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Probably at least one more followup after this with more artists and possibly more novellas, I have a couple of candidates on request with the library.

Behind the cut if you would rather not be influenced or whatever. Read more... )
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Last ones! Post to follow w/my nominees and some runners up.

A Wrinkle Ironed Out, Alison Wilgus, DailySF. A trolley problem and a pointed character study in a small space.

That Game We Played During the War, Carrie Vaughn, Telepaths vs non-telepaths. I need a novel about these people immediately, I ship them like whoa.

The Witch of Orion Waste and the Boy Knight, E. Lily Yu, Uncanny. A fairytale.

Foxfire, Foxfire, Yoon Ha Lee, Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Shapeshifters and steampunk, excellent. *NOVELETTE

Standing on the Floodbanks, Bogi Takács, GigaNotoSaurus. Apprentice magician. *NOVELETTE
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Between Dragons and Their Wrath, An Owomoyela and Rachel Swirsky. Wow, amazing, hard-hitting story about the aftermath of war and life as a refugee child. That's a major team-up of authors there and it delivers, dang.


Razorback, Ursula Vernon, Apex. A folktale oddly sweet for its tragedy level.

Kid Dark Against The Machine, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Book Smugglers. What if there was a machine that made superheroes.

A Deeper Green, Samantha Murray, Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Mind control, justice, and healing.

A Salvaging of Ghosts, Aliette de Bodard, Beneath Ceaseless Skies. More diving!

Seasons of Glass and Iron, Amal El-Mohtar, Uncanny. Powerful fairytale remix.

Little Widow, Maria Dahvana Headley, Nightmare. This might have one too many ideas in it but they're pretty badass ideas.

The Tomato Thief, Ursula Vernon, Apex. A sequel to "Jackalope Wives". *NOVELETTE

Successor, Usurper, Replacement, Alice Sola Kim, Buzzfeed. On the literary edge of sff; the punch of this one hardly depends on the speculative element? But dang does it punch.

Shadow's Weave, Yoon Ha Lee, Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Magic knitting and an igloo.

Webs, Mary Anne Mohanraj, was in Asimov's. In the same universe as Plea.

u wont remember dying, Russell Nichols, Motherboard. Uses textspeak vernacular to good effect.
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Left Behind, Cat Rambo. Topics that often interest me (uploads, eldercare), put together in an interesting way.

Touring with the Alien, Carolyn Ives Gilman. Interesting first contact story.

Coyote Invents the Land of the Dead, Kij Johnson. Interesting creation myth with interesting language. Apparently I've forgotten every word for describing fiction but "interesting". Gah.
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I don't think I'm going to make it to Uncanny, alas. I'll try to finish Clarkesworld at least. I feel okay about that? Like, sure, could have done more if I started earlier, but three magazines isn't bad!

Teenagers from Outer Space, Dale Bailey. A story about immigration. *NOVELETTE

And Then, One Day, the Air was Full of Voices, Margaret Ronald. I like SETI stories and not-quite-contact stories.

Things With Beards, Sam J. Miller. Ohhh my god. So in the genre of The Thing fanfic, Peter Watts wrote one a few years ago that got nominated, and now there's this, which looks at The Thing through a very period-specific lens of AIDS and activism and queerness. Prediction: this one makes the Nebula ballot.
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(You haven't missed anything, I'm just going backwards in time on this one instead of forward.)

Of Sight, of Mind, of Heart, Samantha Murray. Mother of a soldier.

Western Heaven, Chen Hongyu, trans. Andy Dudak. I don't even have the right cultural references for this and I still enjoyed the heck out of it. *NOVELETTE

Everyone from Themis Sends Letters Home, Genevieve Valentine. I wasn't sure about this one for awhile but I think I like where it ended up. *NOVELETTE

Rusties, Nnedi Okorafor and Wanuri Kahiu. Interesting stuff here about how violence starts.

The Despoilers, Jack Skillingstead. Compelling premise but ends in a weird place?

