My Favourite Short Speculative Fiction of 2016


  • Seth Dickinson, “Laws of Night and Silk” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue #200). Horrible in an unfairly gorgeous, “all my feels” way. I couldn’t decide if I loved it or was incredibly furious with it until the end of the last damn scene.
  • Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, “The Orangery” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue #214). A refreshingly nuanced feminist take on Greek mythology. Also, trees.
  • Bogi Tak√°cs, “Standing on the Floodbanks” (GigaNotoSaurus, November). A quietly beautiful story of a magical apprenticeship, and of learning to move from a system of abusive control to something better.
  • Genevieve Valentine, “Everyone From Themis Sends Letters Home” (Clarkesworld, October). Looks like a space colonization story at first, and then blossoms into something far more complex.
  • Alyssa Wong, “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay” (Uncanny, Issue Ten). Desert magic, vengeance, claiming one’s power. Queerplatonic True Love.

Short Stories

  • Aliette de Bodard, “A Hundred and Seventy Storms” (Uncanny, Issue Eleven). Mindships, disability, family, loyalty. Extreme weather on exoplanets. Ordeals.
  • Margaret Killjoy, “The Name of the Forest” (Strange Horizons, March 21). Vividly drawn homeless narrator. Matter-of-fact magic. Choosing life when life is messy and difficult. Also, bugs.
  • Carrie Laben, “Postcards from Natalie” (The Dark, July). An understated not-quite-ghost-story, with a supernatural element that creeps up real slowly and quietly into gut-punch range.
  • Arkady Martine, “Ekphrasis” (An Alphabet of Embers). Hive minds. Poetry. Sacrifice.
  • Russell Nichols, “u wont remember dying” (Motherboard, June 23). Police violence, shiny technology as a band-aid solution, and what that means for the people affected. Existential terror. Text messages as prose.
  • Nicasio Andras Reed, “Painted Grassy Mire” (Shimmer, July 5). Atmosphere. Alligators. Blood ties and animalism in the swamp.
  • Frances Rowat, “Playing Prometheus” (Persistent Visions, November 18). A socially aware time travel story that avoids the usual tropes in favor of a simpler and more emotionally powerful look at consequences.
  • Shawn Scarber, “The Opening of the Bayou St. John” (Strange Horizons, February 8). An eerily beautiful story of motherhood, grief, and supernatural bargains.
  • M Sereno, “Only Revolutions” (An Alphabet of Embers). Fierce, lush, hungry mythology. Anti-colonialism. Love and survival.