Posted on Leave a comment

Award Eligibility 2023

The year feels like a bit of a blur in many ways; it’s hard to believe it’s almost over. Regardless, in 2023, I did manage to publish five short stories, eligible in the short story/short fiction category for all the usual awards. Take a look if you’re so inclined, and thank you if you do!

The Dark House

Back then, the Dark House was at once vastly different and undeniably the same. It was smaller, scarcely more than a single-room shack. At the same time, the seams were visible, the place where the addition would be grafted on to grow the house into the one Benson had obsessively photographed. The outline of the later house was already there to my eye, visible long before it had ever been conceived. The house in 1939 was the skull, and the extension Benson had built was the skin around it.

Published at in March 2023

Shoes as Red as Blood

Hunger and sorrow, that’s what the shoes are, and they wake echoes of revulsion and desire as Nessa looks at them. Red as crushed berries and good wine, pomegranate hearts and winter-ripe plums. The shoes are the key to everything. If she puts them on, she will dance without pain. She will push herself farther than she ever could otherwise, all the way to an audience with the prince, to a spot in the Royal Company, to fortune and fame.

Published in Twice Cursed in April 2023

Manic Pixie Girl

The boy on the bed looks like someone carried him high into the air and dropped him a very long way down. Sunlight and shadow dissect him, a magician’s trick separating him into boxes. See his limbs (bent the wrong way) over here; see his neck (never mind the angle) over there; look at his eyes (wide open in surprise) over there. Blink once to let us know you’re okay.

Published in The Other Side of Never in May 2023

Carcossa! The Musical

The hairs along his arm prickle. He sweeps his hand back and forth. No teeth close, no hand grabs his own to pull him into the dark. His fingers meet a shape, a book. He pulls it free and rolls onto his back. A lurid yellow cover so faded by the touch of countless finger that it takes Desmond a moment to register the image of a skull surrounded with sharp rays of light. Or maybe it’s a crown. Craquelure – a fancy word for the cheap paper fracturing with age. He likes the way it sounds, sloshing the word from one side to side in his brain.

Published in What Draws Us Near in May 2023

Death is a Diner at 3 a.m.

You die in the stupidest way possible, slipping off a ladder while scooping leaves out of the gutter, the wet, mulchy scent of them the last thing you ever smell. You land just wrong, and as you do, you imagine your mother—smoke trailing from the cigarette wedged between the first and second fingers of her left hand, no words, just the look of perpetual disappointment she had for you ever since you turned ten years old, like everything about you and every choice you made from that point on would always and forever be wrong.

Published in The Deadlands in July 2023

Posted on 6 Comments

What Have You Done? What Have You Loved? 2023 Edition

It’s that time of year again – award eligibility posts are popping up around the various scattered corners of the internet, and readers are starting to reflect on their favorite works of the past year. Every year for the past several years, I’ve assembled a links round-up post of eligibility posts, recommended reading posts, and general helpful links and resources.

If you’re an author, editor, or publisher and you have such a post, either of your own work or work you’ve loved this year, please do send your link my way and I’ll add it to the list. Feel free to drop it in the comments, or email me at

If you’re an author, editor, publisher, or creator with award eligible work, and you’re on the fence about putting together a post, I highly encourage you to do it. It’s a valuable way to reflect on what you did in the past year, not to mention letting others know what work you have out there and in what categories your work is eligible. There’s so much work published each year, it’s hard to keep up, so it never hurts to remind people what you’ve done.

I’ll be putting together my own eligibility post at some point, as well as my usual recommended reading posts. I’ll also be updating this post frequently with new links as I find or receive them. In the meantime, browse the links below, check out the fantastic work that’s been published in 2023, and send your own link my way!

General Award Info and Resource Links

Hugo Awards

Locus Awards

Nebula Awards

Science Fiction Awards Database

Shirley Jackson Awards

Stoker Awards

Recommended Reading Links

Barnes & Noble Best Books of 2023

Book Riot Books of the Year

Books Are My Bag Readers’ Award 2023

CBC Best Canadian Books of 2023

Foyles Book of the Year Shortlist

Library Journal Best Horror of 2023

Bonnie McDaniel Recommended Reads

Lyndsie Manusos Favorite Reads of 2023

NPR Best Books of 2023

New York Public Library Best Books of 2023

New York Times Best Books of 2023

Publishers Lunch Top 10 Books of 2023

Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year

Slate Best Books of 2023

Waterstones Book of the Year Shortlist

Wallstreet Journal Best Books of 2023

Waterstones Books of the Year

Author/Editor/Publisher Eligibility Post Links

Apex Magazine

Arther, Azure

Atthis Arts

Ayala, V.M.

Baldwin, Joaquin

Barb, Patrick

Bell, E.D.E.

Bernardo, Renan

Blackwell, Laura

Bleeding Edge Books

Buchanan, Andi C.

Burnett, Emma

Campbell, Tara

Canas, Isabel

Carruth, Katrina

Case, Stephen

Chandrasekera, Vajra

Chang, Myna

Chng, Joyce

Chou, Vivian

Christopolou, Danai

Clark, Chloe N.

Cornell, P.A.

Criley, Marc A.

Croal, Lyndsey

de Winter, Gunnar

Daley, Ray

Das, Indrapramit

Datlow, Ellen

Deal, Ef

Dosser, Max

Duckworth, Jonathan Louis

Dunato, Jelena

Duncan, RK

Emelumadu, Chikodili

Emem Harry, Gabrielle

Feldman, Stephanie

Fiyah Magazine

Fogg, Vanessa

Fusion Fragment

Gale, Ephiny

Gammon, Jendia

Glover, Jenna

Goldfuss, A.L.

Ha, Thomas

Haber, Elad

Hanson, Josh

Heartfield, Kate

Heijndermans, Joachim

Henry, Veronica G.

Hexagon Magazine

Howell, A.P.

Holloway, Dee

Holloway, Verity

Hudson, Andrew Dana

Hugo Eligibility Spreadsheet

Hurtado, Ana

Jordan, Latoya

Joseph, R.J.

Kemske, Abigail

Kim, Isabel J.

Kotowych, Stephen

Kurella, Jordan

Kuriata, Chris

Lafountaine, Keith

Levato, Francesco

Liu, Angela

Lockwood, Ben

Louzon, Monica

Low, P.H.

McIvor, Katie

Mcleod, Lindz

Manusos, Lyndsie

Marken Jack, Ariel

Mingault, Reed

Mohamed, Premee

Mote, Rajiv

Nogle, Christi

Pattanaik, Mandira

Peacock, Dan

Pearce, C.H.

Pichette, Marisca

Pladek, B.

Rappaport, Jenny Rae

Ren, Melissa

Reynolds, Jeff

Roanhorse, Rebecca

Rose, Camden

Rosenberg, Zachary

Saxey, E.

Schaeffer, Kathleen

Seidel, Alexandra

Sheffer, Marguerite

Space Cowboy Books

Stewart, Andrea G.

Sulaiman, Sonia

Syringa, J.

Talabi, Wole

Ten, Kristina

Three-Lobed Burning Eye Magazine

Toase, Steve

Treasure, Rebecca

Triantafyllou, Eugenia

Uncanny Magazine

Undertow Books

Victoria, Ricardo

Wilde, Fran

Wiswell, John

Wolverton, Nicole M.

Yeager Rodriguez, Karlo

Yoakeim, Ramez

Posted on Leave a comment

World Fantasy Convention 2023

I’m at the World Fantasy Convention in Kansas City this weekend. I’ve posted about my experience being one of the judges for the awards this year, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to talk about it in person during the judges’ panel. Along with that panel, I’m on a few other program items as well. Here are the official places you can find me.

