With the deadline for the 2016 Hugo Awards nominations fast approaching (Thursday, March 31st), I thought I’d help out prospective voters by generating a list of recommended reads to guide them through the myriad titles released in 2015.

In the past, I could have put together a rundown of potential Best Novels but, alas, the past year kept me very busy, much too busy for extensive reading, and I realized that the list I’d offer up would be woefully incomplete.

Being a voracious and fairly quick reader, I thought of tackling the Best Novella or Best Novelette categories but, again, my show running duties on Dark Matter made that impossible.  And so, after careful consideration, I decided instead to take on the Best Short Story category reasoning there was plenty of opportunity in the downtime between set-ups, scripts, and sleep.  As it turned out, I was right and, in the preceding month, I’ve read A LOT of shorts stories – more than I’ve read in any given month.

Yes, even though I read a lot, I’m well aware that I covered but a tiny fraction of all of the eligible short stories out there.  I tried to be as sweeping as possible, selecting titles from varied publications, drawing on suggestions from all over, choosing writers irrespective of politics or personality.

What follows is a list of MY Favorite Genre Short Stories of 2015.  If any of these make the short list for the Hugos, I’ll be giving them a re-read and ranking.  I’ll do the same for any other nominees I may have missed.  And then, I’ll vote for what I consider the Best Short Story of 2015.  If the best short story I read is among the five nominees, then I’ll vote for that.  If what I consider the Best Short story doesn’t make the list, I’ll be voting No Award.  Fair?  I think so.

Well, here you go, for those interested.  My Top 13 Short Stories of 2015:

***

“A Murmuration” by Alastair Reynolds (Interzone)

An isolated scientist’s research into the flocking behavior of birds yields surprising results.

***

“Calved” by Sam J. Miller (Asimov’s)

Amidst the backdrop of a world altered by ecological disaster, a father makes a desperate bid to reconnect with his son.

Read it here: http://samjmiller.com/publications/calved/

***

“Dialed-Up” by Tom Maughan (Terraform)

In the near, performance-enhancing drugs give office workers the edge they need to compete.

Read it here: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/dialed-up

***

“Re-Homing” by Debbie Urbanski (Terraform)

A couple looking to adopt find the perfect match in a remaindered child.

Read it here: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/re-homing

***

“Re: re: Microwave in the break room doing weird things to fabric of spacetime” by Charles Yu (Terraform)

An unattended burrito instigates a cosmological crisis.

Read it here: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/re-re-microwave-in-the-break-room-doing-weird-things-to-fabric-of-spacetime

***

“Some Gods of El-Paso” by Maria Dahvana Headley (Tor)

In future Texas, two outlaws deal in the currencies of sex and emotions.

Read it here: http://www.tor.com/2015/10/28/some-gods-of-el-paso-maria-dahvana-headley/

***

“The Ninth Seduction” by Sean Mcmullen (Lightspeed)

A goblin crafts weapons and other technological marvels in advance of a coming battle.

Read it here: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-ninth-seduction/

***

“The Sixth Day” by Sylvia Anna Hivén (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

A young girl, gifted with the ability to grow corn, receives a dire prediction from her older sister, gifted with the ability of prophecy.

Read it here: http://www.beneath-ceaseless-skies.com/stories/the-sixth-day/

***

“So Much Cooking” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld)

The bird flu apocalypse as related through perky Natalie’s food blog.

Read it here: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/kritzer_11_15/

***

“The Ticket Taker of Cenote Zaci” by Benjamin Parzybok (Strange Horizons)

Eduardo, a ticket taker at a popular tourist attraction, begins to suspect that the Cenote Zaci may be claiming some of its visitors.

Read it here: http://www.strangehorizons.com/2015/20150202/cenote-f.shtml

***

“The Way Home” by Linda Nagata (Lightspeed)

A squad of U.S. Soldiers must fight their way out of Hell.

Read it here: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-way-home/

***

“Things You Can Buy For A Penny” by Will Kaufman (Lightspeed Magazine)

According to legend, the wet gentleman that resides at the bottom of a mysterious well will grant you a wish for a penny…

Read it here: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/things-can-buy-penny/

***

“Today I Am Paul” by Martin L. Shoemaker (Clarkesworld)

An android caregiver to an Alzheimer’s patient mimics the personalities of her prospective visiting relatives.

