Favorite short stories of 2020

…one of these years I’m going to get the formatting on these posts consistent throughout the year, but you’ll figure it out, I do not have it in me to stress about this right now.

Gilded, Elizabeth Acevedo (A Phoenix First Must Burn)

Anta Baku’s recent story project including/starting with Ian and the Beanstalk and The Emperor’s New Beth

On Safari in R’lyeh and Carcosa With Gun and Camera, Elizabeth Bear (Tor.com)

Stephanie Burgis, Burning Bright (Daily SF)

Doorway, Smile, Kiss, Fox, Jeremy Packert Burke (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

Rebecca Campbell, Thank You For Your Patience (Reckoning)

Rae Carson, Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse (Uncanny)

An Incomplete Account of the Case of the Bird-Talker of Yaros, Eleanna Castroianni (Fireside)

Eleanna Castroianni, Who Goes Against a Waste of Waters (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

L Chan, Field Reports from the Department of Monster Resettlement (PodCastle)

L. Chan, Sonata (Metaphorosis) — Part 1Part 2Part 3

Enchanted Objects: Buy-Sell-Trade Group, YOU MUST BE APPROVED TO JOIN, Tina Connolly (Daily SF)

Rjurik Davidson, Benjamin 2037 (Tor.com)

All the Time in the World, Charlotte Nicole Davis (A Phoenix First Must Burn)

Five Quests and the Oracle, Pamela Dean (Her Magical Pet)

The Inaccessibility of Heaven, Aliette de Bodard (Uncanny)

The Scholar of the Bamboo Flute, Aliette de Bodard (Silk & Steel)

A Voyage to Queensthroat, Anya Johanna Deniro (Strange Horizons)

Aidan Doyle, The Tail of Genji (Robot Dinosaur Fiction)

A Feast from Tile and Stone, Ryan Eric Dull (BCS)

You and Whose Army?, Greg Egan (Clarkesworld)

Catherine George, Calling on Behalf of the Dark Lord (Translunar Travelers Lounge)

Exile’s End, Carolyn Ives Gilman (Tor.com)

Seams of Iron, Adriana C. Grigore (Common Bonds)

Essa Hansen, Save, Salve, Shelter (F&SF)

The Ransom of Miss Coraline Connelly, Alix E. Harrow (Fireside)

The Heart That Saves You May Be Your Own, Merrie Haskell (BCS)

A Tally of What Remains, R.Z. Held (BCS)

Claire Humphrey, We Are the Flower (Podcastle)

Words We Say Instead, Brit E. B. Hvide (Uncanny)

Born Again, Innocent Chizaram Ilo (Lolwe)

Innocent Chizaram Ilo, Rat and Finch Are Friends (Strange Horizons)

Alex Irvine, Chisel and Chime (F&SF)

Uncontrolled Variable, Sara Joiner (Her Magical Pet)

Fight Some Crime Or I’ll Tell Mom, Rachael K. Jones (Daily SF)

Nicole Kornher-Stace, Getaway (Uncanny)

Five Tips for Sealing Away an Ancient Evil, Ann LeBlanc (If There’s Anyone Left Vol. 1)

R. B. Lemberg, To Balance the Weight of Khalem (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

Story for a Bottle, Darcie Little Badger (Love After the End)

In the Salt Crypts of Ghiarelle, Jennifer Mace (Silk & Steel)

Saltwashed, Jennifer Mace (Uncanny)

Jennifer Mace, Upon What Soil They Fed (Syntax and Salt)

How to Burn Down the Hinterlands, Lyndsie Manusos (F&SF Nov/Dec)

Elinor Jones Vs. the Ruritanian Multiverse, Freya Marske (Silk & Steel)

Arkady Martine, A Being Together Amongst Strangers (Uncanny)

Yellow and the Perception of Reality, Maureen McHugh (Tor.com)

Devin Miller, Fox Red, Life Red, Teeth Like Snow (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

A Layer of Catherines, Elisabeth R. Moore (Strange Horizons)

Note to Self, Sunny Moraine (Lightspeed)

The Science and Artistry of Snake Oil Salesmanship, Timothy Mudie (BCS)

The Necessary Arthur, Garth Nix (Tor.com)

Aimee Ogden, Never a Butterfly, Nor a Moth With Moon-Painted Wings (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

Tony Pi, These Wondrous Sweets (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

Aimee Picchi, Advanced Word Problems in Portal Math (Daily SF)

C.L. Polk, St. Valentine, St. Abigail, St. Brigid (Tor.com)

How to Survive the Apocalypse for Native Girls, Kai Minosh Pyle (Love After the End)

Wherein Abigail Fields Recalls Her First Death and, Subsequently, Her Best Life, Rebecca Roanhorse (A Phoenix First Must Burn)

Emery Robin, Ambient and Isolated Effects of Fine Particulate Matter (Reckoning)

Ambrosia, Margaret Saunders (Fiyah No. 16)

