Sunday, March 19, 2017

Annotated 2016 File770 List for Short Fiction

While we’re waiting for the Hugo administrators to produce the list of finalists, some fifty "Filers" (commenters from File770) shared their nominations, and we’ve used that to create a top-15 list for Best Novella, Best Novelette, and Best Short Story. In a couple of weeks, we can see how well they predicted the actual finalists.

In the lists below, "count" is the number of Filers who nominated that work. A quick glance shows that these stories, for the most part, have been heavily recommended by reviewers, reader's polls, and anthologists. (Click on the links to see their reviews.)

Of the 55 stories below, RSR recommended 30 (average would be 10),  recommended against 6 (average would be 17), and never read 5, so this is an exceptionally strong selection of stories by our measure and by any measure.



Novellas

Count: 21

Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire  Time: 2h:09m (Novella)  IssueTor Novella 04/05/16
(Portal Fiction; Wayward Children) Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children helps kids who passed through a portal to another world and returned unable to cope with this one.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [5]  Recommended By: RSR:5 JStrahan Nebula

Count: 14

The Dream-Quest Of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson  Time: 1h:59m (Novella)  IssueTor Novella 08/16/16
(Fantasy) Vellitt Boe teaches math at a university in the dreamworld. When her star student elopes with a dreamer from the real world, she goes after them.

Count: 11

Penric And The Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold  Time: 2h:05m (Novella)  IssuePenric And The Shaman 06/24/16
(High Fantasy; Five Gods) Young Penric, a powerful but fledgling sorcerer, joins the hunt for a fugitive sorcerer, suspected of killing his own best friend.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [5]  Recommended By: RSR:5 RHorton:4

Count: 10

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle  Time: 1h:32m (Novella)  IssueTor Novella 02/16/16
(Black Lovecraftian Horror) In 1924 Harlem, 20-year-old Tommy Tester plays bad jazz and runs minor scams. When an old man offers him $500 to play at his house, he knows there's a catch. It's just not what he expects.
The Lost Child of Lychford by Paul Cornell  Time: 1h:32m (Novella)  IssueTor Novella 11/22/16
(Horror; Lychford) Just before Christmas, the ghost of a little boy appears in the vicarage and disturbs the vicar and her two friends.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [5]  Recommended By: RSR:5

Count: 9

A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson  Time: 1h:54m (Novella)  IssueTor Novella 10/25/16
(Fantasy/SF) Young Aqib has a bright future as a noble, but he meets an enchanting foreigner who makes him consider risking everything.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [2]  Recommended By: JStrahan Nebula

Count: 8

Cold-Forged Flame by Marie Brennan  Time: 1h:12m (Novella)  IssueTor Novella 09/13/16
(High Fantasy; Varekai) The locals summoned her to get blood from the Lhian's cauldron, but she has no idea who that is. Or even who she herself is.

Count: 7

Brushwork by Aliya Whiteley  Time: 00m (Novella)  IssueGiganotosaurus 05/01/16
Not reviewed by Rocket Stack Rank.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [] 
Runtime by S.B. Divya  Time: 1h:16m (Novella)  IssueTor Novella 05/17/16
(Transhuman SF) Marmeg's augments are illegal and hand-tweaked, but if she can win a race for augmented humans, she can earn enough money to become licensed and have a real future.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4 Nebula

Count: 6

The Coward's Option by Adam-Troy Castro  Time: 1h:09m (Novella)  IssueAnalog 03|16
(SF) On Caithiriin, murderers get a choice between execution or anti-violence treatment. No human has had to make that choice before, but it's suspicious that the natives almost always prefer death.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4 SFRevu:5 Readers
This Census-Taker by China Miéville  Time: 1h:58m (Novella)  IssueThis Census-Taker 2016
(Post-Apocalypse) At age seven, the narrator thought he saw his father murder his mother. But did he?
What We Hold Onto by Jay O'Connell  Time: 1h:14m (Novella)  IssueAsimov's 06|16
(SF) In 2066 a woman struggles over continuing life-support for her comatose mother and over what to do with the things she's leaving behind.

Count: 5

The Arrival of Missives by Aliya Whiteley  Time: 00m (Novella)  IssueThe Arrival of Missives  2016
Not reviewed by Rocket Stack Rank.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [] 
The Last Days of New Paris by China Miéville  Time: 00m (Novella)  IssueThe Last Days of New Paris 2016
Not reviewed by Rocket Stack Rank.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [] 

Count: 4

The Devil You Know by K.J. Parker  Time: 1h:19m (Novella)  IssueTor Novella 03/01/16
(Fantasy) The philosopher Saloninus makes a deal with the Devil. Except he approaches the Devil, not the other way around, and the Devil is worried it's a trick.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [3]  Recommended By: JStrahan
The Vanishing Kind by Lavie Tidhar  Time: 1h:00m (Novella)  IssueF&SF 07.08|16
(Alternate History) In 1950s London after the Nazi's won WWII, a German man tries to find a girl he used to love in response to her call for help.


