Tangent Releases 2018 Recommended Reading List

Twenty-two reviewers combine forces to recommend 340 stories. Congrats to all who make it possible, including the authors, editors, reviewers, and readers.

Tangent Online 2018 Recommended Reading List

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Annual Summation: 2018

It’s time once again to look back on the year’s coverage of magazines and their noted stories with tables, lists, and pictures!

(For actual reviews of the below, please see the “Monthly Summations,” which serve as tables of contents for all Featured Futures‘ reviews and other posts. For more on this blog, itself, please see the “About” page.)

Coverage

In 2018, Featured Futures covered these 22 magazines:

  1. Amazing Stories
  2. Analog Science Fiction and Fact
  3. Apex Magazine
  4. Ares Magazine [defunct]
  5. Asimov’s Science Fiction
  6. Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  7. Clarkesworld Magazine
  8. Compelling Science Fiction
  9. Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores
  10. Diabolical Plots
  11. Flash Fiction Online
  12. Galaxy’s Edge Magazine
  13. Grievous Angel [defunct]
  14. Lightspeed
  15. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
  16. Nature (Futures)
  17. Nightmare
  18. Slate (Future Tense Fiction)
  19. Strange Horizons
  20. Terraform
  21. Tor.com
  22. Uncanny

I read 870 stories of 4.4 million words from those sources (and fourteen other irregular sources which were mostly read for Tangent reviews). Of those stories, 127 were noted, with 77 receiving honorable mentions, 50 being recommended, and 29 of those appearing in Year’s Best Short Science Fiction and Fantasy #2 (2018 Stories). The breakdown of total stories, recommendations, and honorable mentions by zines (along with a column of “Year’s Best” selections) was:

          Zine    TS     R    HM  R+HM      R%     HM%   R+HM% |YB

       Amazing     8     1     0     1  12.50%   0.00%  12.50% |0
        Analog    91     4     9    13   4.40%   9.89%  14.29% |2
          Apex    42     1     3     4   2.38%   7.14%   9.52% |1
          Ares     1     0     0     0   0.00%   0.00%   0.00% |0
      Asimov's    64     2     8    10   3.13%  12.50%  15.63% |1
           BCS    62     4     6    10   6.45%   9.68%  16.13% |3
  Clarkesworld    46     5     2     7  10.87%   4.35%  15.22% |3
    Compelling    11     3     1     4  27.27%   9.09%  36.36% |1
          CRES    13     1     1     2   7.69%   7.69%  15.38% |0
            DP    24     0     6     6   0.00%  25.00%  25.00% |0
           FFO    24     1     1     2   4.17%   4.17%   8.33% |1
           FSF    64     5     9    14   7.81%  14.06%  21.88% |5
            GA    17     0     2     2   0.00%  11.76%  11.76% |0
            GE    51     0     8     8   0.00%  15.69%  15.69% |0
    Lightspeed    53     5     5    10   9.43%   9.43%  18.87% |2
        Nature    51     3     2     5   5.88%   3.92%   9.80% |2
     Nightmare    23     2     1     3   8.70%   4.35%  13.04% |1
            SH    40     2     2     4   5.00%   5.00%  10.00% |1
         Slate    12     0     3     3   0.00%  25.00%  25.00% |0
     Terraform    45     1     1     2   2.22%   2.22%   4.44% |0
       Tor.com    26     4     2     6  15.38%   7.69%  23.08% |3
       Uncanny    33     2     1     3   6.06%   3.03%   9.09% |1

         TOTAL   801    46    73   119   5.74%   9.11%  14.86% |27

         Other    69     4     4     8   5.80%   5.80%  11.59% |2

Noted Stories

This is the complete list of those noted stories. The alphabet soup at the end indicates the category in the first chunk (SS=short story, NE=novelette, NA=novella), the genre in the second chunk (SF=science fiction, S-F=science fantasy, F=fantasy, H=horror, M=mainstream) and the third chunk is its status (HM=honorable mention, R=recommendation, YB=”Year’s Best Short Science Fiction and Fantasy” selection, which is a “recommendation plus”). Stories are supposed to be alphabetized by author and then by title.

