The following list was assembled from the gestalt reading tastes and preferences of the 2010 Last Short Story crew: Alisa Krasnostein, Random Alex, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Jonathan Strahan, Sarah Parker and Rachel Holkner. The stories are presented in alphabetical order. We heartily recommend these short stories to readers everywhere with an interest in quality science fiction and fantasy.
Not If You Were The Last Short Story On Earth Recommended Reading List 2010
Peter M Ball, Bleed, Twelfth Planet Press Peter M Ball, "One Saturday Night, With Angel," Sprawl Christopher Barzak, "Map of Seventeen," The Beastly Bride and Other Tales of the Animal People Peter S. Beagle, :La Lune T'Attend," Full Moon City Holly Black, "The Aarne-Thompson Classification Revue," Full Moon City Desirina Boskovich, "Love is the Spell that casts out Fear," Way of the Wizard Sarah Rees Brennan, "The Spy Who Never Grew Up," Kiss Me Deadly Georgina Bruce, "Ghost of a Horse Under a Chandelier," Strange Horizons Emma Bull and Elizabeth Bear, "The Unicorn Evils," Shadow Unit Meg Cabot, "Princess Prettypants," Zombies vs. Unicorns Pat Cadigan, "The Taste of Night," Is Anybody Out There? Elizabeth Carroll, "The Duke of Vertumn's Fingerling," Strange Horizons A.M. Dellamonica, "The Cage," Tor.com Thoraiya Dyer, "Yowie," Sprawl Sara Genge, "Sins of the Father," Asimovs Theodora Goss, "Fair Ladies," Apex Elizabeth Hand, "The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellerophon," Stories Margo Lanagan, "The Miracle Aquilina," Wings of Fire Scott Lynch, "In the Stacks," Swords and Dark Magic Sandra McDonald, "Beach Blanket Spaceship," Clarkesworld Sandra McDonald, "Seven Sexy Cowboy Robots," Strange Horizons Mari Ness, "Twittering the Stars," Shine Garth Nix, "To Hold the Bridge," Legends of Australian Fantasy Diana Peterfreund, "Errant," Kiss Me Deadly Diana Peterfreund, "The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn," Zombies vs. Unicorns Nick Poniatowski, "How to Make Friends in Seventh Grade," Strange Horizons Hannu Rajaniemi, "Elegy for a Young Elk," Subterranean Magazine Cat Rambo, "Clockwork Fairies," Tor.com Robert Reed, "Alone," Godlike Machines Alastair Reynolds, "Troika," Godlike Machines Rachel Swirsky, "The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen's Window," Subterranean Magazine Catherynne Valente, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time," Clarkesworld Sean Williams, "A Glimpse of the Marvellous Structure (And the Threat it Entails)," Godlike Machines
It's been a good year for short stories, and while there has been some great SF I think fantasy has really shone in short form through 2010. No particular publication stood out for me, though I think Strange Horizons has had their best year in ages. When it comes to anthologies, Zombies v. Unicorns edited by Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier was particularly excellent, though I also loved many, many stories from Sprawl, edited by Alisa Krasnostein. There were several great single author collections, and I think the two standouts of these for me was Diana Comet by Sandra McDonald and Sourdough & Other Stories by Angela Slatter, which I also discussed in my Best Australian Short Spec Fic of the Year.
For context, I read 633 short stories this year. Many of the publications were provided as free review copies (electronic, for the most part) to the Last Short Story reviewers. I am, by nature of the spec fic world, friends/acquainted with many of the following authors, as well as many who do not appear on this list.
The following is only my opinion - watch this space for the Official Last Short Story List of Awesome (compiled from the recs of all our reviewers), coming later in the week.
Best of the Best Christopher Barzak, "Map of Seventeen," The Beastly Bride Holly Black, "The Aarne-Thompson Classification Revue," Full Moon City Sarah Rees Brennan, "The Spy Who Never Grew Up," Kiss Me Deadly Elizabeth Carroll, “The Duke of Vertumn’s Fingerling,” Strange Horizons A.M. Dellamonica, "The Cage," Tor.com Thoraiya Dyer, “Yowie,” Sprawl Sara Genge, "Sins of the Father," Asimov's Margo Lanagan, “The Miracle Aquilina,” Wings of Fire Sandra McDonald, "Beach Blanket Spaceship," Clarkesworld Sandra McDonald, "Seven Sexy Cowboy Robots," Strange Horizons Diana Peterfreund, "Errant," Kiss Me Deadly Cat Rambo, "Clockwork Fairies," Tor.com Rachel Swirsky, "The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen's Window," Subterranean
I also want to mention Carrie Vaughn's "The Girls from Avenger" which appeared in Warriors and sadly has no speculative content whatsoever, not even in a Karen Joy Fowler kind of way... but it's still one of the best stories of the year, it just happens to be a historical about women in the airforce during WWII.
