So, this weekend I broke with my usual system (that is, alphabetical by author's name on my consolidated list of recommended stories), and instead went through the three 2002 issues of Rosebud. Rosebud is a mainstream literary journal, so it's mostly ignored/unknown by the genre press. However, unlike most literary journals, Rosebud does publish a fair number of stories that could be considered SF or fantasy. Heck, they even sponsor a prize for it, the Ursula K. LeGuin Prize for Imaginative Fiction, the winner of which was published in issue 23 ("Mississipeans" by John E. Branseum). The winner and runners up (by Nisi Shawl, William Grallo, Douglas Warshow, and Ramón Garcia) were all the sort of stories that LeGuin herself mostly writes: brief studies of alien cultures (whether human or extraterrestrial). And, as with LeGuin's own stories, I found them interesting reads, though without the sort of engaging characters that I feel a story needs to make it to the top of my rankings.
Of course, Rosebud isn't the only literary journal to have included genre fiction in 2002. Bard College's journal Conjunctions had a special speculative fiction issue in 2002, guest edited by Peter Straub. Of course, they couldn't hint that it contained SF or fantasy. No, they subtitled it, "The New Wave Fabulists", whatever the heck that's supposed to mean. I have heard that is has quite a few good stories in it, though, which I'll be getting to eventually.
The best short story so far in this year's reading was "A Book, By Its Cover" by P.D. Cacek in Dreamhaven Books' 25th anniversary anthology Shelf Life. Set three months after Kristallnacht, it's a story about a young Jewish boy, an enigmatic bookstore owner, and some strange things going on at his shop. Can't really say more without spoilers, but it's an extremely well-written little tale.
On to the summary:
Cacek, P.D."A Book, By Its Cover". Shelf Life (Dreamhaven Books).