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.
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.