Highly Recommended Kage Baker, "The Bohemian Astrobleme," Subterranean Peter M Ball, Bleed, Twelfth Planet Press Peter M Ball, “One Saturday Night, With Angel,” Sprawl Elizabeth Bear & Emma Bull," The Unicorn Evils," Shadow Unit Desirina Boskovich, "Love is the Spell that casts out Fear," Way of the Wizard Richard Bowes, "The Margay's Children," The Beastly Bride Georgina Bruce, "Ghost of a Horse Under a Chandelier," Strange Horizons Tobias Buckell, "A Jar of Goodwill," Clarkesworld Meg Cabot, "Princess Prettypants," Zombies vs. Unicorns Pat Cadigan, "The Taste of Night," Is Anyone Out There? C.S.E Cooney, "Braiding the Ghosts," Clockwork Phoenix 3 Paul Cornell, "Secret Identity," Masked Thoraiya Dyer, “The Company Articles of Edward Teach,” The Company Articles of Edward Teach/The Angalien Apocalypse Carol Emshwiller, "No Time Like the Present," Lightspeed Willow Fagan, "My Mother, the Ghost," Fantasy Dirk Flinthart, “The Best Dog in the World,” Worlds Next Door Karen Joy Fowler, "Booth's Ghost," What I Didn't See & Other Stories Theodora Goss, "The Mad Scientist's Daughter," Strange Horizons Elizabeth Hand, "The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellerophon," Stories Krista Leahy Hoeppner, "Too Fatal a Poison," Way of the Wizard Nina Kiriki Hoffman, "Futures in the Memories Market," Clarkesworld Alaya Dawn Johnson, "Love Will Tear Us Apart," Zombies vs. Unicorns Kij Johnson, "Ponies," Tor.com Mary Robinette Kowal, "For Want of a Nail," Asimov's Margo Lanagan, “A Thousand Flowers,” Zombies vs. Unicorns Meghan McCarron, "We Heart Vampires!!!!!!" Strange Horizons Ian McDonald, "Tonight we Fly," Masked Sandra McDonald, "The Goddess and Lieutenant Teague," Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories Mari Ness, "Twittering the Stars," Shine Garth Nix, “To Hold the Bridge,” Legends of Australian Fantasy K.J. Parker, "A Rich Full Week," Swords & Dark Fantasy Diana Peterfreund, "The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn," Zombies vs. Unicorns Nick Poniatowski, "How to Make Friends in Seventh Grade," Strange Horizons Hannu Rajaniemi, "Elegy for a Young Elk," Subterranean Alastair Reynolds, "Troika," Godlike Machines Angela Slatter, “Lost Things,” Sourdough and Other Stories Angela Slatter, “Lavender & Lychgates,” Sourdough and Other Stories Angela Slatter, “Under the Mountain,” Sourdough and Other Stories Angela Slatter & LL Hannett, “The February Dragon,” Scary Kisses Pamela Sargent, "Mindband," Asimov's Cat Sparks, “All the Love in the World,” Sprawl E. Catherine Tobler, "Island Lake," The Beastly Bride Catherynne M Valente, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time," Clarkesworld Catherynne M Valente, "Secretario," Weird Tales Carrie Vaughn, "Rooftops," Songs of Love and Death Kim Wilkins, “Crown of Rowan,” Legends of Australian Fantasy
Well, it's not really the end of the year, but it feels like it to me. In that spirit, I hereby choose to list my favourite stories of the year! Rather than separating out the Aussie stuff, I've noted them with an (A) after their names.
It's been an... interesting year, I think. Part of me, thinking back, feels a bit indifferent towards much of what I read. But then I look at our spreadsheet and I realise there has been some truly astonishing fiction published, and that's a really exciting thing. My gut tells me it was a better year for anthologies than magazines, in the inspiring-Alex stakes.