  • The Gift of Angels: an introduction” by Nina Allan, Clarkesworld #146, November 2018, NE/SF/R
  • Domestic Violence” by Madeline Ashby, Slate, March 26, 2018, SS/SF/HM
  • The Fisher in the Yellow Afternoon” by Michael Anthony Ashley, Diabolical Plots #43B, September 17, 2018, SS/F/HM
  • “Why We Don’t Go Back” by Simon Avery, Black Static #64, July/August 2018, NE/H/HM
  • The Ghoul Goes West” by Dale Bailey, Tor.com, January 17, 2018, NE/F/R
  • The Horror of Party Beach” by Dale Bailey, Lightspeed #101, October 2018, NE/S-F/HM
  • “True Jing” by Zack Be, Asimov’s, July/August 2018, NE/SF/HM
  • A Song of Home, the Organ Grinds” by James Beamon, Lightspeed #98, July 2018, SS/F/YB
  • The Forest Eats” by Santiago Belluco, Compelling #12, Winter 2018, SS/SF/R
  • “Physics Tomorrow” by Gregory Benford, Analog, March/April 2018, SS/SF/HM
  • A Waltz in Eternity” by Gregory Benford, Galaxy’s Edge #35, November/December 2018, NE/SF/HM
  • I’ll Get Back to You” by Ryan Bloom, Terraform, April 6, 2018, SS/SF/R
  • “Hainted” by Ashley Blooms, F&SF, July/August 2018, SS/F/YB
  • The Tale of the Scout and the Pachydormu” by Gregory Norman Bossert, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #262, October 11, 2018, NE/F/HM
  • Godzilla vs. Buster Keaton or: I Didn’t Even Need a Map” by Gary A. Braunbeck, Apex #114, November 2018, NE/F/HM
  • Cat and Mouse” by L.C. Brown, Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, May 30, 2018, SS/F/HM
  • “Life from the Sky” by Sue Burke, Asimov’s, May/June 2018, NE/SF/HM
  • The Independence Patch” by Bryan Camp, Lightspeed #94, March 2018, SS/SF/YB
  • “Margin of Error” by Paul Carlson, Analog, January/February 2018, SS/SF/HM
  • The War of Light and Shadow, in Five Dishes” by Siobhan Carroll, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #247, March 15, 2018, SS/F/YB
  • “Assassin in the Clouds” by Robert R. Chase, Asimov’s, January/February 2018, NE/SF/HM
  • “Inquisitive” by Pip Coen, F&SF, May/June 2018, NE/SF/HM
  • The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections” by Tina Connolly, Tor.com, July 11, 2018, NE/F/HM
  • “Foster Earth” by Julie Czerneda, Amazing, Fall 2018, SS/SF/R
  • “In the Lost City of Leng” by Paul Di Filippo & Rudy Rucker, Asimov’s, January/February 2018, NA/S-F/HM
  • “The Baron and His Floating Daughter” by Nick DiChario, F&SF, November/December 2018, SS/F/HM
  • Being a Giant in Men’s World” by Walter Dinjos, Galaxy’s Edge, May 2018, SS/F/HM
  • “While You Sleep, Computer Mice™ Earn Their Keep” by Buzz Dixon, Analog, May/June 2018, SS/SF/HM
  • “Unstoppable” by Gardner Dozois, F&SF, May/June 2018, SS/F/HM
  • Withholding Judgment Day” by Ryan Dull, Diabolical Plots, June 15, 2018, SS/F/HM
  • “3-adica” by Greg Egan, Asimov’s, September/October 2018, NA/SF/HM
  • The Nearest” by Greg Egan, Tor.com, July 19, 2018, NE/SF/YB
  • “A List of Forty-Nine Lies” by Steven Fischer, F&SF, January/February 2018, SS/SF/HM
  • “Thanksgiving” by Jeffrey Ford, F&SF, November/December 2018, SS/F/HM
  • “Ten and Ten” by Alan Dean Foster, Analog, January/February 2018, SS/SF/R
  • After the Story Ends” by M. E. Garber, Galaxy’s Edge #30, January 2018, SS/F/HM
  • Umbernight” by Carolyn Ives Gilman, Clarkesworld #137, February 2018, NA/SF/YB
  • Magic Potion Behind-the-Mountains” by Jaymee Goh, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #262, October 11, 2018, SS/F/HM
  • Kylie Land” by Caspian Gray, Nightmare #70, July 2018, SS/F/HM
  • Nine Last Days on Planet Earth” by Daryl Gregory, Tor.com, September 19, 2018, NE/S-F/YB
  • Fleeing Oslyge” by Sally Gwylan, Clarkesworld #108, May 2018, NE/SF/R
  • “A Crystal Dipped in Dreams” by Auston Habershaw, Analog, July/August 2018, NE/SF/HM
  • This Big” by John Cooper Hamilton, Nature, March 21, 2018, SS/S-F/YB
