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"The Great Detective," Delia Sherman; tor.com, February 17, 2016
http://www.tor.com/2016/02/17/the-great-detective-delia-sherman/

Steampunk and spiritualism, in an alternate literary universe where noted mechanical inventor Sir Arthur Cwmlech and his apprentice Miss Tacy Gof turn to colleague Mycroft Holmes and his masterwork the Reasoning Machine to solve a mysterious theft. A young Doctor Watson, recently returned from Afghanistan, seeks a new life as an inventor. All that is missing from the tale is the Great Detective himself - and if he does not yet exist, then surely someone will have to invent him. A light and witty tale that should appeal to fans of Holmes and the steampunk genre alike.

"Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies," Brooke Bolander; Uncanny magazine, November 2016
http://uncannymagazine.com/article/talons-can-crush-galaxies/

This was a short piece, essentially flash fiction, a stunning gut-punch. Hard to read, hard to breathe afterward. Searing and powerful indictment of male entitlement and rape culture.


"Seasons of Glass and Iron," Amal El-Motar; first published in The Starlit World (2016), reprinted online at Uncanny Magazine
http://uncannymagazine.com/article/seasons-glass-iron/

There are many fairy tales about women. Women who must do impossible things, or accept impossible circumstances, because of men. Men who say they love them, men who want to test them, men who want to woo and win them. Sometimes, though, these women walk out of those tales and live their own lives instead, creating new kinds of tales.


"Lullaby for a Lost World," Aliette de Bodard; Tor.com, June 8, 2016
http://www.tor.com/2016/06/08/lullaby-for-a-lost-world/

De Bodard has said that of this story that it is "a sort of answer to “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” (one of my absolute favourite short stories)." It is very much a story about the prices paid for security, stability, and the like - and who makes the decisions on what prices are acceptable, and who pays those prices. A worthy counterpart to the story that inspired it.


"Things with Beards," Sam J. Miller; Clarkesworld, June 2016
http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/miller_06_16/

A meditation on monsters and how they walk undetected in the world, both the monsters and evil aliens of speculative fiction (the backstory of the protagonist evokes the classic sf/horror film The Thing), and the monsters that have always been a part of the human race, the callous, the cruel, the killers of those who are labeled less than human.


"You'll Surely Drown Here if You Stay," Alyssa Wong;
Uncanny Magazine, May 2016
http://uncannymagazine.com/article/youll-surely-drown-stay/

A young boy with an uncanny heritage to communicate with, and control, the dead is forced to use his powers for the greed of others. A supernatural Western with a deep friendship that survives dead and retribution at its heart.


"An Ocean the Color of Bruises," Isabel Yap; Uncanny Magazine, July 2016
http://uncannymagazine.com/article/ocean-color-bruises/

Five young people, former college friends, take a vacation together to a second-class resort with a tragic past. When that past awakens, the quality of their own lives is called into question.


"A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflower," Alyssa Wong; Tor.com, March 2, 2016
http://www.tor.com/2016/03/02/a-fist-of-permutations-in-lightning-and-wildflowers-alyssa-wong/

A story about two sisters with unimaginable power, the depth of grief and guilt, and the futility of trying to change the past. Deep truths about grieving, accepting and moving on - and the tragedy of refusing to do so.


"Red in Tooth and Cog," Cat Rambo; originally published in Fantasy and Science Fiction, March/April 2016, republished online February 21, 2017
http://www.kittywumpus.net/blog/2017/02/21/story-red-in-tooth-and-cog/

A young woman frequenting a park has her phone stolen by an unlikely culprit, leading her to discover a new ecosystem in development. An interesting perspective on the definitions of life.


“Blood Grains Speak Through Memories”, Jason Sanford; Beneath Ceaseless Skies, March 17, 2016
http://www.beneath-ceaseless-skies.com/stories/blood-grains-speak-through-memories/

Sanford's novelette is set in what seems to be a far distant future, long after the ecological disasters of pollution and the exploitation of natural resources have resulted in massive social change and, one infers, biological engineering on a vast scale. The land is infused with "grains" - semi-sentient beings, possibly organic, possibly cybernetic, it's never made clear - that infect people thereafter known as anchors - who are responsible for protecting the land and its ecosystems. Anyone not part of an anchor's family is doomed to a nomadic existence, destroyed by the anchors and other beings created/controlled by the grains if they tarry to long in one place, or injure the land in any way. Frere-Jones is an anchor dissatisfied with the way the grains control the anchors and limit the lives of the nomadic day-fellows. Her husband, who shared her opinions, was killed by the grains, and if they could replace her, Frere-Jones suspects the grains would kill her too.

I was both intrigued and dissatisfied with this novelette. I enjoyed the themes of rebellion and of sacrifice, but I was frustrated at knowing so little about the grains, the biomorphing of the anchors, and how it all came to be that way. Perhaps a longer format might have allowed more worldbuilding.

