forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
I read tons of short fiction in 2015, even more than in previous years. This has been a pretty great year for short fiction with great stories form authors I already loved and new to me authors. It has also been good to see many more people talking about short fiction on the internet this year. I hope to see even more of that in 2016.

This year I’ve tried to post few recommendations for stories every month, but now that the year is done I’m posting a list of my very favorites. For your convenience I’ve listed the stories by Hugo category, form shortest to longest.

Short Stories:

“Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer
What if the internet was sentient and wanted to help people? This very cute story describes one way it could go.

“The Shape of my Name” by Nino Cipri
Time travel, family and figuring out ones identity all play a role in this beautiful story that I’ve been thinking about all year.

“Monkey King, Faerie Queen” by Zen Cho
The story of what happens when the Money King meets the Faerie Queen. Told in Cho’s wonderful voice with a lot of faithfulness to both sets of mythology.

“It Brought Us All Together” by Marissa K. Lingen
A story about dealing with grief and high school in a plague ridden world. Lingen continues to nail the complexes of relationships. Surprisingly not depressing given its subject matter.

“Pockets” by Amal El-Mohtar
This story is great because of the female friendships and also because when weird shit happens the characters try to understand what is going on using science.

“Even the Mountains Are Not Forever” by Laurie Tom
A wonderful story about history and different ways of preserving it, really struck a chord with my inner historian.

“Let's Have a Talk” by Xia Jia
This Xia Jia’s first story written in English and love that it deals with linguistics. It is also extremely cute.

“Forestspirit, Forestspirit” by Bogi Takács
I loved this story for its atmospheric description of a forest, interesting future tech, and awesome post-human neutrally gendered view point character.

“Points of Origin” by Marissa K. Lingen
So this year I became a parent, and I really wanted to read fiction about parenting but there is not much out there. This story is about people in their 80’s who unexpectedly must take care of children. There are a lot of details about the daily stuff. So even though the story is about people who are really different than me it was just what I wanted to be reading.

“The Crane Wife” by A. C. Wise
Beautifully written examination of the mythical animal bride story

“When we die on Mars” by Cassandra Khaw
A lovely story about sacrifice and found family.


“The Animal Women” by Alix E. Harrow
(content note: race in American, violence, attempted sexual assault.) I got really sucked into this story set in the US south about how women’s voices are repressed. It is pretty dark in places but had and ending I found hopeful.

“Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Wind” by Rose Lemberg
This story is set in Lemberg’s Birdverse which I’ve so far only read a few stories, but have really enjoyed those and plan to seek out more. Really enjoyed the complex culture and the family dynamics.

“Ballroom Blitz” by Veronica Schanoes A gender swapped punk retelling of the twelve dancing princesses, but what I really loved about this was how it portrayed characters’ mental health problems.

Geometries of Belonging By Rose Lemberg
Another Birdverse story, but set in a different country than “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Wind.” This one takes place on the edge of politics but also focuses on found family and healing. There is a character struggling with their gender identity.

“Sacred Cows: Death and Squalor on the Rio Grande” by A.S. Diev
The opening image of this grabbed me and then I was sucked in by the “New Gonzo journalism” voice.

“Fabulous Beasts” by Priya Sharma
(content note: domestic violence, rape, incest) I put off reading this story, even though multiple people recommended it to me because I thought it would be dark, and I was right, but this story was worth it.


Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
This hit a lot of my worldbuidling favorites like strange bio-tech and descriptions of food. It was also just a really fun story that went in directions I didn't expect. I quite liked that the resolution focused on diplomacy not use of force. (But be warned that there is some horrific violence which the author is very effective at getting across how it makes our main character feel.)

Quarter Days by Iona Sharma A fun story set in post WWI magical London. While this London is similar to our own, the magic also makes some things really different. I liked how there were multiple magic systems in the same setting. I also liked the characters and how they interacted with each other.

The Citadel of Weeping Pearls by Aliette de Bodard. (Asimov's Science Fiction Oct/Nov*) Set in De Bodard’s Xuya universe this story features a variety of complex characters trying to understand the disappearance of the Citadel of Weeping Pearls 30 years ago. I love de Bodard’s worldbuilding, especially the food details. I also enjoyed see the characters through eachother’s eyes. (This is very loosely a sequel to On a Red Station, Drifting but could be read on its own and doesn’t really spoil anything.)

*Back issues of Asimov's are unreasonably hard to get a hold of even if you are willing to pay money. However check and see if your library has this issue, or if you are eligible to nominate for awards you can contact the author for a copy.
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
This month I've gotten more organized and found some time to read short fiction again. So here are a few rec based on what I've read recently.