The stories that filled holes I didn't know I had Thoraiya Dyer, "Yowie," Sprawl (ed. Alisa Krasnostein) (A) Sara Genge, "Sins of the Father," Asimovs (December 2010) Sandra McDonald, "Seven Sexy Cowboy Robots," Strange Horizons, October Robert Reed, "Alone," Godlike Machines (ed. Jonathan Strahan) Alastair Reynolds, "Troika," Godlike Machines (ed. Jonathan Strahan) Rachel Swirsky, "The Lady who plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen's Window," Subterranean Magazine (summer) Sean Williams, "A Glimpse of the Marvellous Structure (and the Threat it Entails)," Godlike Machines (ed. Jonathan Strahan) (A)
Other stories that made my life better just by existing Eleanor Arnarson, "Mammoths of the Great Plains." Peter M Ball, "L’esprit de L’escalier," Apex (September) (A) Peter M Ball, "One Saturday Night, with Angel," Sprawl (ed. Alisa Krasnostein) (A) Peter M Ball, "Bleed." (A) Christopher Barzak, "Map of Seventeen," The Beastly Bride and Other Tales of the Animal People (ed. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling) Peter S. Beagle, "La Lune T'Attend," Full Moon City (ed. Darrell Schweitzer and Martin Greenberg) Gregory Benford, "The Final Now" Tor.com Steve Berman, "Thumbleriggery and Fledgelings," The Beastly Bride and Other Tales of the Animal People (ed. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling) Desirina Boskovich, "Love is the Spell that casts out Fear," Way of the Wizard (ed. John Joseph Adams) Frank Cottrell Boyce, "Temporary," When it Changed (ed. Geoff Ryman) Simon Brown, "Sweep," Sprawl (ed. Alisa Krasnostein) (A) Georgina Bruce, "Ghost of a Horse Under a Chandelier," Strange Horizons (August) Tobias Buckell, "A Jar of Goodwill," Clarkesworld (issue 44) Pat Cadigan, "The Taste of Night," Is Anybody Out There? (ed. Nick Gevers and Marty Halpern) Deborah Coates, "What makes a river," Tor.com AM Dellamonica, "The Cage," Tor.com Krista Leahy Hoeppner, "Too Fatal a Poison," Way of the Wizard (ed. John Joseph Adams) Ellen Kushner, "The Children of Cadmus," The Beastly Bride and Other Tales of the Animal People (ed. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling) Scott Lynch, "In the Stacks," Swords and Dark Magic (ed. Jonathan Strahan and Jack Dann) Bruce Macallister "The Courtship of the Queen," Tor.com Mari Ness, "Twittering the Stars," Shine (ed. Jetse de Vries) Nick Poniatowski, "How to Make Friends in Seventh Grade," Strange Horizons (June) Hannu Rajaniemi, "Elegy for a Young Elk" Subterranean Magazine (Spring) Robert Reed, "A History of Terraforming," Asimovs (July) Robert Reed, "Pallbearer," The Mammoth Book of Apocalyptic SF (ed. Mike Ashley) Robert Reed, "The Next Invasion," Tor.com Geoff Ryman, "You," When it Changed (ed. Geoff Ryman) Shadow Unit episodes: "The Unicorn Evils," "Basilisk Hunt" Angela Slatter, "Brisneyland by Night," Sprawl (ed. Alisa Krasnostein) (A) Cat Sparks, "All the Love in the World," Sprawl (ed. Alisa Krasnostein) (A) Ian Tregillis, "Still Life," Apex (October) Genevieve Valentine, "So Deep the Bottom could not be seen," Way of the Wizard (ed. John Joseph Adams) Liz Williams, "Enigma," When it Changed (ed. Geoff Ryman)
I think, although I'm not game to go through and count (because it looks like I actually did enjoy quite a few stories... who knew?), that perhaps there were some magazines that I did quite enjoy. Anyway, this stuff is really awesome, and much of it is still available - because the web is wonderful, and of course the anthols should be widely available.
There! 2010, I am done with you! ... well, in reading the published short fiction, anyway.
Like Diana Comet, this is a collection which really doesn't call to have the individual stories reviewed. Sourdough is about three steps closer to being a mosaic novel than Diana Comet is, and while a few of the stories have been published elsewhere (though the majority are new to this collection) the collection is stronger as a whole than any of its individual parts.
Angela Slatter's short fiction tends towards fairytale concepts - often interrogating the 'happy ever after' and 'romantic' sensibilities associated with those tales to reveal the sticky, mean and bitter undercurrents that run through them. The first few stories very much follow in that tradition - but as the book continues, the stories begin to build upon each other, with characters crossing from one story to another, and whole narratives occuring in bits and pieces. The effect is a build up of tensions and investment from the reader, and it made the last few stories in particular really engrossing. The world that serves as background to these stories begins as a fairly generic 'place where fairytales happen' but later expands to include familiar buildings, cities and historical events. It might emerge only piece by piece, but it takes on a very real quality.