Apex Publishing Group Reading – Friday at 2p.m – Reading Room 1/Chouteau A

Marie Croke, Beth Dawkins, Izzy Wasserstein, and I will read from Apex-published work, hosted by Leah Ning.

Gothic Horror and Ghost Stories – Friday at 3p.m. – Atlanta/New York

We all love a good spooky story, or at least most of us do. But what exactly is it that draws us to this type of horror? What are the elements that make the subgenre tick?

Brenda Carre (M), Tananarive Due, Adam-Troy Castro, A.C. Wise, Donald McCarthy

Mass Autograph Reception – Friday at 8p.m. – Ballroom Foyer

Sexual & Erotic Horror – Saturday at 10p.m. – Atlanta/New York

Sex and horror have been thematically intertwined since time immemorial. This discussion will explore the differences between sexual and erotic horror, what makes them so effective in storytelling, and how we can use those themes to explore our fears and our own dark sides in a structured way.

A.C. Wise (M), Penelope Flynn, Chris M. Arnone

World Fantasy Award Banquet/World Fantasy Award Presentation – Sunday at 1p.m. – Atlanta/New York

World Fantasy Award Judges Panel – Sunday at 4 p.m. – Atlanta/New York

Following the WFA Ceremony, the judges will discuss this year’s award process and answer questions.

Ginny Smith, A.C. Wise, Kelly Robson, Ian Whates

That’s where I’ll be officially this weekend. Other than that, I’m hoping to explore the city a bit, and maybe even try some Kansas City BBQ. If you’re at the con this weekend as well, say hi!

Posted on Leave a comment

Capclave 2023

September 29-October 1, I’ll be attending Capclave in Rockville, MD. I consider Capclave my “home con”, and do my best to attend every year. It’s a laidback, reader-focused con attended by lovely folks saying smart things about the genre. There’s good food to be had nearby and a patio perfect for sitting outside and catching up with friends. What more could you want?

Here’s where you’ll be able to find me throughout the weekend.

State of Horror – Saturday – 10 a.m. – Washington Theater

Panelists: A.C. Wise (Moderator), Hildy Silverman, Jorie Rao, Randy Dawn, Sunny Moraine

It is a good time to be a horror fan. The genre is drawing bigger audiences while gaining interest even from those who normally shy away from the dark side. Panelists take a look at the current mainstreaming of horror in books, movies, TV, and games. What makes horror so interesting right now and where is it going? How are creators bringing in new fans or reviving common mythologies and horror tropes?

How to Change Your Reading Diet – Saturday – 11:30 a.m. – Washington Theater

Panelists: Mary G. Thompson (Moderator), Irette Y. Patterson, Michael Dirda, Sarah Avery, A.C. Wise

Reading ruts happen! Panelists discuss the best ways to diversify your reading habits to find new gems and genres that you’ll love next. Where can you find new sources for your TBR list? What are tips for sifting through new titles to find something you love? How many pages should you give a book or story before moving on?

Modern Book Bans – Sunday – 10 a.m. – Eisenhower

Panelists: Jeanne Adams (Moderator), Andy Duncan, Mark Roth, Sam Lubell, A.C. Wise

There has been an alarming trend of censoring and banning books in public libraries and schools often targeting LGBTQ, Black, and Latine stories and authors. Banned Book Week, a campaign promoted by the American Library Association and Amnesty International, starts on Sunday, October 1st. Who is behind the current book bans? How can we support the freedom to seek and to express ideas in our public spaces? Are there books that should be banned or have limited access?

Author Reading – Sunday – 11 a.m. – Monroe

Me! Reading! Something! Maybe even out loud. Possibly with chocolate on hand to bribe people into staying.

The full schedule for the convention can be found here.

Posted on Leave a comment

More Favorites Reads of 2022: Reflections of a World Fantasy Judge

A stack of speculative fiction books published in 2022, against a backdrop of bookshelves.

I’m honored to have served as one of the World Fantasy Award judges this year, considering works of horror and fantasy originally published in 2022. It was an incredible experience, and I’m truly grateful to all my fellow judges, all the authors, publishers, and editors who sent work out way, the World Fantasy Award board members, and all the members of the World Fantasy Convention(s) who voted for their favorites this year. It was a lot of work, but absolutely worthwhile in terms of putting work on my radar that I’d missed, and giving me an opportunity to catch up on things I’d meant to read but hadn’t gotten around to yet. If you ever have the opportunity to be a judge, and you have the bandwidth to do so, I highly recommend it!

This year’s ballot was recently released. Congratulations to all the finalists! At the risk of repeating myself – thank you again to everyone who sent work our way to consider. I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to read your work, and I’m even delighted that you made our job so incredibly hard!

There was so much phenomenal art, fiction, and non-fiction published last year. We could have easily filled a finalist ballot twice as long, or even longer. To that end, I wanted to highlight some additional personal favorite reads from 2022 that I came across during the judging process, including some that did make the final ballot. They are all amazing as far as I’m concerned, and I would love for people to read them! These recommendations are on top of the favorite short stories, novels and novellas, anthologies and collections, and novelettes that I already posted about at the end of last year and the beginning of this year.

Ready? In no particular order, here we go!


Breakable Things by Cassandra Khaw

This collection has received a good deal of buzz this year, including winning the Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Collection, and the buzz is well-deserved. The collection is full of dark, gorgeous writing, and a perfect opportunity to get a sense of Khaw’s voice if you haven’t read their work before.

A Study in Ugliness & Outras Historias by H. Pueyo

An incredibly dark and occasionally downright brutal collection. The stories aren’t always an easy read, but I found all of them worthwhile, even when they hurt. As an extra bonus, each story is offered in both English and Portuguese. One of the standouts for me was “Rabbit’s Foot”, exploring friendship turned vicious, what it means to belong, and the pressure to go along and not make trouble in order to be considered “one of the good ones”. It’s terrifying and rings terrifyingly true.

How to See Ghosts and Other Figments by Orrin Grey

I’m absolutely a sucker for tales of old Hollywood, classic movie monsters, uncanny video games, and stories that explore the eerie possibilities of other artistic mediums like music, painting, poetry, and so on. Grey hits a lot of my fictional favorites in this collection, and overall the collection is full of pleasingly weird and uneasy tales.

The Black Maybe by Attila Veres (Translated by Luca Karafiath)

Attila Veres is a Hungarian author who hadn’t previously be on my radar, and now absolutely will be going forward. This collection was a finalist for the Stoker Award this year, and with good cause. The stories tend to the surreal, with hints of cosmic horror. A particular favorite of mine was “The Time Remaining”, about a child’s toy that becomes inextricably linked with their grandmother’s death, effectively blending a building horror with an exploration of loss and guilt.

Song of the Mango and Other New Myths by Vida Cruz-Borja

This is a lovely collection by an author whose work I enjoy, giving me a chance to revisit stories and discover new ones. Many of Cruz-Borja’s stories have a fairy-tale like feel, blending elements of mythology and fantasy into the real world. In an overall strong collection, two stories that stood out to me in particular were “Blushing Blue”, where two sisters use tattoo magic to try to bring back their dead mother, and “Ink: A Love Story”, a meta fictional piece about two writers trying to write their perfect partner into existence, with quite dark and unsettling undertones.

All Our Hearts Are Ghosts by Peter Atkins

An overall strong collection, with stories ranging from weird noir, to a quiet and touching story about a ghost who doesn’t yet realize she’s a ghost, and everything in between. Definitely worth checking out.


