I’ve been trying to write fiction for a good many years now. Every once in a while I succeed. But long before I was any sort of writer, I was a reader, and reading genre fiction continues to be one of my greatest joys. Since joining SFWA, I’ve been even more concerned with keeping up with new releases of science fiction and fantasy, because I can now nominate for the Nebula Awards and want to do so in as educated and informed a manner as possible.
And, as a confirmed and unrepentant spreadsheet geek, naturally I track what I read, both to stay aware of the authors that are putting out work I consistently like and to keep a list of my favorites come award season.
In July 2015, just now wrapping up, I read 61 pieces of 2015 award eligible fiction. Most of those were flash and short stories, but it included a few novels and longer-form pieces. The one category I completely neglected in July were novellas. I’d like to concentrate on reading some of those in August.
Here are some of my favorites in the various length categories. Even though the Nebulas and Hugos don’t separate out flash and short stories, I have chosen to do so to further break up what would otherwise be a pretty blocky list. I’m not going to describe the stories. This isn’t a review, and I have no interest in being a reviewer. I just want to publicly appreciate some of the stories that I loved this month.
I read a lot of flash (up to 1000 words or so) in July. Three were special enough to really call out in this post.
Favorite: This is the Humming Hour by Kate Heartfield, Daily Science Fiction
The Pixie Game by Anna Zumbro, Daily Science Fiction
The Wanderer by Karen Lord, Popular Science
All the short genre heavy-hitters (Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Asimov’s, etc.) had really solid July issues, but these three stories were the ones that really floored me. Though Nightmare had my favorite, F&SF this month was cover to cover one of the best issues I’ve read in a while and gave me a lot of stories to love.
Favorite: The Cork Won’t Stay by Nate Southard, Nightmare Magazine
Dixon’s Road by Richard Chwedyk, Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine
Paradise and Trout by Betsy James, also from Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine
As we get into the longer categories, I had fewer to choose from, both in terms of what the big SFF markets offer and what I had time to read. But two novelettes really stuck out from the admittedly smaller pack.
Favorite: The Deepwater Bride by Tamsyn Muir, Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine
Like Native Things by Mary Robinette Kowal, Asimov’s
Again, bad Ian. I did not read a single SFF novella in July. I leave this section here as a scolding reminder to do better in August.
The big one, at least in terms of length and certainly in terms of mass-market appeal. I finished three 2015 novels in July, but there’s only one I want to talk about, nay, scream my head off about at every opportunity, and that’s The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins. If you have any affection for Gaiman, but sometimes want a story with a little more of our messy world mixed in with the gods and demons, I can’t recommend Mount Char enough. Right now, this is my favorite book of 2015, and it will take some effort to dislodge. Hell, I hope I read a better book this year, but the bar is now high.