Each year, authors, publishers, and other interested individuals offer up their Best Of lists for perusal as the year comes to a close. These are usually in reference to one of the many awards offered up each year.
I think it’s important to mention, before I get to far along, that i’m a very plebeian reader. I like the authors I like and the forms I enjoy. I read a lot, but I also *re-read* extensively over the course of the year. I like to renew the acquaintance of old friends. That isn’t to say I didn’t read new things this year. I did!
Here are so thoughts:
1. Short Story
A Year and A Day in Old Theradane by Scott Lynch in Uncanny. This isn’t eligible for an award as when I read it this year in Uncanny Magazine, it was reprint. You should read it. I loved that it had rich language, was evocative. The plot was tight and fun and playful. And there is something infinitely sad about being trapped as a street lamp for all eternity.
Bent the Wing, Dark the Cloud by Fran Wilde in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. This is set in the world of her novel Updraft. Protagonist must navigate family turmoil and life turmoil to succeed. I really appreciate its style. I also like how it speaks to the shifting, uncomfortable, relationships that exist in families that we have to navigate, even when we know we probably shouldn’t.
The Lion and the Unicorn by AC Wise in Lackington’s. This story is beautiful and brutal. There is something about it that reminds me of Those Who Walk Away from Omelas. It’s stayed with me for a long time and I keep coming back to re-read it.
Planet Lion by Catherynne M. Valente in Uncanny Magazine. This story took a while to read, because it’s thick and meaty and not as linear as spaghetti and requires a lot of brain matter. All things that I love in good writing.
There is some other great writing out there. I would point you toward the Queers Destroy editions of Lightspeed as examples of great writing. Uncanny Magazine put out a wonderful spread this year. But! Short Fiction, is not really something that I read broadly.
I would also point you to Seanan McGuire‘s work. Her Indexing Season 2 is lovely. Here Velveteen vs. series continues to enthrall me. Go check those out.
Speak Easy by Catherynne M. Valente published by Subterranean Press. 1920s in a hotel that might be or not be heaven or hell or somewhere lost in between. Zelda is hunting her muse, her place in the world. And by the time it’s over…well…
I would also point folks towards the beauty that is Tor.com’s publishing arm. The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson is beautiful.
Trailer Park Fae by Lilith St Crow. Not your Shakespeare’s Puck. It’s beautifully written. The world fully-imagined and the conflict the kind of thing you check yourself over and over again to make sure it didnt suddenly infect you through the pages.
Updraft by Fran Wilde. It’s…not quite fantasy. It’s almost Fantasy. It’s not Fantasy. Protagonist suddenly finds herself getting the attention of people she doesnt want in a world where people live in the hollowed our ribs of some monster no one has seen. Crazy, powerful, beautiful. Lovely.
The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson. This was my favorite new-book read of the year. Baru is a genuius and a master manipulator and we follow her journey as she tries to take over the world. It costs her over and over again, but she is relentless and witty and smart and when she finally wins, I was crying because of how much it cost.