What I noticed most was that every story was narrated in first person by a different female character. Most of these were quite young, though a few were mothers. The effect was rather interesting - I'm used to more of a variety of character types in anthologies and collections, particularly with first person stories. It meant this was very much a story about women, particularly the plucky young girl/princess archetype who is so prevalent in fairytales. Slatter's young women are as a group far more damaged, brittle and endangered than the shiny Disney heroines people might expect, and I liked the fact that we often got to see stories from more than one perspective, as many of the protagonists return older and/or wiser in later stories.
I very much liked "The Shadow Tree," "Dibblespin," "The Story of Ink" and "The Bones Remember Everything," but my absolute favourites were "Lost Things," "Lavender and Lychgates," and "Under the Mountain."
This is a beautifully packaged book which calls to be appreciated and re-read for the many layers that lie within.
"Tides Elba: A Tale of the Black Company," Glen Cook, Swords and Dark Magic. Here's something you might not know about me - I am a complete, dyed in the wool, Black Company tragic fangirl. When I talk about the books I loved in my teens, the fantasy I discovered, I often forget to mention these but they were hugely influential and still are, despite the let's say less than feminist aspect of some of it. They are gritty blokey war fantasy books and there is nothing about them that I should love, but I DOOOOOOO. I loved this story. It was imperfect and the ending wasn't great and I had to squash down a few feminist protests, but I will love Croaker until the day I die and very much enjoyed a chance to hang out with he and his comrades.
"A RIch Full Week," KJ Parker, Swords and Dark Magic. A very interesting if not overly likeable story of a lesser wizard struggling to make a living banishing zombies and avoiding possession, that sort of thing. Very well done.
"In the Stacks," Scott Lynch, Swords and Dark Magic - while the idea of a library so dangerous that one needs very tough librarians to battle it is by no means a new one, I did rather enjoy this take on the exam process in a magical university, and on the whole I found this a far more likeable piece of work than Lynch's novels - for a start, it has two decent female characters in it! And some rather marvellous worldbuilding.
"Teeth," Roddy Doyle, Stories - the undead becomes mundane and suburban in this short piece, which is notable for strong voice and the confusion/utter desperation that comes from becoming a vampire.
"The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellerophon," Elizabeth Hand, Stories - an excellent novella which is only tangentially speculative but packed with character. A group of men gather to remember their former boss, now dying of cancer, and to recreate a lost piece of historical film as a parting gift to her.
"Too Fatal a Poison," Krista Leahy Hoeppner, The Way of the Wizard - an intense take on the 'Circe turns Odysseus and his men into pigs' myth which gives a vivid life to a couple of minor characters.
"The Aarne-Thompson Classification Revue," Holly Black, Full Moon City - Black does here for werewolves what she did for vampires with "The Coldest Girl in Coldtown." Beautiful stuff.
"Booth's Ghost," Karen Joy Fowler, What I Didn't See and Other Stories - a powerful, touching story about Edwin Booth, the 19th century Shakespearian actor whose younger brother assassinated Lincoln. This piece is strongly thematic, bringing in all manner of influences from Shakespeare's plays and Roman history.
"An Election," John Scalzi, Subterranean Press/Whatever - a lighthearted look at corruption in US election politics, set in a future where a human candidate is the underdog in a council race between several aliens.
"The Cage," AM Dellamonica, Tor.com - a really awesome story about lesbian relationships, maternal instincts, home improvements and werewolves which rings true in all the ways that count. I loved the characters in this one so much, and the focus on political and social responses to the public awareness of the supernatural, which is something urban fantasy can do excellently.
"The Company Articles of Edward Teach," Thoraiya Dyer, Twelfth Planet Press. This story which is half of the latest TPP Double (due out next month) is a very powerful YA piece about a young Muslim girl and a Jewish boy who find themselves transported back through time to the ship of one of the most infamous pirates ever, in bodies which are not their own. It's a great adventure story that touches upon more serious themes of culture, religion, gender and sexuality.
I'm getting to the pointy end of reading for this year and it seems like I've left LOTS of interesting stuff for the final leg of the journey. Such as:
"Sustainable Development," Paula R Stiles, Shine - a short, pointed piece about women's v. men's work in Africa, and how the introduction of robots might or might not make a difference to everyday tasks.
