Why did I do this? God only knows. Because of some sickness I care about science fiction, though the state of the contemporary field works very hard at finding a cure.
What did I find? The field is garbage, almost exclusively. It is also enormous, exhausting, pointless. With some extremely rare exceptions, every word, every paragraph break, every thought, is routine and formulaic. With some extremely rare exceptions, there are no politics other than liberalism and fascism — to the extent that the two can be distinguished. With some extremely rare exceptions, what is unique to science fiction is wholly absent, and what is potentially good about other literatures is as well. With some extremely rare exceptions, the field is white, white, white, white, white; black writers, specifically, are almost wholly absent — and with some extremely rare exceptions, no one non-black seems to notice or care.
I was just on twitter for a regrettable half-second, and — despite my aggressive pruning of my TL to keep it relatively free of sf nonsense — even in that brief time I saw reactions to the recently-released, entirely uninspiring Nebula nominations that suggested it was fundamentally illegitimate to react to the list with a "meh" (admittedly the utterer of the specific "meh" in question was someone already much-loathed, for intermittently reasonable reasons), and that it is — I quote — "weird" to object to bad literature being nominated for a literary award if the writer of the bad literature is from a marginalized population. OK. (Meanwhile the liberals will swear up and down that the "puppies" — because when fascists give themselves a diminishing name, good liberals go along with it — are wrong when they say the liberals only care about identity, not quality. A field in which the literal actual for real fascists are even slightly closer to honest and correct than the closest thing to a "left" alternative is not a healthy field.)
When I started this project, I think I had the vague thought that maybe by highlighting every story I thought had anything decent going on in it, and explaining what I found that decency to be and why while also saying what reservations I had, that maybe people would start to think about what this writing is and does, and what it could be and do. (The liberals, for some reason I haven't been able to figure out, love to call the field — and whatever else they feel like annexing and sticking their imperial flag into — by Heinlein's preferred and frankly terrible term, "speculative fiction", but beyond their ineffectual and damagingly-formulated calls for "diversity" they seem entirely unwilling to speculate on what the field could be other than what it already is.) Whether this thought would be along my own suggested lines or not, I hoped to be able to at least contribute something. Turns out, though, that (with, again, some extremely rare exceptions) there is no interest in thought, only a "praise/attack" binary (and that belovedly meaningless middle ground, "I don't agree with everything but it's interesting," with no follow-on discussion). (Of course, anyone who did start to write with some thought would then have to somehow sneak that work by the horrible editors in this godforsaken wasteland...)
So for the most part, I regret spending a year of my damn life doing this. Yes, I read some things I'm glad to have read, and a few things that will stick with me as important, but looking over what I wrote about....well, many of them are merely "ok" against a background of terrible; many, I regret calling even some little attention to.
But anyway. Here's the tag; as far as I know everything in it between the January/February recommendations post and the post about M. Téllez's (legitimately excellent and not-coincidentally self-published) "About a Kid and a Woman" was originally published in 2015, with two exceptions: Sofia Samatar's "A Brief History of Non-Duality Studies", originally published a few years back in Expanded Horizons, and Ras Mashramani's "A Young Thug Confronts His Own Future", originally published in a Metropolarity zine in, I think, 2014. If you care about the Hugo Awards and haven't submitted your ballot (or whatever it's called) yet, consider that tag (with those exceptions) my recommendations post. (It's a shame about the exceptions, because those two stories are easily among the handful of actually-important stories I read all year.) And if I may be forgiven some link-lists, both in alphabetical order by writer's name:
My favorite stories of 2015, with links to my posts:
- Jennifer Marie Brissett, "A Song for You"
- L. Chan, "In the Garden with the Little Eaters"
- Vajra Chandrasekera, "Stick a Pin in Me"
- Robin Wyatt Dunn, "Dreamboat"
- Peter Milne Greiner, "Tropical Premises"
- Sierra July, "Reverse Logic"
- Sofia Samatar, "The Closest Thing to Animals"
- Kate Schapira, Alternate Histories (all of them)
- William Squirrell, "Götterdämmerung"
- Benjanun Sriduangkaew, "The Petals Abide"
- M. Téllez (bka Eighteen), "About a Kid and a Woman"
And my favorite of my posts about the stories (excluding the ones linked above):