As always, I make no pretense of having read everything–even everything in the magazines I’ve read some of–so this is not some kind of “top ranking” or “better than,” it’s just stuff I’ve read and liked. Feel free to recommend things you’ve read and liked in the comments.
Today you can read my latest story with Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Out of the Woods. Or, and for once I am keeping track of this appropriately, you can listen to the podcast of the same story, narrated by Folly Blaine.
This is my post-Robin Hood story that is informed by growing up with Astrid Lindgren’s Ronia the Robber’s Daughter. Go, read, enjoy!
I have a story out in the Jan/Feb issue of Analog, my first short story of the year. It’s called “Drifting Like Leaves, Falling Like Acorns,” and it’s got companion frogs and genetically engineered flying squirrel people and much weirder stuff than I’ve had in Analog before.
Also it goes with “Uncle Flower’s Homecoming Waltz” and “The Ministry of Changes” and “Surfacing” and “The Dust Gate” and “The Salt Path,” all of those. The folder with those stories in it is called “postnuclear fantasy,” but that’s not really specific enough that other people will know which ones I mean. Anyone who has read them and has suggestions for a series title, setting title, group title, whatever, please comment or email me. I’d appreciate any help I could get on that front.
On my list of things to do in 2017: keep better track of which stories I liked in anthologies, not readily linkable. There are a few on this list from things I read on my Kindle once I thought of that, but not many, and while I went through my book posts trying to spot the anthologies that came out this year and the stories I liked in them, I am tired and have a cold and probably missed some. And again: this list makes no pretense at being comprehensive, nor is it the N best for your award-nominating needs. I care about getting short stories into brains; that is what this is for, and secondarily to pat people on the back and say go team. I have not read all of any one thing, and I have not read some of everything. I have just read some things and liked them. Here they are.
The Paper Sword, by Alec Austin (Hidden Youth)
Anon and the Antlers, by Michael J. DeLuca (Orthogonal)
Binaries, by S. B. Divya (Lightspeed: PoC Destroy SF)
Written in the Book of the Woods, by L.J. Geoffrion (Reckoning)
A Name to Ashes, by Jaymee Goh (Hidden Youth)
Civitas Sylvatica, by Cae Hawksmoor (Reckoning)
Transition, by Erin Hoffman (Reckoning) (a poem, not a story)
Plague Winter, by Emily Houk (Reckoning)
A New Home, by Karin Lowachee (Lightspeed: PoC Destroy SF)
In His Own Image, by E. C. Myers (Hidden Youth)
A Citizen’s Guide to the Kingdom of Heaven, by Josh Pearce (Orthogonal)
Blue Flowers: Fragments, by Sofia Samatar (Uncanny) (This also may be a poem. Or not. As you will. It is a thing I like.)
As Long as It Takes to Make the World, by Gabriela Santiago (Lightspeed: PoC Destroy SF)
Three Alternate Histories, by Kate Schapira (Reckoning)
If WordPress drops my links out of this I will cry.
Please note as always that I make no pretense of having read everything in the field or even everything in a particular magazine, so if you feel like recommending a story you’ve liked in the comments section, by all means do so. The only schedule I keep on these posts is that I do one at the end of the year with everything from that year all in one big post, so if you’re hoping I’ll have the time to read a particular story and like it, now’s your chance to speak up.
And another new story available for you to read: The Sockdolager has published The Dust Gate. I really should come up with a name for the sequence of stories this is part of–they’ve been in Tor.com, Apex, Lightspeed. Soon Analog. Anyway, hope you enjoy!
I have a new story out in Nature, and you can go read it: The Most Important Thing. I also did a guest blog post for their blog, about how I wrote it, why, what for: here. It doesn’t actually pertain to Arlo Guthrie performing the pic. I just went on a minor autopilot for that part.
These posts make no pretense at being comprehensive. I know for a fact that I haven’t read everything from the magazines I’m linking to, much less everything from all magazines. So please feel free to share your own recently-read favorites in the comments if you like. More stories for everyone.