  • The Coal Remembers What It Was” by Paul R. Hardy, Diabolical Plots #45B, November 16, 2018, SS/F/HM
  • A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies” by Alix E. Harrow, Apex #105, February 2018, SS/F/YB
  • The Ghost In Angelica’s Room” by Maria Haskins, Flash Fiction Online, March 2018, SS/F/YB
  • The Godhead Grimoire” by Sean Patrick Hazlett, Galaxy’s Edge #30, January 2018, SS/H/HM
  • You Pretend Like You Never Met Me, and I’ll Pretend Like I Never Met You” by Maria Dahvana Headley, Lightspeed #100, September 2018, SS/F/HM
  • Variations on a Theme from Turandot” by Ada Hoffmann, Strange Horizons, May 14, 2018, SS/F/HM
  • The Substance of My Lives, the Accidents of Our Births” by Jose Pablo Iriarte, Lightspeed #92, January 2018, NE(SS?)/F/R
  • “Bury Me in the Rainbow” by Bill Johnson, Asimov’s, March/April 2018, NA/SF/HM
  • “The Camel’s Tail” by Tom Jolly, Analog, March/April 2018, NE/SF/YB
  • Driving Force” by Tom Jolly, Compelling #11, Summer 2018, SS/SF/HM
  • Grace’s Family” by James Patrick Kelly, Tor.com, May 16, 2018, NE/SF/YB
  • Resigned” by Floris M. Kleijne, Galaxy’s Edge #33, July/August 2018, SS/SF/HM
  • The Thing About Ghost Stories” by Naomi Kritzer, Uncanny #25, November/December 2018, NE/F/YB
  • Carouseling” by Rich Larson, Clarkesworld #139, April 2018, SS/SF/HM
  • “In Event of Moon Disaster” by Rich Larson, Asimov’s, March/April 2018, SS/SF/R
  • Octo-Heist in Progress” by Rich Larson, Clarkesworld #146, November 2018, SS/SF/YB
  • Penitents” by Rich Larson, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #245, February 15, 2018, SS/S-F/HM
  • For the Last Time, It’s Not a Ray Gun” by Anaea Lay, Diabolical Plots #46B, December 17, 2018, SS/S-F/HM
  • “Broken Wings” by William Ledbetter, F&SF, July/August 2018, NE/SF/HM
  • The Starship and the Temple Cat” by Yoon Ha Lee, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #244, February 1, 2018, SS/S-F/HM
  • “Harry and the Lewises” by Edward M. Lerner, Analog, September/October 2018, NA/SF/HM
  • “Left to Take the Lead” by Marissa Lingen, Analog, July/August 2018, NE/SF/HM
  • My Favourite Sentience” by Marissa Lingen, Nature, April 25, 2018, SS/SF/YB
  • Cosmic Spring” by Ken Liu, Lightspeed #94, March [15], 2018, SS/SF/HM
  • Discard the Sun, for It Has Failed Us” by Marina J. Lostetter, Uncanny #22, May/June 2018, SS/SF/HM
  • Requiem” by Christine Lucas, Nature, April 4, 2018, SS/SF/HM
  • Chasing the Start” by Evan Marcroft, Strange Horizons, July 9, 2018, NE/SF/R
  • A Night Out at a Nice Place” by Nick Mamatas, Apex #104, January 2018, SS/SF/HM
  • “Captain Midrise” by Jim Marino, Apex #115, December 2018, SS/F/HM [link 12/18]
  • The Hydraulic Emperor” by Arkady Martine, Uncanny #20, January/February 2018, SS/SF/R
  • “The Last Biker Gang” by Wil McCarthy, Analog, May/June 2018, NA/SF/YB
  • Moonshot” by Andrew W. McCollough, Grievous Angel, April 18, 2018, SS/S-F/HM
  • What Is Eve?” by Will McIntosh, Lightspeed #95, April 2018, NE/SF/HM
  • Strange Waters” by Samantha Mills, Strange Horizons, April 2, 2018, SS/F/YB
  • Mother’s Rules for a Burned Girl” by Rebecca Mix, Flash Fiction Online, January 2018, SS/F/HM
  • Bride Before You” by Stephanie Malia Morris, Nightmare #68, May 2018, SS/H/R
  • Targeted Behavior” by J.D. Moyer, Compelling #11, Summer 2018, SS/SF/R
  • “In the Sharing Place” by David Erik Nelson, Asimov’s, September/October 2018, SS/S-F/YB
  • Cerise Sky Memories” by Wendy Nikel, Nature, October 3, 2018, SS/SF/R
  • The Horn of Amalthea” by George Nikolopoulos, Galaxy’s Edge #34, September/October 2018, SS/F/HM
  • “Empress of Starlight” by G. David Nordley, Analog, November/December 2018, NE/SF/R
  • Like Smoke, Like Light” by Yukimi Ogawa, Strange Horizons, June 4, 2018, SS/F/HM
