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Still waiting for an invite to the short fiction party? Well let us dispense with the formalities, sweep you inside and get you the beverage of your choice!

Today, Short Business features blogger and short fiction enthusiast forestofglory who's keen to tell you all about her favourite short fiction of 2014. Whether you're planning to nominate short work for the Hugo Awards or just looking for a great story to read, let this post guide you through a variety of excellent options.

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One of the best things about my participation in the Hugo Awards is that it has lead me to realize how much awesome SFF short fiction is being published. As I’ve become more aware of SFF short fiction as the number of authors and online magazines I follow has increased. I am now much more aware of new things that I want to read. This year I’ve read an impressive amount of short fiction. I’ve read about 85 works online and 4 anthologies, plus collections which included original work. Of course I still haven’t read anything like all the of short SFF work published this year. There is just so much!

Anyways, based on what I’ve read here are my favorite short works from 2014. I’ve divided them by length based on Hugo categories. If you have nominating privileges this year I hope you’ll consider nominating some of these stories. And even if you aren’t a World Con member I hope you’ll read and enjoy some of these works.


For Hugo award purposes a short story is seven thousand five hundred (7,500) words or less. This is by far the category where I have the most works to recommend, as the great majority of short work published online falls into this category and thus I’ve read more short stories . I’ve put the works I’m currently planning to nominate first, but I had a really hard time choosing so I’ve also included a long list of runners up.

My Ballot :

"The Cartography of Sudden Death" by Charlie Jane Anders
I read this story fairly early in 2014, and it really grabbed me then, and has been on my mind since. Anders has had a wonderful year, but this piece is my favorite. It’s about loss and finding your place after everything has changed.

"The Contemporary Foxwife" by Yoon Ha Lee
I love this story so much. It’s got lots of my favorite things; domesticity, friendship, communication, and space stations.

"Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land" by Ruthanna Emrys
Another quiet domestic story, this one with a Jewish theme. I love how magical this feels. And also how it is about passing magic along and building community.

"The Mystery of the Suet Swain" Zen Cho (Spirits Aboard)
This is my personal favorite of the three original stories in Cho’s collection (which you really should read—the whole thing is excellent). It features girls who get to be anti-social detectives, university life, and learning to say no.

"The Suitcase Aria" by Marissa Lingen
I love stories about performers. This one is about an opera singer who doesn’t want to be noticed, but has to deal with murder at the opera house. I enjoyed his attention to craft.

Other Good Stuff:

"The Unfathomable Sisterhood of Ick" by Charlie Jane Anders
Another excellent Charlie Jane Anders story. I like the weirdness of this and how all the character just think it is normal, like you do. I also liked the focus on female friendship.

"21 Steps to Enlightenment (Minus One)" by LaShawn M. Wanak
This story is a bit different, but I really liked it. It is a list story, and might even be classified as magical realism. Spiral staircases appear for no reason – strange and interesting spiral staircases. The story also includes fascinating family dynamics.

"Daughter of Necessity" by Marie Brennan
A retelling of Penelope’s story from the Odyssey. I like how it explains the story we know while giving Penelope all the agency.(Also see Jodie’s review for a more in depth discussion of female agency in this story.)

"As Good As New" by Charlie Jane Anders
A great story about wishes and the end of the world and also about making art and reviewing it. This is the third Anders story on my list, because she’s had an amazing year.

"The Moon Over Red Trees" by Aliette de Bodard
Historical fantasy set in Vietnam, about colonialism and what is worth giving up to achieve your goals.

"The Color of Paradox" by A.M. Dellamonica
A time travel stories about someone who is sent back in time to try to save the world. I liked the characters and their complex relationship and also enjoyed building the alternate timeline form the clues given.

"The Dryad’s Shoe" by T. Kingfisher
A retelling of "Cinderella" with a practical down to earth gardening heroine. I loved all the gardening details, and how the heroine resisted the typical fairy-tale path.

"A House of Gold and Steel" by Marissa Lingen
One of the things I especially like about Marissa Lingen’s writing is that she pays attention to the little domestic details. This comes across especially strongly in this story about a maid/nurse. Another good thing about this story was the character’s connection with her grandmother.

"Walkdog" by Sofia Samatar (Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories)
I love how this told as a school paper. Normally things with misspelling and poor grammar really bug me, but here they added a sense of reality, plus the narrator’s voice is great.

"Tongtong's Summer" by Xia Jia, translated by Ken Liu
Tongtong’s grandfather has lived an active life and was a doctor but now his leg is broken and he needs rest and to be cared for. Tongtong's father decides to try a new technology. This quiet story explores how technology might change aging and elder care.

