Recommendations – Best Short Story

Post your suggestions for Best Short Story to this thread.

Eligible works are:

  • Up to 7,500 words
  • First published in 2015 in any format

Please list the following:

  • Title
  • Author
  • About a sentence saying why you think it’s great
  • Links to somewhere people can buy it/read it are also great
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85 thoughts to “Recommendations – Best Short Story”

      1. I sixth it. Tuesday’s With Molakesh the Destroyer was the best ineligible short story I read for the 2015 Hugos. I’ve been awaiting it’s eligibility for months now.

        Silly But True

    1. Fifth-ing Tuesdays with Molakesh the Destroyer. Fun story, well done.

      Not sure where the “Hugo should be massively biased in favor of SF” thing comes from. My understanding is that it’s SF/F, inclusive.

  1. Thanks for that nom, Rich. I also liked “Molakesh” but I wouldn’t nominate for the Hugo, myself, as I think the Hugo should be massively biased in favor of SF (or at least vaguely sfnal things) – fantasy has the WFAs and, now, even, the Nebulas and the Hugos.

    Unlike the novellas and novelettes, there are quite a few very good short stories. Not sure if I was supposed to make a separate post for each one and apologies, if so.

    “Today I Am Paul”
    Martin L. Shoemaker
    Clarkesworld, 2015-08, #107

    Fantastic story of a robot caretaker and his patient.

    http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/shoemaker_08_15/

    “The Dragon and the Martian”
    Becky Ferreira
    Terraform, 2015-03-16

    This partly dystopian story partly about engineering dragons is also partly optimistic and about engineering (micro-)Martians. And, also, very funny for a story of death and apocalypse.

    http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-dragon-and-the-martian

    “Beyond the Visible Spectrum”
    Axel Taiari
    Fantasy Scroll Mag, 2015-06, #7

    This is quite a stretch for a Hugo nom but it’s definitely a neat read and, unlike almost all short SF these days, good or bad, it has *excitement*. I think of it as being about why METI is a *bad* idea.

    http://fantasyscrollmag.com/article/beyond-the-visible-spectrum-axel-taiari/

    “Asymmetrical Warfare”
    S. R. Algernon
    Nature, 2015-03-25

    A hilariously horrific short-short about alien starfish (astrofish?) attacking the earth to give us a boost.

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v519/n7544/full/519498a.html

    And one of these two from the same author:

    “Dr. Polingyouma’s Machine”
    Emily Devenport
    Uncanny, 2015-03/04, #3

    If you’d have asked me if I wanted to read a story about a sanitation engineer cleaning up interdimensional urine, feces, and blood under constant threat of death or worse I’d have answered with a resounding “No.” So you know the story is something special when it’s good even with that premise.

    http://uncannymagazine.com/article/dr-polingyoumas-machine/

    “Postcards from Monster Island”
    Emily Devenport
    Clarkesworld, 2015-04, #103

    This is a sort of Goodzilla story and is not really SF but is sfnal in the sense of comic books and B-movies but this is an A-story. If all post-apocalypse fiction were like this, I’d like that subgenre.

    http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/devenport_04_15/

    1. Hi Jason,

      I have a question to what you said:
      as I think the Hugo should be massively biased in favor of SF (or at least vaguely sfnal things) – fantasy has the WFAs and, now, even, the Nebulas and the Hugos.

      The Hugos used to be only for SF, that far we agree. But fantasy doesn’t “have” the Nebulas, as they are awarded completely differently. If I like fantasy (and I do, as you may have guessed), and the Hugos ignore fantasy, then there is no place for me in fandom. I can rely on the opinions of professional authors and editors and whoever picks the WFA winner. That’s something, I grant you, but it’s not the same as voting for my favorite books and maybe seeing them take home a Hugo.

      So I don’t think that in 2015, the Hugo award should favor sci-fi over fantasy. I like to read “SF” as “speculative fiction” which includes space and dragons and everything in between. 🙂

      That said, thanks for your recs. I will check out quite a few of them.