My Grandmother’s Bones, by S. L. Huang. (Daily Science Fiction)
Today I Am Paul, by Martin L. Shoemaker (Clarkesworld)
Exquisite Corpse, by Caroline M. Yoachim (Daily Science Fiction)
Left the Century to Sit Unmoved, by Sarah Pinsker (Strange Horizons)
Only Their Shining Beauty Was Left, by Fran Wilde (Shimmer)
The Night Bazaar for Women Becoming Reptiles, by Rachael K. Jones (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
Here we are once again with this irregularly recurring feature: short stories I have liked since last time I posted about short stories I have liked. I make no pretense about having read everything, so if you want to recommend something in the comments section, please do; I am nothing like caught up, even on the magazines to which I have links here, much less those which I do not. It has been quite a time lately and is not going to get any less timey. So links to good stories are appreciated wherever they come. I can easily miss things right now.
Asleep in the Traces, by Michael J. DeLuca (Middle Planet)
The Signal Birds, by Octavia Cade (Liminal Stories)
The Middle Child’s Practical Guide to Surviving a Fairy Tale, by Mari Ness (Fireside Fiction)
Spirit of Home, by José Pablo Iriarte (Motherboard)
Contra Gravitatem (Vita Genevievis), by Arkady Martine (Lackington’s)
Blood Reckonings, by Alec Austin (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
Mortal Eyes, by Ann Chatham (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
It’s been quite some time since I made a post with links to short stories I liked, and truthfully I fell behind on reading them earlier in the year, so even more so than usual: if you have some that you’ve liked and want to link to them in the comments, I encourage that. But I also wanted to remind myself that I’m not trying to be comprehensive, I’m just giving you links to some things I’ve liked since last time I gave links to things I liked. So! Some short stories I liked!
Recalled to Service, by Alter S. Reiss (Tor.com) (Note: I critiqued this story in draft.)
A lot of work stuff going on here. Some of it is in the category of “secret projects, cannot discuss.” Some of it has just departed from that category! So! I will tell you now!
1) I have signed the final paperwork and can now say that I am very pleased to have my long-form work represented by Kurestin Armada of PS Literary. If you have a fabulous book deal you have been waiting to fling at me and were not sure where to fling that offer, the answer is: Kurestin Armada, PS Literary. More seriously, I am looking forward to working with Kurestin. It really feels like the right fit for both of us.
(Kids, don’t ever let anyone make you feel like this goes only one direction. You and your agent are choosing each other, not just them choosing you.)
2) I sold “Drifting Like Leaves, Falling Like Acorns” to Analog. This is a story in the same mosaic as several previous stories, and it is the weirdest thing I have ever sold to Analog. Trevor seems to agree, calling it an “odd duck”–yep–quack!–but when they say “odd duck” in an acceptance letter, you say “thank you!” See, we can all do our part in keeping science fiction weird.
3) Strange Horizons did a reader poll for 2015, and my story It Brought Us All Together came in fourth. I’m not sure why I included the link there, since apparently enough of you liked it to vote it fourth out of all the year’s stories! Thanks, readers! Mycogeneticist origin stories are more popular than I ever knew, which is great, because I’m writing another, completely different one. And then the two mycogeneticists can get together and fight crime…er, actually just fungal plagues…but I get ahead of myself.
I do that a lot.
I want a 4) and a 5) in honor of the late great Rise/wilfulcait (for those of you who are late to this party, she was the source of “five things make a post,” breast cancer stole my friend away years and years ago now, and I still think of her whenever I do a post like that), but I don’t think I have two more bits of thematic news. Ah well. She would understand.
I’m not opposed to awards per se–they’re a formalized pat on the back, a “good job, well done,” and when I disagree, well, I’m allowed to. I’m allowed to wander off and pat someone else’s back instead. But when I’ve been talking about short fiction in 2015, it’s not for that purpose. It’s for the purpose of–and follow me here, this is going to get complicated–talking about short fiction. Because I think talking about short fiction is inherently a good thing. Specifically, pointing out things that are nifty is inherently a good thing.
So narrowing down to 5 or 10 or some other number–8 is my favorite number, it’s the smallest cube, yay 8!–but why should I like 8 things and not 7 or 9 or more? Turns out it’s more. I’m putting them here now because short stories have a tendency to flit past if no one jumps up and down and points at them. Because even the people most invested in them forget titles. Because I like to talk about short stories. Some of you are really into the awards thing. That’s fine; you do you. What I did in 2015–what I will continue to do in 2016–is point at the short fiction I like, and hope that some of you like some of it too. I make no pretense of reading everything. That’s a trap. I just read some stuff. And then jump up and down and point when I like it.