Heard, Half-Heard, in the Stillness, Iona Datt Sharma (Anathema)

Waverly SM, The Last Good Time to Be Alive (Reckoning)

We’re Here, We’re Here, K.M. Szpara (Tor.com)

Margo Lai’s Guide to Dueling Unprepared, Alison Tam (Silk & Steel)

Allison Thai, Caring for Dragons and Growing a Flower (Podcastle)

Emma Törzs, High in the Clean Blue Air (Uncanny)

Together We Can Be More!, Juliette Wade (Analog Nov/Dec)

Fran Wilde, An Explorer’s Cartography of Already Settled Lands (Tor.com)

John Wiswell, Alien Invader or Assistive Device? (Robot Dinosaur Fiction)

John Wiswell, Gender and Other Faulty Software (Fireside)

Open House on Haunted Hill, John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots)

The Bottomless Martyr, John Wiswell (Uncanny)

John Wiswell, Tucking in the Nuclear Egg (Nature Futures)

Biologist Naming Privileges Revoked, Chloe Woods (Daily SF)

Late 2020 recommended stories

Please note that this is NOT REPEAT IT IS NOT my year in review post of recommended stories. That will come later (tomorrow, maybe, if I’m speedy; after if not). This is JUST what I enjoyed most from the short stuff I read in the late part of the year. Okay? okay good.

Anta Baku’s recent story project including/starting with Ian and the Beanstalk and The Emperor’s New Beth

On Safari in R’lyeh and Carcosa With Gun and Camera, Elizabeth Bear (Tor.com)

Enchanted Objects: Buy-Sell-Trade Group, YOU MUST BE APPROVED TO JOIN, Tina Connolly (Daily SF)

Five Quests and the Oracle, Pamela Dean (Her Magical Pet)

The Scholar of the Bamboo Flute, Aliette de Bodard (Silk & Steel)

A Feast from Tile and Stone, Ryan Eric Dull (BCS)

You and Whose Army?, Greg Egan (Clarkesworld)

Seams of Iron, Adriana C. Grigore (Common Bonds)

The Heart That Saves You May Be Your Own, Merrie Haskell (BCS)

A Tally of What Remains, R.Z. Held (BCS)

Words We Say Instead, Brit E. B. Hvide (Uncanny)

Born Again, Innocent Chizaram Ilo (Lolwe)

Uncontrolled Variable, Sara Joiner (Her Magical Pet)

Fight Some Crime Or I’ll Tell Mom, Rachael K. Jones (Daily SF)

Five Tips for Sealing Away an Ancient Evil, Ann LeBlanc (If There’s Anyone Left Vol. 1)

Story for a Bottle, Darcie Little Badger (Love After the End)

In the Salt Crypts of Ghiarelle, Jennifer Mace (Silk & Steel)

How to Burn Down the Hinterlands, Lyndsie Manusos (F&SF Nov/Dec)

Elinor Jones Vs. the Ruritanian Multiverse, Freya Marske (Silk & Steel)

A Layer of Catherines, Elisabeth R. Moore (Strange Horizons)

Note to Self, Sunny Moraine (Lightspeed)

The Science and Artistry of Snake Oil Salesmanship, Timothy Mudie (BCS)

How to Survive the Apocalypse for Native Girls, Kai Minosh Pyle (Love After the End)

Ambrosia, Margaret Saunders (Fiyah No. 16)

Heard, Half-Heard, in the Stillness, Iona Datt Sharma (Anathema)

Margo Lai’s Guide to Dueling Unprepared, Alison Tam (Silk & Steel)

Together We Can Be More!, Juliette Wade (Analog Nov/Dec)

The Bottomless Martyr, John Wiswell (Uncanny)

Biologist Naming Privileges Revoked, Chloe Woods (Daily SF)

2020 round-up post

I actually…did a lot this year. I really did. I didn’t do as much as I wanted to, but that’s a chorus I think you can all sing along with even if you know slightly different verses–and not just this year, every year. I don’t honestly put a lot of stock in the turning of the year, personally. I am more likely to make random day resolutions than New Year’s resolutions, and I did that this year, I did that a lot. I did “let’s try this” and “I want to be better about that.” Some of it even worked.

We pause to write a poem that might get posted here later if I get a chance. One of the things I’ve learned about myself and my writing process this year is that it’s not a good sign if there are several solid weeks when I’m not writing poems. That’s a marker of a bad time. I’ve had a few of those this year, as I know everyone else has too–but since I’m this new to writing poetry, it’s a little surprising to find it moving to that place in my writing practice. Huh. Well, okay. I have no idea whether it’ll still be like this after the pandemic, but that’s okay; I’ve cycled through enough variations in writing practice to know that it’s natural for things to vary, it’s natural for something to be crucial for a time and then completely unnecessary, or vice versa. We are not who we were, and that’s all right, that’s how life goes.