      1. Well, for the record, the Hugos have gone to fantasy back in the day – Avram Davidson’s “Or All the Seas with Oysters” and Leiber’s “Ill-Met in Lankhmar,” IIRC won Hugos – but then there was no special award for fantasy (other than the short-lived IFA) and it was very rare even so. And you are right that in terms of fan voting, the Hugos are about it among the “big three” but there are the Gemmell awards, as I understand it, and perhaps other such awards for fantasy fans. I wasn’t thinking so much from the fan voting perspective as from the recipient perspective. The WFAs are exclusively for fantasy. The Nebulas have explicitly changed to be for both fantasy and SF. I just feel that the “Science Fiction Achievement Awards” (to use the old official name of the “Hugos”) should (not “must”) be for SF. As is, it is impossible to have a year without a fantasy work being awarded something but it is possible to have not a single work of SF awarded and I just don’t think that’s right. My impulse isn’t to exclude fantasy but just to make sure SF isn’t excluded.

        Thanks for the question though, and allowing me to perhaps make myself clearer. And I hope you get to try and enjoy some of those recs. 🙂

    2. “Today I am Paul”, in my opinion, is the best of all the stories mentioned in this thread so far. Greatly recommended. A touching story where the SF element is subtle yet integral.

  2. Purposes Made for Alien Minds by Scott R. Parkin and Poseidon’s Eyes by Kary English.
    Parkin’s story consist of sentences that are all five words long, this irritated me at first but I adjusted quickly and thought it was a great story. Another great story by Kary English. Both can be found in Writers of the Future Vol 31.
    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_14?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=writers+of+the+future+volume+31&sprefix

  3. Something appears to have gone wrong with the moderation process, so I’m resubmitting, but splitting my noms out in case that’s the problem (apologies if they should all be in one post after all).

    Thanks for that nom, Rich. I also liked “Molakesh” but I wouldn’t nominate it for the Hugo, myself, as I think the Hugo should be massively biased in favor of SF (or at least vaguely sfnal things) – fantasy has the WFAs and, now, even, the Nebulas and the Hugos.

    Unlike the novellas and novelettes, there are quite a few very good short stories. Not sure if I was supposed to make a separate post for each one and apologies, if so.

    “Today I Am Paul”
    Martin L. Shoemaker
    Clarkesworld, 2015-08, #107

    Fantastic story of a robot caretaker and his patient.

    http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/shoemaker_08_15/

  4. And one of these two from the same author:

    “Dr. Polingyouma’s Machine”
    Emily Devenport
    Uncanny, 2015-03/04, #3

    If you’d have asked me if I wanted to read a story about a sanitation engineer cleaning up interdimensional urine, feces, and blood under constant threat of death or worse I’d have answered with a resounding “No.” So you know the story is something special when it’s good even with that premise.

    http://uncannymagazine.com/article/dr-polingyoumas-machine/

    “Postcards from Monster Island”
    Emily Devenport
    Clarkesworld, 2015-04, #103

    This is a sort of Goodzilla story and is not really SF but is sfnal in the sense of comic books and B-movies but this is an A-story. If all post-apocalypse fiction were like this, I’d like that subgenre.

    http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/devenport_04_15/

    1. Seconding “Postcards from Monster Island”. It is lots of fun and manages to be both perfectly self contained … and … still leave you wanting to know what happens next and how things work out.

    1. Thirding Cat Pictures, Please.

      I’ve read it a couple of times now, and I still find myself half laughing, half thinking I ought to be scared…

  5. Damage, by David Levine (Tor.com, January 2015)

    Nice piece of milSF, with a fully realised, if somewhat naive, shipboard AI as the protagonist. A fine example of being able to have both good world building, as well as characterization and plot within the constraints of the short story field.

