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 Nightmare Magazine Podcast 2015-2016

written by David Steffen

Nightmare Magazine is the horror sister magazine of Lightspeed Magazine, edited by John Joseph Adams, and their podcast produced by the excellent Skyboat Media.  The podcast publishes about half of the stories they publish in text.  They didn’t publish enough stories in 2015 for a list, so this list covers both 2015 and 2016.  They published 46 stories between the two years.

2015 marked the publication of their Queers Destroy Horror special issue (guest edited by Wendy N. Wagner).  2016 marked the publication of their People of Colo(u)r Destroy Horror (guest edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia).

The stories eligible for the upcoming Hugo and Nebula award seasons are marked with an asterisk (*).

The List

1. “The Modern Ladies’ Letter-Writer” by Sandra McDonald*
Written as a writing etiquette guide.  It gets weird.

2. “Golden Hair, Red Lips” by Matthew Bright
One of the stories in the Queers Destroy Horror special issue, this one is a modern take on the story of Dorian Gray during the breakout of the AIDS epidemic.

3.  “The Cellar Dweller” by Maria Dahvana Headley
“Buildings were built, in the beginning, everyone knows, to hold the dead down.”

4. “Where It Lives” by Nathaniel Lee
When your mental state has the ability to transform you physically, where does that lead?

5. “Bringing Out the Demons” by John Skipp*
For those haunted by demons, they can either learn to control them or to give in their power.  And who better to help someone whose demons are not under control, than others who know what they’re going through?

Honorable Mentions

“An Army of Angels” by Caspian Gray

“Vulcanization” by Nisi Shawl*