"20/20" By Arie Coleman A story about doctors who travel back in time to fix medical mistakes. I loved the main characters dedication to saving lives.

"Points of Origin" by Marissa K. Lingen This story about older people who find themselves caring for children unexpectedly really resonated with me.

"When We Die on Mars" by Cassandra Khaw A lovely story about sacrifice and found family.

"The Animal Women" by Alix E. Harrow (content note: race in American, violence, attempted sexual assault.) A powerful story about a girl finding her voice.

I'm now working on finishing up the 2015 short fiction in on my to-read list. Is there anything you think I should be sure not to miss?
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
I'm still not reading short fiction at the rate I was pre-baby, but I am reading some, and I have a few recs to share.

First up "The many media hypothesis" by Marissa Lingen What if you's form alternative universes showed up on your social media feeds? As alway Lingen is great at complex family relationships even in this short space. (Content Note: domestic violence.)

I'd also like to mention a novella Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, which hit a lot of my worldbuidling favorites like strange bio-tech and descriptions of food. It was also just a really fun story that went in directions I didn't expect.

Also this month I finished reading CYBERPUNK: MALAYSIA ed. Zen Cho. I love Cho's work so when I heard she was editing an anthology I decided to check it out even though I generally dislike cyberpunk. Anyways, this book made me realize that I have no idea what cyberpunk is. Like I couldn't point any one story and say "not cyberpunk" but on the other hand I wouldn't have called most of these stories cyberpunk if I came across them in another context. Some of these stories felt like as non-Malaysian I didn't have the background to fully understand the worldbuilding, but I just kind of went with it. There were some good stories here and some not to my taste.
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin and Pooh floating in a upturned  umbrella , with the word Ahoy in the corner (The Brain of Pooh)
So I've been trying to post some short fiction rec every month, but I had a baby on Oct 14 and have not been in the right mindset to read any short fiction all month. I'm slowly getting a bit more brain for non-baby things so I hope to have recs again next month.

In the meantime please tell me about any short fiction you are excited about in the comments. (So I can add to my ever growing to-read list.)
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
Well the last month has not been great for my short fiction reading. I have read far fewer stories than I normally do.

Anyways I do have one rec. "A Short History of Migration in Five Fragments of You" by Wole Talabi Content note: Slave trade. This is a mostly historic story with a bit future at the end. I liked how it addresses the impact of the past on the present and future.

Also noteworthy: "Milagroso" by Isabel Yap I don't quite buy some of the world building in this one, but I'm happy see more fiction about food. It hit all the right emotional notes for me.

I've you want more recs Lady Business has just posted the Q2 Short Fiction survey results. Lot of things to check out!

Also I've just stared reading CYBERPUNK: MALAYSIA ed. Zen Cho. I've only read two stories so far but I'm enjoying it. It's written for a Malaysian audience so I'm sure I'm missing stuff but that's ok.
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Wind By Rose Lemberg This the first story form Lemberg’s birdverse that I’ve read. Really enjoyed to complex culture and the family dynamics.

”Ghost Champagne” by Charlie Jane Anders This is bit creepier than what I normal rec, but it totally hit me right in the feels.

“Her Pound of Flesh” by Cassandra Khaw A fun (and a bit creepy) deconstruction of rescue tropes. Features women rescuing other women who don’t want to be rescued and have their own ideas.

I’ve also been reading Cranky Ladies of History ed Tansy Rayner Roberts and Tehani Wessely, which is an anthology of historical fiction about non-conforming women. Most of the stories are historical fiction but a few are historical fantasy. I’m enjoying it so far.
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
It’s time for more short fiction recs. Right now my to read folder is lot emptier than it was this time last month, but I expect it to expand again when August zines come out.

Before I get to my recs I wanted to mention that over at [community profile] ladybusiness there is round up of favorite short fiction form the first quarter for 2015. Worth checking out for recs. Also at the end of the post their link to their second quarter survey if you have stories you loved and want to share.

Anyways here some stories I read recently that I think are worth checking out:

”Sigrid Under the Mountain” by Charlotte AshleyNorse mythology(ish) story focusing on the lives of people who stay home while the heroes are of adventuring.

“It Brought Us All Together” by Marissa Lingen A story about dealing with grief and high school in plague ridden world. As always Lingen nails the emotional details. That makes it sound like a depressing story but it is really not.

“A Silly Love Story” by Nicole Cipri What it says on the tin. Sweet and heartwarming.

“Snakes” by Yoon Ha Lee A kinda creepy story featuring sisterhood and space.