  6. Co-sign to “Tuesdays with Molakesh the Destroyer.” Very well done.

    My two favorites so far this year:
    “I am Graalnak of the Vroon Empire, Destroyer of Galaxies, Supreme Overlord of the Planet Earth. Ask Me Anything.”
    Very funny, and great creative use of the Reddit AMA format.

    http://flashfictiononline.com/main/article/i-am-graalnak-of-the-vroon-empire-destroyer-of-galaxies-supreme-overlord-of-the-planet-earth-ask-me-anything/

    “You Have Always Lived in the Castle,” by Cat Rambo. Very short–four minute read–and it’s still with me ten days later. Haunting.

    http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/other-worlds-sf/cat-rambo/you-have-always-lived-in-the-castle

  7. I’m going to try reposting these without links, since I think the links caused it to get stuck in moderation:
    Co-sign to Tuesdays with Molakesh the Destroyer.

    My two favorites so far this year:
    I am Graalnak of the Vroon Empire, Destroyer of Galaxies, Supreme Overlord of the Planet Earth. Ask Me Anything, by Laura Perlman.

    (Very funny, and great creative use of the Reddit AMA format.)

    You Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Cat Rambo. Very short–four minute read–and it’s still with me ten days later. Haunting.

    1. Sarah Hoyt along with Amanda S. Green and Kate Paulk will not be on The List, so there’s no point in recommending them here (you can still nominate them for a Hugo of course).

    1. Very neat! I like the kind of “rationalist” stories where protagonists come up with the best possible use of the resources at their disposal. Not to mention the epic timescale of events.

    2. Oh yes. “…The Rabbit Hole Goes” is fantastic. Excellent execution of a premise that could have wound up being pure wish-fulfilment. Definitely worth reading.

  8. Oral Argument, by Kim Stanley Robinson

    Short, hilarious, and really interesting structure (it’s phrased as someone delivering an argument to the Supreme Court). You’ll love it.

    And if you don’t.,well, I brought my toothbrush.

  9. Brooke Bolander – And You Shall Know Her By The Trail Of Dead
    http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/shall-know-trail-dead/
    A great cyberpunk story with some very stylish – though highly vulgar – narration, as well as an emotional, human element.

    Ray Wood – Schrödinger’s Gun
    http://www.tor.com/2015/02/18/schroedingers-gun-ray-wood/
    Noir detective story meets the many-worlds theory. Well-written and quite touching emotionally.

    The Summer King
    http://www.scp-wiki.net/the-summer-king
    I’m sorry for shilling the SCP Foundation verse again, but I think this piece is really worth looking at. Interesting, fun and doesn’t require background knowledge of the universe.

    1. Whoops – scratch the first two ones. Bolander’s story is actually a Novelette in length. And it appears Wood’s story just barely exceeds the 7500 word limit, too, so it’s more of a Novelette as well.

      1. Worth noting: 3.2.7: The Worldcon Committee may relocate a story into a more appropriate category if it feels that it is necessary, provided that the length of the story is within the lesser of five thousand (5,000) words or twenty percent (20%) of the new category limits.

        So – technically, if story is within 1500 words of the short story limit, it can still qualify as a Short Story. Personally, I’d probably tighten that up to being within 500 words (8000 total) to still consider it a short story rather than a novelette

  10. http://www.amazon.com/Sci-Phi-Journal-September-Philosophy-ebook/dp/B014HANTRE
    “Like Soldiers, Face to Our Foes” by Patrick S. Baker
    a brisk-paced story that has a lone surviving soldier and his enhanced animal companions taking on an oppressive invader of an earth colony . . .balances detail and pacing within a small enough scale that the reader feels satisfied without leaving loose ends or dragging out the story. The story presents us with both a sense of tragedy and dignity as the protagonist and his friends face their duty.

  11. I nominate “If I Only had an Autogenic Cognitive Decision Matrix,” featured in the Scarecrow Anthology (Rhonda Parrish, World Weaver Press)
    … by me, Scott Burtness
    … … because there’s a bit of first-encounter, a dash of humor, a smidge of AI, a whisper of action/adventure, a dollop of love story, and a messed up ending
    … … … and I really am my biggest fan

    http://www.amazon.com/Scarecrow-Rhonda-Parrishs-Magical-Menageries/dp/0692430229

  12. I’d like to nominate Luck of the Chieftains Arrow by Stuart Hardwick.
    It was like hard scifi and fantasy in one and I liked the way it was a whole epic in a few pages.
    It was in Galaxys Edge in May.