"Twittering the Stars," Mari Ness, Shine - this is a story told entirely through tweets. One of those gimmicks like the email story which will probably become grossly overused in the next couple of years. But this is the first one I've ever read and it's amazing - the protagonist is a microbiologist and botanist who is part of a mining mission that will solve the Earth's energy crisis. Partly because of the intimate tone of Twitter and the clear voice of the protagonist, the story packs great emotional punch and I was quite affected by it. The reader has the choice to read the story back-to-front in true Twitter style, or in chronological order. I chose the latter and was stunned by the effect. Worth a read, before Twitter stories get added to that list along with Adam-and-Eves and it-was-all-a-dreams.
Bleed, Peter M Ball, Twelfth Planet Press - this novella is a fitting sequel to last year's indie faerie noir hit "Horn," taking damaged detective heroine Miriam Aster through another dramatic hail of bullets, old enemies and vicious magical creatures. This one is a lot less confronting than "Horn" (in that it doesn't centre around unicorn rape though it is still pretty violent) and feels more polished, expanding Aster's world and her backstory considerably. The whole thing zips along at a speedy pace, ramping up the action quite breathlessly from beginning to end, with a very authentic detective story tone. I liked the bits with the talking cat best of all. YES I SAID TALKING CAT, DO NOT JUDGE ME.
"Clockwork Fairies," Cat Rambo, Tor.com - a marvellous piece of Victorian steampunk fantasy which tells the story of Desiree the inventor, whose intelligence and Negro heritage makes her an outcast in English society. Her story is conveyed through the unreliable gaze of her foppish would-be husband who fails to realise that his rival for her heart is actually offering her something far more interesting than romance... and in fact, now that I come to think about it clearly, it is in fact a blatant retelling of Tiptree's The Women Men Don't See only with faeries instead of aliens. If there is a story that begs to be told and retold in new and interesting ways, it's that one (though of course I have no way of knowing if this was intentional - I really hope it was!). This also happens to be a most excellent story which shows how hard Victorian society was for any woman (let alone a woman of colour!) who was educated enough to know how limited her options were.
"Seven Sexy Cowboy Robots," Sandra McDonald, Strange Horizons - wow, I've never heard of this writer before this year and she has been putting out a whole bunch of extraordinary work. I particularly like the way she blends humorous writing with quite serious and crunchy themes, with great big ladles of sexuality, gender and other social issues. This story tells the tale of Kay, who demands that her robot-building ex-husband provides her with a team of sexy cowboy robots as part of her divorce settlement. The story explores the complex relationships Kay has with each of these robots throughout her long life, their various personalities, hopes and dreams, while the world slowly descends into the Big Freeze that means the end of everything... At times bleak, subversive, funny, smutty and hopeful, this is a great piece of science fiction that defies the more conventional ideas about how science fiction is supposed to behave. Keep an eye on this author! She's interesting people.
I've been reading piles and piles of stories lately in the final run up to the "end" of the year - the end of the story reading year, anyway! Here is a grab bag of my favourites from the last several weeks:
"Forever Bound," Joe Haldeman, Warriors - a beautiful character study of military service and the psychological effects on a group of "mechanics" who regularly jack into each other's heads during their missions. I was completely swept away by this story of love under strange, intense circumstances, though sadly felt quite ripped off at the abrupt ending which resolved things far too suddenly.
I'd also like to give a shout out for "The Girls from Avenger" by Carrie Vaughn, also in the Warriors anthology - it's a brilliant, gutsy WWII mystery based around a group of female pilots in wartime, a mysterious death and a cover up. It's one of the best stories I've read this year, though not remotely spec fic and thus not LSS eligible. But damn, it's good.
Speaking of Carrie Vaughn, I also enjoyed...
"Rooftops," by Carrie Vaughn, Songs of Love and Death - a superhero story about the Lois Lane archetype, the woman who is rescued by the hero and wants to find out what's behind the mask, while also dealing with a neglectful boyfriend who works late and is never around when you want him... Where this story works is that Charlotte is more than just "the girl" from any superhero story though she certainly represents that figure - she has a life of her own, as a successful playwright trying to capture superhero stories for the stage, and I liked the way we saw the world (a world where superheroes exist and everything happens in dramatic art panels) through her eyes.
I also quite enjoyed Jim Butcher's "Love Hurts" and Jacqueline Carey's "You, and You Alone" in Songs of Love and Death, though both stories felt overlong and I can't imagine anyone unfamiliar with Carey's Kushiel books would make much of her story, which is a prequel to her original trilogy.