The Bruising of Qilwa by Naseem Jamnia

I’d heard so many good things about this novella, and it did not disappoint. The voice is fantastic, and the worldbuilding intricate and incredibly well done. There’s a satisfying mystery at the heart of the story, which blends perfectly with the fantastical elements and the system of magic. The characters are complex and nuanced, and they have beautifully complicated relationships with each other. The story also provides a thoughtful exploration of gender, different experiences of euphoria/dysphoria, different experiences of what it means to be an immigrant, what it means to belong to a culture, systems of power, and the way violence and oppression can be passed on. Overall, a really lovely and worthwhile read.

Radcliffe Hall by Miyuki Jane Pinckard

This novella was published in Uncanny Magazine, and is free to read online. It’s got some wonderfully Gothic vibes, set in a boarding school whose grounds are being haunted by a former student who died under mysterious circumstances. The main character is recruited into a society with a deep interest in Spiritualism, and soon discovers both the society’s racist undertones and their nefarious motives. The characters are wonderful and the relationships between them well-done. It’s fast-paced and even at novella-length, it reads quickly and smoothly online.

Kid Wolf and Kraken Boy by Sam J. Miller

I always love Sam J. Miller’s work, and this was no exception. Set in 1920s New York in the world of boxing, with a healthy dose of tattoo magic, double and triple-crosses in the criminal underground, and a very sweet love story to boot. Its delightfully queer and sets up a lovely alternate world build on hope and marginalized people dismantling capitalism and fascism.

The Dirty Golden Yellow House by Debbie Urbanski

This one might fall under the category of novelette, depending on who’s asking, but either way, it’s free to read online at Lightspeed Magazine and worth your time, though it is a dark read dealing with difficult subject matter. The main character turns to the supernatural in order to cope the abuse and marital rape, which no one seems willing to believe that she’s experiencing. A painful look at power dynamics and the limited options available to people in abusive relationships, exploring what constitutes “love” and “need” and who is expected to give way in a relationship despite their own feelings.

And Then I Woke Up by Malcolm Devlin

A smoothly-written and dark novella that explores the power of stories to shape reality, while also playing with the idea of unreliable narrators. The story can be read as a unique twist on the zombie trope, a pandemic story, a political metaphor, or all of the above, as a plague of violence sweeps the nation and people are locked away for their own good until they recover from their beliefs.

Tread of Angels by Rebecca Roanhorse

A novella with distinct weird west vibes that also explores classism in a town below a hill where the remains of a dead god are mined and those with fallen blood are shunned. Fantastic worldbuilding and great characters, who are faced with complex choices, while they also work to solve the novella’s central murder mystery.

Of Charms, Ghosts, and Grievances by Aliette de Bodard

This novella is set in the world of the author’s Dominion of the Fallen series, but the story stands well on its own. Thuan, a dragon prince, and his fallen angel husband, are caught up in a mystery when they discover the ghost of a child haunting a temple. They don’t exactly see eye to eye when it comes to the dead, especially those who can only survive by feeding off the living, and solving the mystery tests their relationship, while also putting them, their friends, and their family in danger. Gorgeous worldbuilding, fantastic characters, and evocative writing – definitely worth the read even if this is your first time encountering the author’s Dominion of the Fallen world.


The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield

A gorgeously-written and richly-detailed alternate history, set in 1760s Europe, focused primarily on two of the daughters of the Hapsburg emperor, whose lives are ruled by their mother’s expectations of them – that they marry kings and strengthen their family’s position. Charlotte and Antoine (known as Marie Antoinette in France) came into possession of an embroidered book of spells as young girls, and have secretly been using magic ever since to better their lives and subtly influence the course of history. Heartfield does wonderful things with the idea of “small” magics that effect big changes, showing the subtle ways women of the time might exercise power and control, while also doing a wonderful job with the impossible situation the sisters are put in, their complex relationships, and the choices they must make with limited information and opportunity. With all the history, magic, complex politics, and the deeply human characters, even at 600+ pages, the story never bogs down. The novel feels truly epic, and I could have happily kept reading when I reached the end.

The Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings

The Ballad of Perilous Graves is set in an alternate New Orleans, full of music, magic, living songs, ghosts, zombies, super-powered children, and walking graffiti. (So possibly actually New Orleans and not alternate at all, if you know where to look, but I digress.) This is a fantastic novel in all senses of the word, bursting with energy, and taking unexpected twists and turns. The titular Perilous Graves, along with his sister Brendy, and their neighbor, Peaches, is caught up in a mystery/adventure/life-threatening quest, when someone begins kidnapping famous songs and taking them out of the world. An unexpected family legacy is revealed, spirits are consulted and confronted, and reality turns out to be not at all what any of them believed. I remain in awe of how much Jennings fit into one book, and how it all works perfectly together to form a rich, swirling, mosaic tapestry to snap the reader up and carry them along – just like a proper New Orleans parade.

The World We Make by N.K. Jemisin

This is the sequel/conclusion to the story started in The City We Became, so it doesn’t stand alone, but both novels are absolutely worth reading. The boroughs of New York, recently awoken living embodiments of their neighborhoods, along with the avatar of New York as a whole, pick up their fight against an incursion of Lovecraftian cosmic horror. The speculative fiction element works perfectly alongside a story about both overt and subtle racism, city politics, fighting for your neighborhood, and the people who truly have your back. The characters are wonderful, and their relationships and lives are made more complex this time around. The creepy white tendrils of cosmic horror remain effective, and it’s fun getting to see even more of the city-avatars from around the world as they’re inevitably drawn into the fight.

The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah

I’ll admit that this one took me a little while to get into, but it did end up hooking me with its gorgeous, lush descriptions, and the way new facets of the characters were revealed over the course of the novel. The story centers on a merchant-thief, travelling with her djinn bodyguard, and a prince who is tired of his life confined to the royal palace and wants to see the world. They both get caught up in a search for a dangerous and coveted magical relic, uncertain who can be trusted, and trying desperately to keep the artifact out of the wrong hands. The novel is beautifully-written, and I appreciate the way the characters are deepened, interconnected histories are revealed, and the truth about the powerful relics is uncovered, over the course of the story. This is the first book of a trilogy, and I look forward to reading the rest.

To Catch a Moon by Rym Kechacha

This novel took me by surprise, not being on my radar at all, and having no idea what to expect when I picked it up. What I found was a series of lovely, interwoven stories, moving fluidly through time, nesting one inside the other, and creating a wonderfully elaborate mythology, while also telling a satisfying tale. The framing narrative starts with a painter who accidentally create an entire world, and the bulk of the novel tells the epic story of that world, the flow of its history and the interconnected lives of its characters. It’s hard to describe properly, but it’s truly beautifully-written, and well worth a read.

Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher

Pretty much anything by T. Kingfisher is worth the read in my opinion. Nettle & Bone nods to several fairy tales without being a direct adaptation of any particular fairy tale. It’s dark and it’s bloody. There is a series of seemingly impossible tasks that need to be undertaken, including weaving a cloak of nettles and building a dog out of bones. There are fairy godmothers – fearful and powerful creatures whose blessings (or curses, depending on your perspective) can shape the fate of an entire realm. The prose is lush and the characters are wonderful, and overall its a quick and highly-satisfying read.

Wrath Goddess Sing by Maya Deane

This is another novel that wasn’t on my radar and took me pleasantly by surprise. An alternate telling of the Iliad and the battle of Troy, centered on Achilles, a trans woman imbued with the power of the gods, who becomes a battleground in an of herself as divine influences seek to sway her to their cause. The descriptions of battle are sharp, the writing gorgeous, and the characters are wonderfully-drawn. It feels simultaneously epic and intimate, like reading a secret, hidden history of what really went down in the Trojan War.