Older story rec: "Mountain Ways" by Ursula K. Le Guin One of my favorite bits of Le Guin's Hanish universe is the planet O, which has complex four person marriages. This story is set there and explores what happens to people with different desires.
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
So as long as I've been a reader I've been a reader of SFF but I didn't always love short SFF. I want to talk a bit about my history with short SFF and how I came to enjoy reading and recommending it.

When I was a teen online short fiction had not yet taken off, so the ways to access short fiction where the few remaining print magazines or anthologies which were mostly reprints. I did know that the magazines existed, as saw them for sale at my local SFF bookstore, but I never was moved to buy one.

I did buy and read a handful anthologies. I would read them like novels stopping in the middle of stories. (I hate doing this now.) I tended to choose anthologies based on themes. I remember their being lots of anthologies with titles like “magical cats” or “women with swords.” Anyway these were a bit hit or miss for me, I liked some of the stories, loved a few, but most didn’t move me.

Then in my late teens I decided I was going to read all the written fiction that had won both a Hugo and a Nebula award. I think as a way to expose myself to more older SF. Anyways for this project I included all the short fiction winners and tried to track them down. I generally found them in anthologies. Many were first published in print magazines, which were not easy to track down, but anthologies featuring re-prints were more accessible. Having got a hold of an anthology containing at least one piece of short fiction for my project I would generally read the whole thing. I still didn’t find a lot of short fiction I loved, possibly because these volumes were not very diverse.

I never quite finished the Hugo and Nebula award winning fiction project, but after it tailed off I went back to reading the occasional anthology. I was aware of online short fiction for a while before I started reading it. I was reluctant for a long time to read fiction on a computer screen, and I also didn’t have good way to fit reading short fiction into my reading routine.

What finally got me to start reading short fiction was becoming a Hugo voter. I thought I should really try to read at least a few pieces of short fiction and see if there was something I thought was award worthy to nominate. My first year I just read short fiction form other people’s best of the year list, but I found a few authors I wanted to follow also decided to try and keep up a bit more by following a few online magazines. So I stared reading some short fiction throughout the year, and I’ve slowly been following more authors and more magazines. More recently I’ve joined twitter and started getting recs that way as well.

I’m continuing to read short fiction not out of a sense of duty but because I’ve found that I really enjoy it. Right now reading short fiction is great way to find new and/or marginalized authors who are pushing the genre(s) in interesting directions. However the proliferation short fiction can also be really intimidating and overwhelming. So to try and help other people find the things that I enjoyed I’ve started posting recs here.

So that’s how I slowly became more involved in reading and rec'ing short fiction.
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
Well, I feel like I haven't got further behind on my short fiction reading over the last month or so. That feels almost like progress. Here are a couple of things that I read that recommend:

"Forestspirit, Forestspirit" by Bogi Takács Lovely descriptions of forest, cool agender post-human protagonist.

"Let's have a talk" by Xia Jia Xia Jia's first story written in English it is of course about linguists. Also very cute.

Also I've been reading the Queers Destroy Science Fiction special issue of Lightspeed Magazine (June 2015). I don't like it quite as much as last years' Women Destroy Science Fiction, but it is pretty great with lots of short fiction and interesting essays. Of the the work that is available online I'd like to recommend two shorts:

"勢孤取和 (Influence Isolated, Make Peace") by John Chu

"Madeleine" by Amal El-Mohtar
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
I'm not quite sure how it got to be June already, but it is. Here are some links to short stories I've read and enjoyed recently. Also welcome new people form Jade Lennox's Dreamwidth Friending Meme.

"The Crane Wife" by A.C. Wise Beautifully written examination of the mythical animal bride story.

Ossuary by Ian Muneshwar Really cool story from the point of view of an A.I.

"Ballroom Blitz" by Veronica Schanoes A punk retelling of the 12 dancing princesses.

Acrobatic Duality by Tamara Vardomskaya A story about sports and identity

"Out of the Rose Hills" By Marissa Lingen Roses, and women who aren't princesses, and shadows.
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
I haven't done a short fiction rec post in a while. Recently my to-read folder has been growing much faster than my read folder. However here I are few things I've read since the last post that I wanted to rec.

"The Shape of My Name" by Nino Cipri I don't want to say much about this story because I enjoyed learning the issues as I read it, but it is lovely and features family and time travel.

“Monkey King, Faerie Queen” by Zen Cho I've mentioned this before but not it a short fic rec post. I massively fan girl Zen Cho and this story is awesome. Basically what is says on the tin Monkey King meets the Faerie Queen.