"Coastlines of the Stars" by Alex Dally MacFarlane (Upgraded)
This is a story about artistic maps. I usually find stories about fictional works of art very hard to follow, but this one has snippets of the artist talking about their work, as well as one character’s emotional reaction to the art, which helped me understand how the art made people feel even if I couldn’t quite picture it. I also really liked the food details in this story, which felt just right for the people and the culture.


A novelette is between seven thousand five hundred (7,500) and seventeen thousand five hundred (17,500) words. I’ve included the five works I currently intend to nominate and one other thing that is also really good.

My Ballot:

"Spring Festival: Happiness, Anger, Love, Sorrow, Joy" by Xia Jia, translated by Ken Liu
This story features lots of little scenes, all in the same future, depicting daily life. I’ve only read a few of Xia Jia’s stories, but one thing I really like about them is how they explore the impact technology has on daily life.

"Three Partitions" by Bogi Takács
This story does something I’ve wanted for a long time—it features Jews in space trying to live observant lives. It also features an important non-binary character and takes place on an interesting planet.

"Frost on Jade Buds" by Aliette de Bodard (Solaris Rising 3: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction)
A story set in Xuya, de Bodard's world based on an alternative history where China discovered the Americas before the West. This one takes place several hundred years in the future and features one of the aspects of that world I particularly like: mind ships. The story takes place many years after a war, but the war still really impacts the characters’ lives in a lot of different ways. Another aspect that I liked was the main character’s family connections.

"The Litany of Earth" by Ruthanna Emrys
This is a reimaging of H. P. Lovecraft’s "The Shadow over Innsmouth". I loved the main character, who works in a bookstore, and lives with a Japanese-American family in late 1940’s San Francisco, in her own right. But I also loved how the story deconstructs Lovecraft.

"The Bonedrake’s Penance" by Yoon Ha Lee
I’ve been trying for a while to describe this one and I’m having hard time coming up with anything that does justice to this story. It’s got cupcakes and collections and atrocities and motherly love.

Other Good Stuff:

"A Slow Unfurling of Truth" by Aliette de Bodard (Carbide Tipped Pens: Seventeen Tales of Hard Science Fiction)
Another Xuya story, this one also features mind ships, though somewhat less prominently than in "Frost on Jade Buds." Explores identity and connection to place.


A novella is between seventeen thousand five hundred (17,500) and forty thousand (40,000) words. I read far fewer of these than work from the other two short fiction categories, and so far I haven’t found any that I really loved, but here are some that I liked and I think are worth your consideration.

Boar and Apples by T. Kingfisher aka Ursula Vernon (Toad Words and Other Stories)
Retelling of "Snow White" with wild boar instead of dwarves. Kingfisher always pays attention to the practical details of daily life, and they are especially fun here where she talks about how the boars manage their household.

Courting Magic by Stephanie Burgis
This is Fantasy of Manners a subgenre which combines fantasy and comedy of manners. It’s also a sequel to the Kat Incorrigible trilogy of middle grade historical fantasy. These books are silly and fun, and this one made me go squee! A lot. I’m not sure how well is work as a standalone, as it really helps to know the characters and their relationships.

Grand Jeté by Rachel Swirsky
(Content note: cancer, child death, references to the Holocaust.)
I don’t think I would have read this if I’d know what it was about, and I found it an emotionally difficult story. However it is beautifully written, and I liked that the characters were semi-observant Jews.

The Awakened Kingdom by N.K. Jemisin
This is a sequel to the Inheritance Trilogy. It's published as part of the omnibus edition of the trilogy and also available as a standalone e-book. I enjoyed the world building, where Jemisin uses a culture that appeared in the earlier books but hundreds of years later. The narrative voice, which is that of a newly created godling was also great. However I thought the social-political message was bit heavy handed in places. I think you could read this without reading the other works in the universe but you’d miss some things, and it does contain spoilers.

The Regular by Ken Liu (Upgraded)
(Content note: violent death, icky view point.)
This story is darker that I generally enjoy, but like much of Liu’s work packs an emotional wallop. I thought its examination of calm vs. emotional decision making was really thought provoking. The story also connects those issues to police work, in a way that is quite timely.

Date: 2015-02-08 02:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] susanhatedliterature.net
I haven't read anything on that list, although I do have Ursula Vernon's collection waiting for me. I love her stuff so much.
I also have a collection of Yoon Ha Lee's on the kindle.
And I've really enjoyed everything I've read so far be Aliette de Boddard.

Date: 2015-02-08 11:04 pm (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
I read Toad Words for Vernon's collection because it is online and thought it was such a good hearted piece of SFF: http://ursulavernon.tumblr.com/post/89980094313/toad-words Thinking about reading the whole collection now.

Date: 2015-02-09 07:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] susanhatedliterature.net
I started reading her when she was doing Digger, started following her blog/journal yoke and have been reading her every since.


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