The Green Man Cometh, Rich Larson. Fast-moving action-adventure of the "citizen drawn into police/spy events, uses their own special talents to get through" sort, with neat special talents.*NOVELETTE
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Thus concludes a second magazine! My goal is to finish Clarkesworld and Uncanny by next Saturday and call it a year for short fiction, maybe one more post of miscellany or things from the Locus list from other magazines that looked interesting.

Applied Cenotaphics in the Long, Long Longitudes, Vajra Chandrasekera. Posthumans, art, and decolonization in this interesting story.

The Witch's Knives, Margaret Ronald. Beauty and the Beast retell/subversion.

A Spell to Retrieve Your Lover from the Bottom of the Sea, Ada Hoffmann. Powerful metaphor-allegory thingy, dang.

The Wreck at Goat's Head, Alexandra Manglis. Poignant, and simple, and vivid, and, I don't know, this is the third diving story to really speak to me, apparently diving is a thing for me? In the way that, say, circus stories, are not? I like the art, too. Susie Oh.

The Dancer on the Stairs, Sarah Tolmie. Mannerpunk plus kind of a portal fantasy? (Mannerpunk being the subgenre that's into imaginary etiquette and rituals.) If you like Goblin Emperor or Ursula LeGuin writing about sedoretu you might really like this; I did. *NOVELETTE

Das Steingeschöpf, G.V. Anderson. Fantasy artisans in an all too real Germany between the wars.

Esmeralda, Tamara Romero. I was totally able to read this and understand it! There were words/phrases I didn't know, but could guess at from context, and when I read the translation I basically had everything right! Go go reading comprehension! That said, a) it took foreeeever and so I'm just going to read the other Spanish stories in translation, b) I don't "get" this story, like, I know what it says, but it didn't make any more narrative sense to me in English than it had in Spanish. So I'm not actually reccing it, I just wanted to brag about Duolingo apparently actually having revived my high school Spanish to the point where I can read a not-complicated short story.
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The First Confirmed Case of Non-Corporeal Recursion: Patient Anita R., Benjamin C. Kinney. Fun dialogue conceit.

Water, Birch, and Blood, O Horvath and Sara Norja. Always rec portal fantasy stories.

Gorse Daughter, Sparrow Son, Alena Indigo Anne Sullivan. A nice Sleeping Beauty retell/subversion. *NOVELETTE
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Conjure Man, Stefon Mears. Magic vs demon, classic-feeling story.

The Opening of the Bayou Saint John, Shawn Scarber. I am predictable but waah.

*Into the Wreck, June Oldfather. Vivid, original, amazing.

The Right Sort of Monsters, Kelly Sandoval. When I was pregnant, I had a dream where my child was two robots, a sea serpent, and a black nano cloud, this speaks to me.

This Is a Letter to My Son, KJ Kabza. Warning, giant tearjerker.

We Have a Cultural Difference, Can I Taste You?, Rebecca Ann Jordan. Nicely alien alien who is also a socially-rejected teen.
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Thus concludes recommendations from Lightspeed! Up next, Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, or Uncanny or something, I haven't decided yet.

The Cavern of the Screaming Eye, Jeremiah Tolbert. Dungeon-crawling teens! I'm a huge sucker for this sort of thing. Tolbert really seems to have my number. *NOVELETTE

Fade To Red: Three Interviews About Sebold's Mars Trilogy, Stephen S. Power. Started slow then ka-wow. Really satisfying when something isn't just a gimmick but the exact way the story needs to be told.

Plea, Mary Anne Mohanraj. I read this when it came out and it was devastating then and it's devastating now.

The Venus Effect, Joseph Allen Hill. "Topical" stories - stories that engage the news, that try to grapple directly with big contemporary movements and issues - are so interesting to me. Like, there are various virtues that make me want to rec stories - Fun, Clever, Well-Crafted, Emotionally Moving, Important - and a decent topical story will pretty much always strike me as Important? (Which is not to say this one isn't also any of those others.) I dunno, I know some people think stories are always weaker if they're entangled so heavily with the context of their time, and I admit I'm personally pretty revolted by topical stories from "the other side", Puppy-nominated garbage arguing for America uber alles, etc. But I don't think sff is stronger if it sticks its head in a bag and *doesn't* engage. Anyways, blah blah, topicality is maybe most powerful when you don't expect it, maybe I have already said too much. *NOVELETTE
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The One Who Isn't, Ted Kosmatka. I like the way this one unfolded.