  • “Sicko” by Jerry Oltion, Analog, March/April 2018, SS/M/HM
  • “Hideous Flowerpots” by Susan Palwick, F&SF, March/April 2018, NE/F/YB
  • Recoveries” by Susan Palwick, Tor.com, June 20, 2018, SS/SF/HM
  • “The Lady of Butterflies” by Y. M. Pang, F&SF, November/December 2018, NE/F/YB
  • The Thought That Counts” by K.J. Parker, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #250, April 26, 2018, NE/F/YB
  • Lions and Gazelles” by Hannu Rajaniemi, Slate, September 27, 2018, SS/SF/HM
  • “Never the Twain” by Michael Reid, Interzone #274, March/April 2018, SS/S-F/YB
  • “baleen, baleen” by Alexandra Renwick, Interzone #274, March/April 2018, SS/F/HM
  • Sour Milk Girls” by Erin Roberts, Clarkesworld #136, January 2018, SS/SF/YB
  • Maximum Outflow” by Adam Rogers, Wired, December 17, 2018, SS/SF/HM
  • Jesus and Dave” by Jennifer Lee Rossman, Diabolical Plots #41B, July 16, 2018, SS/F/HM
  • “Joyride” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Asimov’s, November/December 2018, NA/SF/HM
  • “Hard Mary” by Sofia Samatar, Lightspeed #100, September 2018, NE/SF/HM
  • Leviathan Sings to Me in the Deep” by Nibedita Sen, Nightmare #69, June 2018, SS/F/YB
  • The Tragedy of Zayred the Splendid” by Grace Seybold, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #262, October 18, 2018, NE/F/HM
  • Redaction” by Adam R. Shannon, Compelling #11, Summer 2018, SS/SF/YB
  • “It Came from the Coffee Maker” by Martin L. Shoemaker, Analog, September/October 2018, SS/SF/HM
  • Small Fortune and the Perpetual Luck Machine” by Alex Shvartsman, Galaxy’s Edge #34, September/October 2018, SS/F/HM
  • Overvalued” by Mark Stasenko, Slate, November 27, 2018, SS/SF/HM
  • “Starship Mountain” by Allen M. Steele, Asimov’s, July/August 2018, NA/SF/HM
  • “Likho” by Andy Stewart, F&SF, March/April 2018, NA/S-F/YB
  • An Aria for the Bloodlords” by Hannah Strom-Martin, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #242, January 4, 2018, NE/F/R
  • The Veilonaut’s Dream” by Henry Szabranski, Clarkesworld #143, August 2018, SS/SF/HM
  • Cat Lady” by Susan Taitel, Galaxy’s Edge #35, November/December 2018, SS/F/HM
  • “The Harmonic Resonance of Ejiro Anaborhi” by Wole Talabi, F&SF, March/April 2018, SS/S-F/HM
  • Your Face” by Grace Tang, Nature, July 11, 2018, SS/SF/HM
  • I Don’t Bite” by Nicole Tanquary, Grievous Angel, February 6, 2018, SS/H/HM
  • “Death and Natalie, Natalie and Death” by Jordan Taylor, On Spec #107, [April] 2018, SS/F/R
  • The Mirror Crack’d” by Jordan Taylor, Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, September 30, 2018, SS/F/R
  • “The Monstrosity in Love” by Sam Thompson, Black Static #64, July/August 2018, SS/F/YB
  • “We Mete Justice with Beak and Talon” by Jeremiah Tolbert, F&SF, September/October 2018, SS/SF/HM
  • From the Root” by Emma Törzs, Lightspeed #97, June 2018, SS/S-F/R
  • “Crash-Site” by Brian Trent, F&SF, May/June 2018, NE/SF/HM
  • Jump” by Cadwell Turnbull, Lightspeed #100, September 2018, SS/F/R
  • Graduation in the Time of Yog-Sothoth” by James Van Pelt, Diabolical Plots #39B, May 16, 2018, SS/F/HM
  • Suite for Accompanied Cello” by Tamara Vardomskaya, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #242, January 4, 2018, SS/F/HM
  • A Most Elegant Solution” by M. Darusha Wehm, Terraform, April 27, 2018, SS/SF/HM
  • Compulsory” by Martha Wells, Wired, December 17, 2018, SS/SF/HM
  • “The Blockage” by Jack Westlake, Black Static #64, July/August 2018, SS/H/R
  • Shadowdrop” by Chris Willrich, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #261, September 27, 2018, NA/F/YB
  • “Galatea in Utopia” by Nick Wolven, F&SF, January/February 2018, NE/SF/YB
  • “Until We Are Utterly Destroyed” by Frank Wu, Analog, July/August 2018, NE/SF/HM

