As opposed to previous years, in 2019 I decided to properly note down the stories I enjoyed as I read them, thus enabling the creation of this recommendations list.
To quickly get my own eligibility out of the way, I had two new stories published in 2019:
- When the Ice Comes In (about 1,100 words) at Kaleidotrope, an modern Australian climate change take on The Little Match Girl, and
- The Orchard (about 7,800 words) in Andromeda Spaceways Magazine Issue #76, involving a sort of Charlie-and-the-Chocolate-Factory competition with a magical orchard and sapphic subplot.
Edit: I actually had a third story published in late December, CurioQueens (about 3,100 words) in Constellary Tales, about a dangerous, magical board game.
On to the recommendations! To qualify for this list, a story had to be:
- First published in 2019
- A “short” of some description (i.e. shorter than novel length)
- Free to read online
- Actually read by me (meaning: only a tiny fraction of the short fiction that was published this year)
With all of that said, here were some of my favourites:
1. The Message by Vanessa Fogg in The Future Fire
A lovely, quiet piece about an alien message received on Earth and how that changes the world, but what stood out to me the most is how incredibly well Vanessa Fogg captures the experience of being a teenage girl.
2. Cavity by Theresa Delucci in Strange Horizons
A doesn’t-pull-any-punches tale of the thirty-two times you meet a murderer.
3. The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye by Sarah Pinsker in Uncanny Magazine
A slick, tense, spec-fic mystery about a writer and her isolated retreats…
4. Wings by Vanessa Fogg in Translunar Travelers Lounge
A beautiful romance about continuing to love someone as they change into a multitude of different animals. The characters’ devotion and Fogg’s poetric writing are gorgeous.
5. The Girls Who Come Back are Made of Metal and Glass by L’Erin Ogle in Metaphorosis Magazine
A wonderfully atmospheric and sharp tale about a group of girls who aren’t allowed to stay dead.
6. How The Trick is Done by AC Wise in Uncanny Magazine
A story of the many times the magician didn’t die, and then once when he did. I really enjoyed the structure of this one, and the richness of the world AC Wise created.
7. Windrose in Scarlet by Isabel Yap in Lightspeed Magazine
A deep fairy tale crossover starring Red, Beauty, their respective beasts and the bonds they make.
8. The Brightest Lights of Heaven by Maria Haskins in Fireside Magazine
A dark, compelling story about a game played as children and how it follows the characters well into their adulthood – with a body count.
9. Daughters of Silt and Cedar by Rebecca Mix in Kaleidotrope
A wonderfully strange piece about growing up in swamp, found families and slow-burn romance that almost had me miss my train stop.
10. One for the Wounded by Pheonix Alexander in Metaphorosis Magazine
A clever and long-spanning story about an assassin who steals people’s time through their temporal realms.
Thanks for a great year of fiction in 2019. Wishing you an excellent holiday season!