The Diabolical Plots Year Seven Lineup

written by David Steffen

For the past several years, Diabolical Plots has opened for submissions for an annual submission window during the month of July. This gives enough time to fully resolve the submission window before things start getting busy in August for The Long List Anthology production. In 2020, the pandemic threw us off our usual cadence and the submission window was postponed, to finally be held in January 2021. Since we are running on a bit of a tight schedule, we solicited a few to make sure that we would have some ready to fit in the schedule without gaps (we haven’t usually solicited any, so this is something new for us). For the submission window itself, 1938 stories were submitted by 1397 different writers. 120 of those stories were held for a final round, which resulted in 20 acceptances from the submission window, plus 4 solicited works that were accepted for a total of 24 for the year.

This submission window marked the first submission window since Ziv Wities became assistant editor! Thank you Ziv for helping to manage the submission queue and for your help with editing stories since the last window’s selections!

There are some familiar names, and at least some authors for whom this is their first professional short fiction publication! All of these stories will be published regularly on the Diabolical Plots site between April 2021 and March 2022, with each month being sent out to newsletter subscribers the month before.

This is the lineup order for the website.

April 2021
“The Day Fair For Guys Becoming Middle Managers” by Rachael K. Jones
“For Lack of a Bed” by John Wiswell

May 2021
“The PILGRIM’s Guide to Mars” by Monique Cuillerier
“Three Riddles and a Mid-Sized Sedan” by Lauren Ring

June 2021
“One More Angel” by Monica Joyce Evans
‘We Will Weather One Another Somehow” by Kristina Ten

July 2021
“Along Our Perforated Creases” by K.W. Colyard
“Kudzu” by Elizabeth Kestrel Rogers

August 2021
“Fermata” by Sarah Fannon
“The Art and Mystery of Thea Wells” by Alexandra Seidel

September 2021
“Rebuttal to Reviewers’ Comments on Edits for ‘Demonstration of a Novel Draconification Protocol on a Human Subject'” by Andrea Kriz
“A Guide to Snack Foods After the Apocalypse” by Rachael K. Jones

October 2021
“Audio Recording Left by the CEO of the Ranvannian Colony to Her Daughter, on the Survival Imperative of Maximising Market Profits” by Cassandra Khaw and Matt Dovey
“It’s Real Meat!™” by Kurt Pankau

November 2021
“Forced Fields” by Adam Gaylord
“Lies I Never Told You” by Jaxton Kimble

December 2021
“There’s An Art to It” by Brian Hugenbruch
“There Are Angels and They Are Utilitarians” by Jamie Wahls

January 2022
“Tides That Bind” by Cislyn Smith
“Delivery for 3C at Song View” by Marie Croke

February 2022
“The Galactic Induction Handbook” by Mark Vandersluis
“Coffee, Doughnuts, and Timeline Reverberations” by Cory Swanson

March 2022
“The House Diminished” by Devan Barlow
“The Assembly of Graves” by Rob E. Boley

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

The Best of Strange Horizons 2017

written by David Steffen

Strange Horizons is a freely available online speculative fiction zine that also publishes nonfiction and poetry.  Their editors-in-chief are Jane Crowley and Kate Dollardhyde.  Their senior fiction editors are Lila Garrott, Catherine Krahe, An Owomoyela, and Vajra Chandresekera, and their podcast is edited, hosted, and usually read by Anaea Lay.  They publish a variety of styles of stories and have regularly attracted award nominations in recent years.  All of the stories and poetry in the zine are published in the podcast.  This list covers all of the stories published since the last Best of Strange Horizons list posted here on November 9, 2015.  In that timeframe, Strange Horizons published about 53 stories (it’s hard to get an exact count because the poetry podcasts are mixed in the same feed).

This year they posted extra episodes as part of a Resistance special issue after the US presidential inauguration in January, and hosted a special issue in October for Arabic translations.

This year they added a new feature when they reached a fundraising goal to add Spanish translations.

Stories that are eligible for this year’s Hugo awards are marked with an asterisk (*).

 

The List

1. “Krace is Not a Highway” by Scott Vanyur*
An AI designed to monitor highway repair conditions keeps on going, doing its best, after societal collapse.

2.  “Utopia, LOL?” by Jamie Wahls*
A person woken up in the extreme far future where humanity is organized by a benevolent AI master, guided by one of the few humans still coherent enough to guide him.

3.  “Oshun, Inc.” by Jordan Ifueko*
Goddesses who live by eating shards of people’s souls try to find ideal candidates.

4.  “Owl Vs. the Neighborhood Watch” by Darcie Little Badger*
A young modern-day Apache woman who is visited by Owl as a harbinger of unspecific disaster does her best to guard her neighborhood against it as best she can.

5.  “Three May Keep a Secret” by Carlie St. George*
Two teenagers help each other fight elements of their past that are literally haunting them.

Honorable Mentions

“Sasabonsam” by Tara Campbell*

“The Dead Father Cookbook” by Ashley Blooms*

“Only Calculate the Motion of Heavenly Bodies” by Marcia Richards*