Thursday, January 25, 2018

2016 Best SF/F Novellas

Score: 16 → 8-9 Recommendations

Score: 15

Score: 14 → 7-8 Recommendations

Score: 13

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.

Score: 12 → 6-7 Recommendations

Score: 11

Score: 10 → 5-6 Recommendations

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.
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.
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.
The Iron Tactician by Alastair Reynolds  Time: 1h:36m (Novella)  IssueThe Iron Tactician 2016
(Military SF) Merlin's starship is one of the best, but it needs repairs, and a derelict starship may have what he needs. Or he can try a binary system where an interplanetary war has raged for centuries.

Score: 9

Score: 8 → 4-5 Recommendations

Score: 7

Score: 6 → 3-4 Recommendations

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.
This Census-Taker by China MiΓ©ville  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?

Score: 5

Penric And The Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold  Time: 2h:05m (Novella)  IssuePenric And The Shaman 2016
(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.

Score: 4 → 2-3 Recommendations

Lazy Dog Out by Suzanne Palmer  Time: 1h:11m (Novella)  IssueAsimov's 04.05|16
(SF) Khifi makes a good living as a pilot, but she used to be a homeless kid on the Tanduou docks. So she cares when she gets hints that something bad is happening--something involving kids, aliens, and more.
The Liar by John P. Murphy  Time: 1h:19m (Novella)  IssueF&SF 03.04|16
(Horror) Middle-aged bachelor, Greg Kellog, has a secret knack for making small changes to reality by "lying." To stop a series of deaths, "small changes" may not be enough.
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+2 Locus+2
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.
(Time Travel) Paul finds a job selling drugs for the mafia in 1770s America.

Score: 3

Everybody Loves Charles by Bao Shu  Time: 1h:09m (Novella)  IssueClarkesworld 112
(SF) Charles Mann leads a wild, exciting life, which he shares with millions who join his "live-link."
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+1 Nebula+2
The Coward's Option by Adam-Troy Castro  Time: 1h:09m (Novella)  IssueAnalog 03|16
(SF; Andrea Cort) 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.
The Further Adventures of Mr. Costello by David Gerrold  Time: 1h:05m (Novella)  IssueF&SF 09.10|16
(Planetary SF) Mr. Costello's crackpot moneymaking scheme promises entertainment to the rural community he sets down in, but the narrator senses a threat.
(SF; The Journeyman) Teodorq and his friend Sammi agree to organize security for a nobleman's archaeological expedition. They expect danger from the local tribes, but not from the artifacts themselves.
The Snow Of Jinyang by Zhang Ran  Time: 1h:11m (Novella)  IssueClarkesworld 117
(Time Travel) In 979 AD, the city of Jinyang stands on the brink of destruction, but someone seems to be trying to help it with technologies from the future.
Wyatt Earp 2.0 by Wil McCarthy  Time: 1h:17m (Novella)  IssueAnalog 01.02|16
(SF) A violent Martian mining town reconstructs Wyatt Earp to try to restore order.

Score: 2 → 1-2 Recommendations

Chimera by Gu Shi  Time: 59m (Novella)  IssueClarkesworld 114
(Hard SF) Evan hasn't seen his wife in six years--ever since she left him and their newborn child. But their son needs special medical attention, and she's the world's expert.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [1]  Recommended By: CPayseur+2
Einstein's Shadow by Allen M. Steele  Time: 1h:04m (Novella)  IssueAsimov's 01|16
(Alternate History) A private detective takes a job guarding Albert Einstein as he flees the Nazis on an ocean-liner-sized airplane.
Fall by Arlan Andrews Sr.  Time: 59m (Novella)  IssueAnalog 07.08|16
(SF) Rist descends from the highlands and is captured by the lowlanders, who've never seen a human being as small as him. He struggles to learn their language and adapt to their ways
Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw  Time: 59m (Novella)  IssueTor Novella 10/11/16
(Horror; Persons Non Grata) An 11-year-old asks a private eye to murder his stepdad, because "he's a monster--and you're a monster too."
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [3]  Recommended By: Locus+2
Pirate Utopia by Bruce Sterling  Time: 00m (Novella)  IssuePirate Utopia 2016
Not reviewed by Rocket Stack Rank.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review []  Recommended By: Locus+2
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+2
The Dispatcher by John Scalzi  Time: 00m (Novella)  IssueThe Dispatcher 2016
Not reviewed by Rocket Stack Rank.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review []  Recommended By: Locus+2
The Soul Behind The Face by Adam-Troy Castro  Time: 59m (Novella)  IssueAnalog 10|16
(SF; Andrea Cort) Draiken used to be a spy, but now he wants revenge on his former masters, and he has a complicated plan to enlist a former associate.

Score: 1

Coyote Song by Pat MacEwen  Time: 1h:02m (Novella)  IssueF&SF 05.06|16
(Horror) At a crime scene, Yutu and her boss Nathan both suspect supernatural involvement. Even with her Native American magic and his voodoo, it will be a challenge.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [3]  Recommended By: SFRevu+1
Progress Report by Rajnar Vajra  Time: 1h:03m (Novella)  IssueAnalog 09|16
(SF) On Skipbrudden, each child must pass four tests to earn the right to become an adult. Arvie is a precocious kitten, which means he'll face the tests sooner than most.
The Burning Light by Bradley P. Beaulieu and Rob Ziegler  Time: 1h:55m (Novella)  IssueTor Novella 11/01/16
(Post Apocalypse) The Light is an addiction that afflicts telepaths. Colonel Chu hunts Zola, an addict who may hold the key to the problem.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR+1
The Dunsmuir Horror by David Gerrold  Time: 1h:00m (Novella)  IssueF&SF 09.10|16
(Horror/Humor) From confinement in an institution the narrator describes the events that put him there. There's something weird about the Northwest.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [3]  Recommended By: RHorton+1
The Forgotten Taste of Honey by Alexander Jablokov  Time: 59m (Novella)  IssueAsimov's 10.11|16
(High Fantasy) The dead girl originally fled her homeland over something, and whatever it was, it's making it hard for Tromvi to return her body.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [3]  Recommended By: RHorton+1
The Ghoul King by Guy Haley  Time: 1h:50m (Novella)  IssueTor Novella 07/12/16
(Post Apocalypse; Dreaming Cities) A treacherous "angel" diverts Quinn from his goal to search the ruins of the Dreaming City of Columbus for the key to continuing his journey west.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR+1

1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. Not much to say here but, to complete the stories/novelettes comments, I was really impressed by "The Liar" by John P. Murphy (in the 4 group) but that's the only one of the very few I read that I recommended. In fact, I only read three others that I can recall: I gave "Where There is Nothing, There is God" by David Erik Nelson an unofficial "honorable mention" for Tangent (which doesn't have honorable mentions), liked "Einstein's Shadow" by Allen M. Steele okay, and probably thought "The Journeyman: In The Great North Wood" by Michael F. Flynn was fair, though the Journeyman tales are all kind of fair to me and blend together. "The Liar" was definitely my favorite.

    Thanks for all your work in reviewing these, Greg, and in doing these posts, Eric.