Tangent’s 2016 Recommended List Is Up

The Tangent Online 2016 Recommended Reading List is the result of a year’s far-ranging reading by the combined effort of nineteen reviewers. It has to be one of the largest and most comprehensive of its kind and I hope folks will check it out. Congrats to the authors, editors, and to Dave and my Tangential colleagues.

(I always feel kind of bad about the people who have the misfortune of being reviewed by me because I’ve never given anything more than a somewhat random single star because I have a hard time differentiating “recommendations” – you could almost read all my recs as two or three stars instead of zero or one.)

P.S. I don’t do twitter, myself, but those who do should check out the newly reactivated Tangent twitter account now known as @tangentreviews.

Sidebar Aside

Just wanted to mention that I added links to short fiction review sites to the Featured Futures sidebar. (I haven’t mentioned every such change and won’t often in the future, but this one seemed worth noting.) Most came from the ‘Old Site’ but thanks go to Rocket Stack Rank for the Best SF, Maria Haskins, and SFWA Suggested Reading List links. (No clue why Best SF wasn’t already on the old site but I didn’t know about the other two at all.)

It’s not a huge number of links but it is heartening to see several sites like that and I’m sure there are more. As always, if folks know of any corrections or possible additions, contact me.

Links to Stories the Big SF/F Editors Picked As Their Favorites of 2016

The following is a list of the stories Clarke, Dozois, Horton, and Strahan have picked for their annuals that come from (or at least have) web sources. It’s arranged by the number of “votes” by our esteemed “jury,” and then alphabetical by source and story title (more or less). I hope to read as many of these as soon as I can and hope other folks will take a look, too, and let me know what they think of them.

Edit (2017-01-29): For my readings of, reactions to, and recommendations for these stories, see Reading the 2016 “Best” Stories (Part 1), (Part 2), and (Part 3/Conclusion). Stories I was particularly struck by are now in bold font.

Four Annuals: Clarke, Dozois, Horton, Strahan

Three Annuals

Two Annuals

One Annual: Clarke

One Annual: Dozois

One Annual: Horton

One Annual: Strahan


Source: the File 770 ToCs mentioned in the Year’s Bests and My Recommendations post for the stories and lots of web searches for the links.

Edit: (2016-12-28) For a complete list—including print stories—which ranks by a combination of annual appearances and reviews, see 2016 Best SF/F Anthologies at Rocket Stack Rank.

Edit (2017-01-10): As promised, this has been updated with Clarke’s picks (via File 770).

Review of Science Fiction by Scientists for Tangent

Review of Science Fiction by Scientists, edited by Michael Brotherton


  • “Down and Out” by Ken Wharton (SF short story *)
  • “The Gatherer of Sorrows” by J. M. Sidorova (SF novelette)

Edit (2017-01-07): “Down and Out” is available online at Compelling Science Fiction.

Year’s Bests and My Recommendations

Edit (2017-01-30): This post discusses only a few, mostly print, items and the webzine picture is much different and more complete. Please see Reading the 2016 “Best” Stories (Part 1), (Part 2), and (Part 3/Conclusion) for that.

The contents of three of the four main “year’s bests” have been announced (awaiting only the Clarke) which enables me to compare my recommendations with their anthology picks. I’ve read very little of this year’s short fiction, so there’s not much I’m familiar with, but there are some pieces I know. It would give me pause if my recommendations were identical because part of the fun is people having unique points of view. But it would also give me pause if every year’s best editor agreed that some one story was great and I didn’t. It wouldn’t necessarily cause me to change my opinion, of course, but would cause me to at least rethink it. This year neither extreme occurred.

Of the three stories I recommended from Bridging Infinity, Strahan (the editor of the original anthology, itself) picks the one I thought might have been best (Ken Liu’s “Seven Birthdays”) and Dozois picks the one I thought was probably second best (Pat Murphy and Paul Doherty’s “Cold Comfort”). However, no one picked my third favorite (Benford & Niven’s “Mice Among Elephants”), with Dozois picking Alastair Reynolds’ “Sixteen Questions” instead. I did note that the Reynolds was an artsier story and might appeal to some folks based on that and that the Benford/Niven did have a significant flaw but was a lot of fun. The only other stories appearing from that anthology were Horton‘s picks of Charlie Jane Anders’ “Rager in Space” which, aside from the first paragraph, I didn’t like and Karin Lowachee’s “Ozymandias” which I liked okay but which only made the edge of “good work” and didn’t seem like year’s best material to me. (But then I didn’t recommend any of the three stories I was familiar with from Horton’s picks – his other being Cat Rambo’s “Red in Tooth and Cog” from the March/April F&SF, about which I said, “[t]his story is relatively long for its content and features a rather overwrought end sequence and unsurprising conclusion but the depiction of the ‘teeth and cogs’ is quite imaginative and entertaining.”)

Dozois also picked a couple of stories from the two issues of Asimov’s I read. From December, we both recommend/pick Karl Bunker’s “They Have All One Breath” which was all I recommended from the issue. There is a rather pointed irony regarding the January issue, though: I recommended only Ted Kosmatka’s “Chasing Ivory” from that issue. (Dozois does pick a Kosmatka, by the way, but a different one.) Dozois picked Ian McHugh’s “The Baby Eaters,” about which I specifically said, “[b]asically, it is the familiar bio/sociological tale of a human trade agent on an alien world who suffers culture shock…. All in all, high-grade magazine filler: probably not likely to be in a Year’s Best or win any awards, but a good read.”

So I’m content with the overlaps and, even with the oddity of the McHugh, I’m also good with the discrepancies. Picking the fun and concrete Benford/Niven over the artsier and ethereal Reynolds is actually par for my course.

Edit (2016-12-23): I missed a couple that I’d reviewed from the April Clarkesworld: Dozois and Strahan picked “Touring with the Alien” by Carolyn Ives Gilman and Horton picked “The Bridge of Dreams” by Gregory Feeley. As can be seen in the review, I grappled with “Touring” as a serious, quality story but saw some problems and just didn’t click with it, so couldn’t recommend it. But I get what they saw in it and it was easily the best story in the issue. “Bridge,” though, was just not Year’s Best material, in my opinion.

Prior Tangent Reviews and Recommendations

This was going to be a page but I think it should be a tagged post. It lists all the reviews I’ve done for Tangent prior to this date, along with the recommended stories. The parenthetical date is the date the review appeared on Tangent and asterisks/stars after the parenthetical story categories indicate increasingly stronger recommendations (in theory, though I’m not very good with subdividing recommendations).

The Theory of Featured Futures

The next three paragraphs of this post and the “About” page are currently identical but, in case the “About” page changes, this post will preserve that part of that page. And it will at least get the “first post” out of the way.

The main purpose of this blog is to promote short science fiction. Anything I read and like, I’ll talk about here in the hopes that others will also read and enjoy it and short science fiction will take over the world. (This focus won’t prevent me from talking about anything else if the mood strikes but the handy category/tag features should keep the on- and off-topic material clearly organized.)

I review short science fiction and fantasy for Tangent and this blog will note those reviews but it will primarily cover much of my other reading.

I have a “handwritten” website currently called J-Sun-Space on a Unix shell account which had the same basic purpose but I suspect this blog will be easier to maintain for me and easier to navigate and look upon for others. That said, I’ve never done anything with wordpress before and this is a free (and, thus, limited) account, so please bear with any learning curves or inefficiencies.

(I say above that “it will primarily cover much of my other reading” and that should be true beginning in the new year when I start reading as many webzines as I can again though I’m not reading much besides things for Tangent this December.)