Sunday, February 4, 2024

Annotated 2023 Locus Reading List for Short Fiction

Update 7/15/24: Tagged 9 πŸ†Sturgeon Award finalists (click link to highlight).
Update 7/13/24: Tagged 1 of 3 πŸ†Shirley Jackson Award (short fiction) winners (click link to highlight).
Update 7/3/24: Tagged 5 πŸ†Eugie Award finalists (click link to highlight).
Update 6/22/24: Tagged 3 πŸ†Locus Award (short fiction) winners (click link to highlight).
Update 6/22/24: Tagged 10 of 15 stories from πŸ“™Allan Kaster's Year's Top Hard Hard Science Fiction anthology (click link to highlight).

Here is the annotated 2023 Locus Recommended Reading List for short fiction, merged with RSR's 2023 Best SF/F list (aka our aggregated list of "outstanding" stories from 2023 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, 2024.

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 4, 2024. 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 2024.)

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.
  • 10 of the top 11 short stories in RSR's list were in the Locus list.
    • This is a larger overlap than in previous years. Interestingly, 4 of the top 7 short stories in the combined list were not listed by RSR because they are from horror magazines.
  • 4 of the top 6 novelettes in RSR's list were in the Locus list.
    • This is a larger overlap than in previous years.
  • 5 of the top 9 novellas in RSR's list were in the Locus list.
    • This is a smaller overlap than previous years. Three are not in RSR's list because they're not published by (but a different imprint of Tor) or not by Tor at all.
  • Conversely, here's a view that shows the 64 stories in the Locus list from publications not reviewed by RSR. Forty of them have non-zero scores because they were recommended by one or more of the prolific reviewers we follow. Over the course of 2024, 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 Beneath Ceaseless Skies (5/52, 10%), Clarkesworld (10/90; 11%), Strange Horizons (5/49; 10%).
  • Publications with a below average share include Analog (3/110; 3%), Apex (2/54, 4%), Asimov's (6/66, 9%),  F&SF (2/86, 2%), Fantasy (2/40; 5%),  and Lightspeed (4/94, 4%).
  • Publications with an above average share include (9/30, 30%), paid-only books from Tor novellas (7/16; 44%) and free-online magazine Uncanny (11/48; 23%). Two of these publications also had above-average representation the last four years (2022, 2021, 20202019).
  • 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 245 stories by 208 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 15 stories from Astounding Award-eligible writers, 6 in year 1 and 9 in year 2 of eligibility, versus the 21 in year 1 and 9 in year 2 stories from RSR's 2023 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.

2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGuire is now one of the Locus List novellas. (They moved it from one of the novel categories.)

    The Asimov's and Analog stories are now online.