Short Story Recommendations from 2009

It’s that time of year whenst folks are reflecting back on 2009 and thinking about nominations for awards and the like.  Thus year, for the first time I’m actually participating in Nebula and Hugo award nominations, a task I am leaping into with both gleeful abandon and a deep weight of responsibility.  These are some of my favorite SF short stories from last year:

  • Superhero Girl,” by Jessica Lee, Fantasy Magazine.  An original twist on the superhero story, masterfully woven with ambiguity.  This is Lee’s first published story, and it’s an impressive debut.  Audio version also available at Podcastle
  • Clockwork, Patchwork, and Ravens,” by Peter M. Ball, Apex Magazine.  Wonderful steampunk tale with a memorable clockwork narrator. Not surprisingly, Peter recently picked up an Aurealis award for this one, one of several strong pieces from him this year. (BTW, for those keeping track, this one clocks in at just under 7,500 words, just missing the novelette category.)
  • Interviews After the Revolution,” by Brian Francis Slattery, Interfictions 2. An elite international circuit party in the midst of revolution and music in Latin America, told in the form of a documentary.  Everything Brian Francis Slattery writes seems to be brilliant.
  • Marsh Gods,” by Ann Leckie, Strange Horizons. Domestic strife, warring gods, and ancient covenants.  Brilliant world-building.  Audio version also available at Podcastle.
  • Reservations,” by Christopher Green, Expanded Horizons.  Lovely magic realism story.  Chris had a bunch of great pieces this year but this is the one that most sticks with me.  
  • The Film-makers of Mars,” by Geoff Ryman,  This brilliant story only served to fan the flames of my secret crush on Geoff Ryman.  Did I say that out loud?

For short-shorts, I highly recommend The Daily Cabal, which has a steady output of quality short-shorts from Dan Braum, Jason Fischer, Angela Slatter, Jeremiah Tolbert, and others.  One of my favorites this year was Fischer’s “Inventory,” a story in the form of a classic 80s adventure game.  GO READ.

Interesting that my list has a fair bit of overlap with Rachel Swirsky’s recent recs, which more than anything probably reflects that we have similar tastes. 

Many great stories came out this year, and these are just a few of the ones that have really stuck with me. – not at all exhaustive, especially considering there’s tons of great stuff out there I haven’t even read! 

Coming soon: novelette, novella, and book recommendations, plus my controversial recommendations for the year’s best SF on-screen.

A Gay Space Odyssey

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Self, I love science fiction, if only more of it were queer-themed, just good old-fashioned science fiction fun with aliens and laser battles and cool science-fictional devices, but also with really interesting queer protagonists and maybe some beautiful prose so rhythmic it could be half-sung to jazz music in a hipster poetry cafe?”  Look no further!  Check out Spaceman Blues by Brian Francis Slattery immediately.   

The basic premise: Wendell Apogee’s boyfriend is a party-24-7 kinda guy, close personal friends with half the population of New York City and a good portion of the rest of the world to boot.  So when he disappears, nobody even notices for the first twenty-six hours. “Everybody thinks he’s with someone else, like that time he went to the Phillipines and everyone thought he was in Jersey.  He never answers his telephone anyway, they say.”  But then his apartment explodes, and Wendell starts to think there might be something odd about Manuel’s disappearance. It couldn’t have anything to do with those alien robots or the cult that’s prophesized the end of the world based on complex astronomical analyses, could it? 

Wendell’s quest to find his lost lover is an amazing tour de force of the many cultures of New York City – both real and imagined – taking him from cockfights to flying garbage trucks to evil alien invaders to the secret worlds beneath the subway.  But ultimately of course it’s a story about human connection, about figuring out how to love yourself and others in a world that’s all kinds of crazy. One of the best books I’ve read this year.