5x5, Jilly Dreadful. Teen geniuses at science camp.

Taste the Singularity at the Food Truck Circus, Jeremiah Tolbert. Wheee, cyberpunk food! Except I don't mean cyberpunk, I mean whatever we call the fun anticorporate futurism now. There are two kinds of stories like this, ones where it stays fun and ones with an unpleasant gotcha. I would like you to know that this one stays fun and you can safely enjoy it. * NOVELETTE

The Siren Son, Tristina Wright. Fairytale teen romance.

Unauthorized Access, An Owomoyela. Secretly a character piece dressed up like a data heist. *NOVELETTE

The Wilderness Within, Tim Pratt. Fun magical realism scenario, possibly a reprint though.

Also this fine NOVELLA, not from Lightspeed! Kai Ashante Wilson's A Taste Of Honey is from the same universe as his novella last year, Sorcerer of the Wildeeps. I loved Sorcerer; Taste isn't *quite* as powerful, but I'm still so in love with this world and with Wilson's writing, the mix of "high" and "low" language and the distinctive voices he gives characters. I would maybe read Sorcerer first for maximum impact but definitely recommend Taste, and if you don't have time to read them both and are looking for 2016 novellas, I think it would still stand alone just fine.
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A lot of good stuff in the "People of Color Destroy Science Fiction" special issue! Can we nominate Nalo Hopkinson and Kristine Ong Muslim as editors? (Short form, I guess?)

A Good Home, Karin Lowachee. About veterans, and PTSD, and who is a person.

Hiranyagarbha, Kevin Jared Hosein. Gold, corruption.

The Red Thread, Sofia Samatar. There's always so much in a Samatar story. This one is after-the-collapse, but so much more.
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I'll do a favorites list around the end of the month.

Dragon Brides, Nghi Vo. Dragons and their gold.

The Birth Will Take Place on a Mutually Acceptable Research Vessel, Matthew Bailey. A birth story.

Three Points Masculine, An Owomoyela. Genderfuckery milSF, yes please.

North Over Empty Space, Tim Pratt. I always enjoy interesting powers.

Wednesday's Story, Wole Talabi. Interesting meta-narrative about storytelling.
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February is 2016 short fiction month! Here are some stories from the January, February, and March issues of Lightspeed. I'm going to try posting recs as I go instead of saving them up for longer posts.

The Savannah Liars Tour, Will McIntosh. What if you could visit the afterlife?

Charlotte Incorporated, Rachael K. Jones. Created to be free, if she could pay off her birth-debt.

Not by Wardrobe, Tornado, or Looking Glass, Jeremiah Tolbert, always rec portal fantasy meta.

Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea, Sarah Pinsker. After the collapse. It's fucking surreal reading this shit now that was published 12 months ago, let me tell you. *NOVELETTE

Also, not to cross the streams in a weird way, but one final rec from Yuletide:

heart-tree, Uprooted, Kasia/Agnieszka, long.
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OK, Apex's tagging is a bit haphazard, but they also don't publish many novelettes, so I'm just going to go ahead and rec the novelettes I have - two from GigaNotoSaurus, one from Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and three from Clarkesworld.

The Body Corporate, Mark Pantoja in GigaNotoSaurus. An alien planet where the familiar might be more dangerous than the strange.

Drinking with the Elfin Knight, Ginger Weil in GigaNotoSaurus. Adolescence, with magic.

Grandmother-nai-Leylit's Cloth of Winds, Rose Lemberg in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Names and identities and choices and love.

So Much Cooking, Naomi Kritzer, in Clarkesworld. Posts from a food blog, and fears of bird flu. I loved this.

The Servant, Emily Devenport in Clarkesworld. Intrigue on a generation ship.

Morrigan in Shadow, Seth Dickinson in Clarkesworld. This is in the world of a story I liked last year, Morrigan in the Sunglare, space military SF about ethics and strategy. Damn, ka-wow, Big SF.
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Short stories from Clarkesworld. Top recs in bold.

