Every year, I try to read as much short fiction as I can. And no matter how much I read, it never feels like enough. There are tons of fantastic stories out there, and I know I’ve missed many of them. That said, of the stories I have read this year, there are several I want to highlight in hopes that you’ll enjoy them too. It’s possible I’ll update the list as I continue to catch up. In that spirit, please share your own favorites in the comments or point me toward your own lists so I can see what you loved too!
Monsters Come Howling in Their Season by Cadwell Turnbull (The Verge, January 2019) – another story of contentious relationships with storms, exploring compassion, guilt, and the humanity of AI. Reviewed in more detail here.
In That Place She Grows a Garden by Del Sandeen (Fiyah Issue Ten: Hair) – a defiant story of beauty and refusing to conform to unfair societal expectations and standards. Reviewed in more detail here.
While Dragons Claim the Sky by Jen Brown (Fiyah Issue Ten: Hair) – a wonderful story of knights, dragons, and hair magic.
Treading Water by Tapanga Koe (Capricious, Issue 11) – a lovely story of fear, transformation, and finding acceptance of your true self. Reviewed in more detail here.
Roots and Shoots by Laura DeHaan (Augur Magazine 2.1) – a story of friendship, artificial life, and the nature of humanity.
Moses by L.D. Lewis (Anathema Magazine, April 2019) – a painful story of unasked-for powers, family, and addiction.
Kill the Darlings (Silicone Sister Remix) by E. Catherine Tobler (Do Not Go Quietly) a gorgeously-written story seething with anger where women who have been literally shaped by the male gaze reclaim themselves. Reviewed in more detail here.
Lest We Forget by Elizabeth Bear (Uncanny, May/June 2019) – a heartbreaking story about the manipulation of memory and the cost of war.
Many-Hearted Dog and Heron Who Stepped Past Time (Strange Horizons, June 2019) – a beautiful story of time travel, friendship, loyalty, violence, and love.
The House Wins in the End by L. Chan (The Dark, July 2019) – a dark and unsettling story of what it means to survive a haunting.
Shattered Sidewalks of the Human Heart by Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld, July 2019) – a beautiful story of queerness, monstrosity, and a classic monster movie come to life.
For He Can Creep by Siobhan Carroll (Tor.com, July 2019) – a fantastic story of a cat, his poet, and a deal with the devil.
His Heart is the Haunted House by Aimee Ogden (Apparition Literary Magazine Issue Seven: Retribution) – a wonderful story of a ghost hunter and his ghosts that flips the script on the tortured loner archetype. Reviewed in more detail here.
Music for an Electronic Body by R.K. Duncan (A Punk Rock Future) – an unsettling story about uploaded consciousness, and the unintended consequences of the power of music. Reviewed in more detail here.
One Thousand Beetles in a Jumpsuit by Dominica Phetteplace (Lightspeed, August 2019) – a story of robots, adaptation, and survival in a harsh environment.
The Weight of a Thousand Needles by Isabel Canas (Lightspeed, June 2019) – a gorgeous, fairy tale-like story of a powerful being caught in a spell, and the woman tasked with freeing him.
Still Water by Ian Muneshwar (Anathema, August 2019) – an eerie and tense story about navigating relationships, navigating seemingly calm waters, and the dangers lurking beneath the surface of each.
The Surviving Child by Joyce Carol Oates (Echoes: The Saga Anthology of Ghost Stories) – an unsettling story dripping with Gothic atmosphere, which takes place in the aftermath of a murder-suicide that may be more than it seems.
The Puppet Motel by Gemma Files (Echoes: The Saga Anthology of Ghost Stories) – another story that oozes with atmosphere about a rental property literally getting under the skin and into the head of the woman hired to care for it.
Deep, Fast, Green by Carole Johnstone (Echoes: The Saga Anthology of Ghost Stories) – an incredibly visceral and claustrophobic story about a man haunted by the horrific deaths that occurred aboard the submarine he served on years ago. Reviewed in more detail here.
Dave’s Head by Suzanne Palmer (Clarkesworld, September 2019) – a charming story about a robotic dinosaur and the challenges of dealing with family.
The Sloppy Mathematics of Half-Ghosts by Charles Payseur (Strange Horizons, October 2019) – a gorgeous and poetic story about ghosts, cats, ships sailing the stars, and seeking one’s heart’s desire at the center of the universe. Reviewed in more detail here.
And Now His Lordship is Laughing by Shiv Ramdas (Strange Horizons, September 2019) – a powerful story of a woman overlooked by a colonial government, and the subtle ways she uses her particular skills to enact her revenge.
The Devil Buys Us Cheap, and the Devil Buys Us in Bulk by M. Bennardo (Mithila Review, October 2019) – a story about the insidious nature of guilt and temptation, and one woman’s efforts to resist them.
Labbatu Takes Command of the Ship Heaven Dwells Within by Arkady Martine (The Mythic Dream) – a stylish story of family pitted against family and a starship captain taking her due.
Wild to Covet by Sarah Gailey (The Mythic Dream) – a beautifully-written story about what it means to be a woman caught in the grip of prophecy who fights back against destiny.
The Gorilla in a Tutu Principle, or Pecan Pie at Minnie and Earl’s by Adam Troy Castro (Analog, September/October 2019) – a charming story of impossible encounters on the moon, and alien beings using the comedy of Laurel and Hardy to initiate first contact.
Tiny Bravery by Ada Nnadi (Omenana Magazine, October 2019) – a story of super-human abilities, friendship, and finding a place to fit in.
A Strange Uncertain Light by G.V. Anderson (Fantasy & Science Fiction, July/August 2019) – a story that weaves together past and present, bringing together a woman gifted (or cursed) to see ghosts, and a woman fighting to free her best friend from the clutches of an unscrupulous doctor.
You Were Once Wild Here by Carlie St. George (The Dark, December 2019) – a touching noir story reminiscent of Twin Peaks, set in a world of monsters and those who hunt them.
The Devil Squid Apocalypse by Alex Acks (GigaNotoSaurus, December 2019) – a story of music and a kick-ass older protagonist fending off an alien invasion.
The Lawman’s Boy by Setsu Uzumé (Bourbon Penn, December 2019) – a stylish weird western where the sins of the father are literally visited upon the son, and the ghosts of the past haunt the present.
Adrianna in Pomegranate by Samantha Mills (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, February 2019) – a gorgeous story about grief and the magic inherent in the act of writing.
The Tentacle and You by John Wisell (Nature, February 2019) – a fun story about the changes you can expect during the slow, tentacle-based invasion.