I think that one of the least enlightening discussions possible about a story is: “Is this the best story of this calendar year?” I would rather do: what does this remind me of? What is this story doing that I would like to see more of? What is special, what is familiar, what made me laugh or cry or write to someone I love? Best is flat and unidirectional and boring. I want stories to be stories and send out roots and runners and blossoms in all sorts of directions in my heart and mind, not send the little meter up to ring the bell. So okay: stories you can get to online:
Soteriology and Stephen Greenwood by Julia August (Journal of Unlikely Academia).
Fire Rises, by Alec Austin (Beneath Ceaseless Skies).
Monkey King, Faerie Queen, by Zen Cho (Kaleidotrope).
Further North, by Kay Chronister (Clarkesworld).
Hold-Time Violations by John Chu (Tor.com).
20/20, by Arie Coleman (Strange Horizons).
The Coup in Elfland, by Michael J. DeLuca (Mythic Delirium).
The Half Dark Promise, by Malon Edwards (Shimmer).
The Deepest Rift, by Ruthanna Emrys (Tor.com).
Sun’s East, Moon’s West, by Merrie Haskell (Lightspeed).
Solder and Seam by Maria Dahvana Headley (Lightspeed)
By Degrees and Dilatory Time, by S.L. Huang (Strange Horizons).
A Photograph of Bones, by Robin Husen (Daily SF).
Here Is My Thinking on a Situation That Affects Us All, by Rahul Kanakia (Lightspeed).
Midnight Hour, by Mary Robinette Kowal (Uncanny).
Cat Pictures Please, by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld).
So Much Cooking, by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld).
Meshed, by Rich Larson (Clarkesworld).
The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn, by Usman Malik (Tor.com).
City of Salt, by Arkady Martine (Strange Horizons).
Ginga, by Daniel Jose Older (Tor.com).
A Beautiful Memory, by Shannon Peavey (Apex).
The Snake-Oil Salesman and the Prophet’s Head, by Shannon Peavey (BCS).
Remembery Day, by Sarah Pinsker (Apex).
Glaciers Made You, by Gabby Reed (Strange Horizons).
Spider’s Ink, by Jason S. Ridler (BCS).
The Closest Thing to Animals by Sofia Samatar (Fireside).
Those by Sofia Samatar (Uncanny).
The Girl With Golden Hair, by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (BCS).
Crazy Rhythm, by Carrie Vaughn (Lightspeed).
The Ways of Walls and Words, by Sabrina Vourvoulias (Tor.com).
Find Me, by Isabel Yap (Apex).
So that was more than five, and wow am I glad I’m not awards-focused. That was friends and acquaintances and total strangers, science fiction and fantasy and interstitialish things. That was just the stuff I can link to. And you know what? I’m pretty sure I missed stuff. Tell me what I missed. Tell me what you loved this year in short fiction. Because wow, guys. Look at the work going on in this field, just the stuff that I managed to get to and read and swoon over. Look at what we can do. For all that I’ve occasionally joked that it would be hard to pick a collection of the Year’s Best Sofia Samatar–for all the people I know in this field, some on this list–look at the people I’d never read before up there and the cool stuff they knocked me over with.
Let’s do more. More of us, more ideas, more awesome stories. We can. C’mon. Let’s.
Another in a semi-regular series of posts. Here are some stories I liked! Please feel free to talk about them in the comments and/or leave links to additional stories you’ve liked. Stories are easier to transport for Mikulas morning and nobody will forget that it’s Mikulas and put their stinky feet on the nice stories you have left them. No one gets eaten by Krampus in these stories. That’s not really my style.
So Much Cooking, by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld). Feeding a family in the face of a science fictional pandemic, food blogger style. This is so compassionate and humane. It is also so, so, so very Minneapolitan.
The Coup in Elfland, by Michael J. DeLuca (Mythic Delirium). I am a sucker for revolutions, especially for revolutions that do not have a simple happy ending. Blood is once again compulsory, you see.
Here Is My Thinking on a Situation That Affects Us All, by Rahul Kanakia (Lightspeed). Spaceship-perspective story on a gloopy people and their gloopy priorities vs. its own.
