Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Annotated 2021 Locus Reading List for Short Fiction

Update 11/9/23: Tagged 31 TOC/46 HM stories from πŸ“™Neil Clarke's year's best science fiction anthology (click link to highlight).
Update 11/9/22: Tagged 2 πŸ†World Fantasy Award winners (click link to highlight).
Update 10/30/22: Tagged 2 πŸ†Shirley Jackson Award winners (click link to highlight).
Update 10/19/22: Tagged 3 πŸ†Asimov's Readers' Award winners (click link to highlight).
Update 9/30/22: Tagged 4 (out of 15) πŸ†Shirley Jackson Award finalists (click link to highlight).

Here is the annotated 2021 Locus Recommended Reading List for short fiction, merged with RSR's 2021 Best SF/F list (aka our aggregated list of "outstanding" stories from 2021 that score 2 or more based on πŸ‘reviewers, πŸ†awards, and year's best πŸ“™anthologies). All the stories are grouped by length and score, with stories from the Locus list highlighted in red.

The merge lets us analyze the Locus list to see which stories that were broadly recognized as outstanding were left out, which publications stood out, which authors did particularly well (or not), how many were eligible for the Astounding Award, and how RSR's own recommendations stack up with Locus reviewers in general.

As with every RSR annotated list, there are links galore to the stories, their authors, the magazines, any award nominations/wins or "year's best" anthology inclusions, and search-links to find other reviews.

Anyone can vote for the Locus Awards at this link. Due date is Thursday April 15, 2022.

If you want to skip the analysis and just start reading, click here (free stories highlighted).


(These observations are based on story scores as of February 2, 2022. The scores will automatically update and new stories enter RSR's Best SF/F list as πŸ†award finalists, winners, and year's best πŸ“™anthologies are released through November 2022.)

For the most part, we're going to focus on ways in which we differ with the Locus List. This should not overshadow the fact that we think they've produced an excellent list that reflects the hard work we know they put into it.

In the section below, the links support the claims in the text by jumping to a view of the table that shows the stories and data being discussed.

1. Overlooked πŸ’¬Stories

The Locus List contained many of the stories we expected to see there, but there were a few omissions that surprised us, given how broadly popular some of these stories were.
  • 9 of the top 10 short stories in RSR's list were in the Locus list.
    • Left out of the Locus list is "Bones in It" by Kristina Ten (Lightspeed), which has 4 recommendations.
  • 9 of the top 10 novelettes in RSR's list were in the Locus list.
    • Missing is "A Vast Silence" by T.R. Napper (F&SF), which has 4 recommendations.
  • 5 of the top 8 novellas in RSR's list were in the Locus list.
    • The smaller overlap between RSR and Locus in novellas than the other two lengths this year could be due to RSR now relying on different sets of reviewers. Specifically, RSR uses the big book industry πŸ‘πŸ“˜trade journals (PW, Kirkus, LibraryJournal) for standalone novella recommendations whereas RSR follows several Locus πŸ‘reviewers (KBurnham, RHorton, PGuran) and others (ABrown, MHaskins, ACWise) for novelette and short story recommendations who also contribute to the Locus Recommended Reading List.
  • Conversely, here's a view that shows the 54 stories in the Locus list from publications not reviewed by RSR. Thirty-four of them have non-zero scores because they were recommended by one or more of the prolific reviewers we follow. Over the course of 2022, more will gain scores as award finalists, winners and year's best anthologies are announced.

2. Notable πŸ“šPublications

A publication stands out if it has much more (or less) than an average percentage of its original stories included in the Locus list. Here, we'll define "average" to mean about 10% to 20%, which is roughly the typical percentage of a publication's stories recommended by RSR each year.
  • Publications getting an average share of its stories in the Locus list include free-online magazines Strange Horizons (4/46; 9%), Clarkesworld (8/83; 10%), Lightspeed (7/59; 12%), and print magazines Asimov's (7/69; 10%), F&SF (14/69; 20%). This is a nice improvement from last year when all four print magazines had less than 5% of their stories in the Locus list.
  • Publications with a below average share include Interzone (0/9 stories; 0%), Analog (1/96; 1%), Fantasy (1/48; 2%), and BCS (4/56; 7%).
  • Publications with an above average share include paid-only books from Tor novellas (11/19; 58%) and free-online magazines (11/30; 37%) and Uncanny (15/38; 39%). These three publications also had above-average representation the last two years (2020, 2019).
  • Fans of magazines not reviewed by RSR are welcome to provide the % (and #) of stories included in the Locus list for those magazines in the comments below.

3. Notable ✒️Authors

The merged RSR & Locus list, grouped by author, shows 266 stories by 223 authors. Of authors with 3+ stories in the RSR and/or Locus lists, here are the ones that stood out.

4. ✍New Writers

The Locus list includes 25 stories from Astounding Award-eligible writers, 17 in year 1 and 8 in year 2 of eligibility, versus the 25 in year 1 and 11 in year 2 stories from RSR's 2021 Best SF/F list. Eligibility is based on ISFDB, which can be wrong or incomplete, so please feel free to note corrections in the comments.

1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. Delete Your First Memory for Free by Kel Coleman from FIYAH 17 is now online at Escape Pod 804.