Since award nomination season has begun in some quarters, I figured I’d spotlight what I have found to be the most memorable novelettes and short stories of the year so far. While this list includes several stories that could not be separated from my Hugo ballot by any force of gods or nature, I’m still making my way through a lot of short fiction I’ve missed and doing some rereading, so this post has a provisional status.
Not all but most of these stories could be described as feminist, and for anyone visiting who is unfamiliar with this blog, I like SF&F that make sad puppies cry. Without further ado, these are my recommends:
“Among the Thorns” by Veronica Schanoes (novelette), Tor.com — a retelling of the Brothers’ Grimm anti-Semitic myth “The Jew in the Thornbush” told from the perspective of the “villain’s” daughter Ittele. Jewish mysticism, dark fantasy, and a coming-of-age tale in 17th century Europe.
“Written on the Hides of Foxes” by Alex Dally MacFarlane (novelette), Beneath Ceaseless Skies — a story about giving women back their stories and the tools to tell them.
“Tongtong’s Summer” by Xia Jia, Clarkesworld (originally printed in Upgraded anthology) — an optimistic view of growing old in our future as well as a sweet story about the love for a grandparent. Tissues need to be handy.
“Makeisha in Time” by Rachael K. Jones, Crossed Genres — time traveler Makeisha lives a thousand lifetimes and confronts no challenge so daunting as that of erasure, from history as well as her own present life.
“The Bonedrake’s Penance” by Yoon Ha Lee (novelette), Beneath Ceaseless Skies — a mythical Bonedrake raises a human orphan in a fortress at the center of the universe.
“Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land” by Ruthanna Emrys, Tor.com — an envisioning of a Jewish Narnia with sweet and atmospheric worldbuilding.
“Because I Prayed This Word” by Alex Dally MacFarlane, Strange Horizons — women’s love and companionship in a city made of words and a city made of sound.
“Medu” by Lisa Bolekaja, Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History — a black cowgirl embraces her hair in a story that takes back stolen mythology; I see this as Afrofuturism reaching into the historic.
“The Lonely Sea in the Sky” by Amal El-Mohtar, Women Destroy Science Fiction! — a diamond ocean on Neptune has strange effects on the scientists that handle its remnants.
“What Glistens Back” by Sunny Moraine, Lightspeed — the last conversation between lovers as one’s lander explodes and he plummets to the surface of an unknown planet.
“Crocodile Ark” by Oluwole Talabi, Omenana — near future SF in space about the mythology of earth and a corrupt revolutionary.
“The Litany of Earth” by Ruthanna Emrys, Tor.com (novelette) — an ethereal story from the perspective of a Lovecraftian Deep One after they’ve been all but hunted from Earth.
“The Ninety-Ninth Bride” by Catherine F. King, Book Smugglers Publishing (novelette) — a retelling of the frame story of 1,001 Nights from the perspective of Dunyazad, younger sister to Scheherezade.
“Women in Sandstone” by Alex Dally MacFarlane, Beneath Ceaseless Skies (novelette) — secondary world fantasy about the winds, and pure poetry.
Last but not least are two fantastic debuts that should not be overlooked:
“In the Sight of Akresa” by Ray Wood (novelette), Tor.com — tragic lesbian romance about what it means to lose your voice and never again find it.
“Whisper in the Weld” by Alix Harrow, Shimmer — mythic fiction about Rosie the Riveter and a loving ghost story.