Passerthrough by Peter Rock

Yet another novel that wasn’t on my radar, which pleasantly surprised me. This probably isn’t the book for people who like concrete answers, or narratives that wrap everything up at the end. Uneasiness is the name of the game here, with readers thrown directly into a highly uncertain situation, as Benjamin tries to piece together his memories of his daughter’s mysterious disappearance 25 years ago. Helen was gone for a full week, reappearing several miles away from the campsite where she vanished, with no explanation, displaying behavior at the time that might almost be called possession. It’s very possible that Helen touched another world when she vanished, and it’s also possible that her disappearance was Benjamin’s fault. The whole novel has a surreal and uncanny feel about it, evoking real-life stories of unexplained disappearances, particularly those blamed on faeries. It’s a quick read, and worth the time for fans of the strange, unexplained, and unsettling.

The Spear Cuts Through Water by Simon Jimenez

I can truly say that I’ve never read a novel structured in quite this way before, but it absolutely works. The point of view flows seamlessly from character to character throughout this dense, epic secondary world fantasy. The story moves backward and forward through time, with a framing narrative of a character recalling the stories their grandmother told them about the Old Country, a realm of gods, magic, warriors, and horrors. The focus dips in and out of the narrative within the narrative, with the worlds overlapping occasionally and informing each other. There are interjections throughout both narratives that function almost like a Greek chorus, giving an alternate perspective on events as they occur. It could be distracting, but it absolutely works, creating a story that is rich, layered, detailed, and breathtaking. My description likely isn’t doing it justice. Just go read it. It’s dark and lush and queer and beautiful and I’m in awe of how the whole thing comes together.

Saint Death’s Daughter by C.S.E. Cooney

Speaking of dark and lush and queer and beautiful, Saint Death’s Daughter by C.S.E. Cooney is all of those as well. Lainie Stones is a necromancer from a line of executioners and torturers who happens to be deathly allergic to violence, which is highly inconvenient given her heritage and line of work. She also happens to be favored by the goddess of Death, and sought after by the Blackbird Bride and all her wizards, making violence hard to avoid as she seeks to protect herself and her family. The worldbuilding is gorgeous and intricate, and reading the novel is like eating a sumptuous dessert. Saint Death’s Herald, the sequel, was just announced, and I absolutely can’t wait to read it!

Spear by Nicola Griffith

This is a quick read, but a very worthwhile one, as Griffith spins a fresh take on Arthurian legend, centered on Peretur (Percival), a young woman raised alone in a cave by her mother who eventually ventures out to seek her fortune in Caer Leon and the service of King Artos. It’s a wonderful queer reimagining that like Wrath Goddess Sing feels like reading a true secret history of well-known stories. As an extra bonus, it’s also gorgeously illustrated by Rovina Cai whose work is always stunning.

So there you have my further recommendations and favorite reads from 2022. And these books only represent a fraction of the incredible volume of work published last year, so much of which is fun and amazing and delightful and absolutely worth your time to read.

One thing that going through the judging process for the World Fantasy Awards really drove home for me is how much deserving work is out there in a given year, and how hard it is to select just five finalists in each category. As I said at the top of the post, there are so many works worthy of recognition, and even with everything we did get to consider for the awards, there’s also work out there that we didn’t see. So if you’re an author/publisher/editor, make sure your work gets in front of award judges whenever possible, and if you’re a reader, keeping shouting out the works you love. Only a select few things can make the final ballot for any given award in any given year, but there are countless other amazing works to read out there that deserve attention!

Posted on Leave a comment

StokerCon 2023

I’ll be attending StokerCon next month, taking place June 15-18 at the Sheraton Station Square in Pittsburgh. It’ll be my second time attending StokerCon, and my second time visiting Pittsburgh, and I’m looking forward to both! Below is my official schedule as it stands at the moment. I’ll try to keep this post updated with any changes or additional details as they become available. Hope to see you there!

Friday, June 16 at 1p.m. EST – Author Reading

Kenneth W. Cain, A.C. Wise, John Langan, Steven Van Patten

Friday, June 16 at 4p.m. EST – Adaptations and Retellings

Tim Waggoner, A.C. Wise, Jeff Strand, Cynthia Pelayo, James Aquilone, Jamie Flanagan

Whether working with novels, films, graphic novels, fairy tales, or otherwise, writers venturing into the world of adaptations have to find ways to make their version of the story stand out. Panelists will discuss techniques and resources for working in the public domain and adapting ideas from works that are well-known or already have established characters. This session will also be live-streamed to virtual conference participants.

Friday, June 16 from 5-6p.m. EST – Mass Author Signing

This year’s signing is divided into two blocks, both in the hotel’s Admiral room. I’ll be signing during the first block from 5-6pm, along with several other fabulous authors. The full list of who is signing when can be found here.

Posted on Leave a comment

Author Resources: Genre Awards

If you’re a speculative fiction author, editor, publisher, or artist, you probably have an interest in genre awards. Most people are aware of the “big” awards like the Hugos and the Nebulas, but there are a whole host other of awards out there from regionally-specific awards, to genre-and-sub-genre-specific awards, to more general awards that have specific genre categories. The whole process surrounding awards can be confusing, overwhelming, and anxiety-inducing, especially if you’re new to the field – and sometimes even if you aren’t.

How the heck does one become an award finalist? How do I know if I’m eligible? How do I improve my chances of winning an award?

Just like there’s no one true path to publication, there is no one true path to award recognition. That said, there are things authors, editors, publishers, and artists can do to increase their chances of receiving award recognition, the biggest one being making people aware of your work.

Awards are not the be-all, end-all of existence, nor are they a required or guaranteed “step” in an author’s career journey, but recognition and shiny trophies are certainly are nice to have! This post won’t necessarily help you win an award, but it at least aims to provide some helpful resources and answer a few questions you may have along the way.

Award Types

Awards generally fall into three categories: juried awards (e.g. the Shirley Jackson Awards), those that operate by a nomination process (e.g. the Nebula Awards), and hybrid awards that do a bit of both (e.g. the World Fantasy Awards).

Awards with a nomination process can be open to a particular membership group, for example members of SFWA (Science Fiction Writers Association) can nominate works for the Nebula Award, and members of the HWA (Horror Writers Association) can nominate works for the Stoker Award, or they can be open to anyone, like the Locus Awards. The ability to nominate can be tied to a particular convention, for example the Hugos and WorldCon. Conventions with associated awards often offer voting memberships at a lower price point so individuals can still participate in the nominating and voting process without attending the convention in person or virtually.

Awards with a jury or panel may allow authors/editors/publishers/artists or some subset thereof to submit work for consideration directly (e.g. World Fantasy Awards). Other awards may rely entirely on their panelists/judges’ reading and knowledge of the field to find works for consideration.

Award Rules

How do you know if you’re eligible for an award? How do you submit work for award consideration? How do you nominate work and vote?

Every award has their own rules around submitting work, nominating, and voting. Locus Magazine maintains a very helpful award database which is an excellent place to start for authors/editors/publishers/artists interested in submitting work or putting it forward for member consideration. It’s also a great resource for readers looking to nominate works they love, or to find new things to read by browsing lists of past winners.

Browse around, follow the links, see what’s out there, and put yourself forward for consideration where appropriate!

Promoting and Submitting Work

Demanding that people nominate or vote for your work isn’t cool, and it’s often expressly prohibited within award rules. Letting people know what you’ve published in a given year however is perfectly acceptable. Award eligibility posts and social media threads are a great way to make people aware of your published work. Sharing your posts and providing periodic reminders as award nomination deadlines approach is also perfectly acceptable and even helpful, as it’s easy to miss a single post/thread.

