The 2016 Hugo Awards Nominations are open, so you should hurry and nominate your favorite fantasy and science-fiction works from last year. You can vote [here]. And if you have the time to squeeze in some last minute reading, this page contains my favorite eligible short stories, divided by publishing house. Take a look, and let us know what you think!
Ghosts of Home
by Sam J. Miller (2015)
Published in Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 63.
A courageous literary marvel, set in the United States of America during the mortgage crisis, where thousands of empty houses, were left alone after their occupants were evicted by the banks. In this stories houses have spirits, and offering must be given to them to ensure they continue to behave well and do not bring destruction to the property. Agnes is one of the many desperate homeless, fighting with her alcoholism, sleeping in her car, and washing at a Walmart. She is grateful for her no benefits minimum wages job, for one of the big mortgage banks, the same one that evicted her mother. She is required to bring offerings to the spirits of the empty houses, but to avoid any contact with them. One day, while on her round, she meets Micah, a handsome man that she mistake for an illegal squatter.
Two By Two
by Tim Susman (2015)
Published in Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 61.
The story is set in a near future, where the United States of America has been split into the Southern Christian States of America (CSA), and the Northwestern United States. Daniel escaped the CSA years ago. Vijay is the son of Indian immigrants. They found themselves driving back into CSA, the only chance left for them to escape Earth to save their lives.
The Duchess and the Ghost
by Richard Bowes
Published in Fantasy Magazine, Issue 59.
This short story explores growing up and coming out in New York City, at a time where the big apple was not as liberal as of today. It is a story of stigma, self-hate, and love. What would you be willing to give, in order to escape your ghosts?
by Sherwood Smith (2015)
While this is a story of young high-school kids with super-powers, this is first and foremost a coming of age story, that focuses on acceptance of differences, and on anger. It touches important (and disturbing) themes like transphobia, bullyism, domestic violence, and hate crimes. The story does not read as message-fiction, as a novel where the author preaches her positions and ideals. It reads as a spontaneous and refreshing coming of age story, of a young teenager growing in a non-heteronormative family, dealing and understanding the otherness of her and her peers.
This is probably one of the best novellas I have read this year, that I strongly recommend as a possible nomination for the 2016 Hugo Awards.
The Shape of My Name
by Nino Cipri (2015)
An adroitly crafted and powerful story about family, time travel, and transitioning. The various themes are perfectly woven together and every scene fit into the story like a perfect tile of a beautiful mosaic.
It is impossible to say more without spoiling the story, I will just say that is, by far, one of the best short stories I have read this year.
The Deepest Rift
by Ruthanna Emrys (2015)
An adroitly written novel, with some remarkable characters (the AI steals the show, and it is, by far, the most intriguing and interesting part of the story), great world building, an interesting plot, and a just OK ending.
In the deepest canyon in the inhabited worlds, giant mantas soar through the air and leave patterned structures behind. A team of sapiologists seek to prove that these delicate filaments are true language, not just bee’s dance. But time has run out, and their reckoning is upon them. Will they prove that their research is valid, or will they be scattered to the corners of the galaxy?
by Malka Ann Older (2015)
A novel and original take on a first-contact story. The encounter is cleverly used to explore human nature and psychology.
This is the main story of Flur, an astronaut that traveled across the stars to make first contact with the Cyclopes, hoping to forge a peace treaty between humanity and the first sentient aliens they have discovered. She has undergone careful training and study to prepare for this moment. But what if her approach is too human?
A remarkable short story that I strongly recommend. I am looking forward reading more from this author.