The Best of Clarkesworld 2017

written by David Steffen

Another great year for Clarkesworld, lots of great stories by authors both familiar and new.  Clarkesworld remains the most prolific of the podcasts I listen to, clocking in at 82 stories for the year of 2017, and with a much higher wordcount limit than most of the others, that comes to significantly more words.  Neil Clarke continues as editor, and Kate Baker continues to produce, host, and narrate most of the episodes of the podcast.

They continue to publish monthly stories published from Chinese through a relationship with StoryCom, which have been among many of my favorites.

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 (**).

The List

1.  “The Secret Life of Bots” by Suzanne Palmer**
A maintenance bot is given the major task of dealing with a major invading bioform on a ship, and is forced to consider the utility of improvisation.

2.  “Who Won the Battle of Arsia Mons?” by Sue Burke **
Battlebots on Mars become a major reality program.

3.  “A Series of Steaks” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad**
A 3-D printer forger is coerced under dire threat into forging a banquet of fine steaks for a major wedding.

4.  “Some Remarks on the Reproductive Strategy of the Common Octopus”  by Bogi Takács*
Octopus hive minds overcome the obstacles to octopus higher learning.

5.  “Second Person, Present Tense” by Daryl Gregory
Science has shown that our lower brain functions “decide” what we’re going to do a fraction of a second before we have made the “conscious” decision.  A new drug lengthens that delay indefinitely, making us question our definition of consciousness.

6.  “The Bridgegroom” by Bo Balder**
A new caretaker of an intelligent bridge is tempted by its seductive words to betray those who employed him for that purpose.

7.  “The Blood of a Martian” by Allen M. Steele
A hired guide on Mars takes a researcher to take DNA samples of the native Martians to determine how closely related they are to humans.

8.  “The Waiting Stars” by Aliette de Bodard
Heartfelt explorations of the effects of imposing someone’s culture onto a person from another culture.  This is one from de Bodard’s Xuya universe.

Honorable Mentions

“Shiomah’s Land” by Nisi Shawl

“Bonding With Morry” by Tom Purdom

“The Psychology Game” by Xia Jia, translated by Emily Jin and Ken Liu*

 

 

The Best of Toasted Cake 2013-

written by David Steffen

Tina Connolly’s Toasted Cake podcast is still going strong! She reduced her publication frequency for a little while to spend time with her newborn baby, but pretty soon Toasted Cake will be back up to its weekly rate. By my reckoning, Toasted Cake published 41 short stories between my last list on January 21, 2013 and the end of 2013.

Two of my own stories were also reprinted on the podcast. I don’t consider my own stories for inclusion in the lists, so I’ll just mention them here in the header: This Is Your Problem, Right Here and What Makes You Tick.

 

The List

1. The Girl Who Was Loved By The Sea by Spencer Ellsworth
The POV character here is the personification of the ocean, who has fallen in love with a girl because of the myths she makes up about it. The ocean tries to interact with her as she grows older.

2. The Oracle of DARPA by Bogi TakÃ’ cs
Written as a transcript of a DARPA researcher with an oracle meant to predict threats. But the Oracle speaks so cryptically so as to be basically useless. Fun stuff! Some of the oracle’s language reminds me of conversations with the Orz when playing Star Control II.

3. Through the Cooking Glass by Vylar Kaftan
When baking gingerbread cookies, a woman finds that she has spawned a tiny little civilization of cookie people.

4. Hazelwitch v. Hazelwitch by K.G. Jewell
Follows the court proceedings involving the breakup of two magic-users.

5. Taking Care of Ma by Lee Hallison
This one reminds me of my dad and his distrust of technology, trying to help out an aging mother with technological solutions.

 

Honorable Mentions

After the Earthquake by Caroline M. Yoachim