.

Summation: December 2018

December closes the year with little to fully recommend but with several good stories to note, mostly from unusual sources. These half-dozen tales were drawn from the month’s reading of 44 stories of 177K words (plus four November stories of 10K in December’s first review of the weeklies). Aside from the recommended stories, the most interesting items posted this month were probably (hopefully) this site’s “Year’s Best” and the start of the “Collated Contents” of the real “Year’s Bests” (linked in the News section at the end of this post).

Noted Stories

Recommended

Science Fiction

  • The Forest Eats” by Santiago Belluco, Compelling #12, Winter 2018 (short story)

Honorable Mentions

Science Fiction

  • Compulsory” by Martha Wells, Wired, December 17, 2018 (short story)
  • Maximum Outflow” by Adam Rogers, Wired, December 17, 2018 (short story)
  • Overvalued” by Mark Stasenko, Slate, November 27, 2018 (short story)

Fantasy

Reviews

Magazines

News

Edit (2019-01-01): Bumped story/word counts to include two stories which came out after the “2018-12-28 Wrap-Up” (which has also been edited to mention them).

Weekly Webzine Wrap-Up (2018-12-28)

Weekly Webzine Wrap-Up image

Original Fiction:

Edit (2019-01-01): Added late Slate and Terraform stories.

Original Fiction, Special Edition:

All stories in this section are science fiction short-shorts from the “Future of Work” feature at Wired, December 17, 2018. (Oddly, these are on the same topic that has been the theme of Slate‘s SF series for the final quarter of 2018.) I found out about this thanks to Lauren J. Holmes’ “My 2018 in Books.”

