2016 Novellas, Novelettes and Short Stories

Novellas, Novelettes and Short Stories


Maybe this post is a bit late. I’ve been quiet lately because I wanted to catch up on some of the best short fiction from last year, and if I stopped to write a review of each story I’d quickly lose all my reading time. And also, I’ve been playing the new Zelda game a lot, so that has left less time for reading. But now nominations for the 2017 Hugo Awards are closed, and I feel it’s about time to talk about some of the highlights and discuss some of my votes. I don’t think I need to say much about the novels I voted for, since all but one have their own review, but I rarely get to talk about shorter fiction, so that’ll be my focus today. Not all the stories mentioned made it onto my final ballot, but I still felt it was worth mentioning them.

Due to the large number of stories I’ve been looking at and the fact that I’ll probably end up talking about a few of these after the Hugo Nominations are released, I won’t say too much about each individual story. So for the first time in over a year, I’m going to give a whole bunch of twitter-style book reviews.




The Coward’s Option

By Adam-Troy Castro

Analog Science Fiction and Fact

Alien criminals may have surgery that stops them doing crimes instead of slow & painful execution. They choose execution. Scary tech


Progress Report

Rajnar Vajra

Analog Science Fiction and Fac

Alien kitten must learn his people’s history & pass tests to prove he deserves to live. Humans are precursors. Predictable but fun.


Penric and the Sharman

Lois McMaster Bujold

Spectrum Literary Agency

Set in World of 5 Gods. Possessed Sorcerer tracks down rouge shaman. Shaman isn’t such a bad guy but. Love this world and these characters


The Vanishing Kind

Lavie Tidhar

Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

A film noir detective story in London. Except the Nazis won WWII and the ‘detective’ is a Gestapo agent. Believable & dark alt history.


The Dream Quest of Vellitt Boe

Kij Johnson


Re-visit of Lovecraft’s Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath that isn’t sexist or racist. Great worldbuilding, and fun adventure.




You’ll Surely Drown if you Stay

Alyssa Wong


Read it Here


Western with magic. Ellis has magic that involves reanimated skeletons. His BFF is whore. Told in second person. Really cool magic.


Not Quite Taterona Kempi

Ryan W. Norris

Analog Science Fiction and Fact

Millions of years after Humans gone successors find timecapsule and learn of us. But how do they understand records? Clever story.


Touring with the Alien

Carolyn Ives Gilman


Read it Here

Aliens land on Earth and one wants a tour. These aliens are super alien & their translators are also strange. Good Human main character too.


Foxfire Foxfire

Yoon Ha Lee

Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Read it Here

Magic fox must kill 100 humans to become human. For no 100 decides to eat a mech pilot in the middle of war. Magic & giant robots? Awesome!


Everyone from Themis Sends Letters Home

Genevieve Valentine


Read it Here

Colonists on Themis send letters home. But is their planet real? Told all in letters. Raises interesting ethical questions.



Gord Seller

Analog Science Fiction and Fact

We can make dogs smarter and able to talk. But then should we still treat them like dogs? Sad talking dog story.


Short Stories


In the Absence of Instructions to the Contrary

Frank Wu

Analog Science Fiction and Fact

Deep-sea explorer robot falls in love. His crush wants him to study octopus, so he does. Goes surprising dark places.


The One Who Isn’t

Ted Kosmatka


Read it Here

A very weird tale. A boy is in a room and doesn’t remember ever being outside. The only other person is the one who isn’t him.


Seven Birthdays

Ken Liu

Beyond Infinity

Read it Here

We see what Mia gets up to on seven different birthdays. The world changes a lot during her life, and Liu makes the far far future amazing.


Last One Out

K.B. Rylander

Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

Post apocalypse. Only 1 old lady survives. Her robot companion wants to make her happy even though he doesn’t get whats so great about music


That Game We Played During the War

Carrie Vaughn


Read it Here

Chess and telepathy and war. A moving tale that looks at some of the darker consequences telepathic powers have.


And Then, One Day, The Air Was Full of Voices

Margret Ronald


Read it Here

We find alien signals. But we know they are extinct now. A mother tries to re-connect with her son while talking about why aliens are dead.


An Open Letter to the Person Who Took My Smoothie From the Break Room Fridge

Oliver Buckram

Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction



I’m glad I did go out looking for more short fiction, but hopefully this year I can spread my reading out a bit more. Most of the time, readers focus on novels. Before I found Analog and Asimov’s Science Fiction, the only short stories I’d ever read were in Stephen King collections or second hand anthologies. As this post shows though, there is actually a huge selection of short fiction out there. I hope my tiny reviews and the links provided give you some ideas on where to go next time you have a book hangover and just want to read something quick and satisfying.






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