Monday, January 29, 2018

2016 Best SF/F Short Fiction Publications

Continuing our analysis of the best science fiction and fantasy short fiction from 2016, we turn our attention to publications. Remember that in this context "best" just means "most-recommended by sources Rocket Stack Rank tracks."

Using the scores for 887 stories from the 2016 Best SF/F Short Fiction article and grouping the stories by publication, we show the top publications by average score in 2016. (To obtain word counts for this analysis, we filtered out stories that weren't from the 23 magazines and anthologies that RSR reviewed in full, leaving 799 stories; it's not fair to include a publication if we didn't consider all of their stories.)

Top six publications by average score:
  • Score 065; Stories 26; Avg Score 2.5: Tor Novella
  • Score 123; Stories 59; Avg Score 2.1: Clarkesworld
  • Score 028; Stories 14; Avg Score 2.0: Drowned Worlds
  • Score 149; Stories 77; Avg Score 1.9: Asimov's
  • Score 028; Stories 15; Avg Score 1.9: Bridging Infinity
  • Score 034; Stories 18; Avg Score 1.9: Starlit Wood
  • Click here for a sortable table of 23 publications
Of all the things we read in 2016, the Tor novellas were the most likely to get recommendations from other reviewers, be award finalists, and/or end up in "year's best" anthologies. This is all the more remarkable when you consider that some reviewers don't read them at all.

The pie chart shows paid anthologies comprise only 15% of the total publication word count but are 50% of the top six by average score, and two were edited by Jonathan Strahan (Drowned Worlds, Bridging Infinity). The over-representation of paid anthologies in the top six means the paid magazines are slightly under-represented (Tor Novella, Asimov's) at 33% rather than 47%, and the free magazines (Clarkesworld) are short one representative at 17% rather than 37%.

This chart summarizes the Publications table and shows the average score per publication as well as by publication type.
  • The average paid and average free magazine (first two red bars) have comparable average scores, which shows that paid magazines are worth trying even if you can't sample them for free like the free magazines. Of course, the free magazines should also be supported by paying through subscriptions or donations if you enjoy their stories.
  • The average paid anthology (third red bar) has a surprisingly low average score, given that they usually have more time to pull together a set of stories than a magazine. However, looking at the individual anthologies it's clear that there are three highly reviewed anthologies and seven that got little notice and pulled down the average score.
These two tables show publication coverage by awards, "year's best" anthologies and reviewers.

  • The relatively low scores for Analog and Strange Horizons can be partly explained by their stories being shut out of the 5 awards and limited inclusion in the 5 "year's best" anthologies.
  • The RH* and JS* columns include novellas and novelettes which were left out of the RHorton+2 and JStrahan+2 anthologies due to size but were considered worthy by the editors.

Publications Table

  • Click on a table header to sort that column.
  • Click on a publication name to see all their stories. The recommendations for the magazines are all up-to-date, whereas the anthologies are stale. They'll be fixed when we move to dynamic database-generated posts on WordPress. For now, see the 2016 best novellas, novelettes, and short stories tables for up-to-date recommendations.

PublicationStoriesScoreAvg ScoreWordsPercent
101. Paid Magazine2833981.42,610,11846.8%
15Tor Novella26652.5726,84813.0%
202. Free Magazine3565201.52,072,89737.1%
22Beneath Ceaseless Skies57661.2380,0806.8%
25Strange Horizons43290.7196,9553.5%
303. Paid Anthology1481330.9854,44415.3%
31Bridging Infinity15281.9100,1241.8%
32Crises and Conflicts1420.171,1141.3%
33Cyber World1840.259,6231.1%
34Drowned Worlds14282.0102,7001.8%
35Galactic Games1580.581,8001.5%
36Now We Are Ten16130.877,1291.4%
37Science Fiction by Scientists1440.370,8951.3%
38Starlit Wood18341.9109,9562.0%
39To Shape the Dark1580.5116,5032.1%
504. Free Anthology1210.144,9190.8%
51Everything Change1210.144,9190.8%
605. Grand Total79910241.35,582,378100.0%

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