"The Universe, Sung in Stars" by Kat Howard A short pretty story about music and stars.
forestofglory: Glasses and books (books)
When I need to cheer myself up about life I sometimes post a list of good things. This last week the online SFF community has needed some cheering up so here are some things I'm enjoying about SFF and the communty right now.

1) Zen Cho has new story out! “Monkey King, Faerie Queen” I loved it!

2) I'm very excited about this new quarterly short fiction servery being run by Renay, Jodie, Cecily, and Jonah.

3) Fantasy Cafe is hosting women in SF&F month.

4) Some of my favorite short fiction writers Ken Liu, Zen Cho, and Aliette de Bodard all have novels coming out this year.

5) Lots of other excellent authors have novels coming out too including Kate Elliot and N.K. Jemisin.

6) Remember how I joined Twitter and few months ago? I like it way more than I thought I would. Cool fandom people and authors sometimes interact with me. Also I get links to lots of interesting stuff I wouldn't find otherwise.

7) I have been reading fun stuff lately including Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan, Kate Elliot's Crossroads Trilogy, and the 1st volume of Rat Queens.

8) Another short story I read recently and enjoyed was "The Shape of My Name" by Nino Cipri I might have skipped it but several people recommended it to me and I'm glad they did.

9) My library has been pretty good to me. I have Karen Memory out now, and I'm up to third in line for Station Eleven.

10) Have I mentioned lately that I'm impressed with the range of ebook reprints available from Open Road Media? Some authors their that I would recommend: Samel R Delany, Lisa Goldstein, and Barbara Hambly
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
I'm feeling a bit behind on my short fiction reading. There are so many things in my to-read folder, and I've been getting to them less quickly than I'd like. Plus I started The Very Best of Kate Elliot almost three weeks ago and haven't got past the intro (which was excellent). Nonetheless I have done some short fiction reading recently and I have some recs to share.

"Even the Mountains Are Not Forever" by Laurie Tom I love stories about memory and history. This one is about different ways societies remember.

"Red String" by Cassandra Khaw This flash fiction piece is an interesting and creepy take the red string myth.

"The Fox Bride" by Mari Ness An unusual take on a fairytale trope. Enjoyed Mari Ness' mix of story tropes and realist animal behavior.

The Queen's Aviary by Yoon Ha Lee A story about trying to change prophecy, with talking ravens.

Older fiction rec: I have a couple of reprints sitting in my to-read folder but I haven't got to them yet so instead I'm going to rec one of my favorite anthologies: Firebirds ed Sharyn November. This the 1st of 3 (so far) anthologies of young adult fiction written for the Firebird imprint. I got this when it 1st came out and just loved every story in it. It was the 1st anthology I felt that way about.
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After taking a bit of break form short fiction reading at the beginning of the year, I've been reading a lot of short fiction in the last week or so. I thought I'd pass on a few recs.

Love Letters to Things Lost and Gained by Sunny Moraine A very meditative story about change and what is really you.

Pockets by Amal El-Mohtar I loved that the characters reaction to inexplicable things happening was "lets try science. Also a great friendship story.

Vacui Magia By L. S. Johnson This a bit darker than most stories I rec here, but really loved this story about grief and love.

Cat Pictures Please by Naomi Kritzer What if the internet was sentient and wanted to help people? I can think of lots of ways that could go wrong, but in this story it is cute and sweet.

Also since writing my post on Continuity and SFF Short Fiction I've been thinking about ways to improve the continuity. So I've been looking for older (preferably pre-2000) short fiction online. I'm going to try to include links to older stuff in these rec posts. So have a link to Stellar Harvest by Eleanor Arnason I always love her alien cultures, and this one is good example. Thematically it deals with freedom and altruism.
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
So recently there has been a lot of discussion of how difficult it is to filter the current huge amount of new SFF short fiction. So much is being published, more than one person can read and there aren’t nearly as many reviewing outlets for short fiction as there are for novels. Many people find this state of affairs frustrating and confusing. This got me thinking about older short fiction and how accessible it is these days. One of the things that the current short fiction sense lacks is sense of continuity with the past.

I recently asked myself how many short fiction pieces written before 2000 I could name. It wasn’t very many. Then I asked myself how many 2014 short pieces I could name. I came up with a lot more. Granted this is just me and I had recently been working on my list of favorite short fiction in 2014. But I’m much more familiar with recent short fiction than with things written pre-2000, and I suspect that this is pretty common even among people like me who are well read in recent short fiction.

