It’s award season in the science fiction and fantasy world. Eligible members of SFWA, World Fantasy, and World Con get to cast votes for their noteworthy reads published in the previous year. We’re discussing our favorite short stories, novellas, and novelettes of 2014.
The Mothers of Vorheesville, Mary Rickert, Tor.com
Palm Strike’s Last Case – Charlie Jane Anders, F&SF July
The Tallest Doll in New York City, by Maria Davana Headley. at Tor.com.
Sleep Walking Now and Then by Richard Bowes, Tor.com
The Insects of Love – Genevieve Valentine, Tor.com
The Year of Silent Birds Siobhan Caroll, Beneath Ceaseless Skies
A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai’i – Alaya Dawn Johnson, F&SF July
This Chance Planet Elizabeth Bear, Tor.com
Belly, Haddayr Copley-Woods, F&SF July
Stone Hunger, N.K. Jemisin Clarkesworld
Ink of My Bones, Blood of My Hands Vylar Kaftan, Beneath Ceaseless Skies
The Panda Coin (reprint), Jo Walton, Lightspeed
Migratory Patterns of Underground Birds, E. Catherine Tobler, Clarkesworld
21 Steps to Enlightenment (Minus One), LaShawn Wanak, Strange Horizons
Shatterdown, Suzanne Palmer, Asimov’s
A Stretch of Highway, Two Lanes Wide, Sarah Pinsker, F&SF
The Earth and Everything Under, by K.M. Ferebee, Shimmer
Resurrection Points – Usman T. Malik, Strange Horizons
Combustion Hour – Yoon Ha Lee, Tor.com
Michael R. Underwood:
The most memorable piece of short fiction I read in 2014 was Unlocked by John Scalzi, a lead-in novella that served as a primer and backstory for his novel Lock In. The aspect that really pulled me in to Unlocked was the format. Framed as ‘An Oral History of Braden’s Syndrome,’ Unlocked delves into the history of this fictional disease, its personal, political, technological, and social repercussions, and laid the groundwork for the setting which Scalzi then used in Lock In.
As a folklorist, someone trained in a discipline that uses oral histories extensively, this was totally up my alley. I loved getting the various perspectives on the disease, it’s social context, and in seeing the story unfold on a wide canvas. Most short fiction is focused by necessity, even at novella length, but with the oral history format, Scalzi was able to go wide while also delivering some very specific human stories. I was really impressed, and I haven’t even read Lock In, the book it was promoting yet. It was a strong work of speculative fiction on its own, and I’m so glad I read it. It’s also notable in its focus on disability, a topic which often gets short shrift in the genre despite SF/F being an incredibly useful genre to examine disability and neurological difference.
21 Steps to Enlightenment (Minus One) by LaShawn M. Wanak, Strange Horizons
Five Stages of Grief after the Alien Invasion by Caroline M. Yoachim, Clarkesworld
A Kiss with Teeth by Max Gladstone, tor.com.
My full list of stories I liked would be far too long, so I’ll restrict myself to novellas:
“Grand Jeté (The Great Leap)”, by Rachel Swirsky, Subterranean.
“Claudius Rex”, by John P. Murphy, Alembical 3.
In recent years, I have been very organized about my short story reading. I kept up documents in Word where I noted my favorite works. Then 2014 happened and my book happened. I didn’t keep track of what I read, nor did I get the chance to read as much short fiction.
Therefore, my list is pretty pitiful. I’ll depend on the recommendations here on Novelocity and elsewhere so that I can play catch-up in the next while and be an informed voter.
– “The Eighth-Grade History Class Visits the Hebrew Home for the Aging” by Harry Turtledove, a Tor.com
– “Makeisha in Time” by Rachael K. Jones, at Crossed Genres
– “The Serial Killer’s Astronaut Daughter” by Damien Angelica Walters, at Strange Horizons