A Photograph of Bones, by Robin Husen (Daily SF). A completely different story but also about perspectives. Seeing the world differently is beautiful.
The Girl With Golden Hair, by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (Beneath Ceaseless Skies). Great expectations, terrible queens, centaurs. And implication.
Spider’s Ink, by Jason S. Ridler (Beneath Ceaseless Skies). Rarely do I really like a story that I have to warn people might gross them out a little, but this is one: there’s some quite vivid visceral stuff here. That’s not the point, though, the point is much deeper, so if you can get through the initial bit, this is another story full of rebellion and politics, unreliability and non-simple endings.
Today’s new story is on Tor.com: Points of Origin. For those of you who managed to find the copy of Analog that had “Blue Ribbon” in it, it’s the same universe, but none of the same characters, so there’s no requirement of reading one for the other or vice versa. And it’s got grandparents and ice skating and rocks. Oh, and Mars. And the Oort Cloud. And stuff.
Go, read, enjoy!
It seems like a good time to compile some more new/recent short stories I have read and liked. One weird thing that happened is that I read a paper magazine I was not in, and I’m not entirely sure how to handle that, because I liked several things in it, but it’s so unusual that I don’t have a protocol for it. It was Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet Issue 33, and what I particularly liked was: “I Bury Myself” by Carmen Maria Machado; “Starling Road” by Alena McNamara; “For Me, Seek the Sun” by Michelle Vider; and “Request for an Extension on the Clarity” by Sofia Samatar (all stories) and “Child Without Summer” by Kelda Crich (a poem). Elsewhere, more easily gotten to:
The Closest Thing to Animals by Sofia Samatar (Fireside)
Those by Sofia Samatar (Uncanny) (Yeah, I didn’t mean to make it Sofia Samatar month, it just happened that way.)
Solder and Seam by Maria Dahvana Headley (Lightspeed)
Hold-Time Violations by John Chu (Tor.com)
Soteriology and Stephen Greenwood by Julia August (Journal of Unlikely Academia)
Here’s my new short story in Nature, The Many Media Hypothesis. And here’s the blog post I wrote about the story behind the story.
The formatting they use makes it really easy to see that this is my ninth Nature story. Huh. The time does fly when you’re having fun entertaining the other nerds. I love my job.
My dog does also, but less in the short story department.
Last week a friend of mine was worrying about tagging things with the label “best,” because she hasn’t read everything, and what if she has missed things that are best-er than the things she currently thinks are best? And: look. No one has read everything. But it is okay to just say: here are some things I like. In fact, it’s great. Pointing out things you like is a good thing! Then other people can find out if they like them too! Everyone wins! So if the thing you like now turns out to be only in your top twenty-seven favorite stories of 2015 instead of your top ten, because you will later read seventeen favorite-er stories–oh darn! Twenty-seven favorites! How sad for everyone!
One of these is not from 2015. It is In the House of Aryaman, A Lonely Signal Burns, by Elizabeth Bear, and it was in Asimov’s and Lightspeed and is on her webpage also. As I said: the point is to point out stories I like, not to nominate for awards. Story, there ya go. The rest of this batch are 2015 stories, though.
Fire Rises, by Alec Austin (Beneath Ceaseless Skies) – I critiqued this story in draft form, so I feel like I shouldn’t brag on it, but oh how I want to, because it’s so much fun. Artificial satellites to alter astrological systems! Pyromancy and empire! Magic adventure dooooooom!
Find Me, by Isabel Yap (Apex)
20/20, by Arie Coleman (Strange Horizons)
The Half Dark Promise, by Malon Edwards (Shimmer)
Glaciers Made You, by Gabby Reed (Strange Horizons) – This story goes across the middle and west of the northern part of the United States in a very magical realist way, and that made me feel comfortable and unsettled and sad and happy all at once.
Here are some short stories I’ve liked since the last time I posted about short stories I’ve liked! Please feel free to share some of yours in the comments, or your thoughts about these.
Cat Pictures Please, by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld)
Crazy Rhythm, by Carrie Vaughn (Lightspeed)
Midnight Hour, by Mary Robinette Kowal (Uncanny)
(this one is the poem) Apologies for Breaking the Glass Slipper, by Isabel Yap (Uncanny)