Bad Menagerie (publisher)
Science fiction, anthology
The John W. Campbell award recognizes newly-published SF/fantasy/etc writers. Up and Coming has 1.1 million words of eligible work in it. I presume that it therefore gives some reasonable overview of the state of the field today, at least as regards stuff trawled from the minor leagues.
And what, I hear you asking, is that state? In brief, and to borrow a witticism attributed to Samuel Johnson: This anthology contains much that is tolerable and imaginative. However, the parts that are tolerable are not imaginative, and the parts that are imaginative are not tolerable.
I didn't read all 1.1 million words. At least 10% of them are simply unreadable. A considerably larger fraction, say 30%, are authors doing things that don't interest me; I'm not qualified to comment on those. For the remainder, here are some impressions.
- Depressing is evidently the new black.
- Succeeding at depressing is still better than failing at funny.
- Proofreading is, apparently, just something that happens to other people. PROTIP, representative of many: "grizzly" is not the same as "grisly".
- No conflict, no story. Certain authors who ought to know better have also forgotten this.
Out of the 1.1 million words, I'd single out these as worthy of a second look:
- "Seven Things Cadet Blanchard Learned From the Trade Summit Incident", by Annalee Flower Horne, is somewhat predictable but amusing.
- "Haunted", by Sarah Gailey, is an unusual perspective on the haunted-house story.
- "Rememorations", by Paul B. Kohler, is quite competent.
If you're not a true lover of the genre, don't read this. If you are ... um. Let's say that if you start in on a story and it doesn't grab you, don't bother to stick with it in the hope that it will get better. Alternatively, you could read some better work from a guy who isn't even published yet.