The Results of Locus’ 2012 All-Century Polls for Short Fiction

While everyone was napping today after a long day of wandering around historic Savannah, Georgia, I finally got around to catching up with my RSS feed and discovered that the short fiction results had been released for Locus’ All-Century Polls for Short Fiction. I spent some time reviewing these results and was generally both surprised and pleased. Here are some thoughts I had on the various categories for 20th century short fiction.

20th Century Novella

  • Man, I need to read more Ted Chiang. I think I may have read one story by him at some point. I think Lightspeed recently included “The Story of Your Life” in a recent extended issue. I may just have to carve out time to read that story, especially since it came in first place for the entire 20th century in the novella category.
  • I was really glad to see Campbell’s “Who Goes There?” represented in the top 10. I worry, sometimes, that fewer and fewer writers and readers in the genre know who Campbell is, let alone that he also wrote some great science fiction.
  • I was also glad that “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?” made the top 10.
  • And I can still remember the first time I read Nancy Kress’s “Beggars In Spain” and it wasn’t really all that long ago. (About 4 years ago, for those who don’t want to click through.)
  • Finally, I was very pleased to see C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner make the top 10 with one of their great stories.

20th Century Novelette

  • I can’t really argue with “Flowers For Algernon” at number one.
  • But I was so pleased to see that Isaac Asimov had not one, but two stories in the top four. “Nightfall” as #2 and “Bicentennial Man” as #4. I am of the opinion that “Bicentennial Man” is the better story and one of my all-time favorites. Even Asimov didn’t include “Nightfall” in his top 3. But I’m glad the story is still so well-remembered.
  • Also pleased to see Bester’s “Fondly Fahrenheit” in the top 10. That is another story that deserves to be well-remembered.

20th Century Short Story

  • This list surprised me the most. I can certainly understand Arthur C. Clarke at the top of the list, but I think he’s written better stories than “The Nine Billion Names of God.” I, for one, thought “The Star” was better. But the voting clearly but “Nine Billion Names of God” on top.
  • I like Harlan Ellison’s stories but I was surprised by how high “‘Repent Hareqluin!’ Said The Ticktockman” and “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” placed. I think he had some better shorts. “Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes” and “The Whimper of Whipped Dogs” both come to mind.
  • Very glad to see Ray Bradbury make the top 10.
  • Surprised to see Gibson’s “Johnny Mnenomic” in the top 10. This is just one of those stories that fell a little flat with me when I first read it. It wasn’t a bad story by any means, just not a stand-out in my book. Clearly I’m in the minority with this one.

I’ll have another post when I have more time talking about the 21st century lists. In the meantime, I just wanted to congratulate everyone that made the list. It is a rather remarkable achievement.


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