I love reading short fiction and this year, I have read more than 130 stories. Since I have read so many, I have decided to only talk about my ten favorites. Last Sunday, I have posted the first five stories I loved in 2020 and, today I’m posting the other five. I hope you will read some of them and that you will like them as well!
My favorites were not necessarily published in 2020 but I read them this year.
FAVORITE SHORT STORIES OF THE YEAR
Rager in Space by Charlie Jane Anders – Lightspeed May 2020 – First published in Bridging Infinity (2016, edited by Jonathan Strahan)
Two teenagers, Sion and her best-friend, are invited on the first interstellar mega party. However, Sion slowly realize that, while the party is very fancy, it might be a one-way trip.
I definitely have a type with short stories, I usually love slow and depressing character studies that break my heart over and over. Rager in Space is nothing like that, it’s loud, bubbly, over the top and a ton of fun. Not my usual type but I loved every second of it.
It discussed what it means to be human in a refreshing way. It’s also about being unapologetically yourself and growing up in a world where people expect you to behave the way they want you to. If you don’t like YA, it’s probably not a story for you but, it worked well for me and I had a blast reading this story!
What Happens in Solarium Square 21 by Ashleigh Shier – Clarkesworld #164 – 2020
What Happens in Solarium Square 21 is another fun story that will please all the Murderbot fans out there.
It follows a team of robots as they try to hide the death of their master in order to remain free. Of course, some things go wrong and keeping up the illusion gets harder and harder.
I don’t usually laugh out loud while reading but this story cracked me up! It was hilarious to read the banter between the robots, one of them was particularly petty and it was very funny to see how he always wanted to annoy the other robot. Also, I have to say that the various strategies to hide the fact that their former owner was dead were quite original!
This story is a hidden gem and I want everyone to read it! 😀
A Stick of Clay, in the Hands of God, is Infinite Potential by Neon Yang – Clarkesworld #164 – 2020
Stick was born to be a Pilot and a weapon in the war against the apostates. Stick never consider itself human, it’s not a he, not a she, not a they. It is just Stick. However, the end of the war is approaching and it may change Stick’s vision of the world and… of itself.
As you may know by now, I’m a Neon Yang fangirl, I love their work and when I saw they had a story in Clarkesworld, I was very excited to read it! And it did not disappoint, it was awesome. I was a bit confused at first because the worldbuilding is complex which is pretty uncommon for a story of this length but, once I understood what was going on, I loved it.
It is a heartbreaking story of self-discovery and fighting for what is right, and not for what you were created to do. I would love to read other stories set in this world.
Necessary and Sufficient Conditions by Wole Talabi – Apex Magazine #117 – 2019
Set in a futuristic Nigeria, this story follows a man who wants to avenge his mother by killing the scientist who murdered her twenty years ago.
I don’t want to say too much because it’s very short but I really liked how this story discussed how humans are capable of every act as long as they can justify it. Necessary and Sufficient Conditions also discusses technological progress and paradigm shift. The themes reminded me a lot of The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell, a book that I read earlier this year and that I very much enjoyed.
Looking for Laika by Laura Mauro – Interzone 273 – 2017
Set during the Cold War, this story follows Pete, a thirteen-year-old boy who is terrified of the nuclear threat. Every night, he has nightmares. Every night, he imagines that London will be attacked. And, one day, it does.
This story has very few speculative elements and it is very slow-paced. However, it worked well for me, I really liked the writing, the atmosphere but, most of all, I loved reading about the relationship between Pete and his younger sister Bev, who is obsessed with Laika, the Russian dog that was sent to space.
The sibling’s relationship was perfectly depicted – at least it reminded of my own dynamic with my sibling. Sometimes, you can be very patient with each other but sometimes, you can be cruel without meaning it and this story really showed everything, the beautiful moment and the harsh words.
It was hard to narrow down my selection to only ten stories so here are a couple of honorable mentions!
- Enyo-Enyo by Kameron Hurley (Meet Me in the Future, 2019)
- In this Moment, We are Happy by Chen Qiufan (Clarkesworld, 2019)
- The Fenghuang by Millie Ho (Lightspeed, 2020)
- How Long the Shadow Cast by Kenji Yanagawa (Clarkesworld, 2020)
- Lions and Tigers and Girlfriends by Tina Connolly (Escape Pod Anthology, 2020)
Have you read short fiction this year? If yes, what are some of your favorite stories? 😀