The Best of Clarkesworld 2019

written by David Steffen

Clarkesworld continues strong this year with a mix of science fiction and fantasy, and edited by Neil Clarke, with Kate Baker producing and usually narrating the podcast. They published 80 stories in 2019 by my count.

Their translation stories are many of my favorites, as they have been for the past few years. Not only have they been publishing translations from Chinese authors, but also from Korean others, and a full third of the stories on this list are translations.

Every short story that is eligible for Hugo nominations this year which were first published by Clarkesworld are marked with an asterisk (*), novelettes are marked with a double-asterisk (**), novellas are marked with a triple-asterisk (***).

The List

1. “Symbiosis Theory” by Choyeop Kim, translated by Joungmin Lee Comfort, narrated by Kate Baker**
This story is incredible, but it’s also a journey that I don’t want to spoil with snappy synopses. It begins with an artist who has memories of a place that she had never been.

2. “The Thing With the Helmets” by Emily C. Skaftun, narrated by Kate Baker *
Cursed roller derby helmets and an alien invasion!

3. “To Catch All Sorts of Flying Things” by M.L. Clark, narrated by Kate Baker **
There is a truce among the intelligent species in this colonized area, but suddenly an egg is destroyed, the last egg of a species, and this genocide must be investigated.

4. “Operation Spring Dawn” by Mo Xiong, translated by Rebecca Kuang, narrated by Kate Baker **
Our future ice age is winding down, and now it is time to investigate all of the long-term experiments designed to make the world habitable again before reviving the remnants of humanity.

5. “How Alike Are We” by Bo-Young Kim, translated by Jihyun Park and Gord Sellar , narrated by Kate Baker ***
A ship AI wakes up in a synthetic human body with no memory of why this is happening, even though the angry crew insists this was on their own insistence.

6. “Gaze of Robot, Gaze of Bird” by Eric Schwitzgebel , narrated by Kate Baker *
The most peculiar AI behavior, which might appear to be a glitch from a casual observer, may have a profound underlying design.

7. “The Face of God” by Bo Balder , narrated by Kate Baker *
When the god, a giant humanoid figure, crash-lands and is discovered to have supernatural healing powers, in its parts, the surrounding people make use of this new resource as best they can.

8. “Confessions of a Con Girl” by Nick Wolven , narrated by Kate Baker
When social media for every person are publicly displayed and any person can affect another’s reputation with an up or down vote, what would the world look like?

Honorable Mentions

“Eater of Worlds” by Jamie Wahls , narrated by Kate Baker *

“The Weapons of Wonderland” by Thoraiya Dyer , narrated by Kate Baker *

“The Second Nanny” by Djuna, translated by Sophie Bowman , narrated by Kate Baker **

“The Future is Blue” by Catherynne M. Valente , narrated by Kate Baker

Published by

David Steffen

David Steffen is an editor, publisher, and writer. He is probably best known for being co-founder and administrator of The Submission Grinder, a donation-supported tool to help writers track their submissions and find publishers for their work . David also writes articles here and edits the fiction. He is also the editor and publisher of The Long List Anthology: More Stories From the Hugo Award Nomination List series. David also (sometimes) writes fiction, and you can follow on Twitter for updates on cross-stitch projects and occasionally other things.

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