This is the last “Weekly Webzine Wrap-Up” as such. Next year, I’ll be doing “Weekly Reviews” on Mondays (I think) of the prior Tor.com and/or BCS stories or, if neither have any original fiction that week, a review of a classic story. Any noteworthy stories from the other weekly-ish magazines will be noted elsewhere on the blog.

Winter” is a pleasant, if predictable, YA piece about a couple and their little girl who are shivering in the cold of a long winter when a stranger knocks at the door. Despite their dwindling resources, they invite him in and learn about the people and books of the Seasons, why Spring is so late, and more. In “Good,” a harried dad gets a mechanical “Elf” from a famous online business to observe his tantrum-throwing son and encourage him to behave better before Christmas and it works! At a cost. While I’m in 100% agreement with the message of this story, it’s clearly just a basic dramatization of that message and flash in spirit but 4,000 words in fact.

Robot and Crow” is about talking crows aiding an implausible robot in its efforts to prevent or treat infectious disease outbreaks. “Games to Play” is yet anothernother “cli-fi in reverse” tale from Terraform and feels like that slipstreamy surrealistic whatever that isn’t entirely SF or fantasy.

Bolstering this week’s light coverage, Wired recently had a special issue with eight short-shorts on the future of work. It was disappointing to see so much on the downsides of automation and so little about non-automated future work or anything at all about enjoying an absence of “work” or otherwise writing outside the box but most of the stories are at least adequate and two were notable.

Real Girls” features a guy signing up to pretend to be a sexchat bot (which isn’t SF, really), “The Trustless” is another blockchain story which gives a whole new meaning to “code of law,” “Placebo” has a token human “overseeing” a death panel bot, “The Farm” has a journalist learning that, if you can’t beat the bots vetting your story into blandness, you might as well join them, “The Third Petal” is about medical care in dystopia, and “The Branch” is a gnomic piece on what are basically cyborgs unwinding at a library of the future.

The issue saved the best for last. “Maximum Outflow” takes us to a future in which everyone’s stuck inside closed-ecology cities which recycle almost everything. Everything except Unrecoverable Liquid Waste, which is a “blackbrowngray muck.” When Iggy’s mentor dies, he thinks there’s something wrong with the city and goes into its bowels with a diving expert friend. He dives into that muck to see if he can unclog the drain. Again, it’s predictable and, while this had the sort of smooth tech-wonky infodumps I actually like, some  may not. Some may also not feel it goes for the right ending. Still, it’s a vivid and unpleasantly plausible conception. “Compulsory” is a prequel (and my first exposure) to the famed “Murderbot Diaries” series. In this, the bot has its entertainment show interrupted by a worker’s imminent demise and must deal with corporate evil. The “murderbot” seems kind of magic to me – part human, part not, able to hack itself and everything else – but this was wittily told and entertaining, with a serious subtext.

Weekly Webzine Wrap-Up (2018-12-22)

Weekly Webzine Wrap-Up image

Original Fiction:

  • The Bonus” by Liz Maier, Terraform, December 16, 2018 (science fiction short story)
  • For the Last Time, It’s Not a Ray Gun” by Anaea Lay, Diabolical Plots #46B, December 17, 2018 (technofantasy short story)
  • Sequestration; Vitrification” by Allison Jamieson-Lucy, Strange Horizons, December 17, 2018 (science fiction short story)
  • Solstice” by John Gilbey, Nature, December 19, 2018 (science fictional short story)
  • A Circle of Steel and Bone” by R.K. Duncan, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #267. December 20, 2018 (fantasy novelette)
  • A Martyr’s Art” by J.P. Sullivan, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #267. December 20, 2018 (fantasy novelette)

Sequestration; Vitrification” introduces us to Lynn, a scientist who’s trying to genetically engineer diatoms to survive long enough for them to eat radiation and safely store it in glass-like structures while her artist friend deals with his boyfriend’s cancer and her roommate protests and so on. It basically deals with not committing suicide in a sickening world by fixing things in various ways. Despite this, depression dominates this under-plotted, though otherwise well-written tale.

Bonus” seems like it’s going to be yet another “sleepless” tale but just turns into an unremarkable tale about brainwashing. “Solstice” is a vague tale of an academic being invited to a seasonal party in the quantum magic room.