Novelettes

Count: 11

The Tomato Thief by Ursula Vernon  Time: 46m (Novelette)  IssueApex 80
(Fantasy) Someone (or something) is taking Grandma Harken's tomatoes, but finding the thief leads to a real mystery--and danger.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4 SFRevu:4

Count: 10

Foxfire, Foxfire by Yoon Ha Lee  Time: 28m (Novelette)  IssueBCS 194
(Military Fantasy) Baekdo, a fox who wants to become human, needs one more kill to achieve his goal. A collapsing city in the middle of a civil war seems like a good place to do it but there are complications.
Touring with the Alien by Carolyn Ives Gilman  Time: 39m (Novelette)  IssueClarkesworld 115
(SF) Months after mysterious aliens scattered their spacecraft across North America, no one has a clue what they want. Avery knows what one of them wants, though: it wants a tour.
You'll Surely Drown Here If You Stay by Alyssa Wong  Time: 33m (Novelette)  IssueUncanny 10
(Historical Fantasy) In a magical Old West, young Ellis has a love for the desert and an affinity for dead things. Both of these attract unwelcome attention from strangers visiting from back East.

Count: 8

Blood Grains Speak Through Memories by Jason Sanford  Time: 40m (Novelette)  IssueBCS 195
(SF) Frere-Jones controls the nanobot "grains" that help protect the ecology in the bit of land she "anchors." She's come to view the grains as a tyranny, but there doesn't seem to be much she can do about it.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [5]  Recommended By: RSR:5 RHorton:5 Nebula
The Dancer on the Stairs by Sarah Tolmie  Time: 43m (Novelette)  IssueStrange Horizons 11/28/16
(Portal Fantasy) A personel manager is transported to a medieval world as an outcast, but she does have a purpose there, if she can only find it.

Count: 7

Polyglossia by Tamara Vardomskaya2  Time: 00m (Novelette)  IssueGiganotosaurus 03/01/16
Not reviewed by Rocket Stack Rank.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [] 

Count: 6

(SF) The crew of the Themis colony write home about their struggles with a mission and a world that seems to be more than a little off.

Count: 5

Finnegan's Field by Angela Slatter  Time: 36m (Novelette)  IssueTor.com 01/13/16
(Fantasy/Horror) Three years ago, nine-year-old Madrigal Baker disappeared. Recently, she returned, and she's still nine. But her mom is sure something else is wrong.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik  Time: 39m (Novelette)  IssueStarlit Wood 2016
(Fairy Tale) Young Miryem supports her family lending money at interest, but things get difficult when someone from Faerie makes her an offer she can’t refuse.
Teenagers From Outer Space by Dale Bailey  Time: 38m (Novelette)  IssueClarkesworld 119
(Historical SF) In 1955, Nancy's best friend Ellen dates a bad boy who introduces her to Bug Town, where aliens live. Nothing is the same after that.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [5]  Recommended By: RSR:5 SFRevu:4
The Art Of Space Travel by Nina Allan  Time: 42m (Novelette)  IssueTor.com 07/27/16
(SF/Mainstream) The crew of the new Mars mission are coming to the hotel where Emily works, and her mom is starting to say strange things about her involvement with the last Mars mission.
The Future Is Blue by Catherynne M. Valente  Time: 29m (Novelette)  IssueDrowned Worlds 2016
(Post Apocalypse) Teenage Tetley lives in a human settlement (one of the last) built on a miles-wide floating garbage dump. She explains why everyone hates her now.
The Jewel And Her Lapidary by Fran Wilde  Time: 56m (Novelette)  IssueTor Novella 05/03/16
(High Fantasy) Two teenage girls, Lin, the last Jewel, and Sima, the last Lapidary, struggle to fight the invaders who've taken the kingdom by treachery.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4 RHorton:5 Nebula

Count: 4

A Dead Djinn In Cairo by P. Djeli Clark  Time: 41m (Novelette)  IssueTor.com 05/18/16
(Historical Fantasy) In 1912 Cairo, the police investigate the apparent murder of an immortal Djinn.
(Near-future SF) Bay lives alone and subsists off things that wash ashore from cruise ships and such. Then Gabby washes up, alive, and complicates her life.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4 NClarke Nebula
(Hard SF) Davin is spending a year alone on Ekye to observe the local wildlife and, he hopes, to recover his lost creativity.


Short Stories

Count: 10

Red in Tooth and Cog by Cat Rambo  Time: 22m (ShortStory)  IssueF&SF 03.04|16
(SF) When a feral robot steals her phone, Renee acquires a keen interest in the little robotic ecosystem that flourishes in the park.

