John Updike --
The man whose blood tilted the earth / by M.R. Doty --
Lawrence at Taos / by Shirley Kaufman --
Contemporary poetry and the metaphors for the poem / by Charles Molesworth --
Another Margot chapter / by R.C. Day --
Sitting up, standing, taking steps / by Ron Silliman --
Made connections / by Michael Harper --
Anonymous courtesan in a jade shroud / by Brenda Hillman -
A woman in love with a bottle / by Barbara Lovell ---
Proteus / by Judith Hoover --
Quinnapoxet / by Stanley Kunitz --
Things that happen where there aren't any people / by William Stafford --
Lechery / by Jayne Anne Phillips --
Civilization and isolation / by Vine Deloria --
from Kiss of the spider woman / by Manual Puig --
Running away from home / by Carolyn Kizer --
The biography man / by Gary Reilly --
The nerves of a midwife: contemporary American women's poetry / by Alicia Ostriker --
Forgive us / by George Venn --
The hat in the swamp / by Paul Metcalf --
These women / by Christine Schutt --
Johnny Appleseed / by Susan Schaefer Neville --
Some carry around this / by Susan Strayer Deal --
The stonecutter's horses / by Robert Bringhurst --
Grandmother (1895-1928) / by Cleopatra Mathis --
Rich / by Ellen Gilchrist --
Pig 311 / by Margaret Ryan --
American poetry: looking for a center / by Ishmael Reed-
I show the daffodils to the retarded kids / by Constance Sharp --
Dream / by John Willson --
Living with animals / by Margaret Kent --
The trial of Rozhdestvov / by Russian Samizdat --
Contributors notes --
Outstanding writers --
Outstanding small presses.


For more of this week's books, 
please see Patti Abbott's blog...

 

4 comments:

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Amazing collection Todd - and fascinating about those that do, and those that don;t, overlap. I remember the Varley very clearly (have the PERSISTENCE OF VISION collection) - and thanks for the nod towards the Pronzini - I may end up getting the audio version read by Stacey Keach, easier I think than finding a reprint!

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Todd, this is a fascinating collection of short stories from the 1978-79 period. Now there's a whole lot of new writers for me. I have been reading some of the early American and British short stories assimilated at the turn of the 19th century and early 20th century. These include general, ghost, horror, fantasy, and even Gothic, though I haven't actually read much of the last.

Richard said...

Is there any truth to the widely accepted rumor that you own, and often wear, a hat like the one the fellow on the cover of Best Fantasy Stories #5 has on?

Todd Mason said...

Thanks, Sergio and Prashant. I hope Keach isn't too hammy in his reading of the story, Sergio...I think, and should double-check, that you can find that story in Pronzini's collection GRAVEYARD PLOTS if you can't find the EQMM issue (May '78, iirc, or June) or this volume of the Hoch annual.

Well, Prashant, in most senses, if you're reading ghost, horror, fantasy stories of the 1800s, you're taking in some Gothic materials almost by necessity, even if their first heyday was earlier. A lot of these folks in these annuals didn't have sustained careers, but a lot have had and not a few continue to further the art. Reading these folks at age 13 and 14 certainly helped expose me to a whole lot I'd never considered nor could beforehand.

Rich, my own wardrobe more closely resembles the insouciant young woman, barely visible on the Carr fantasy volume, sticking her tongue out at the dragon with lolling tongue holding her up...or perhaps the ghouls attacking the hapless human on the Jerry Page volume. Though clearly if I dressed and probably more importantly looked more like the Conan clone on the Carter volume, my dating life might be busier with women such as the one standing next to him (she has similar headgear, I note).