My Favorite Short Fiction of 2017

Wanna know a secret that isn’t really a secret? I really like short fiction. I read a lot of it. I think it’s awesome. I want other people to read it and think it’s awesome too. That  said, I know I can’t read everything and there’s a lot of fabulous stuff I’ve missed. However, in the spirit of sharing work I did read and love, and hopefully helping other people find things to read and love, here are my favorite short stories of 2017 (in no particular order).

Clarkesworld June 2017The Ways Out by Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld) – told as a series of reports by an agent assigned to watch a young girl with superpowers, the story touches on prejudice and fear of the other. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Monster Girls Don’t Cry by A. Merc Rustad (Uncanny) – a disturbing story about who is considered monstrous and why, and the violence done against those who don’t fit within a certain narrow “norm”.

A Human Stain by Kelly Robson (Tor.com) – an unsettling Gothic novelette about hunger and the natural and unnatural world. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Police Magic by Brent Lambert (Fiyah) – a painful story of police brutality and attempting to heal and move forward in the face of racial violence. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Microbiota and the Masses: A Love Story by S.B. Divya (Tor.com) – an isolated scientist copes with lust, lies, and cleaning up the environment. (More detailed review here.)

Nine-Tenths of the Law by Molly Tanzer (Lightspeed) – a story about a unique mode of alien contact and experiencing life among a different species, with bonus sexy times.

BlueBellow by Alexis Pauline Gumbs (Strange Horizons) – a fluid and shifting narrative that calls to mind the horrors of slavery and forced migration while drawing on myth and fairy tale. (More detailed review here.)

Chesirah by L.D. Lewis (Fiyah) – a novelette with steampunk stylings about a mythical creature fighting back against those who would fetishize her and make her into a collectible object. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Black Like Them by Troy L. Wiggins (Fireside) – a powerful story about a designer drug that lets white people appear black, and what that does and does not mean for them and their life experience. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Probably Still the Chosen One by Kelly Barnhill (Lightspeed) – a slightly tongue-in-cheek, yet practical take on portal fantasies and the trope of saviors in fantasy narratives.

The Whalebone Parrot by Darcie Little Badger (The Dark) – a gothic tale of two sisters isolated on an island, faced with a chilling supernatural threat. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

The Wretched and the Beautiful by E. Lily Yu (Terraform) – a short and effective story about the plight of refugees in the form of an alien “invasion”. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

If We Survive the Night by Carlie St. George (The Dark) – a violent story tackling the final girl trope. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Fiyah 2Talking to Cancer by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali (Fiyah) – an excellent story about a woman whose supernatural ability to cure cancer is complicated by her husband’s infidelity.

Come See the Living Dryad by Theodora Goss (Tor.com) – a woman uncovers her ancestor’s dark past, and reclaims her story. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Auspicium Melioris Aevi by JY Yang (Uncanny) – a story of clones, fate, and free will. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Meat by Sandra M. Odell (Pseudopod) – a truly unsettling story about the lengths a woman goes to in order to stand out.

You Will Always Have Family: A Triptych by Kathleen Kayembe (Nightmare) – a dark and unsettling novelette about family, betrayal, and love. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Shimmer March 2017The Cold, Lonely Waters by Aimee Ogden (Shimmer) – a beautifully-written story of mermaids in space. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Aqua Mirablis by Stephanie Chan (Anathema) – a gorgeous story about scent, memory, and travel between worlds. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Infinite Love Engine by Joseph Allen Hill (Lightspeed) – a slick and stylish story of cosmic travel and alien beings with a funkadelic feel.

Say, She Toy by Chesya Burke (Apex) – a brutal and disturbing story about androids designed to take on the physical and emotional violence directed at black women.

The Ache of Home by Maurice Broaddus (Uncanny) – a story of community and neighbors coming together to protect each other in the face of a supernatural threat.