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Alyssa Wong was on my nomination list for the Campbell Award, based on three darkly brilliant short stories: "Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers," "Scarecrow" and "The Fisher Queen." [1]

Wong writes dark fantasy and horror, tales of gods and magical creatures, narratives often informed by by South Asian/Filippina tradition and culture, and queer sensibilities and experience. Her work is rich and multi-layered, dealing with complex psychological issues and post-colonial realities.

Such is the case in another of Wong's short stories, "Santos de Sampaguitas," [2] a heart-wrenching story about love and loss, betrayal, sacrifice and revenge. Woven into this emotionally searing narrative are backgrounded but powerful examinations of ableism, and class and race in Filippino society.

These four stories comprised the whole of Wong's published fiction as of the end of 2015 - though she has several stories coming out this year, and I'm looking forward to reading them - but considering that each story so far has been something very special (she has accumulated two Nebula nominations, one World Fantasy nomination and one Bram Stoker nomination with those four stories), I think she's earned the Campbell nom as well.


[1] all three stories reviewed here: http://bibliogramma.dreamwidth.org/185839.html

[2] Strange Horizons http://www.strangehorizons.com/2014/20141006/sampaguita-f.shtml
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"The Great Silence," Ted Chiang, May 2015, e-flux journal
http://supercommunity.e-flux.com/texts/the-great-silence/

A meditation on sentience, inter-species communication, language, and the consequences of co-existence with other intelligences. From the perspective of a parrot.


"Forestspirit, Forestspirit," Bogi Takács, June 2015,
http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/takacs_06_15/

An AI-driven battle machine, survivor of the last war, becomes the guardian of the forest at the instigation of a young boy.


"Folding Beijing," Hao Jingfang (trans. Ken Liu), January/February 2015
http://uncannymagazine.com/article/folding-beijing-2/

This elegant novelette from Hao Jingfang proposes a future China where overpopulation is so severe that the city of Beijing is redesigned and rebuilt so as to fold up and flip over twice in every 48 hour cycle. In the first 24 hours, the part of the city revealed is First Space - the world of the upper class, five million out of a total of 80 million. When First Space folds up and its inhabitants are tucked safely away in a drugged sleep, the city flips over and the next 12 hours belong to Second Space, the middle class, 25 million. After 12 hours, Second Space folds up and Third Space - the home of the working class and the poor - unfolds for another 12 hours. And the cycle repeats.

The protagonist of the story is Lao Dao, a worker in a refuse sorting plant in Third Space, who wants only one thing - to find enough money to educate his adopted daughter so that she can live in a better space. To do so on his own salary would be impossible, so he takes on an illegal commission to carry messages between people in other Spaces.

Through Lao's experiences, Hao delivers a profound critique of class, capital and the exploitation of the workers, while reminding us that the best parts of life are those that stand outside of the economic sphere - love, generosity, joy, simple pleasures, human interaction.


"Liminal Grid," Jaymee Goh, November 2015, Strange Horizons
http://www.strangehorizons.com/2015/20151109/gohliminalgrid-f.shtml

In a dystopic future Malaysia where government surveillance and control are close to absolute, the rebels of a new generation struggle to escape the confines of a society they hate and fear, and go
"off-grid."


"Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers," Alyssa Wong, October 2015, Nightmare Magazine
http://www.nightmare-magazine.com/fiction/hungry-daughters-of-starving-mothers/

A compelling, visceral dark fantasy. Themes of vengeance on misogynist bile-mongers, intergenerational legacies and wounds, and the consequences of not being fully open with those one truly loves. I have to mention the effectiveness of the startlingly perfect use of imagery in this piece.


"Scarecrow," Alyssa Wong, originally published in Black Static, 2014, reprinted January 2015, Tor.com
http://www.tor.com/2015/01/27/scarecrow/

A powerful and moving dark fantasy story about love, self-deception, internalised homophobia, guilt and grief. A young man too afraid, or ashamed, to acknowledge his love for another joins his friends in tormenting his lover, with deadly consequences.


"The Fisher Queen," Alyssa Wong, 2014
http://fu-gen.org/crash/fisherqueen-wong.htm

The daughter of a fisherman discovers hidden truths about, not just her own family, but also about the trade she seeks to follow on her first fishing voyage. A dark story about family secrets and sexual violence.


"By Degrees and Dilatory Time," S. L. Huang, May 2015, Strange Horizons
http://strangehorizons.com/2015/20150518/dilatory-f.shtml

A story about bodily integrity, loss and healing. A young man who has already lost a promising career as a competitive figure skater to a sports injury and knee replacement surgery develops a rare cancer in both eyes and must accept replacement surgery - artificial eyes - in order to survive.

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