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*