My short SFF recommendations for 2018

As rounded up for Twitter, here are the short SFF stories I most enjoyed in 2018:

  • Izzy Wasserstein’s intertexual atlas of ‘Unplaces’, recorded by one desperate queer woman for her lover, recovered from the ruins of Kansas City after an all-too-imaginable theocratic war (‘Unplaces: an Atlas of Non-Existence’, Clarkesworld)
  • This diary of time travel gone wrong from Premee Mohamed, whose marooned palaeontologist must fend for themselves in the prehistoric past. Turns out there’s not much good eating on a trilobite. (‘More Tomorrow’, Automata)
  • Eleanna Castroianni’s story of asylum management on a space station at the edge of conflict and ecological disaster, with unmistakeable echoes for me of how today’s refugee crisis has hit the Aegean. (‘Without Exile’, Clarkesworld)
  • Elizabeth Bear’s quite literally searing portrait of the destructive relationship between a knight-errant and the dragon she set out to kill (‘She Still Loves the Dragon’, Uncanny)
  • Bogi Takács working Hungarian and Romani folk song into this story about a non-binary interplanetary marine biologist (‘On Good Friday the Raven Washes its Young’, Fireside Fiction)
  • Not So Stories (ed. David Thomas Moore), an anthology of writers of colour taking back the Just So Stories, including Joseph E Cole’s ‘Queen’ about a lioness resisting her captivity (Rebellion Publishing)
  • Alix E Harrow’s portal meta-fantasy of librarian witches helping their troubled patrons to escape through hidden books (‘A Witch’s Guide to Escape: a Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies’, Apex)
  • In transcript form, Nino Cipri’s haunting story of an ethnographer breaching ethical boundaries and hunting down ghostly urban legends in her girlfriend’s home town (‘Dead Air’, Nightmare)
  • The first new Maria Dahvana Headley piece I read after finishing the incredible The Mere Wife: a seedy birthday-party magician has the worst day of his life in Idaho (‘You Pretend Like You Never Met Me, And I’ll Pretend Like I Never Met You’, Lightspeed)
  • Sarah Gailey’s devastating ‘Stet’, where the action is all in the margins in this dissection of the politics of AI and ethics of self-driving cars (Fireside Fiction)
  • Kate Heartfield’s ‘A Thousand Tongues of Silver’ weaves together Ostrogoth Ravenna, Queen Christina’s Sweden and the life-story of a purple-stained manuscript (Lackington’s)
  • Sabrina Vourvoulias’s story of post-apocalyptic urban witchcraft could easily have been the setting for something even longer than this (‘Toward a New Lexicon of Augury’, Apex)
  • T Kingfisher’s ‘The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Appreciation Society’ cocked a Pratchettian snook at Highland fantasy (Uncanny)
  • The rising stakes and against-the-odds queer desire of Isabel Yap’s ‘How To Swallow The Moon’ (Uncanny)
  • Cassandra Khaw’s Monologue By An Unnamed Mage, Recorded At The Brink Of The End’: ‘What matters is that I love you and that I will always love you, and I won’t let them have you, even if I have to husk myself of all that I am and splinter the universe again’ (Uncanny)
  • Perhaps I should have been alarmed by how relatable I found Zen Cho’s story of a studious imugi determined to become a dragon, and its early-career academic lover (Barnes and Noble)
  • And an honorary place for Rose Lemberg’s ‘The Desert Glassmaker and the Jeweler of Berevyar’ (Uncanny, 2016): the epistolary romance I needed to delight me this year.

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