sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
It's time for my approximately-annual short story recommendation list, wherein I tell you about ten stories I read in the last year that I think are particularly worth reading, and link you to them. I've been reading more short stories of late so keeping the list to only ten was particularly hard this time!

Without further ado, here's some stories to read:

1. Who Will Greet You At Home, by Lesley Nneka Arimah
A story about how babies are made out of physical materials and the blessings of your mother, and the lengths to which people will go to have a baby. Strange and sad and disturbing.

2. Probably Still the Chosen One, by Kelly Barnhill
At 11 years old, Corrina was the Chosen One in a land through a secret portal only she could access. Then she's left behind in this world, expecting at any moment to be called back. It's a great look at, among other things, how the political situation you're thrown into looks very different when you're eleven than when you're an adult. I love this sort of deconstruction of tropes.

3. Seasons of Glass and Iron, by Amal El-Mohtar
In which the heroines of two fairy tales (the princess on the glass mountain, and the girl who has to walk through seven pairs of iron shoes) help each other see how terribly they've been treated. What an excellent way of doing a fairy-tale mash-up!

4. Suradanna and the Sea, by Rebecca Fraimow
I love this story so much! The worldbuilding is incredible, and the characterization, and the relationship between the main characters, and basically everything. I'll borrow a description from the author of what this story's about: "Trade routes, magical fertilizer, and one girl's centuries-long effort to impress a woman who is already in a committed relationship with a boat."

5. The Nalendar, by Ann Leckie
Leckie has written a number of short stories that all take place in the same world, broadly speaking. You can tell which stories these are by the gods. I love all these stories (so interesting!), but decided to rec The Nalendar in particular. This story is about a woman who makes an agreement with an untrustworthy small god who's after something.

6. Extracurricular Activities, by Yoon Ha Lee
This one is a fun space adventure story! (Yes I am in fact capable of enjoying and recommending straightforward adventure stories, even if you wouldn't guess it based on the other kinds of things I tend to rec....)

7. The Wreck at Goat's Head, by Alexandra Manglis
About a free-diver in the Mediterranean, one of the last remaining in the 21st century. A lovely story of grief and loss and living, and I like how well-grounded it is in its setting.

8. And Then There Were (N-One), by Sarah Pinsker
In which Sarah Pinsker is invited to a convention of multiverses of Sarah Pinskers, and then one of the Sarahs is murdered at the convention. A delightful premise, and a really interesting story.

9. The Dark Birds, by Ursula Vernon
The degree to which this story is horrifying creeps up on you the further you get - it's really effectively done. It's the story of a family where the ogre father eats his daughters, as told from the pov of the current baby of the family.

10. Utopia, LOL?, by Jamie Wahls
A man awakes from cryofreeze in the far future, and we see his introduction to this new world via the pov of his Tour Guide to the Future, who is easily-distractable and alarmingly enthusiastic. This story is weird and incredible and I was very surprised to be having feelings by the end given how much I was giggling through most of the story. I love it.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
My short story rec list I made last summer has had a small surge in notes again recently, and every time I am reminded of that post's existence I am made happy again. I should do another such rec list! Maybe I should do one every year.

So here's another ten recommended short stories where only two are written by men.

(For the record, last time the authors consisted of seven women, one nonbinary person, and two men. The numbers turned out to be the same this time too.)

And somehow I neglected to mention last time around that all the stories I was reccing were sff but they were. That is once again the case! I love sff so much.

Here we go:

1. Soteriology And Stephen Greenwood: The Role of Salus in the Codex Lucis, by Julia August
So this story is written as a series of emails between various academics and also a young woman named Cara who has found an important historic artefact but has very different priorities with respect to the translation of it that she's asked for help with. I love the juxtaposition between academia and Cara, and how we the readers can figure out what's going on with Cara because we're genre readers, while the academic she's in contact with is mostly just baffled and frustrated by her.

2. The Comet, by W.E.B. Du Bois
This is an early work of Afrofuturism, written nearly a century ago (in 1920), and it's fascinating as a look at the ideas of the time. It's about a black man and a white woman who are the only survivors in New York of the deadly gas from the passing of a comet.

3. First Do No Harm, by Jonathan Edelstein
In the far future in south-central Africa, Mutende is studying to be a doctor, but is frustrated by the lack of innovation allowed. I love how grounded and immersive the story is in its setting!

4. Madeleine, by Amal El-Mohtar
Madeleine, dealing with the grief of losing her mother, is part of an experimental drug program. She has an odd reaction, with strangely intense flashbacks to her past. And then a girl named Zainab starts showing up in these flashbacks, and unlike everything else, Madeleine knows Zainab was never actually part of her memories and childhood. I really enjoy the relationship that develops between Madeleine and Zainab, and I love the ending of the story!

5. Further Arguments in Support of Yudah Cohen’s Proposal to Bluma Zilberman, by Rebecca Fraimow
The story consists of a letter from Yudah to the object of his affection, outlining exactly why he's such a catch. And this story is so charming? Like, Yudah's convinced me! I'd marry him, if I were Bluma!