Every year for the past several years I’ve encouraged authors/editors/publishers/artists to create award eligibility posts and I’ve gathered them in a yearly Eligibility and Recommendation Links Round-Up. There are other folks who do the same, including Cat Rambo. The sheer amount of fiction, art, and media published and released each year means it’s impossible to read/watch/see/be aware of everything out there. Self-promotion can be uncomfortable, but as someone who nominates for awards, I view it as a public service by creators to remind me about works I loved and to help me catch things I may have missed.

If you’re not sure how to put together an eligibility post, you can see several examples at the link above.

Some membership organizations (e.g. HWA) allow members to post or directly share work for consideration. Always check an organization’s rules around sharing and promotion before you proceed.

If your work is eligible for a juried award, you should absolutely submit it! Don’t assume a jury is already aware of your work, or that they don’t want to see see it. Authors and artists may want to check with their editors/publishers first to make sure they’re not doubling up efforts, but as a general rule, juries want to read and consider widely, so get your work out there. The sheer volume of work published in a given year means that juries might not see things that aren’t directly put in front of them, so if you’re on the fence about submitting work for consideration – do it!

A work won’t end up as an award finalist if people don’t know about it. It’s up to juries and nominators to recommend the works they love. Creators are often their own worst critics; don’t let self-doubt and brain weasels hold you back when it comes to submitting and promoting.

Call for Submissions

Speaking of juried awards, here’s a shameless plug and way to dip your toes into the waters of awards consideration. I’m one of the judges for the World Fantasy Awards this year and we want to see your work. You. Yes, you.

We’re looking for works of Fantasy and Horror originally published in 2022. We want to see Novels, Novellas, Collections, Anthologies, Short Stories, and Artwork. We’re also looking at related non-fiction for consideration in the Special Award categories.

Works must be received by June 1, 2023, but the sooner the better so we have time to properly consider everything.

Instructions on how to submit work can be found here. Please send us your stuff!

Posted on 4 Comments

Favorite Short Stories of 2022

Last but not least, to round out my favorites of 2022 posts, here are the short stories I loved last year. As a general rule, I tend to read a lot of short fiction, and there was so much fantastic stuff out there last year, so brace yourself – this list will be long. But I don’t want to leave anything out! In no particular order, here are my favorite short stories of 2022.

A Gentleman’s Agreement by Aimee Ogden (Kaleidotrope)

A story about the complex relationship between hero and villain, with a wonderful voice and genuine emotion – beautifully-written, and occasionally heartbreaking.

Intrusions by Margot McGovern (The Dark)

A slow-burning and deeply creepy story about a woman being stalked by her ex, exploring domestic violence and the unsettling idea that the protagonist might be safer among the dead than the living.

The Brave Dress by Starhawk (Solarpunk)

Set in a world recovering from environmental collapse, this is a lovely story about found family, community, and the idea of honoring the struggles of the past but not letting them define you as you move into the future.

Dick Pig by Ian Muneshwar (Nightmare)

A tense and eerie story that explores the liminal space between fear and desire, as a man cleaning out his great aunt’s isolated house begins receiving increasingly unsettling messages from a mysterious man he contacted on Grindr.

Ribbons by Natalia Theodoridou (Uncanny)

A beautifully-written story that evokes fairy tales and ghost stories as a young trans man struggles with defining himself in the face of society’s expectations.

The Long Way Up by Alix E. Harrow (The Deadlands)

A gorgeous re-imagining of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice that flips the gender roles of the original tale and shows a couple growing into a more mature and considered understanding of their love for each other.

Before We Drown by Vanessa Fogg (The Future Fire)

A short but effective story about a world on the verge of collapse and one couple’s attempts to escape into their own past, which explores the ideas that sometimes the most important moments in life are the small ones.

The Pennyfeathers Ride Again by L. Chan (The Dark)

The adventures of the ghost-hunting Pennyfeather brothers continue in a genuinely eerie story that explores complicated family relationships, guilt, grief, and obsession as the brothers confront a fellow excorcist.

From Earth to Io, with Love by Adelehin Ijasan (Fiyah)

A darkly humorous story about teleportation technology and corporate greed.

The Red Summer by Wendy Shaia (Fiyah)

A brutal story about a young Black man who finds himself transported back in time in his dreams to the summer of 1919 where mobs of white people hunted down Black people, showing the ways in which horrors are repeatedly perpetuated throughout history.

The Brief Life Story of Lila by Danny Cherry, Jr. (Fiyah)

A lovely and heart-wrenching story about a woman with the power to see how others will die who tries to close herself off to love completely in order to avoid suffering grief and loss.

The Summer Castle by Ray Nayler (Nightmare)

An eerie and surreal story about a group of children spending the summer in their grandfather’s rambling house , which is full of secrets which seem to have something to do with the war raging in the background while leaving their family strangely untouched.

Babang Luksa by Nicasio Andres Reed (Reckoning)

A slice-of-life story set in a post-flood near-future Philadelphia, as a man returns to the neighborhood where he grew up where he must cope with complex feelings of guilt for being the one who got out and built a better life for himself.

The Last Passenger by Melissa Mead (Daily Science Fiction)

A bittersweet flash story about Charon, the ferryman to dead, coping with his own mortality as the old gods and legends are forgotten.

In the Walls and Beneath the Fridge by Jonathan L. Howard (Nightmare)

A chilling story about a man trying to protect himself against his abusive ex-wife and keep his daughter safe in their new apartment, where something unnatural lives underneath the fridge.

Girl Oil by Grace P. Fong (Tor)

A lovely and heartbreaking story about unrequited love that explores racism and impossible beauty standards, as a struggling actress begins taking an experimental formula guaranteed to make her “lighter and brighter” which literally eats away at her until there’s nothing left.

I Know You’re There by Paul Tremblay (Air/Light Magazine)

A story about grief and guilt as a man both fears being haunted and yearns to be haunted after his husband’s sudden death.

Douen by Suzan Palumbo (The Dark)

An absolutely heartbreaking story about a young girl who accidentally becomes a spirit haunting her family as she desperately tries to communicate with them and aches for their love.

Cousins Season by S. Fambul (Fantasy Magazine)

A surreal story and multi-layered story with a great voice about family members literally descending on a sprawling gathering out of the sky, expecting to be cared for and fed.

On the Hills, the Knitters by Steve Toase (Bourbon Penn)

A surreal, eerie, and atmospheric story about a village below a hill, where an inexplicable knitted elephant-like figure has been left for unknown purposes, and the even stranger things that occur when a group of mysterious people shows up seemingly to worship it.

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Reporter by Daniela Tomova (Tor)

A story with a great voice about a reporter who travels to the remote north to observe a race involving revenants, and things only get odder from there as reality itself beings to break down.

Now is the Time for Growth and Expansion by Sarah Pinsker (Sunday Morning Transport)

A charming story about a young girl building something mysterious, randomly appearing art installations, and the girl’s puzzled parents ultimately discovering the link between the two.

The Historiography of Loss by Julianna Baggott (Lightspeed)

A story excavating grief and loss, where a woman signs up for a virtual reality “nostalgia service” in an attempt to better understand the father who abandoned her as a child, leading to revelations about her family history that she never expected.

Becomes the Color by E. Catherine Tobler (3-Lobed Burning Eye)

A gorgeously-written story about learning to let go as the protagonist returns to a place special to them and their lover, only to find themselves trapped in an eerie lake with reality shifting around them.

Them at Number Seventy-Four by Lindz McLeod (Pseudopod)

It sounds odd, but this is indeed a fun and charming story about serial murder as a retired couple tries to rekindle their relationship and create common ground by killing together.

