The year is almost at an end, and I’m still frantically trying to catch up on everything I missed, but now seems like as good a time as any to reflect on all the wonderful things I did read this year. 2018 was another fantastic year for short fiction. I read a lot of it, but even then I feel like I only scratched the surface. Still, as folks think about what to nominate for various awards this year, I figured I’d share my own favorite reads from the year that was…
To Blight a Fig Tree Before It Bears Fruit by Benjamin Naka-Hasebe Kingsley, Apex Magazine – a chilling story about bodies as commodities and fighting back against those in power. (Reviewed in more detail here.)
The Hydraulic Emperor by Arkady Martine, Uncanny Magazine – an obscure fragment of a cult film, an alien auction, and the power of desire and sacrifice.
Wild Ones by Vanessa Fogg, Bracken Magazine – a beautiful story about mothers and daughters, the temptation of being stolen away by faerie, and those who stay behind.
A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies by Alix Harrow, Apex Magazine – a lovely and bittersweet story of magic, librarians, the power of fantasy, and finding the right book for the right person.
The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington by Phenderson Djeli Clark, Fireside Magazine – another story about bodies as commodities, and various kinds of ghosts.
And Yet by A.T. Greenblatt, Uncanny Magazine – a story that brilliantly combines a haunted house with quantum science, alternate realities, family, and regret.
The War of Light and Shadow, in Five Dishes by Siobhan Carroll, Beneath Ceaseless Skies – a sensory feast of a story about war, told by a character on the margins of battle, highlighting the power of a good meal, and the importance of a good narrative in shaping history. (Reviewed in more detail here.)
Furious Girls by Julianna Goodman, Fiyah #6: Big Mama Nature – a story that deals with the way society tries to repress and control women’s anger, and the power that anger has to be turned toward good. (Reviewed in more detail here.)
I Frequently Hear Music in the Very Heart of Noise by Sarah Pinsker, Uncanny – a dream-like story about magical architecture, and the confluence of creative works and creative people.
The Right Way to Be Sad by Shankar Gopalakrishnan, Strange Horizons – a story about animal empathy, loss, healing, and a very good dog’s capacity for love.
The Pine Arch Collection by Michael Wehunt, The Dark – a deeply creepy story about an unsettling amateur film project.
He Sings of Salt and Wormwood by Brian Hodge, The Devil and the Deep – an effective horror story of a diver and his artist girlfriend who find themselves the recipients of disturbing gifts from the sea.
Learning to Drown by Kristi DeMeester, Three-Lobed Burning Eye Magazine – a family with a mysterious link to the river, and the jealousy that threatens to tear them apart. (Reviewed in more detail here.)
Meat and Salt and Sparks by Rich Larson, Tor.com – an uplifted chimp detective and her human partner set out to solve a murder in a story that explores the nature of sentience and humanity.
The Synchronist by Fran Wilde, Infinity’s End – a literal race against time in a story that explores the complications of clocks, families, museums, and memory.
The Fall, the Water, the Weight by Lina Rather, Augur Magazine – a lovely story about guilt and grief as childhood friends reunite to confront the disappearance of a a friend years ago in the pool beneath a waterfall, which may be a gateway to another world. (Reviewed in more detail here.)
You Can Make a Dinosaur, but You Can’t Help Me by K.M. Szpara, Uncanny Magazine – a painful, yet hopeful, story about fighting to be seen, complicated family relationships, love, respect, and dinosaurs. (Reviewed in more detail here.)
The Trees of My Youth Grew Tall by Mimi Mondal, Strange Horizons – a bittersweet story about a woman who loses her son, but finds her way back to a connection with her heritage and herself. (Reviewed in more detail here.)
By Claw, By Hand, By Silent Speech by Elsa Sjunneson-Henry and A. Merc Rustad, Uncanny Magazine – a story about understanding between species, and communication with dinosaurs.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Memphis Minnie Sing the Stumps Down Good by LaShawn M. Wanak, Fiyah #7: Music – a story about the mysterious appearance of otherworldly creatures, friendship, and the power of music and voice.
The Chariots, the Horsemen by Stephanie Malia Morris, Apex Magazine – a story about women who fly, and those who try to keep them down.
She Don’t Fade by Die Booth, Vulture Bones – a ghost story about making peace with one’s past.
Carborundorum>/Dev/Null by Annalee Flower Horne, Fireside Magazine – a chilling story of technology used to limit women’s freedom, and simultaneously an uplifting story of friendship and women using technology to reclaim control over their lives. (Reviewed in more detail here.)
She Searches for God in the Storm Within by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali, Sword and Sonnet – a simultaneously gorgeous and painful story of abuse, and women who are storms.
The Pull of the Herd by Suzan Palumbo, Anathema Magazine – a lovely and bittersweet story of animal brides, and being true to one’s nature.
Sea-Crowned by H. Pueyo, The Dark – a story of siblings, the sea, and fear of the other.
Some Personal Arguments in Support of the BetterYou (Based on Early Interactions) by Debbie Urbanski, Strange Horizons – a story of AI and “difficult women” with a touch of Gothic flare. (Reviewed in more detail here.)
Toward a New Lexicon of Augury by Sabrina Vouvourlias, Apex Magazine – a story about the literal and metaphorical magic of community, and fighting back against those in power.
The Starship and the Temple Cat by Yoon Ha Lee, Beneath Ceaseless Skies – a lovely yet heartbreaking story about ghosts, loyalty, and the casualties of war.
Variations on a Theme from Turandot by Ada Hoffmann, Strange Horizons – a story of opera, destiny, and taking control of your own fate.
The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections by Tina Connolly, Tor.com – a mouth-watering story of food, memory, love, and pastries with the power to topple an empire.
How to Swallow the Moon by Isabel Yap, Uncanny Magazine – a gorgeous story of friendship, loyalty, longing, and monsters.
Again, I feel like these stories only scratch the surface of all the wonderful work published this year. In fact, I may continue to update this post as I do more catching up. In the meantime, happy reading!