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Writer // Artist

As with previous years, this list is not meant as comprehensive, there being a number of items we didn't see. As was the case with the last several years we narrowed our focus with a few exceptions to those stories published in professionally paying markets as defined by SFWA. There are stories on this year's list down from last year's : short stories down from last year's , 52 novelettes down from last year's 76 , and 14 novellas up from last year's As with any such list--especially ours with its ever-changing staff--different reviewers bring different tastes and perspectives on how to approach stories, how they are thus measured, and of course the stories themselves are of different "quality" up or down if such a thing as quality can be measured by any objective standard.

That said, it does seem as if each year has its own nebulous, general level of quality, with some years being known in retrospect as great years for quality fiction and others not so much. There are just too many variables to nail down as to why any given year--or recommended reading list--has more or fewer stories placed on it by a different cast of reviewers, each of whom brings their own individual set of standards some liberal and others more strict to the fiction they read.

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Such a list as the one below brings to it a rather broad cross section of the genre's general readership. There are those who have read extensively for many years and who have experience at reviewing as well; there are a few selling writers who know from experience what goes into crafting a work of fiction, and there are those with an academic viewpoint and wide knowledge of the genre who bring a more critical approach to the fiction they review, and then place on this list.

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This wildly varied rainbow of experience and perspectives makes for an interesting barometer for writers, readers, and even academic ian s to set against other well known or familiar lists that may have become, over time, accepted as standards of reliability for the best fiction of any given year. A nd we can point to several final short lists and their eventual winners decided upon by judges and not the public for several awards to include here as well , stocked in whole or in part specifically with "critics ," self-proclaimed or otherwise, and some not all who value their opinions and approach to evaluating literary works above all others as the only worthy judgments to be taken seriously, while ofttimes relegating to second or third tier importance pure storytelling ability, or the actual story itself — what the story is actually about first and foremost — in favor of the elegance or style with which a story is told , regardless of the sometimes trivial or quotidian subject matter.

In essence, style over substance though it is that elusive balance between substance and style that the critical eye should seek as its highest priority , and that crucial substance only when it coincides with or affirms their world view. Which, alas, is rather to be expected, human nature being what it is, though perhaps not so readily forgiven.

Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue #61

Or such appears to be the case, if the past four or five years with rare exception are any indication where select nominating lists or final award ballots are concerned, whe re voters have taken their cues from the former, not having the time to read nearly as much as they might have liked and who were undoubtedly influenced to one degree or another by certain "accepted as reliable" lists in high profile venues.

Over time, however, what comes to be the accepted criteria for "proper and award worthy" fiction invariably tends to narrow and restrict the range of fiction written , and over time the field comes to embrace by fiat i. And this is dangerous for any artistic field, not least of which is the literary, and none more so than the field of science fiction. All types of lists, from the individual reader, the group recommended, to the official award nominating lists, have their inherent strengths and weaknesses.

It is when the weaknesses begin to outweigh the strengths and tip the balance into that foggy territory where the reliability of the list begins to be questioned as unreliable or chronically slanted in any direction that we become concerned.

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That said, all are yet part of the critical machinery any field of artistic endeavor needs in order to engage in dialogue with itself, the crucial feedback it requires in order to keep its vital imaginative juices flowing. So here is our recommended reading list for , with about as diverse a bunch of intelligent genre-loving fans, readers, writers, academics, and now reviewers as you are likely to find. As is our custom, there are four sections to each length category.

Those making the list in the short story, novelette, and novella lengths but having no stars, and those with either one, two, or three stars, according to how well the reviewer or reviewers valued a particular story.

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From time to time you will see more than a single reviewer's initials following a given entry. We have placed the story in the category receiving the most stars.

  • Elements of Statistical Mechanics;
  • Notorious D.O.C. (Hope Sze medical mystery Book 2).
  • Cinderella Countdown (Battle Cards) (The Social Workshop).

Thus, it is possible that while one reviewer placed a story on the list without any stars, another also placed it on the list but with one or more stars, thus elevating that story to the higher ranking. Where there are more than one reviewer's initials following a story recommendation, they appear in no particular order, thus making it impossible to determine which of the reviewers provided this higher ranking.

Conversely, it is also possible that each reviewer held the same opinion of any given story. We had one last year with our th issue. We are a c3 nonprofit organization, funded by donations, but e-book subscriptions are a vital secondary revenue source for us.

#61 - The Questionable Redemption of Thomas Alva Edison by Evan Dicken & The Gettysburg Paradox

Our th podcast episode will release in July and our th story this fall. Every rejection BCS sends is personalized. This Spotlight feature appeared in the June issue of Locus Magazine.

2015 Aurealis Awards Finalists

Your email address will not be published. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. June 16, August 29, admin 0 Comments Spotlight. Give us some background on your magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies. There were lots of great literary fantasy, slipstream, and magical realism, and decades of great literary SF, but rarely were magazines publishing character-centered or stylistically bold fantasy set in invented worlds.