November 4th, 2004


November Books 3) Science Fiction: The Best of 2003

3) Science Fiction: The Best of 2003, ed. Jonathan Strahan and Karen Haber

Of the three annual sf anthologies published last year and the year before, the other two being edited by David Hartwell and Gardner Dozois, I found the one compiled by husband-and-wife team Robert Silverberg and Karen Haber the weakest. Now Silverberg has given up his editorial slot to Jonathan Strahan, but the format remains the same. It's still not impressive (though I haven't yet read this year's Hartwell collection - see here for review of the Dozois); most of the stories I had read before as they were Hugo or Nebula finalists, or collected somewhere else, and the remaining ones were generally not up to much. (Honourable mentions though to "Flowers for Alice" by Cory Doctorow and autopope, and especially to "Only Partly Here", by Lucius Shepard, the first successful genre story I've read about 9/11 - must look out for that collection of his that coalescent has been raving about). There is also a surprisingly unprofessional level of misprints, a problem shared by the Silverberg/Haber volumes in this series. I don't think I'll bother with next year's unless I hear that things have improved.

Unexpected consequences

The EU constitution specifies that in future, a qualified majority to approve most decisions in the European Council must include at least 14 states, being at least 55% of the EU's member states, with at least 65% of the population. A nice formula (better than the Nice formula which is the current system). Just one thought on the consequences of this if the EU eventually takes in the countries I'm working on:

A lot of Western Europeans are concerned about allowing in the Bosnians and Albanians (let alone potentially the Kosovars and Montenegrins), even in the long term, because then the number of states in the EU will be heavily weighted towards the Balkans. Applying the 65% population key, this doesn't matter so much as their populations are pretty small. However they will definitely count towards the 55% of member states key. I see here an incentive, on European grounds, to recognise the independence of Scotland and other well-behaved Western European non-state regions, to try and rebalance the map a little more towards the West.

Hmm, I may have to flesh this out a bit. (or maybe not.) Thanks to feorag for reminding me of this conversation.