Cooking with Closed Mouths by Kerry Truong (GlitterShip) – a gorgeous and painful story about being far from home and the power of sharing food. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

The Three-Tongued Mummy by E. Catherine Tobler (Apex) – a wonderfully atmospheric and evocative story about fate and ancient curses, set in the world of Jackson’s Circus.

They Will Take You from You by Brandon O’Brien (Strange Horizons) – an unsettling story about muses and the cost of genius.

A Place to Grow by A.T. Greenblatt (Beneath Ceaseless Skies) – a magical story about family, coping with loss, and characters finding their place in the world. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Carnival Nine by Caroline M. Yoachim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies) – a story of wind-up automata that deals with issues of emotional labor and packs a punch.

Bear Language by Martin Cahill (Fireside Fiction) – two young children cope with a father who is more monstrous than the wild animal that moves into their house.

Red by Ramsey Shehadeh (Tor.com) – a clever take on a Clue-type game that deals with family, loss, and grief.

Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time by K.M. Szpara (Uncanny) – a wonderful novelette about a trans man being turned into a vampire against his will, and the complications that ensue. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

The Bois by R.S.A. Garcia (Truancy Magazine) – a bittersweet story about alien life, and a character living on the margins of society. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Beauty, Glory, Thrift by Alison Tam (The Book Smugglers) – a lovely story that slowly unfolds the relationship between a thief and a program who believe she’s a god. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

We Laugh in Its Face by Barbara L.W. Myers (Fiyah) – an excellent story about the cost of immortality. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

A Question of Faith by Tonya Liburd (The Book Smugglers) – a story that explores the capacity of the human mind, and the intersection between faith and science. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Graverobbing Negress Seeks Employment by Eden Royce (Fiyah) – a dark story about violence, community, loss, and healing. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Skin Smooth as Plantains, Hearts Soft as Mango by Ian Muneshwar (The Dark) – a dark story about hunger, isolation, and being caught between two worlds. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Apex August 2017If a Bird Can Be a Ghost by Allison Mills (Apex Magazine) – a lovely and bittersweet story about grief, coping, and learning to let go. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

These Constellations Will Be Yours by Elaine Cuyegkeng (Strange Horizons) – a gorgeous story soaked in poetic imagery, touching on power, control, and colonialism.

Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience TM by Rebecca Roanhorse (Apex Magazine) – a chilling story about identity, authenticity, received narratives, and appropriation.

Everything You Left Behind by Wen Ma (Anathema) – a story about the isolating nature of grief and pain in a world where time is frozen and nothing changes. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

In Search of Stars by Matthew Bright (GlitterShip) – a story of longing and shame with a dark edge as a man makes his problems literally float away. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

The Lamentation of Their Women by Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com) – a violent and bloody story about a deal with the devil in the face of generations of injustice. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand by Fran Wilde (Uncanny) – a haunting story about appearances, assumptions, and true selves, set amidst the trappings of a cabinet of curiosities. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

The Creeping Influences by Sonya Taaffe (Shimmer) – the uncovering of a bog mummy reveals intertwined stories of desire, secrecy, and sacrifice. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Taiya by Vanessa Fogg (The Future Fire) – an eerie story of depression and grief manifesting as an implacable ghost. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Uncanny September October 2017Fandom for Robots by Vina Jie-Min Prasad – an utterly charming story about the joyful side of fandom and finding community through shared enthusiasm for a fictional world. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

The Ouroboros Bakery by Octavia Cade (Kaleidotrope) – a story about the ups and downs of immortality achieved through the magic of baked goods. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Airswimming by Aisha Phoenix – a lovely and painful story about overcoming the literal weight of grief and guilt. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

The Last Exorcist by Danny Lore (Fiyah Magazine) – a story about racism, deals with demons, and fighting back against oppression. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Cracks by Xen (Fiyah Magazine) – a powerful novelette about parallel worlds, responsibility, and longing for what seems unobtainable.

