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