Read it here: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/shoemaker_08_15/

If you have time, give them a read – and then report back.  Would love to hear your thoughts.

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gforce

I find the breakroom microwave one particularly intriguing. I’ll start with that one!

gforce

Re: the microwave story – Remember in that SG1 episode when Orlin built the mini-stargate in Sam’s basement using parts from *her* microwave? Coincidence? I don’t think so.

I’m now going to put those Stargate coasters in my microwave and crank it up to an hour and see what happens. Abidos, here I come! smile

KathyC

I’m just getting ready to start some new stories; maybe I’ll take a break from novel sized books and get some short stories on the list. Thanks for the recommendations!

Ponytail
Ponytail

Thanks for the links! I quickly read “The Sixth Day”. It was good and held my interest. I will mark this post and read more of the stories. Thanks again!

Ponytail
Ponytail

I read “Calved”. Another good story. Surprise ending. Sad. These short stories are just right for me.

Maggie L80
Maggie L80

The last 5 caught my attention, so I’ll start with them first. Thanks for the links. Hope all had a good weekend! Did you catch TWD?

PBMom

I hope all who celebrate Easter had a wonderful day. We don’t have any traditions surrounding this. We used to but we got too depressed about trying to have Patrick involved.

I had a steady day of pet sitting. In between, I keep working on Quicken. I timed myself. It takes 10 full minutes for me to get 1 sheet of mileage into Quicken. I counted how many sheets I have and I have 13 solid hours of work ahead of me. I am a long way from even being able to start Turbo Tax. All I hear is the countdown clock from 24 in my head.

PBMom

OMG I forgot to tell you. My mother-in-law had the best possible news. It is a neuroendocrine tumor that can be easily treated by a regimen of Sandostatin. She was taken back to rehab to continue her recovery from her hip pinning. We are so relieved. Thank you for all your prayers and positive energy.

Drea

I much enjoyed the story, “Things you can buy for a penny”.

Perhaps its because I can relate to its author, Will K, who delights
in some of the more playful aspects of poetic verbosity.

“At the bottom of the slope, look for the bones of the burnt cottage in among the willows, then look for the moon”

Albeit, remember the childhood friend I mentioned recently? The one who used to refer to me as a “much too playful flip floppy dolphin”
because I would often all too happily and easily go off on numerous carefree playful tangents before finally returning to original point I’d intended.
(And never a moment before I’d completely sapped the human playmates around me of all their energy. Who would then sit looking beyond worn, tattered and otherwise shamble bourne and ready to sleep for a whole week by the time I’d finish a story. Whilst I would simply let out a brief sigh, smile with a girlish muse like giggle and dive back into the wide open waters ready to begin playfully flip flopping thru another exhaustively long story)

Well, I can only say my friends name for Will Kaufman would likely be something to the effect of: “Shark who makes his victims dizzy before completely transforming their brain into a bland scrambled egg meal and devouring it along with a large side helping of any sense and grasp they might have thought they had on life, language and meaning.”

In short: Avoid this story if you are sleep deprived, have ADD, prefer simplicity & clarity or would simply rather not have your penny bargain result in the feeling of coma brain or to be a bit less technical “icecream brain freeze magnified times 1000”. Oh wait. …. uh……
Guess that’s pretty much everyone here, eh.

Oops. Sorry, Will Kaufman. I guess that means I will be your only true new fan, then.

Hmmmm… Hey! We should do lunch next week, amigo! <3

It'd be interesting to see who annihilates who first via the story's telling. grin

Drea

Speaking of Much too playful flip floppy dolphins…….

Last night I brought home a beautiful extra thick cut of premium London Broil beef steak for dinner. While I was looking around on you tube to see if anyone had any new recipes for the steaks preparation I came across an old video Joe made about preparing a rib eye. First with bourbon, then ample salt. Which somehow managed to inspire one of my playful flip floppy tangents that led me to an old Ellen D interview with Dark Matter’s 5 Jodelle Ferland.

