Have I mentioned I read a lot? I feel like I have. But in case you didn’t know, I read. A lot.
And sometimes I really need something quick and lovely to rake its claws down the insides of my heart. That’s where short stories come in. Somehow, this medium can pack a punch that leaves me pining for days, sometimes far longer than a novel. So with no further ado, I give you the nine short stories that I have dearly loved this year. While the list is not exhaustive, these are some of my favorites and I hope you will like them, too.
“If We Die Unjustified”
The day never really dawns, not like in poetry or paintings. The clouds just stretch and itch at the sky, so it’ll scratch a scab wide enough for the sun to show face. Winter’s got hold of the city and all the other cities ‘round, and sometimes the sky’s just too weary to bother.
The world we live in is unforgiving, and if you sometimes want to remake it, I recommend this story by A. Merc Rustad.
“In the Ground, Before They Freeze”
The story goes: there was a mountain woman who loved a lowland man.
This one is going to gut you and grow in you, and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s by a new-to-me author, Margaret Ronald.
“Asphalt, River, Mother, Child”
There is no way to mark the seasons, here in the underworld, Mebuyen’s town with its endless river and little stone house. The sky turns from a pale gray day to a soft blue night, and there are no stars. She recognizes all this only because of Adriana’s endless questions. Mebuyen answers, and tries not to grow fond. She’s too old for that sort of thing.
Isabel Yap remains one of the brightest voices in the short fiction world right now, and this story is no exception. Dealing directly with the current political climate in the Philippines, this story is rawly human and will twist your heart into knots.
“Till Human Voices Wake Us”
Okay, another tear-jerker here from writer Rachel Halpern. This one is about mermaids and families and you should probably know there are content warnings for suicide and self-harm associated with this story. But I promise it’s about healing, too.
“A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies”
You’d think it would make us happy when a kid checks out the same book a zillion times in a row, but actually it just keeps us up at night.
This is a story about doing what’s right, regardless of the consequences. It’s about the escape that books can give you. It’s about magic. Thanks to Alix E. Harrow for this read.
“Field Biology of the Wee Fairies”
This story by Naomi Kritzer is one of my favorites for this year. It’s wonderful and engaging and I love Amelia, the main character, with all my heart.
“Angel of the Blockade”
My ship’s been voted ugliest on Corona Nine Station ten years running. Her name is Goodluck Gray Pearl, after my parents and my auntie, the way my auntie named me after her auntie, Chrysanthemum. No one but her calls me Chrysanthemum—to everyone else I’m just Nata, because I didn’t want anyone getting weird botanical ideas. I don’t know what the Pearl looks like, and I don’t care. She’s my elephant: Each of her parts feels random, unrelated, and adds up magically to spaceship. All that matters is that I can weave them together into a set of wings so we fly across the void, faster than anyone else.
If you look at the publication date for this one, it technically came out in 2017. Fortunately, I didn’t find it until 2018 so it made this list. Alex Wells is responsible for this grungy-lovely piece of science fiction featuring a blind smuggler. The science on this one is really fun.
“The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington”
The first Negro tooth purchased for George Washington came from a blacksmith, who died that very year at Mount Vernon of the flux.
This is another sizzling story from Fireside Magazine, written by Phenderson Djèlí Clark. The title speaks for itself.
“Mothers, Watch Over Me”
This story by Maria Haskins wraps up our list. It’s another story that might make you cry, and I listed it previously on the blog.
I hope you enjoy these reads! If you have a story you think should have made my list, leave it below. I’m always looking for more stories to read. I hope everyone has a lovely holiday, if you’re celebrating, and I’ll catch you next week for the last post of the year!
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