In “Ray Gun,” a shy guy is out on a date but there are a couple of problems. He doesn’t think she knows they’re on a date and she hates emotional displays so much that she turns a girl who’s crying at the next table into an Englishman with a stiff upper lip with her not-a-ray-gun. This is generally funny and has peaks of extra-funny but is perhaps a shade too long and, while the ending is fitting enough, it doesn’t “ooze glitter” or anything. Still, if the sense of humor hits you right, you’ll probably get a kick out of it.

Circle” is the first of two fantasy novelettes from BCS. In this grimdark tale, the Christians are Christianizing Prussia when a demon is let loose. After much buildup, they fight it and the story ends abruptly and easily. While the protagonist is a “Martyr,” neither she nor anyone else are Christians in the second tale. A goddess has died and left behind 100 tears which turn into a steady pool of 100 Martyrs, people who can transfer the injuries of others to themselves. Our heroine is contracted to serve a very nasty man and is put in a bind when another nasty man wants to acquire something valuable. Plans go awry, she’s forced to improvise, she orders a dinghy to “follow that boat!” and magically levels up, so to speak. Another abrupt and easy ending follows, though with a bit of an epilogue. A trace of ironic detachment makes this the minimally lighter tale. Either tale may suit fans of their types but neither seemed remarkable.

Collated Contents of the Year’s Bests (2018 Stories, Links)

Welcome to the third annual linked collation of annuals or “year’s bests.” As the contents of the Afsharirad, BASFF, Clarke, Datlow, Guran, Horton, Shearman/Kelly, and Strahan science fiction, fantasy, and horror annuals are announced, they will be combined into one master list with links to the stories which are available online. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy some of them and that will help you decide which annual or annuals, if any, to purchase.

(There will often be information after the story’s place of publication. In the case of stories with multiple selections, the initials of the last names of the editors or editing team who selected it will be present. If a story has “Read,” “HM,” “Rec,” or “YB” after it, it indicates that I’ve read it and, if so, whether it got an honorable mention or a recommendation when I reviewed it, or was a recommendation which made my virtual Year’s Best Short Science Fiction and Fantasy #2 (2018 Stories). Stories in the last three categories are in bold font.)

You may also be interested in the previous posts in this series which cover 2017 stories and 2016 stories.

This 2018 edition is in remembrance of Gardner Dozois.

Latest change (see Changelog/Credits below for details): 2018-12-29.

One Annual

The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year: Volume Thirteen, Strahan, ed.


Changelog/Credits:

  • 2018-12-16: First version of this year’s collation posted after Jonathan Strahan announced the contents of The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year: Volume 13 the day before.
  • 2018-12-18: Removed the “Firelight” link which went to a teaser instead of the complete story. (Sorry about that.) Thanks to Roger Silverstein for pointing it out.
  • 2018-12-29: Added “Mother Tongues” link. Thanks to Laura.

Weekly Webzine Wrap-Up (2018-12-15)

Weekly Webzine Wrap-Up image

Original Fiction:

  • How Pleasant the Red Bloom” by Lucy Harlow, Strange Horizons, December 10, 2018 (short story)
  • Cold Heart” by Victoria Dixon, Nature, December 12, 2018 (science fiction short story)
  • Warning Signs” by Emily J. Smith, Terraform, December 12, 2018 (science fiction short story)

Bloom” is not science fiction or fantasy but slipstream, with oppressed “Ciphers” and oppressing “Diviners.” An imprisoned Cipher plays cryptic mind and word games in text etched under a bed at the bottom of an oubliette. We receive this through colored fonts and typographical gimmicks which mostly represent struck out passages and ironic insertions. “Signs” lacks any control of its point of view, head hopping between a variety of women and a cardboard date rapist. It seems to advocate corporate demolition of the Constitution. “Heart” has an alien who communicates autonomically by heat and color. After he crash lands on Earth, a mixture of (mostly bad) emotions occur over years of captivity and attempts at communication. While the bare situation merits some emoting, this sentimental tale needs to be stronger to bear the amount it has.