  13. I’d like to recommend Luck of the Chieftains Arrow by Stuart Hardwick.
    I liked that it was like scifi and fantasy at the same time, and a whole epic in a few pages. I was in Galaxys Edge in May.

    1. I second the recommendation for Luck of the Chieftain’s Arrow by C Stuart Hardwick, in Galaxy’s Edge #14. It was really good and deserves to be read. It takes you back in time very convincingly, and I love how it makes a non-human entity suffer and grow.

  14. I’d like to recommend THE IMPOSSIBLES by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Ms. Rusch is well known as a fantastic novelist, and I plan to mention several of her works on the Best Novel thread, but THE IMPOSSIBLES is pretty wonderful. It is a short story set in the Retrieval Artist universe, and does a great job of looking at situational ethics, the clash between interstellar cultures, and the cost in human terms. I like pretty much everything she’s written, so this was an easy call for me.

    http://www.amazon.com/Impossibles-Retrieval-Artist-Short-Story-ebook/dp/B009AHTM30/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1451872879&sr=1-3

  15. I have two shorts I’d like to suggest.

    ORION, RISING, by Arlan Andrews, Sr. Analog Science Fiction & Fact January/February 2015 Issue.
    Mr. Andrews reminds us that the dream is not dead, it’s just been a long time coming.

    THE MASTER’S VOICE, by Brendan DuBois nalog Science Fiction & Fact December 2015 Issue
    When is a 7 year old not really 7? When he is growing up on Mars. Aptly titled.

  16. Thi is funny and apt plus if the ‘Dinosaur’ short can win why not a parody –
    “If You Were An Award, My Love” by Juan Tabo and S. Harris

  17. Retro Hugo Awards Short Stories

    Jan 1940 Robert A. Heinlein’s “Requiem” in “Astounding” Short story

    Sep 1940 Robert A. Heinlein’s “Blowups Happen” in “Astounding”, Short Story

    June 1940 “The Roads Must Roll” Robert A. Heinlein in “Astounding”

    Robert Heinlein had a really busy year.

    Oct 1940 Harry Bate’s “Farewell to the Master” in “Astounding” Short Story , which is the basis for the film “The Day the Earth Stood Still”
    Can be read here. Watch out for the twist in the tale.
    http://web.archive.org/web/20140727101426/http://thenostalgialeague.com/olmag/bates-farewell-to-the-master.html

    Strange Playfellow” (aka “Robbie”) by Isaac Asimov (1940)

  18. When Your Child Strays From God, by Sam J Miller

    I’m not really sure that I can describe this, beyond that it’s set in a world where a drug that essentially allows people to share memories exists, and is told from a micro-/ grassroots perspective. Unusual, and quite well done.

  19. Monkey King, Faerie Queen, by Zen Cho

    It starts of thus:

    Now to be fair, Sun Wukong was already in a bad mood when he arrived at the Faerie Court.

    You don’t know who Sun Wukong is? You’re kidding! You haven’t heard of the Great Sage Equal to Heaven, the one who is Mindful of Emptiness, the Exquisite and Most Satisfactory Prince of Monkeys, defier of gods and Buddhas alike, scorner of other people’s dignity and personal inspiration to little monkeys everywhere?

    And it just gets better from there.

    1. I’ll also recommend “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers”. Closer to horror/ urban fantasy, but a worthwhile read and consideration.

    1. Whoops, left off Authors and reasons. Asymmetrical Warfare is by Algernon, whom I had never read before, but this short is based on a true premise, how cool is that. And A Flat Effect by Flint, what can I say, has the man ever written anything that didn’t deserve a Hugo nomination?

      As for Retro, The Roads Must Roll by Heinlein, and is one of the best of his Future History series.

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