The Floating House by JF Gleeson (Weird Horror)

Eerie, atmospheric, and perfectly capturing the terror of being a child in a frightening situation, told by adults that everything will be okay while they refuse to explain, and things are clearly very much not okay, which in this case, means a house full of creepy floating people.

Too Little, Too Little, Too Much by John Wiswell (Cossmass Infinities)

A heartbreaking story about brothers with supernatural powers trying to cope with their abusive father and struggling to break free from the cycle of violence.

An Urge to Create Honey by Martin Cahill (Clarkesworld)

Beautifully-written story about feeling like an outsider and searching for belonging as a man returns to the space station where he worked after being transformed into a bee-like creature by aliens who saved his life and welcomed him into their collective hive-mind.

The Path of Water by Emma Torsz (Uncanny)

A gorgeous and brutal reimagining of Sleeping Beauty that plays with tropes and character types and looks at the power of story to shape our experience of the world.

Men, Women, and Chainsaws by Stephen Graham Jones (Tor)

Nods to classic horror and slasher history abound in this wonderful story about a woman whose life is inextricably intertwined with a car with a horror movie pedigree, but which is also linked to her own very personal haunting.

A Travel Guide to the Dimension of Lost Things by Effie Seiberg (PodCastle)

A charming story about a character struggling with depression who finds themself in the unglamourous magical dimension of lost things, including, among other things, missing socks and one very judgmental hamster.

The Bleak Communion of Abandoned Things by M.A. Blanchard (Pseudopod)

Masterfully balancing hope and creepiness, this story centers on a woman trying to appease the ghost in an abandoned house and ending up with far more than she bargained for in the process.

To Live and Die in Dixieland by Russell Nichols (Apex)

A powerful and brutal story about brothers running a VR experience designed to let white people live through the horrors of slavery.

The Many Murders of the Self by H. Pueyo (The Dark)

An incredibly dark and chilling story about how response to trauma can involve killing aspects of yourself and how cycles of violence can recur as those who have been abused.

Mulo by Nelson Stanley (The Dark)

A gritty, noir-tinged story about a haunting spreading outward from a single inciting act of violence after a boxer steps out with someone else’s girl.

The Morthouse by Maria Haskins (The Deadlands)

A lovely, melancholy, and atmospheric meditation on grief, loss, and letting go as a mother seeks to bargain with a witch to bring back her dead son.

And All Their Silent Roars by James L. Sutter (Nightmare Magazine)

Deeply eerie and unsettling story about a young boy whose non-verbal brother discovers a bag of mysterious ceramic animal figures in the backyard of their new house, leading to an unexpected tragedy.

The Cheesemaker and the Undying King by Lina Rather (Lightspeed)

A story full of excellent worldbuilding and with a great voice as a cheesemaker with a very particular set of skills sets out to take revenge on the king after her wife is hung for treason.

Riding Hood by Tariro Ndoro (Omenana)

A multi-layered story about the violence done to women and the value given to women’s voices, which offers up stories nested within stories to tell the tale of a woman seeking revenge for her own murder.

The Projectionists by E.M. Linden (The Deadlands)

A lovely and bittersweet story about a town where the truth is actively suppressed to the point where the dead cannot even be mentioned, let alone mourned, which suddenly finds itself haunted by ghosts.

Til Death by C.J. Lavigne (PodCastle)

A charming and touching story about a woman recently turned into a vampire by her new husband, writing to and reassuring her childhood best friend.

Baba Nowruz Gives HIs Wife a Flower Only Once a Year by Fatima Taqvi (Fantasy)

A beautifully written story that interrogates fairy tales and asks for better endings as a young woman finds herself confronted with the mythological figures of her youth, and seeks to convince them that they can create their own stories rather than using known tales as an excuse.

One Day the Cave Will be Empty by K.J. Chien (Fantasy)

A lovely and painful story about a woman who gives birth to a daughter she considers monstrous and seeks to hide her away from the rest of the world, fearing their judgement.

Sunder Island by Derrick Boden (Weird Horror)

Eerie, atmospheric, claustrophobic, and perfectly surreal, this story centers on an investigator sent to a remote island to find out what happened to her predecessor, and things only get worse for her from there as she encounters violent birds meant to be extinct, unhelpful and threatening strangers, and a breakdown of reality itself.

Witchbreaker by Leah Ning (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

Wonderful worldbuilding and rich secondary fantasy in a story that explores sacrifice among a group of powerful individuals tasked with protecting their town, repeatedly forced to leave everything behind in order to save the ones they love.

Bonesoup by Eugenia Triantafyllou (Strange Horizons)

A subtle and unnerving story about a grandmother who would do anything to protect her family and ensure they prosper and never suffer as she did in her youth.

Sounds Like Forever by Josh Rountree (Bourbon Penn)

A story exploring the power of music and friendship, with dark undertones, as a group of friends discovers a mysterious plant at the site of a plane crash that seems to connect them to the world of the dead.

Changeling by Evalyn Broderick (Augur)

A charming story about a woman’s bond with her plant and the unusual people who try to take it from her.

A Table Set and Waiting by Jordan Shivley (Baffling)

A dark exploration of desire and fear as a man encounters a room where something horrible waits to take him apart, which may just be preferable to his day to day life.

Notes to a Version of Myself, Hidden in Symphonie Fantastique Scores Throughout the Multiverse by Aimee Picchi (Apex)

A story that explores what success and happiness looks like to different people, or rather different versions of the same person, as a woman travels the multiverse encountering other versions of herself and trying to ensure they live their best lives.

How to Be a True Woman While Piloting a Steam-Engine Balloon by Valerie Hunter (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

A fun adventure story that also explores complex family relationships and the idea of living for others versus living for yourself.

The Morning House by Kate Heartfield (PodCastle)

A bittersweet and occasionally heartbreaking story of a woman coping with her father’s dementia who glimpses a parallel version of her house and another version of herself visible from the bottom of her garden.

Love and Supervillains by Caroline Diorio (Escape Pod)

A charming story about a woman who finds herself having to deal with her newly-developed superpowers after a sexual encounter.

Termination Stories for the Cyberpunk Dystopia Protagonist by Isabel J. Kim (Clarkesworld)

A slick story with a fantastic voice that honors and examines the tropes of cyberpunk and asks who gets to be at the center of stories.

Swim the Darkness by Michael Kelly (The Dark)

A beautifully-written story about grief and loss with hints of cosmic horror as a father mourns his daughter.

Sunday in the Park with Hank by Leah Bobet (The Deadlands)

A gorgeously-written story where men come home with the war literally tethered to ghosts, which examines guilt, responsibility, and who is allowed to express pain versus who is expected to bear it silently.

The Merry Abortion; or the Song of the Deed of Rue by Katy Bond (Strange Horizons)

A charming story with a fairy-tale-like feel about a woman and her friend, who is sometimes a fox, setting out to find banned herbs to take care of an unwanted pregnancy.

We Can Make Death Work by Cassandra Khaw (Sunday Morning Transport)

A bittersweet story about a woman trying to lure her wife’s spirit back to this world by making increasingly elaborate dishes.

So You Married Your Arch Nemesis…Again by Fenn Merc Wolfmoor (Lightspeed)

A story that has fun playing with voice and style as it examines the complex relationship between two super-powered individuals across multiple genres, and breaks the fourth wall to consider who gets to enjoy a happy ending in their stories.

Your Space Between by Marie Croke (Apex)

A lovely and heartbreaking story about technology that gives families extra space in their home through creating a kind of extra-dimensional pocket, which malfunctions and leads to a tragic disappearance.