Presque Vu by Nino Cipri (Liminal Stories) – a story of coping with ghosts, loneliness, and regret.

Aground, Upon the Sand by Jennifer R. Donohue (Syntax & Salt) – an effective piece of flash fiction that uses the selkie trope to parallel the experience of being a stranger in a new land. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Other Names by Chloe N. Clarke (Cosmonauts Avenue) – a slowly unfolding story about coping with grief and guilt. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

The Sound of His Voice Like the Colour of Salt by L. Chan (The Dark) – an effective story about ghosts, and longing for more from the world. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Them Boys by Nora Anthony (Strange Horizons) – a story about the power and danger of sexuality that flips traditional the mermaid story on its head. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Caesura by Hayley Stone (Fireside Fiction) – a story about loss, AI, poetry, and what it means to be human. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Pan-Humanism: Hope and Pragmatics by Jess Barber and Sara Saab (Clarkesworld) – a novelette about rebuilding in a world of scarcity and the complicated nature of human relationships.

Rivers Run Free by Charles Payseur (Beneath Ceaseless Skies) – a story of personified rivers fighting back against humanity’s desire to control and cage them for their own needs.

Forty Acres and a Mule by Stephanie Malia Morris (Fiyah Magazine) – a powerful story about a black family overcoming a history of violence turned against their ancestors to reclaim land and make space for themselves in the world. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

The Moon is Not a Battlefield by Indrapramit Das (Infinity Wars) – a beautifully told story about a war on the moon and the way human lives are used up by it.

Weather Girl by E.J. Swift (Infinity Wars) – an unconventional war fought through weather and suppressed information has unexpected costs.

The Old Dispensation by Lavie Tidhar (Tor.com) – a space opera novelette about Jewish law, artificial intelligence, and finding a new morality.

Anathema 3Learning to Swim by Mimi Mondal (Anathema Magazine) – a bittersweet story about found family, prejudice, and struggling to find your place in the world.

Neptune’s Trident by Nina Allan (Clarkesworld) – an alien invasion creates a world of scarcity where neighbors turn against each other, effectively interwoven with references to a classic M.R. James ghost story.

When Stars Are Scattered by Spencer Ellsworth (Tor.com) – a story of faith, suspicion, and the struggle for communication and understanding on an alien world.

Verweil Doch (But Linger) by Rich Larson (Omni Magazine) – a story about guilt and feeling powerless even with the ability to stop time.

The Rains on Mars by Natalia Theodoridou (Clarkesworld) – a miner on Mars copes with loss, guilt, and phantom rain.

Lost in the Dark by John Langan (Haunted Nights) – an effective and creepy novelette about a found footage horror movie and the line between reality and fiction.

There. I told you I read and loved a lot of short fiction in 2017, and even then I feel like I’m barely scratching the surface of all the fantastic work out there. I’m also working on a post about my favorite novels and novellas of 2017, so stay turned. But in the meantime, give me your recs! What did you read and love in 2017?

5 Comments

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5 Responses to My Favorite Short Fiction of 2017

  1. Such a wonderful list! I still have to catch up on some of these recommendations, but I am thrilled to see a few of my favorites here too.
    I love short fiction quite a lot! I was not always in love with it, at first short stories seemed to be unsatisfying for me. I used to like sticking for a long time with a character I loved or immersing in a long plot. I still do, but for the past 10 years or so I discovered the true magic of short stories. I could discovered strong characters in short fiction too, powerful stories and extremely talented writers. Not to mentioned the poetic language of some of them, which is packed tighter in the shorter form of fiction.
    Of course, my own personal list for 2017 certainly includes “Excerpts from a Film (1942-1987)”, a wonderful and memorable story. And I will combined it always with the artwork made by Hilary Clarcq based on it.
    Thank you for this list and for all your wonderful work, reviewing and writing such magical stories! And here is wishing you all the best for 2018! :)

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