Count: 9

Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies by Brooke Bolander  Time: 03m (ShortStory)  IssueUncanny 13
(Horror) The girl he killed was much more than merely human, and there will be consequences.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [1]  Recommended By: Nebula Readers

Count: 8

Seasons of Glass and Iron by Amal El-Mohtar  Time: 18m (ShortStory)  IssueStarlit Wood 2016
(Fairy Tale) Tabitha has been walking a long time, trying to wear out seven pairs of iron shoes; Amira has been sitting alone on a glass hill that suitors try to climb.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4 JStrahan Nebula
That Game We Played During the War by Carrie Vaughn  Time: 20m (ShortStory)  IssueTor.com 03/16/16
(SF) Despite not being a telepath, Calla worked out a way to play chess with her captor, Major Larn, during the recent war. Now they're going to finish their game.

Count: 6

Terminal by Lavie Tidhar  Time: 19m (ShortStory)  IssueTor.com 04/13/16
(Planetary SF) A vast fleet of "jalopies" carry individuals on a one-way trip from Earth to Mars. People do it for different reasons, some of which we learn about in this story.

Count: 5

(SF) Dr. Kostia spent thirty years interpreting broadcasts from the Coronals for other people on Earth. The last broadcasts have caused a lot of disruption, even in her own family.
Things With Beards by Sam J. Miller  Time: 15m (ShortStory)  IssueClarkesworld 117
(Horror) Following a disaster in Antarctica, MacReady spends summer 1983 in New York and starts to wonder what he might have brought back with him.

Count: 4

Not reviewed by Rocket Stack Rank.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [] 
Das Steingeschöpf by G.V. Anderson1  Time: 21m (ShortStory)  IssueStrange Horizons 12/12/16
(Historical Fantasy) On the even of the Nazi takeover, a young German man's first assignment fixing a living statue becomes more complicated than he expected.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [5]  Recommended By: RSR:5 Readers
Laws Of Night And Silk by Seth Dickinson  Time: 24m (ShortStory)  IssueBCS 200
(High Fantasy) To defeat the armies of the Efficate, the Cteri train some of their children to be weapons of mass destruction.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [2]  Recommended By: RHorton:5 JStrahan
The High Lonesome Frontier by Rebecca Campbell  Time: 13m (ShortStory)  IssueTor.com 09/07/16
(Musical SF) A song composed in 1902 influences people for the next 166 years.
Touch Me All Over by Betsy James  Time: 17m (ShortStory)  IssueF&SF 01.02|16
(Fantasy) Hilil weaves and ties the best knots in Sulik, but a curse causes made things to fall apart at her touch.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4

Count: 3

A Good Home by Karin Lowachee  Time: 22m (ShortStory)  IssueLightspeed 73
(SF) A disabled human veteran takes in a disabled AI veteran. The AI doesn't talk anymore due to trauma, but Tawn tries to get through to it, even though his mother thinks it's dangerous.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [3]  Recommended By: NClarke
(Fantasy) Teenage friends Domei and Hano live in a refugee camp for survivors of a war fought with dragons.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [3]  Recommended By: RHorton:4
Elves Of Antarctica by Paul McAuley  Time: 23m (ShortStory)  IssueDrowned Worlds 2016
(Near-Future SF) A refugee from a drowned island nation works on the Antarctic peninsula, where he studies mysterious stones with elven runes in his spare time.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [3]  Recommended By: GDozois:5 JStrahan
Everything that Isn't Winter by Margaret Killjoy  Time: 21m (ShortStory)  IssueTor.com 10/19/16
(Post Apocalypse) Just as things are looking up, survivors in a Northwest community face a threat from the east.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [5]  Recommended By: RSR:5
Razorback by Ursula Vernon  Time: 19m (ShortStory)  IssueApex 80
(Folk Tale) Sal, the country witch, took a razorback hog as her familiar and named him Rawhead. Sal was a good witch, but then Rawhead disappeared. Simple, but effective.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4 SFRevu:4
Seven Birthdays by Ken Liu  Time: 19m (ShortStory)  IssueBridging Infinity 2016
(Far Future SF) Mia marks her birthdays as powers of 7, which gives her lots of time to work out her issues with her mother.
The City Born Great by N.K. Jemisin  Time: 20m (ShortStory)  IssueTor.com 09/28/16
(Modern Fantasy) A young hustler discovers that he's supposed to play a big role in transforming New York from a city to a City. If he can survive it.
The Mutants Men Don't See by James Alan Gardner  Time: 11m (ShortStory)  IssueAsimov's 08|16
(Superhero) A combination of teenage hormones, a rare gene, and the right stressful event turns a few kids into superheroes. Liam wants to be one too.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [3]  Recommended By: RHorton:4 Readers
The Story of Kao Yu by Peter S. Beagle  Time: 24m (ShortStory)  IssueTor.com 12/07/16
(Chinese Fantasy) Sometimes a  unicorn assisted Judge Kao Yu, and because he was so just and honest, he never feared its judgment. Until now.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [5]  Recommended By: RSR:5 RHorton:4
Three Points Masculine by An Owomoyela  Time: 20m (ShortStory)  IssueLightspeed 72
(Military SF) On top of fighting against an anarchist revolution, a soldier copes with what he's sure is a man pretending to be a woman in the Women's Volunteer Corps.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [5]  Recommended By: RSR:5


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