Last year, in addition to Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, and Clarkesworld, I also read short stories from Giganotosaurus,, Daily SF, Apex, Subterranean, Crossed Genres, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. I think this year I'm going to skip the rest of them, or, rather, I already read through Giganotosaurus and looking for novelettes, I may do the same with Apex (I think they tag, which is so useful) and call it a day.

Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight, Aliette de Bodard. She's just so good. This is another Dai Viet Empire story, a "normal life" story rather than a war story.

Cat Pictures Please, Naomi Kritzer. Benevolent AI tries out interventions.

Indelible, Gwendolyn Clare. Remembering a sister. Short but kicks.

Slowly Builds An Empire, Naim Kabir. Interesting story about a non-telepath in a telepathic future society.

Postcards From Monster Island, Emily Devenport. I really like fiction remixes in which a horror or terror is re-seen in a more humanistic/optimistic light. This is a take on giant monster movies.

For the Love of Sylvia City, Andrea M. Pawley. Benthans vs drylanders in this story about refugees, assimilation, and isolationism.

This Wanderer, in the Dark of the Year, Kris Millering. What if a crash-landed alien was recovered by terrorists?

Forestspirit, Forestspirit, Bogi Takács. AI vs neural network in a small battle.

When Your Child Strays From God, Sam J Miller. Great voice as this mom confronts her teen son's drug use.

In the Queue for the Worldship Munawwer, Sara Saab. Made me cry (I'm a huge sucker for this kind of thing.) Evacuating the Earth.
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Updraft, by Fran Wilde, turned out to be too YA for my increasingly curmudgeonly tastes. Started out strong with a fascinating setting - people who live in skyscraper-like living bone towers, flying from tower to tower with manufactured wings, never seeing the ground - but the plot and characters ended up being aeriel Divergent, more or less. Which, hey, good for Wilde, that's a fine reading public to want to provide with more books they'll enjoy, but I'm not part of it and I found it unbearably tedious.

The thing is, if you introduce a highly-resource-limited world, whether that's a water-world or a desert-world or an air-world, I want to know *how the fuck it works*, like, how did people end up in that situation? How do they support the population size? Where are they getting these raw materials? I start reading something like Updraft, I want it to be The Martian, I want to know if they actually have enough dirt to grow all those peas and potatoes and fruit and how they haul it from level to level as they move up the towers. And they're all wearing spider-silk, if the spiders live on ambient insects, that helps, and they're supplementing their diet with hunted birds, and metal is a rare artifact of the past, and there's clearly been some clever thinking here! Maybe it all works! But I want the tour, I want to get to see the farms and the spider herds and enjoy the fantastic-ness of all this fantasy world. With less having my disbelief un-suspensioned every time someone casually chucks buckets of organic waste out the window, like, *really*, your carbon cycle doesn't need that back?

Instead of world-tourism we get an endless emotionally-incoherent Conspiracies-Family Secrets-and-Webs of Betrayal(TM) Plot, which kicks off when the Secretive Ruling Caste like totally unfairly keeps the main character from passing her driving test even though she like totally studied, which eventually leaves her no choice but to become one of them and aaagh I am so sick of one very special girl dismantling the ludicrous rigid traditions of her society with her special determination. Ok, that's unfair, I've loved that book before and I'll probably love it again, but this wasn't it. The writing was painfully repetitive and I felt like it was hammering me with its narrative keywords as opposed to, y'know, actually getting me to care about any of them. I will give it points for No Romance, that's rare in this genre and I imagine it took some guts for Wilde to stand by not stuffing one in.

I will rec a related short story by Wilde in the same world, Bent the Wing, Dark the Cloud, that doesn't show much of the world, but is much emotionally stronger.
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Short stories from Lightspeed.

He Came From a Place of Openness and Truth, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam. Odd little playing around with alien and YA tropes.

Things You Can Buy for a Penny, Will Kaufman. A neatly-built fairy tale.

The Way Home, Linda Nagata. Ye olde American-soldiers-through-a-portal fantasy, this one to a particularly hellacious world.

Quiet Town, Jason Gurley. You know, in 10 or 20 years this kind of thing might seem like nothing special at all, but right now, it's topical and I'm a sucker for it.

