My 2022 short fiction recommendations video is up!
If you’d rather consume the content via text, I talk briefly about how this video is later than I’d like due to catching COVID in December, I summarise the 6 original stories I had published in 2022, and then it’s on to the recommendations.
As usual, to qualify for this list, a story had to be:
- First published in 2022
- Shorter than novel length
- Free to read online
- And actually read by me (of course, I have only read a tiny fraction of the short fiction that was published last year)
With all of that said, here are 10 of my favourite stories from 2022:
1. Your Space Between by Marie Croke in Apex Magazine
- A really clever story about technology that can layer two spaces on top of each other. At first that seems really exciting to the reader and to our protagonist, and then it’s horrifying instead because of what goes wrong.
- If this was in a physical book it would be a real page-turner, and I love how grounded in reality this feels, like it could easily happen ten years from now.
2. Mal De Caribou by Becca De La Rosa in The Dark
- One of those rare stories that I immediately re-read upon finishing.
- Initially this seems to be a straightforward tale about an older woman hiring a private chef, but it slowly reveals more and more, and I thoroughly enjoyed the gut punch at the end.
3. The Hotel Endless by Davian Aw in Diabolical Plots
- I immediately loved the concept here: a magical, ever-growing hotel, and all the delighted people it houses and entrances.
- It’s almost entirely a feel-good story, which I don’t come across very often – certainly not to this calibre.
4. Ten Poisons That Cannot Kill the Queen by Marie Croke and Anna Madden in Lackington’s
- Beautifully written, perfectly paced, and gripping from the first line.
- An unexpected companion to the queen may be her destruction, her saviour, or both at once.
5. The Twenty-Second Lover of House Rousseau by C M Fields in Diabolical Plots
- A pleasingly fragmented tale of many marriages and 500 years of android servitude, culminating in a perfectly satisfying ending.
- I particularly enjoyed the atmosphere and setting: a vivid journey across space, several planets, and multiple human lifetimes.
6. The Bones Beneath by Vanessa Fogg in Podcastle
- Another highly atmospheric tale – the present day of the story feels to me like wet earth soaking through the gardens of a pretty town.
- Fogg masterfully captures the claustrophia and day-to-day stress of an oppressive government and how it can tear friends and neighbours apart from the inside.
7. Lily, the Immortal by Kylie Lee Baker in Uncanny Magazine
- An excellent story about a dead YouTube star, the grief of the secret girlfriend she left behind, and the star’s subsequent pseduo-ressurection (because why would capitalism let death stand in the way of profit).
- I’m fascinated by how pieces of us may survive on the internet and through other technology after we die, and this piece feels very realistic for the near future.
8. The Eternal Cocktail Party of the Damned by Fonda Lee in Uncanny Magazine
- An absolutely scathing take-down of social media in the form of a fantasy story.
- Sharp as a knife, this is likely to resonate with anyone who considers themselves Extremely Online.
9. Girl, Cat, Wolf, Moon by Rati Mehrotra in Uncanny Magazine
- A lovely, surpringly dark story about a girl who discovers a magical cat market.
- I particularly appreciated the ending to this one, because I didn’t expect it but it fits perfectly.
10. mulberry down!! by Nicole Kornher-Stace at nicolekornherstace.com
- This is the longest story on this list and the most unusual; unexpectedly casual, like you’re talking to a friend or reading someone’s long-term blog, and deliciously wistful and intriguing.
- It’s a loving deconstruction of a smorgasbord of portal fantasy tropes, with a lot to potentially unpack and analyse, plus a tonne of lore (I love lore).
There was a truly excellent shortlist of stories for me to pick from in 2022, more so even than previous years. I could have easily made a list of 20 stories instead of 10 if I’d wanted to.
Of the 10 I did pick this time there are a few similarities and running threads: 2 of the stories are about poisoning, 3 about revenge, 2 feature a protagonist struggling with near-future technology, 5 are queer in some way, and 3 feature characters entranced by a location and wanting to stay.