"Troika," Alastair Reynolds - Godlike Machines - a powerful story of Russian cosmonauts told through clever, utterly misleading narrative. The end of this one floored and impressed me.
"There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow/Now is the Best Time of Your Life," by Cory Doctorow - Godlike Machines - a strange, not entirely likeable story of cults, giant mecha and immortality, told through the eyes of a victim of eternal youth. There's a sort of romance in it too, but it's squicky in all kinds of ways. Don't ask me WHY I kept on reading to the end but it was mesmerising and thought-provoking along with the squick.
"The Taste of Night," Pat Cadigan, Is Anybody Out There? - a visceral piece from the point of view of a woman who believes she can perceive the impending first contact with aliens... unless that's a symptom of something else.
"The Other Graces," Alice Sola Kim, Asimovs July - a surreal, compelling piece about a Chinese-American girl struggling with the turning points of her life, with college acceptance and casual daily racism and her mentally ill father.
"The Sultan of the Clouds," Geoffrey A Landis, Asimovs Sept - a shiny shiny novella that conjures up floating cities on Venus and gleaming spaceships as well as some interesting political negotiations over money and an elaborate form of braided marriage.
"For Want of a Nail," Mary Robinette Kowal, Asimovs Sept - when the family AI is accidentally broken, a long-kept secret begins to unravel. This is a clever story that suggests at what living on a massive spaceship might be like, and the societal choices that you might have to take for granted.
"Names for Water," Kij Johnson, Asimovs Oct/Nov - a lovely, elegant piece of flash fiction from one of the field's most lyrical writers.
"Sins of the Father," Sara Genge, Asimovs Dec - a powerful short piece about a merman on land, his courtship of a young Spanish senorita and the price he pays for taking her back to his people. A lovely, sad romance with an added layer of social comment crunchiness.
"Fair Ladies," by Theodora Goss, Apex - a magnificent courtly romance of love and loss and the subtle question of where magic ends and real life begins.
"Island Lake," E. Catherine Tobler, The Beastly Bride - a lovely, rich story which feels very much a homage to Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market (the names are a giveaway!) - about sisters and cousins and forbidden love in a lake and the losses of war. Beautifully written.
"Map of Seventeen," Christopher Barzak, The Beastly Bride - the story of an Ohio farmgirl whose gay older brother comes back home, armed with a stack of confronting paintings and his beautiful boyfriend. There's a strong message here about growing up and finding who you are, but also of the threat that hangs over anyone whose love could be characterised as forbidden.
"The Margay's Children," Richard Bowes, The Beastly Bride - a clever, thoughtful tale of the relationship between a man and his god-daughter, and how secrets from the past always come back to bite, especially if they're lodged in the DNA. This is a lovely piece, with a quite powerful plot that sneaks up and scratches you right between the eyes.
"The Best Dog in the World," by Dirk Flinthart, Worlds Next Door - when I was at Aussiecon recently, the comment I heard people make to Dirk most often was "that dog story of yours made me CRY". So of course I had to check it out for myself! I must report that it did not make me cry - not through any lack in the narrative, I'm just a hard-hearted bitch when it comes to animal stories - but it is an excellent SF story with a real Golden Age Juvenile sensibility about it.
"Under the Bridge," Garth Nix, Legends of Australian Fantasy - a strong piece from Nix's Old Kingdom (Sabriel) world, about a boy who signs up with a crew whose primary task is to hold the bridge against invaders. I enjoyed the main character very much and would happily have read a whole book about him - the ending to the story came a little too suddenly for my taste, but it was still very nicely done.
"Crown of Rowan," Kim Wilkins, Legends of Australian Fantasy - a taste of Wilkins' new series of Anglo-Saxon 'intimate epics'. I was hooked by this story of a queen pregnant by her lover, and her very different sisters, including Bluebell the warrior, and Ash the healer. The world was rich with detail and the story alive with personality.
"The Miracle Aquilina," by Margo Lanagan, Wings of Fire - a magnificent domestic epic about a saintly shepherdess refusing to submit to the king who wants to marry her, viewed through the eyes of a young woman who desperately needs the saint to triumph. This is a glorious piece of work which, naturally enough for a Lanagan story, pauses casually to eviscerate the reader. Damn you, Margo.
We're excited to announce the addition of Ian Mond mondyboy to the Not if You Were the Last Short Story on Earth team for 2011.
We've enjoyed his reviews of current science fiction and fantasy on his own blog for some time and are looking forward to his contribution to the reading load and critiquing of all the glorious short fiction to come in 2011.