I full realize the year isn’t over yet, and this list will likely get updated a few times as I frantically cram in more reading. However, award season has already launched with Nebula nominations currently open. In the spirit of helping people find works to consider, here are some short works I thoroughly enjoyed this year. A separate post for novels, anthologies, and collections is on the way.
Pocosin by Ursula Vernon in Apex Magazine – spirits and myths bargain and battle for the soul of a dying god.
The Heat of Us: Notes Toward an Oral History by Sam J. Miller in Uncanny – a powerful speculative fiction take on the Stonewall Riots.
The Long Good Night of Violet Wild by Catherynne M. Valente in Clarkesworld (Novelette) – a gorgeous and decadent journey through lands every color of the rainbow, reminiscent of a gender-flipped Orpheus and Eurydice.
The Ticket Taker of Cenote Zací by Benjamin Parzbok in Strange Horizons – an eerie story of disappearances and the threat inherent in an ancient natural feature.
Documentary by Vajra Chandrasekera in Lightspeed – PTSD, were-helicopters, and the weight of memory.
Dr. Polingyouma’s Machine by Emily Devenport in Uncanny – a mysterious machine, eerie, unseen creatures, and the importance of janitorial work (covered in more detail in my May 2015 Women to Read Column).
The Animal Women by Alix E. Harrow in Strange Horizons (Novelette) – prejudice and the wild ferocity of women.
The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn by Usman Malik at Tor.com (Novella) – an intricately woven, tale of myth, family, and uncovering the truth in old stories.
Remembery Day by Sarah Pinsker in Apex Magazine – the burden of memory and the consequences of war.
Beyond the Trenches We Lie by A.T. Greenblatt at Escape Pod – an unconventional war story about the power of lies.
Forest Spirit, Forest Spirit by Bogi Takács in Clarkesworld – a former soldier, now an AI consciousness, protecting the forest it calls home (covered in more detail in Non-Binary Authors to Read Part 1).
Three Voices by Lisa Bolekaja in Uncanny – the obsessive artist archetype, the woman as muse, and the brutality of art.
eyes i dare not meet in dreams by Sunny Moraine in The Society Pages – a powerful story full of rage, taking on the women in refrigerators trope (covered in more detail in Non-Binary Authors to Read Part 1).
The Waters of Versailles by Kelly Robson at Tor.com (Novelette) – the decadence of Versailles, a child-like water spirit, and the perils and politics of indoor plumbing (covered in more detail in my July 2015 Women to Read).
In the Rustle of Pages by Cassandra Khaw in Shimmer – aging people transform into buildings rather than dying.
All My Pretty Chickens by Josh Rountree in Farrago’s Wainscot – a world haunted by the ghosts of chickens, but where the ghosts of humans don’t return.
Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma at Tor.com (Novelette) – a dark story of transformation and self-preservation.
Kin, Painted by Penny Sterling in Lackington’s Magazine – a gorgeous and lush story of art, gender-fluidity, and self-discovery.
Ghost Champagne by Charlie Jane Anders in Uncanny – a struggling comedian haunted by her own ghost.
Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys: The Elephant’s Tale by Damien Angelica Walters in Apex Magazine – the brutality beneath the glitz of the circus, and learning to let go.
A House of Anxious Spiders by J.Y. Yang in The Dark – angry words become battling spiders during family arguments.
States of Emergency by Erica L. Satfika in Shimmer – the apocalypse expressed by weird happenings across the USA.
Where it Lives by Nathaniel Lee in Nightmare Magazine – a dark story of grief transforming a child into something monstrous.
Bent the Wing, Dark the Cloud by Fran Wilde in Beneath Ceaseless Skies – a daughter finding her courage and learning to fly in order to save her father.
The Oiran’s Song by Isabel Yap in Uncanny – a lovely and brutal story about characters on the margins of war taking center stage.
All in a Hot Copper Sky by Megan Arkenberg in Lightspeed – a biosphere, a woman painted as a monster, and the woman who loved her.
Ice by Rich Larson in Clarkesworld – modified humans, ice whales, and the rivalry between brothers.
And Never Mind the Watching Ones by Keffy R.M. Kehrli in Uncanny – a world overrun by inexplicable glittering frogs, and characters searching for their place in life.
Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers by Alyssa Wong in Nightmare Magazine – what happens when you devour the darkness inside another human (or not so human) being.
The Devil Under the Maison Blue by Michael Wehunt in The Dark – a jazz-soaked story about ghosts, abuse, and characters taking control of their lives.
When We Were Giants by Helena Bell in Lightspeed – the monstrous and wild nature of young girls.
Who Will Greet You at Home by Lesley Nneka Arimah in The New Yorker – women build their children out of sticks, mud, porcelain, and yarn; the sacrifices of mothers, and the monstrous nature of children (covered in more detail in the December 2015 Women to Read).
In the Pines by K.M. Carmien in Shimmer Magazine – the woods and a witch fighting against a spirit gone wrong.
Shimmering, Warm, and Bright by Shevta Thakrar in Interfictions Online – a rich and beautiful story of women harvesting sunlight against the sorrow that creeps in from the edges of life.
The Case of the Little Bloody Slipper by Carlie St. George at The Book Smugglers (Novelette) – a delicious fairy tale/noir mash-up.