After Midnight, In a Dead Woman’s Shoes by Frances Rowat (Kaleidotrope)

A story with a great voice where a woman wakes from her own murder and sets out to solve it.

Choke by Suyi Davies Okungbowa (Tor)

An unsettling story about a young man who all his life has heard the voices of his ancestors telling him will choke, culminating in a terrifying dinner hosted by a family who seems bent on “collecting” international exchange students.

On the Sunlit Side of Venus by Benjamin Parzybok (Apex)

A bittersweet story about a woman trapped alone on a ship orbiting Venus, with only an AI for company, struggling with the purpose of her life when all seems hopeless.

Aperture by Dan Howarth (Weird Horror Magazine)

Reminiscent of Ray Bradbury’s “The Crowd”, this story revolves around the eerie and unexplained group of silent photographers who always appear to be nearby when a tragedy occurs.

Building Migration #1 by Fran Wilde (Sunday Morning Transport)

A charming story about AI buildings deciding to go on walkabout with their hapless inhabitants trapped inside.

Downstairs at Dino’s by Diana Hurlburt (Diabolical Plots)

A story with a wonderful voice that gives off a wild hunt vibe as a group of impossibly beautiful people descend on a small, sleepy town once per year.

UmHlosinga (The Fever Tree) by Nick Wood (Omenana)

In a world of scarcity, a man tries to better his lot in life by cutting down the last tree in his area for resources that would allow him and his family to move up in the world, but meets resistance from a mysterious group set on stopping him by any means necessary.

Of All the New Yorks in All the Worlds by Indrapramit Das (Tor)

A wonderful story about a man whose job is to courier messages across timelines and connect people with alternate versions of themselves falling for one of his clients.

Lemmings by Kirstyn McDermott (Weird Horror)

An eerie story about a rash of suicides seemingly fueled by social media, exploring human’s responsibility to the planet, as well as the desire to be part of something bigger.

The Rabbit Test by Samantha Mills (Uncanny)

A brutal and powerful story about access to abortion, contraception, and bodily autonomy, which moves through time to show the way certain bodies have always been regulated and controlled.

The Ghost Eaters by Spencer Ellsworth (Nightmare)

An emotional story full of striking imagery about a ghost dog bound to an empty house, determined to protect it at a costs.

Folk Hero Motifs in Tales Told by the Dead by KT Bryski (Strange Horizons)

A story with a fantastic voice that plays with folk tale and trickster stories and inverts them to show the power of narrative in a land seemingly without hope where nothing can ever change.

Devil Take Me by Gordon B. White (Nightmare)

A story simmering with tension and resentment as a boy struggling to cope with an abusive father, a neglectful mother, and the birth of a new baby brother who only makes things worse, makes a desperate deal.

If Gold Runs Red by Gordon Grice (Metaphorosis)

A story that pairs nicely with the one above, also simmering with tension, and featuring a boy dealing with an abusive father, but this time encountering something unnatural in the woods.

Holding On by Justen Russell (Metaphorosis)

A lovely and heartbreaking story about a girl who believes she may be the daughter of a famous astronaut lost during a live broadcast, which explores the power and danger of hope.

Merry in Time by Kathleen Jennings (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

A beautifully-written story that draws on multiple fairy tales and fairy tale tropes, twisting them around in unexpected ways.

Fried Rice by Shih-Low Kow (Flash Fiction Online)

A bittersweet story about a man trying to recreate his late wife’s recipes with the help of a cookbot.

Phoenix Tile by Guan Un (Khoreo Magazine)

A charming trickster story about a mythological figure trying to ensure he is remembered so he can stay embodied just a little bit longer.

Girl Eats Girl by Gnesis Villar (Fiyah)

A dark and unsettling twist on a werewolf story, centered on the uneasy relationship between two brown girls who find themselves repeatedly thrown together by virtue of being the only two non-white students at their high school.

Have Mercy My Love, While We Wait for the Thaw by Iori Kusano (Apex)

A gorgeously-written story that explores the personal cost of war, and examines who bears responsibility for such large-scale acts of violence.

Drowning Songs by M.S. Dean (Anathema)

A lovely and occasionally heartbreaking story about a young woman who is forced into the role of savior of her town, which means she must repeatedly drown and return to life in order to ensure their prosperity.

The Weight of it All by Jennifer Hudak (Fantasy)

A painful but lovely story about a ghost that ends up haunting the body of a woman with an eating disorder, who is slowly starving herself to death.

Simons, Far and Near by Ava Gardner (Cast of Wonders)

A bittersweet story about a group of teenagers chosen to help look for a viable new planet that can support human life, and what they must give up in order to serve the greater good.

Posted on Leave a comment

Favorite Novelettes of 2022

Uncanny May/June 2022 Cover

I usually do a post combining my favorite short stories and novelettes of the year, but I’m breaking it up into two posts this year due to sheer length and some technical stupidity that caused me to lose hours of work on the draft, necessitating starting over. Besides, novelettes often get overlooked and lost in the shuffle, so don’t they deserve a post of their very own where they can shine? Here, in no particular order, are my favorite novelettes from last year. (Note, additional favorites appearing in anthologies can be found in my anthologies and collections post.)

The Sadness Box by Suzanne Palmer (Clarkesworld)

A story full of excellent worldbuilding examining complex family relationships and the idea of the next generation trying to do better and be kinder, wherein a scientist’s son steals a box from his father containing an AI whose sole programmed purpose is being miserable.

My Future Self, Refused by Adam-Troy Castro (Lightspeed)

A painful and heartbreaking story that I believe may be semi-autobiographical, about a man grieving the death of his wife, who is visited by a future version of himself.

Just Desserts by A.M. Barrie (Fiyah)

A story with a wonderful voice about a slave named Hercules working in George Washington’s kitchen who uses cooking magic to subtly alter the course of history.

The Noon Witch Goes to Sound Planet by Kristina Ten (Lightspeed)

A charming and smoothly-written coming-of-age story about a young woman who has inherited her mother’s powers as the noon witch, a Russian deity who responsible for sunstroke, desperately trying to prove she is more than her heritage by attending a desert music festival.

The Difference Between Love and Time by Catherynne M. Valente (Someone in Time, reprinted at Tor)

A gorgeous, twisty, and dream-like story about a young woman in love with the space-time continuum, who keeps manifesting in different guises across her lifetime, exploring their tumultuous relationships.

Quandary Animu Vs. the Butterfly Man by Rich Larson (Tor)

A story with a wonderfully slick cyberpunk feel, following the titular character’s attempts to outrun an inhuman assassin with the help of her father’s disembodied preserved head.

Sweetbaby by Thomas Ha (Clarkesworld)

Surreal and bittersweet, with a wonderful voice and characters who make unexpected choices about perpetuating lies and breaking the cycle of violence. A family of stranded colonists tries to cope with a son who has become something monstrous while pretending everything is fine, leaving their daughter to carry a terrible burden, until she discovers the unsettling truths her parents have been trying desperately not to see.

A Record of Our Meeting with the Grand Faerie Lord of Vast Space and Its Great Mysteries, Revised by A.T. Greenblatt (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

Gorgeous worldbuilding and a wonderful, twisty narrative that loops in on itself as a member of a stranded spaceship crew tries to rescue their ship after an encounter with the faerie lord, necessitating a break with tradition to forge a new path home.

The Memory of Water by Tegan Moore (Clarkesworld)

An eerie story about an educational exhibit recreating the lost oceans of the world, which is seemingly being haunted by the ghosts of extinct marine life.