6. The Scrape of Tooth and Bone, by Ada Hoffmann
Alternate-19th-century dinosaur fossil wars! OBVIOUSLY I WAS ALL OVER THIS. And it's so great, really lives up to this excellent premise! I was delighted.

7. Hunting Monsters, by S.L. Huang
Combines several different fairy tale elements into a coherent whole that gives me SO MANY FEELINGS ugh. It's a story, and complicated histories, and what to do when people aren't quite who you thought they were.

8. So Much Cooking, by Naomi Kritzer
The chronicles of a family dealing with a major epidemic as told through a food blog. Such a neat premise and very well executed, I was impressed. But also the story was really good at just making me care super lots about every single character in it.

9. Grandmother-Nai-Leylit's Cloth of Winds, by Rose Lemberg
A secondary-world fantasy with absolutely wonderful worldbuilding. I love the different way of doing family structure in this culture, and the ways in which almost all of the major characters have difficulty in one way or another fitting into expectations. It's lovely and I want to read five million more words of it. (It's already the longest story on this list so that's saying something.)

10. The Six Swans, by Mallory Ortberg
Back when the Toast was still running, Ortberg had a semi-regular series called "Children's Stories Made Horrific". This story is one of those, and it's AMAZING. By far the best of the lot, imo. Worth being read as a story, not just as a humour column like a lot of the others were. It's a retelling of the fairy tale by the same name, but with emphasis placed on various horrible things that the original takes for granted, and I as a fairy tale nerd was super duper here for everything this story chose to do. And I'm pretty sure people who aren't such fairy tale nerds would like it too!
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
Recently on tumblr I saw a list of "10 captivating short stories" being recommended, and there were just as many stories by Isaac Asimov on the list as there were stories by women. Come on. Really?

So I decided to even things up and do a recs list of ten short stories featuring only two male authors and eight authors of other genders.

This was not hard! There's lots of great short stories written by people who aren't dudes, available to read online for free. The only hard part was narrowing my list down. (Also writing descriptions of each. I'm really bad at pithy enticing nonspoilery descriptions. My apologies for the below. I did my best.)

Here you go:

1. Never the Same, by Polenth Blake
Set on another planet on a colony that isn't thriving, exploring the family stuff of the main character at the same time as exploring the reason for the colony's difficulties. It's complicated and unsettling in the best kind of ways, and has a wonderfully interesting main character.

2. The Perseverance of Angela's Past Life, by Zen Cho
I figure at this point I have recced my favourite Zen Cho story (The House of Aunts!) often enough that it's time to take a break and recommend other Zen Cho stories because she has SO MANY good stories because she's a brilliant writer; her stories are never a disappointment. This one is about dealing with an overly-literal past version of yourself who you thought you'd left behind, and it is lovely.

3. The Cage, by A.M. Dellamonica
Look it's the canadian lesbian activist community werewolf baby story of my heart. IT'S BASICALLY THE BEST.

4. The Tempting: A Love Story, by James Alan Gardner
Definitely one of the weirder stories on this list, and I love it for that. I haven't reread it in a while and I don't actually remember the plot? Haha like I ever read for plot anyways. AT ANY RATE this is a deeply interesting story and I recommend it! or it wouldn't be on this list, obviously.

5. The Bride In Furs, by Layla Lawlor
An excellent fairy-tale-ish story, with a good fairy tale feel, that is all about ladies, aww yeah. INTO IT.

6. The Lady Astronaut of Mars, by Mary Robinette Kowal
It's about an aging famous astronaut who's been wanting another opportunity to venture into space for years. What a good everything. I cried and it was amazing.

7. Burning Girls, by Veronica Schanoes
Let me go with the official description because it's better than what I could come up with: This story "is a fascinating dark fantasy novella about a Jewish girl educated by her grandmother as a healer and witch growing up in an increasingly hostile environment in Poland in the late nineteenth century. In addition to the natural danger of destruction by Cossacks, she must deal with a demon plaguing her family." YEAH. And it's REALLY GOOD.

8. Sauerkraut Station, by Ferrett Steinmetz
Little House on the Prairie in space, is more or less its hook, and it IS that but it is also a million times better than that makes it sound. I had a lot of feelings.

9. Jackalope Wives, by Ursula Vernon
Ursula Vernon won a Nebula for this! And with good reason, holy crap. I mean I love every word Ursula Vernon ever puts down on page or screen but this is definitely a particularly good piece of Ursula Vernon's words. It's... I don't know, it's a fairy-tale-ish story with a strong sense of character and of place, and about identity and about making hard decisions. And stuff. I'm bad at one-sentence plot teasers!

10. Sleeper, by Jo Walton
The official summary: "History is a thing we make—in more senses than one. And from more directions." YEAH. This story starts off slowly but is totally worth the read! It's about a woman in the future writing a biography of a man from the 20th century who had secrets.


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