Check it out! Ellen & Jodelle are hysterically funny together!

Ganymede
Ganymede

I haven’t the time to read it just yet, but from the title alone, that “microwave” one is likely to be closer to FACT than FICTION whatever the story is about!

Toasters, boiling water, microwaving ANYthing [especially water], I believe really do cause temporal “anomalies”… seriously. Just spend “time” WATCHING them. It slows. Glance away, and *poof*! You’ve got the makings of a “lost time” X-FILES episode along with burnt toast, overflowing pots, and organic paper-weights with a half-life!!

If TIMEX ever comes up with their own Line of “small appliances”, kiss THIS “dimension” good-bye!

;-}

TheOtherOne
TheOtherOne

OK, I’m not brilliant at writing/explaining myself (as you have no doubt noticed!) but here goes …
Last night I started with ‘Today I am Paul’. I confess I found it difficult to follow so reread it this morning … I discovered it was really quite good. Written in a cold, detached, methodical way but with a feeling of concern (?!), the processes the android goes thru are so true of what a primary carer goes thru (OK, you don’t think you analyse everything and you don’t physically change your appearance but you play along with how the person sees you). The family/people types who visit are spot on too. This story is a good intro into the fallout of the condition – it made me realise how trapped/reprogrammed a carer becomes, unable to affect their surroundings, just react as this android does. Alzheimer’s is not a just a person with a loss of memory

I then read ‘Calved’ . Totally different. The style of writing is flowing, descriptive, human. I liked it alot, clicked into the character, Dom, and his situation easily. I really felt his resignation… and futility of it all.
Only when analyzing this story after, did I realise changes were possible if you have the right mind set. He doesn’t.
Don’t understand why the background eco details are really relevant? Or is the story really saying it doesn’t matter who you are, your circumstances, if you don’t change soon we’ll all go down the plughole! Hmm. There’s a thought.

Thanks Joe, for sharing these stories!
Cobwebs are clearing a bit, methinks. Will read some more later. Hopefully my English will improve and I won’t write so much gibberish next time 😊

TheOtherOne
TheOtherOne

PS Didn’t mention which one I preferred… hmm, can’t decide.

I had forgotten how powerful a well written, short story can be!

Drea

@PBMOM Hugs and love to you and your family and all your wonderful four legged clients. So glad to hear your mom in law is going to be ok. smile

shinyhula
shinyhula

I liked “Calved,” talk about earning your endings. After reading “Ticket taker…” I’m less inclined to go swimming.

Drea

.. and we have “A WINNER!”.

Just finished reading the microwave story while enjoying a wee bit of down time between appointments.

Oh My! Such a clever way to explain quantum mech. It definitely kept this sci ed muse heartily giggling and engaged!

If the author doesn’t win a HUGO I’d be surprised and a bit miffed!
Though it would free him up to do a volunteer rotation or two on our education team. .

On second thought……………………….

Chocolate Party Instigator

By the way Joe: As much I enjoyed your picks of short stories, seems you forgot to include one.

Its called: “The Chocolate Miracle.”

Its about how a simple brief chocolate party brought an entire community of actors, directors, set crew and production managers together. It relieved much of the stress and tensions they’d all been feeling. Reminded them how much fun their jobs are and it even served to raise awareness about seasonal fan hibernation disorder, Awaking fans far and wide, Attracting them to a most wonderful new television show.

No longer did they feel the need to sleep away the winter while awaiting the next great season of television entertainment. The learned fun and great story telling could exist all year round! smile

I’d gladly share the link to this wonderful heart warming story if I could. Albeit seems the story’s author is currently refusing to release his stubborn angst and let the world in on its joyous wonders.

(or maybe he just wants to horde all the chocolate for himself.)

Sparrow_hawk

Haven’t read much SciFi this year, but there was an excellent fantasy novel: Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Highly recommended.

KathyC

What an awesome clip @Drea; thanks for sharing it! I used to love drawing horses at her age too, LOL.

glowyzoey
glowyzoey

Thank you for this list. I could use some shorter pieces to read. Also, I need inspiration and motivation to get writing again. It’s been too long.