I’ve been reading SFF my whole life, but I only started keeping up with short fiction in last few years when I realized how much is online for free. It is not that I haven’t read any older short fiction. I would read the occasional anthology and during my SF classics phase I read my way through the nearly complete set of Hugo Winners anthologies at my local public library. Also during this phase I read four or five volumes of Larry Niven’s Know Space stories. I also read several collections of favorite novelists. However I never read magazines. Before the internet short fiction didn’t seem very accessible to me. And short fiction published before the takeoff of online short fiction is still inaccessible.
One of the reasons for lack of a sense of continuity is that it is harder to find older short fiction. It is much less likely to be online. Online zines do reprints, but those reprints are mostly form the last years or so.

Also older short fiction not discussed very much. Of course we all like to talk about the shiny new things, of which there are many. Even when I find discussions of older SFF the titles that come up are novels rather than short pieces.

But say you have heard about an older SF story you want check out. It would be pain to get a hold of. It’s probably not online. It was mostly like first published in a print magazine. If you are lucky it was re-printed in an anthology. Maybe your library has a copy. Otherwise you might be able to buy as used copy of anthology. A typical used book in the US costs about $5 with shipping, which is a lot to pay if you only want one story.

Over all this lack of accessibility and discussions of older short fiction means that newer short fiction lacks context. It is harder to see connections and inspiration between short fiction pieces because we don’t see them historically. And this makes it harder to develop reading protocols for short fiction. It also makes it harder to review short fiction because we don’t always know what we should be talking about.
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
My guide to 2014 short fiction is now up on Lady Business. Check it out if you nominating in for the Hugo or would just like some recs for good short fiction.
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
I had tea with friend yesterday and she was telling me how she was having trouble getting into popular fantasy these days because it was too complex and too grim. So I enthused about short fiction at her. (Maybe I talk about short fiction too much? But most of my in person friends are not aware of how much of it there is online.) Anyways as I result she asked me to come up with a list of non-grim short fiction available for free online. I thought I would share it here as well.

“Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land” by Ruthanna Emrys

“The Contemporary Foxwife” by Yoon Ha Lee

"The Suitcase Aria" by Marissa Lingen

“The Dryad’s Shoe” by T. Kingfisher aka Ursula Vernon (She also has self-published collection of fairy tale re-tellings called Toad Words, but some of those are a bit grim)

“The Bonedrake’s Penance” by Yoon Ha Lee

“The House of Aunts”by Zen Cho She also has collection out called Spirits Abroad which is almost all non-grim (and really good.)

"Astrophilia" by Carrie Vaughn

"The Witches of Athens" by Lara Elena Donnelly. currently my go to comfort story

"Six Months Three Days" by Charlie Jane Anders
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
I stated working on my list of short fiction recs for 2014. So far I have 16 short stories, 4 novelette's and 1.5 novellas that I want to recommend. So yeah, a lot more short stories than either of the two longer categories. I'm not sure if this an artifact of mostly reading online, or if a way more short stories are published in general.

There are three or four stories that are just under the word count needed to be a novelette. (Well with in the Hugos 10% fudge rule) I'm temped to rec them as novelettes to balance things out, but I worry that it might create confusion. (Also I definitely have 5 short stories I want to nominate -- so if the Hugo administration decides that they are in the wrong category, they won't get moved to the correct category, so my vote will be wasted.)

I still have stuff to read. My bookmarks folder of stuff to-read has 6 short stories and 4 novelette. I've also just started reading Upgraded. Plus I'm getting an anthology form the library so that I can read a novelette by one of my favorite auditors.
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
I've decided that "I'm going to do a proper best of the year round up next month" is not a reason not to post some short story recs now. So here are some links to stories I liked recently.

"This Chance Planet" by Elizabeth Bear

"The New Girl" by Marissa Lingen

"The Moon Over Red Trees" By Aliette de Bodard

Also some of you will appreciate this round up of short 2014 SFF stories with non-binary-gendered characters
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
Charile Jane Anders is having a great year for her short fiction this year. I've really enjoyed everything of hers I've read so far this year. I first became aware of her about 3 years ago, when "Six Months, three days" was published on I loved that short which went on to win both the Hugo and the Nebula. So after that I started seeking out Charlie Jane Anders's stories. And last year they were good, but not great. (None of her work ended up in my 2013 short fiction recs.) But this year all of her stuff is just amazing. Here are links to her 2014 stories online:

The Cartography of Sudden Death

The Unfathomable Sisterhood of Ick

Break! Break! Break!

As Good As New

In other short fiction news I just finished Zen Cho's collection Spirits Abroad which was excellent. Highly recommended!

Also if you are interested in it the state you short SFF Renay has a intersting post about the lack of a short fiction review community over at [community profile] ladybusiness. (She even mentions me as someone with good taste in short fiction. Pardon me, while I try to doge my imposture syndrome.)


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