Time Bomb Time, C.C. Finlay. Very gimmicky but it's an amusing enough gimmick.

Goodnight Earth, Annie Bellet. Supersoldiers in a post apocalyptic future kind of deal.

Influence Isolated, Make Peace, John Chu. Had me at cyborg boyfriends, what can I say.

Bucket List Found in the Locker of Maddie Price, Age 14, Written Two Weeks Before the Great Uplifting of All Mankind, Erica L Satifka. This is 736 words long and almost made me cry. I didn't rec this on Twitter because the title is so long, but it's worthwhile.

Madeleine, Amal El-Mohtar. Memories, time travel, and girlfriends.

Given the Advantage of the Blade, Genevieve Valentine. Princess fights! But more than that!

And We Were Left Darkling, Sarah Pinsker. Dream children. Beautiful and shivery.

Ghosts of Home, Sam J. Miller. The foreclosure crisis personified, clever and sharp.

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Love, Death, Caroline M. Yoachim. I feel like when I write tropey fanfic (universe-swapping, mysterious duplicates, shrinking, etc) my characters tend to be much more focused on solving the problem than in some other similar fic. I liked the problem-solving focus in this time-travel story.

The Light Brigade, Kameron Hurley. Starts like military SF, ends like something more.

Beacon 23: Little Noises, Hugh Howey. Ye olde fixing-shit-in-space story.

Not Hugo eligible (there are always a few reprints I can't resist reading):

Water Rights, An Owomoyela. Near-space human expansion sf. From 2012.

The Birds and the Bees and the Gasoline Trees, John Barnes. Close encounters, the abyss, etc. From 2010.
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
Tor seems to be moving their novella publishing away from their free online fiction and into $2.99 ebooks, but they put up a couple, before they started that. GigaNotoSaurus, meanwhile, published mostly novelettes and short stories last year, which I think is a move away from their previous all-novelette pattern. Anyways. Three novellas, for your novella-reading pleasure.

The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn, Usman Malik, in A gorgeous, slow-building fantasy of history and memory and family like a sort of emotionally-inverted Lovecraft story, sublime instead of horrific. Highly recommended.

Waters of Versailles, Kelly Robson, Magical plumbing in 1738 Versailles. Cute idea.

Quarter Days, Iona Sharma, in GigaNotoSaurus. Magic and recovery in post-WWI London. This is set in the same world as Nine Thousand Hours, a few generations earlier, verrry interesting to see that kind of thought put into the worldbuilding, not just what makes a neat alternate present but the alternate past that goes with it and how it evolved. I would love to see more stories in this world from even further in the past, or elsewhere in the world.

Let me just point out here that Iona Sharma is Campbell-eligible (Nine Thousand Hours was her first qualifying work) and I'll definitely be nominating her for it.
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
I'm running late with these, but better late than never. I'm also posting as I go to my Twitter, TheBookLouse, feel free to follow that if you're interested in this sort of thing. My lj will probably continue to have the occasional bit of extra commentary or "if you're only going to read one or two" recommendations.

Vacui Magia, L.S. Johnson. Painful story about generations and caregiving and infertility and magic.

Noise Pollution, Alison Wilgus. Neat urban fantasy in a vivid voice.

Nine Thousand Hours, Iona Sharma. I like a good magical disaster story. Reminded me of L Waldman's story Silence.

Cloth Mother, Sarah Pauling, in Strange Horizons. AI parenting, both sharp and sweet.

The Visitor, Karen Myers. Aww, a nice little close encounter.

Probably Definitely, Heather Morris. A pop-star ghost visits a non binary teenager. Neat premise about ghosts.

Beyond Sapphire Glass, Margaret Killjoy. A romance with neat worldbuilding.

20/20, Arie Coleman. Doctors and personal sacrifice, reminded me a bit of Yeyuka, a Greg Egan story I think about a lot.

Needle on Bone, Helena Bell. This didn't really work for me as a story but it has a couple of really powerful lines/emotional metaphors.

Liminal Grid, Jaymee Goh. Trying to live, in the surveillance state.


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