Two Hands, Wrapped in Gold by S.B. Divya (Uncanny)

A beautifully-written reimagining of the story of Rumpelstiltskin exploring themes of power, privilege, sacrifice, and the way people define themselves.

This Place is Best Shunned by David Erik Nelson (Tor)

A highly effective cosmic horror story about a woman who agrees to help her boyfriend to break into a creepy abandoned church that he believes will be the perfect venue for his latest art project, and the unsettling discovery that ensues.

If You Find Yourself Speaking to God, Address God with the Informal You by John Chu (Uncanny)

A quiet and sweet superhero story that explores the added complications of negotiating a new relationship when one party happens to have superpowers, which also draws nice parallels between being closeted in terms of sexuality and in terms of superhuman ability, as well as delving into anti-Asian discrimination.

Posted on 2 Comments

Favorite Anthologies and Collections of 2022

Boys, Beast & Men Cover

This was quite a strong year for anthologies and collections, and below are a few that I wanted to highlight as favorites. As with the novels and novellas post, I may edit this to sneak a few more in as I continue to catch up on reading. A separate post highlighting short stories and novelettes not published in anthologies or collections is still forthcoming. In the meantime, here – in no particular order – is the collected short fiction I loved in 2022!

Boys, Beasts & Men by Sam J. Miller

Given how prolific Sam J. Miller is when it comes to short fiction, it’s kind of amazing that this is his first collection, though I’m sure it won’t be his last. The stories collected here offer a nuanced exploration of masculinity and the many faces of love – what does it mean to be a boy in a broken family, or a loving one, to be a man who loves other men, who longs, who finds happiness and heartbreak? All of this is presented through the lens of the fantastic with stories featuring literally mind-altering drugs, resurrected dinosaurs, near-future worlds in post environmental collapse, and as the title suggests, plenty of monsters. It’s a truly gorgeous collection, fantastically queer and fantastically dark, echoing with pain, but offering up hope and righteous, burning anger, and joy as well. Miller writes with a deep compassion that shows the monstrousness in humanity and the humanity of monsters with stories that can rip your heart out, or mend it, or do both all in one go.

Dark Breakers by C.S.E. Cooney

Dark Breakers exists in the liminal space between mosaic novel and collection. Each story stands on its own, but they exist in the same world, with characters crossing from one to the other, and events bleeding over as well, making them interconnected. Cooney’s prose is always lush and sensuous and lyrical and Dark Breakers is no exception. Much like the characters in the stories themselves, who find themselves crossing the border between this world and the Valewold, populated with beautiful and dangerous gentry, reading these stories is like stepping into another realm entirely. The stories are immersive, transporting you and taking your breath away in the best of ways. Cooney has written other work in this setting as well, including the novella Desdemona and the Deep, which is a good thing, because once you’ve had a taste of this world, you’ll never want to leave it.

You Fed Us to the Roses by Carlie St. George

I’ve been a fan of St. George’s work since I first discovered it, and it’s wonderful to see a collection bringing so many excellent, dark, and delicious stories together. The stories in this particular collection, like Miller’s collection, offer variations on certain themes, interrogating and dissecting horror genre tropes, looking at slasher stories, fairy tales, final girls, and monsters, and many of the stories are coming of age tales, exploring the idea that sometimes one of the biggest sources of horror can be the uncertainty that comes with simply growing up.

Other Terrors edited by Vince A. Liaguno and Rena Mason

Other Terrors is a strong anthology, exploring a wide range of horror, with all original stories. The stories that stood out to me in particular were: Idiot Girls by Jennifer McMahon, Mud Flappers by Usman T. Malik, The Turning by Hailey Piper, Help! I’m a Cop! by Nathan Carson, and The Asylum by Holly Lyn Walrath. My two favorites among all the excellent works, however, were The Devil Don’t Come with Horns by Eugen Bacon, and The Incident at Bear Creek by Tananarive Due. Both can be read as coming of age stories, or at least stories with young protagonists whose world view is irrevocably altered by an encounter with something horrific. I particularly like the dream/nightmare-like voice of Bacon’s story, and the characters in Due’s story were wonderful and heartbreaking, facing a very personal kind of horror.

Death in the Mouth edited by Sloane Leong and Cassie Hart

Another really strong horror anthology with a few stories that really stood out to me, which were: Water Goes, Sand Remains by Jolie Toomajan, Wind-Up Teeth by Endria Isa Richardson, Paradise by Sloane Leong, Tongue is a Void by PH Low, Some of Us Are Grapefruit by Rivers Solomon, Melinda and the Grub by Ras Cutlass, the Black Hole of Beaumort by Karin Lowachee, and On Tattered Wings by Jessica Cho. My absolute favorite of the bunch was What Hurts Henry Watanabe by JL Akagi, which managed to be simultaneously creepy and sweet. The story is full of evocative writing and striking imagery, and starts off with serious Green Ribbon/Bluebeard vibes, but takes a much different turn by the end.

Trouble the Waters: Tales from the Deep Blue edited by Sheree Renee Thomas, Pan Morigan, and Troy L. Wiggins

This anthology had a somewhat fraught journey to publication, originally slated for release in either 2020 or 2021, and finally coming out in January of this year. It mixes original and reprint stories, all themed around water, as the title implies. The standouts for me were: Seventh Generation Algorithm by Andrea Hariston, Love Hangover by Sheree Renee Thomas, Juniper’s Song by Marie Vibbert, Deep Like Rivers by Christopher Caldwell, Lilies and Claws by Kate Heartfield, The Weaver’s Tale by Cecilia Quirk, and The Ancestor Tells Me About the Time She Forgot Osun by Marie Osunbimpe Hamilton Abigunde. My favorite two stories were actually a pair of stories sharing a world and characters, though by two different authors, with one being a reprint and the other an original. Numbers by Rion Amilcar Scott and Spirits Don’t Cross Over ‘Til They Do by Jamey Hatley concern characters obsessed with the idea of mythical female water spirits, who are trapped by the circumstances of their lives – involvement in organized crime for one, and the horrors of war for the other. The voice of both stories is fantastic, and both explore compassion, violence, and trauma in wonderful ways. Because the anthology took such a round-about journey to publication, I’m afraid a lot of people may have missed it, but it’s well-worth checking out!

Dark Stars by John F.D. Taff

Dark Stars is an anthology dedicated specifically to longer fiction, with the majority of the stories being at least novelettes and one that I think may technically be a novella. As such, there are only twelve contributors, and each of their entries are strong. The standouts for me were: The Attentionist by Caroline Kepnes, Volcano by Livia Llewellyn, All the Things He Calls Memories by Stephen Graham Jones, The Sanguinalist by Gemma Files, Mrs. Addison’s Nest by Josh Malerman, and Challawa by Usman T. Malik. One of the things I appreciated the most about the anthology is its range and how distinct each story’s voice felt. Kepnes story presents a mundane, non-supernatural horror, which is all the more terrifying for how plausible it feels. Llewlellyn’s story is full of twisty prose, bringing in elements of cosmic horror, leaving the reader uncertain and keeping them off-balance. Jones’ story combines mundane horror with hints of the supernatural, introducing gaslighting and pandemic paranoia to effectively keep the main character and the reader uncertain about what is real. Files’ story has a wonderful noir tone, and goes full on supernatural horror with necromancers and blood magic. Malerman’s story has a very Stephen King vibe, moving from past to present as a group of friends reunites to confront a horror from their childhood that has the ability to make them doubt reality and forget themselves. Malik’s story combines fairy tales, myth, urban legend, ghost stories, and history, layering them together seamlessly in an unsettling tale about personal horror as well as the horrors of industry and colonialism. Overall, another very strong anthology that’s definitely worth a read.