"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.