And speaking of things not as they were: I did a lot of revisions this year, and I avoided a lot of revisions by writing new things this year, so I expect I will do a lot of revisions next year. A lot. No, really, more than that. I like to have things at various stages of done so that I can work on something at any time, whether it’s research or planning/outlining or drafting or so many revisions.

I appeared on podcasts this year, and I participated in panels online, and I read two of my stories myself as podcasts, one of which will appear next year I guess. I’ve already got an author copy for something that will appear next year, and it’s not even the first something. I list twenty-two acceptances on my spreadsheet, which is pretty darn good actually. I’ll mark the reprints, poems, and essays below, otherwise it’s short stories all the way down. For now.

I’m really proud of the substance of these. I think it’s easy for this kind of year-end post to get caught up in quantity, but I am really proud of the things I managed to do and say with this work, and that’s the ballgame, that’s why I’m here. Thanks for still being here with me. I hope you enjoy this year’s work.

Every Tiny Tooth and Claw (Or: Letters from the First Month of the New Directorate),” Beneath Ceaseless Skies, January 2020.

Save Me a Seat on the Couch: Spoiler Culture, Inclusion, and Disability,” Uncanny, January 2020. (essay)

“Finding Their Footing (Chinese translation),” SF World, March 2020 (reprint)

Quality Control,” Toasted Cake, March 2020. (podcast reprint)

The Solace of Connection,” Reckoning Creativity and Coronavirus project, March 2020. (essay)

Loosestrife,” New Decameron Project, April 2020.

The Curse,” Daily Science Fiction, May 2020.

“Upside the Head,” Consolation Songs: Speculative Fiction for a Time of Coronavirus, edited by Iona Datt Sharma, June 2020. (reprint)

The Watercolors of Elfland,” New Decameron Project, June 2020.

Addison and Julia Tell the Truth to Pemmaquid Beach,” Daily Science Fiction, July 2020.

The Foolish Man Built His House Upon the Sand,” Nature Futures, July 2020.

This Will Not Happen To You (Spanish translation podcast),” Las Escritoras de Urras, July 2020. (reprint)

COVID Summer: After, Now,” Reckoning Creativity and Coronavirus project, July 2020. (poem)

COVID Summer: Against Dystopia,” Reckoning Creativity and Coronavirus project, July 2020. (poem)

Pre-Apocalyptic Meeting Minutes,” Mobius, Summer 2020. (poem)

“Fenrir and Sigyn, After Ragnarok,” Star*Line, Summer 2020. (poem)

After the Monster,” Daily Science Fiction, August 2020.

The Past, Like a River In Flood,” Beneath Ceaseless Skies, August 2020.

The Swarm of Giant Gnats I Sent After Kent, My Assistant Manager,” Translunar Travelers Lounge, August 2020.

Press Play,” Nature Futures, September 2020.

The Roots of Hope: Toward an Optimistic Near-Future SF in a Pandemic,” Uncanny, September 2020. (essay)

“The Thing, With Feathers,” The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror Vol. 1, October 2020. (reprint)

“We Care,” If There’s Anyone Left Vol. 1, November 2020.

“Peaceweaver,” Analog, Nov/Dec 2020.

“Grief, As Faithful As My Hound,” Asimov’s, Nov/Dec 2020. Podcast version read by me!

Old Age Wrestles Thor Again,” Daily SF, December 2020.

“My Favorite Sentience,” We, Robots, December 2020. (reprint)

Thor and more

New story this morning! Old Age Wrestles Thor Again on Daily SF. In the Prose Edda we see Thor wrestling an old woman called Elli who turns out to be Old Age personified, and…they can’t quite quit each other. Hope you enjoy!

And an old story this morning! My story “My Favorite Sentience” is among the stories reprinted in the anthology We, Robots, available in the UK and Canada.

We Care

I got my author copy of If There’s Anyone Left Vol 1 today: https://amazon.com/dp/B08NR9QYJK/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0…… Can’t wait to dive into the other stories! But let me say something about mine a minute.

There are a lot of stories about good people being ground down by heartless systems. And that’s a real thing that happens. But I feel like when that’s the only story we tell, it feels inevitable. We get nihilistic about it. “Good person destroyed by bad system, of course!” There’s also the template of good people being corrupted by the systems they’re in. That happens too.

But I wanted to tell a story that was the opposite. I don’t believe that evil is stronger than good. I believe our kindness can be effective.

This is one of those stories.

Anyway it’s pretty short, and I hope you like it. It’s called “We Care.” And I can’t wait to see what the other stories in this beautiful little volume have to say.

Writing About Love and Grief and Aliens

This week our furnace went out and we had to buy a new one. You can see this in the screenshot from the Zoom I had to record a podcast: I am wrapped in my giant red plaid shawl, the one my brother gave me last Christmas. Katie, my agentsib, is in Los Angeles in a sleeveless top with lacework. Welp.

Anyway, the literal house was the only thing chilly, the rest of the podcast was a very warm and friendly experience, and I hope you enjoy listening to it.